Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Coming Out of the Comfort Zone

By now I guess everyone who knows me has this question on their minds: is she moving to Manila or not?

A phone call I got at lunch today provided me with a final and definite answer: Yes, I'm moving back to Manila -- with a vengeance!


I left Manila almost 10 years ago feeling helpless and pessimistic. It took a while for me to truly get back on my feet again and to get a good grip on the reins of family responsibility, but I managed to do both in Leyte. Sure, I may have transferred to Cebu to work but Leyte was still home to me.

Now, I find myself returning to my place of birth again. And very soon, my family will also be reunited with me.

I'm excited -- and scared.


The good thing about returning to Manila is that I get to achieve all four goals which I set for myself before I turn 40. I wouldn't be able to attain these if I went elsewhere.

My first goal: to get a job that will provide me with the stability and security I need in my career. At my age, it's quite tiring already to keep changing jobs. Career-wise, I need to get my feet firmly planted on the ground already -- and my new job (to be disclosed later) is just the thing to give me exactly that.

My second goal: to get my family reunited again. I was forced to leave my family in Leyte when I transferred to Cebu to work. While I had a respectable salary, it was always divided by two because I had to send half of my salary to my family every payday. Thus, I ended up barely surviving with the little money I had left until the next payday. If we were together in Manila, then we won't have to buy separate items just to keep two households up and running. Besides, my daughter's already a teenager and I'd like to be there as she passes through this most confusing stage in her life. After all, she is the reason why I work in the first place.

My third goal: to get my master's degree. In my younger years I ballyhooed anyone who advised me to go to graduate school. I thought to myself: heck, I don't need one. After all, I was getting good jobs. Years later (and after many career heartbreaks), I realize now that a master's degree is crucial not only for additional knowledge but also as a fallback (just in case I want to return to teaching) and for purposes of promotion.

My fourth goal is more personal in nature. Just to give an idea on what this is all about, it involves not losing again what I almost lost before.


So what scares me about returning to my lupang sinilangan?

Manila may have changed a lot since I left in 1999, but there are still things about that place that remain the same -- mostly bad things.

First is the traffic. Oh Lord, the traffic. But thank God for the LRT and MRT, going from Point A to Point B has now become less of a hassle. One will have to contend with the throngs of fellow passengers, though.

Second, the floods. When I was still living in Sampaloc, Manila, our place became a virtual river whenever there were heavy downpours. I doubt it if this problem of flooding will ever be solved, considering that Manila is said to be sinking by several millimeters every year.

Third, the high cost of living. They say that when in Manila, every move you make constitutes to money coming out of your pockets. And even when you're just staying put in one place, you'll still have to shell out cash for something or another. The materialistic lure of the city can truly create big holes in one's pockets.

Fourth is the high incidence of crime. I laugh every time I hear news of the Waray-waray gang striking again. These criminals obviously hail from my province, but they obviously honed their skills in Manila. Lawless elements left in Tacloban City and other areas of Leyte are just mostly small-time pickpockets or snatchers, with a sprinkling of rapists and murderers. Like I said, small-time. In Manila, you'll never know when you'll be the next victim. I already experienced my wallet getting snatched, my mom became a victim of the Budol-Budol Gang, I got mashed in Quiapo, and I got held up in a jeep which was in the middle of rush-hour traffic.

Fifth, major upheavals/occurrences always have to happen in Manila. Blame it on the city being the center of Philippine politics and commerce. That's why there are rallies happening left and right, jeepney strikes, and coup d' etats. I already know the feeling of being hit by tear gas. I don't want to experience that same feeling again.


Nevertheless, I believe that at this point, there is simply no other place for me to go but to Manila. It's a calculated risk that I have to take.


Parang kelan lang. Several months ago, I was resigned to my fate working for a BPO in Cebu. Someone rued my situation and noted that I was afraid to come out of my comfort zone. "Don't be complacent," he kept repeating to me. This person added that I still have much to offer, and if only I was in Manila, I'd be able to find new opportunities commensurate to my knowledge, experience, and expertise.

As it turned out, he was right.

Thank God for voices of conscience like him. Bless his soul.


So I guess this is it. It's back to Manila for me.

Wish me luck, everyone!

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