I can still remember the last few hectic days we had prior to boarding the plane. With so much work still left to do, I stayed on with the company for the full month after resignation. My wife did, too.
I remember that night when I talked to my boss about my leaving and when I returned to my chair and told my colleague Joana that I was leaving, she cried and called up Pauline to tell her about the news.
A few days after that, they taped balloons by my area. I think after the initial shock, they realized they were happy to see me go (kidding).
I miss the Mac laptop. See the bags of MacDonald's beside it? On that day I went on a Happy Meal shopping spree. I bought around 6 meals so I can have all six toys on offer which incidentally was for the Star Wars the Clone Wars movie.
And then they gave me this book (which I brought here with me) containing messages from officemates.
Then they treated me out to lunch in a Japanese restaurant which I wanted to try but never got around to doing. It was truly touching.
During that time I said my goodbyes to many friends, but there was not enough time for all of them. My good friends Yoyo and Roger canvassed a van and they volunteered to help me transport my stuff from Manila to Baguio. We left one night, arrived in Baguio in the morning. They visited a few places then by lunchtime were enroute for Manila. I truly appreciate their gesture. They went without sleep and travelled more than 12 hours to help out a friend.
And then we had week of garage sale at the house while I packed my precious scale model and toy collection and hauled off periodically to my parents' home for safekeeping.
Even at the final hour when we were about to board the bus that will bring us to Manila, we were still packing stuff and had to exchange hurried goodbyes to my mother-in-law, who I knew will miss his grandson so much.
My last lunch in Manila was in Amici, a treat by friends. And our last phone call was to Ninong Dan (our godfather in our wedding) as we waited in the airport. Hw was surprised to hear that we were already leaving that very moment and would have been happy to see us before we go but there was just very little time for a lot of things.
Here in New Zealand, we were overwhelmed by the support we received from many Filipino families. In our first couple of nights, we stayed with a family who we only met online. They helped us look for a regular place to stay, shopped for some necessities, and guided us on things we needed to accomplish. Other families gave kitchen supplies, beddings, couches, bed, weekend trips to parks.
We arrived at a time when the recession was increasing momentum. After three months, I still had no job. I worked as a volunteer and seeked the help of migrant assistance centers. By December I was able to land an interview. I got the job. We were vastly relieved, and at least we had a relaxed December and not have to worry about January coming in and nothing to show for it. No more keeping awake til 3AM looking for jobs online.
Jo-Lo started going to Kindy. Many clothes we brought with him are already small; he's growing and is able to carry a decent conversation now. Amazing.
We still have a long way to go but we're taking it one step at a time. I certainly miss my friends, our trekking days, dinners and movie weekends, and I look forward to having a break and go back to the Philippines and see them all once again. Until then, we welcome a new year in New Zealand and look forward to better days ahead.