WE ARE AT THE RIGHT PLACE & TIME
When I moved back to Manila around 2.5 years ago, I was shocked by the difference in the city. I wrote about it here. Who knew that repatriation, though temporary, would also be tough? I didn’t expect it to be. After all, I am born and raised in the Philippines. It didn’t help that my Bipolar Disorder and OCD were triggered by the move and the vast changes. Yes, moves are traumatic for our brains and bodies, wherever we are moving to and from. No matter how many times we’ve done it.
What if a place becomes the right place only by our choosing to love it?
– Melody Warnick, This is Where You Belong: Finding Home Wherever You Are
Ask any expat, life back home is not as cushy as life overseas, so I started selling our stuff to help pay for bills. I am happy and feel blessed to have old friends back in my life but there is that part of me that feels unhinged. The expat part of me that wanted to seek other urban nomads. I tried joining expat groups and was either blocked from joining or booted out. I like to think that I have something to contribute, having experienced moving three times in 6 years, while also knowing the local language and culture, but perhaps because I am a Filipino by blood, no matter how many countries I’ve lived in, I’m just not expat enough for these expat groups.
I decided to put up my own Facebook Group called DECLUTTER MNL with it’s accompanying page, where I could teach what I learned and mastered from each move: how to declutter and sell fast. As diplomats, we find out where we are really moving only 1-2months before the move. It’s a very short amount of time to prepare. You would think that we could fit 3 years of our lives into a container, only to realize how much crap we actually have. Even moving houses in the same city can change your mindset and relationship with stuff. I learned to sell in different platforms and different languages. I wanted a venue to share my tips and tricks for simplifying our lives to make room for more bliss, while living in a megacity like Metro Manila. It was only during the Perks of Pinas workshop that Amber and Kimi were able to verbalize it in the best way possible. I am paraphrasing here:
When you have this abundance mentality, you know that there is space for everyone. If a group doesn’t accept you, then make your own.
The way they said it was so positive, it was the affirmation that I needed. The knowledge that you may not be accepted by certain groups, but you will find your own tribe, or you can create your own. Even if each of us in that room created her own blog or group, there is space for everyone. Powerful stuff.
The past 2.5 years felt like I was just trying to survive Metro Manila with the least amount of stress possible, just so I wouldn’t have another bipolar episode freakout. Then my husband was diagnosed with bone cancer in January of this year. It was a double whammy. Not only did he have an aggressive and rare type of cancer, but the biopsy on his femur rendered him unable to use his right leg. Imagine finding out you have cancer and suddenly not being able to walk.
It was heartbreaking, seeing him play with our son in the playground the day before his biopsy operation, because we knew it would be sometime before he could walk on his two legs again. Since January, I have done nothing but try to work my butt off raising funds for expensive cancer procedures, and our daily expenses. Our insurance ran out during his operation (only the second of it’s kind done in the Philippines ever), and we had to borrow money from relatives so that I could get my husband discharged from the hospital. My husband is getting better – still on crutches but putting a little weight on his leg – but it still felt like I was just paddling endlessly to stay afloat. Surviving day by day, with an active toddler and trying to manage my bipolar disorder.
While all this was happening, I learned about Amber of A Momma Abroad. Her Instagram was just such a ray of sunshine, every time I checked it out. Then last September, I learned she was doing a #PerksOfPinas workshop with Life Coach Kimi Lu (of whom I already knew from attending her GetBlisstified Workshops with Martine de Luna), and decided that it was the perfect feel-positive birthday gift I could give myself.
I don’t want to just survive Manila, I want to thrive, no matter what I was facing. And if anyone was thriving successfully in Manila, it was Amber! I love her honesty about not always being this way, but she made an effort to get planted and attached to this place, which totally changed her perspective and life.
The workshop isn’t just for Expats and Repatriates, but also Pinoys, who need to fall in love with Manila (and the Philippines) all over again. I believe that everyone can benefit from this wonderfully positive experience and mindshift. I personally wanted to connect with women, who maybe feel out of place, like I did, and needed an anchor like Amber.
ON THE DAY OF THE WORKSHOP
Socializing usually comes with a lot of anxiety for me, but to prepare, I got in touch with friends who I knew would be interested in going so we could go together. I was happy to be attending with people I already know and admire, Kaho of ChuzaiLiving, whom I met when we were both bloggers in Jakarta, and Chichajo of 80Breakfasts, who is my neighbor, friend, food blog lodi, and also a decluttering client. I felt more confident attending the workshop because I went with friends, and then we made even more friends.
Who were you before? Who do you want to be? How do you get there?
Kimi showed us some NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) Tools that could help us in falling in love with a Place. Amber talked about Identity Reconstruction and Place Attachment, and gave us practical tips on how to settle in, groups to join and places to explore. All useful information, even for the locals who attended. The skills that we learned that day aren’t just for our stay in the Philippines, but can be applied to any place we find ourselves in the future.
We had a cool and unexpected activity towards the end. We were given succulents and guided in repotting them by Plants and Planters Co. and it was a fitting activity for us participants, who in our own different ways, were just longing to #BloomWhereYouArePlanted. It was fun chatting and helping each other out, while getting our hands (gloves) dirty.
I met so many lovely women during the event, all with different stories, and their own reasons for being there. It was so nice to be able to connect, even with our different backgrounds.
Thank you again Kimi Lu and Amber for the Perks of Pinas workshop. Looking forward to receiving the presentation and Amber’s recommended readings.
THE PERKS OF ATTENDING #PERKSOFPINAS
Oh but wait…. I can’t let you go without telling you the amazing surprises each participant got at the end. Amber got in touch with the makers of her absolutely favorite local products – WE HAVE SO MANY AMAZING LOCAL BRANDS TO FALL IN LOVE WITH – and they all sponsored the event. Amber is such a warm and generous person, that you can’t help but be warm and generous back to her. I feel truly blessed and inspired by this experience. Christmas came early for us!
You can click on the thumbnails to see the Instagram name of each one.
Ladies, if you are new to Manila, or getting tired and jaded being here your whole life, I highly recommend this workshop. I’m sure that with the success of this one, Kimi and Amber will do more! You’ll learn new things, make lovely friends and get positively charged. I’m usually shy sharing photos of myself online, but want to embrace and love myself, no matter what shape or size, so I’ll share a selfie I took with Amber.
Feel free to get in touch with them and ask about the workshop, so they set up another one soon.
A MOMMA ABROAD
amber folkman • instagram • firstname.lastname@example.org
KIMI LU | LIFECOACH
services • testimonials • twitter • Instagram • email@example.com
Thank you to COCOON STUDIO PH for letting me use some of their lovely pictures on this post.
I like to attend something like that when i was in the ph late 2017-early 2018. i was thinking if i should repats or remain a balikbayan. anyway decision made and i am still a balikbayan. I got your link from amber.
Hi Vinneve! Thank you for dropping by and reading about the workshop. I loved attending it even as a Pinoy. And how lovely of Amber to forward you the link. Where are you based now? =)