Of Funemployment: The Good and The Bad

3:12:00 PM


Finally, I get to write here again.

For the longest time this year, it felt like I had to put my life on hold. It was such a bizarre feeling having to take so many flights without certainty of what will happen to me in the next few days. Oftentimes, I had to book flights and accommodations even just a day or hours before.

It was just three months ago, but it feels a lot longer.

The Good
I just came back from my Europe backpacking trip feeling invigorated and brimming with positivity.

The Bad
My 2-year project and work visa in Singapore expired.

The Good
I went to Kuala Lumpur for a job interview. I got an offer the next day. I asked to be given the weekend to think about it. And I did. I weighed my options, made a pro-con list. I wasn't entirely sure about it but come Monday, I sent verbal confirmation. I was supposed to send my signed job offer letter the next day, but my company in Singapore called me saying they've already started to process my work visa application. I just needed to sign the documents so they can proceed.

I was doing a morning swim at my friends' condo pool when I wrote the email to rescind the KL job offer. 

The Good
I have such great friends! I stayed in KL at Dave and Scott's place. They are parents of three lovely cats. They cooked and fed me really good food, and shared with me their exotic whiskys from their travels. I couldn't be more thankful. They were also very helpful in giving me insight on deciding which country I should live at in the immediate future. My pretty and cool former Project Manager in SG also moved back to KL, and had invited me to a few things during my short stay.

Another good thing was being able to take pole classes at a local pole studio. Always a good experience trying out someplace else.

The Bad
I got to go back to Singapore, not without hassle. I encountered some questioning across the border of Johor Bahru on my purpose of visit to Singapore and it took the good officers two hours to validate my situation. (The Good sidenote: Good thing I printed out my job offer letter and work visa application!!) Thought I could go on my merry way, but after the Singapore Immigration checkpoint, I lost my Coach handbag, which contained my camera, wallet, passport--basically my entire life.

For a few seconds, I was at a loss for words and then my adrenaline kicked in. I immediately ran to the ground floor escalator where I had just descended and saw that there was no escalator nor elevator going up back to the 3rd floor where I could have lost my handbag. I carried my suitcase with my right hand and had my backpack on my back, and sped-climbed the stairs until I got to the 3rd floor where there was a circle of people formed right on the right side of the escalator.

The Good
Thank goodness, I was in Singapore. Inside the circle were two security guards guarding my bag on the floor. I told them it's mine, and they reminded me to be careful next time. I took note and thanked them once again.

The Good
I got to spend some time, albeit short, in Singapore. I got to attend my pole classes and as able to settle some of the additional requirements for my work visa before I went home via KL.



The Bad
I started my journey to go home and wait for my work visa to get approved. My stopover in KL started on a very bad note. Malaysia Airlines broke my luggage before it even got loaded to the plane. It was in a really broken state, beyond repair. I spent a good hour at the baggage service desk when I arrived at KL International Airport.

The Good
My "layover" was four nights long and we stayed at the Hyatt.

The Good
Good food, good wine and a birthday

The Bad
My luggage is still broken. Malaysia Airline still won't budge with a refund. On my 5th and last day at KL, I had to buy a new luggage out of my own pocket.

The Good
It's a good luggage and I got it at a huge discount at the Pavilion mall in KL.

The Good
I went home and saw my friends in Manila before heading to Palawan for an indefinite number of days. I stayed at our Palawan home for a week, and proceeded to solo backpack to northern Palawan. I stayed at Tribal Xperience ran by Isaac and Shel, the most lovely people in Port Barton, San Vicente. I also met a group of Spanish and Mexican travelers during the island hopping trip that I eventually went to El Nido with.



The Good
I booked my shuttle ride to El Nido and lo and behold, my whole island hopping group, which we named Port Barton Squad (lol), was also taking the same van.

The Bad
The state of the main tourist area in El Nido is so bad, I couldn't decide if I wanted to cry or get angry. I'm talking about those tours you take from Bacuit Bay. After just experiencing island hopping in Port Barton, El Nido Tour A paled in comparison. The iconic limestone cliffs were still as majestic as they can be, but there were several things that ticked me off.

First, the amount of tourists in an off-peak season was intimidating. Every island we were hopping had a queue of boats trying to dock.

Second, there were attractions where you can't even swim anymore. You have to rent a kayak to get inside the Big Lagoon, and rent another kayak to go inside the Small Lagoon. It costs 300 pesos for the small kayak for two people for EACH attraction. (If you want to go inside both Small and Big Lagoon, it's an additional charge of 600 pesos, excluded from your island hopping tour) I asked our boat staff why this was implemented instead of making the tourists snorkel our way in, like how it was at least 3 years ago. They said, "Patay na rin kasi yung corals dito banda." Translated in English, this means, "The corals are now dead in this area anyway." Unbelievable.

Okay. You know what, I believe it. With that amount of tourists, maybe El Nido wasn't equipped to preserve the natural environment as well. Maybe they wanted the locals to earn more money. Maybe Tours B, C, D are better options. I don't know now. I just know I'm super frustrated and disappointed about it. I will make a separate post about this.



The Bad
As if the bad news wasn't enough. On the way back to Bacuit Bay after the island hopping tour, I decided to check my emails. I was informed by my Singapore Project Manager to go to Singapore in 2 days since my new project was already starting. I was ecstatic about it for a split-second, then I went online to check my work visa status. I wasn't ready. I don't think anyone who hasn't been rejected before will ever be ready to see what I saw:

Status: Rejected

My heart was already heavy from the tour and just like that it became several levels heavier. I had already been traveling for a month, expecting I'll be back soon to Singapore. And just like that, everything was uncertain again.

I thought about rescinding the job offer in KL and laughed a bit. Maybe it was my karma?

The Good
I immediately took the next shuttle van back to Puerto Princesa. If there's one good thing about being funemployed, it's that I get to spend more time with my family and my two dogs. My worst case scenario of not having a job and getting stuck in paradise is really not bad at all.

The Good
My company in Singapore decided to re-apply my work visa.

The Good
Someone from Singapore flew to Palawan. We got a rental car and did a 10-day road trip from central to northern Palawan. We stopped over at the Underground River and saw a rainbow while swimming in Sabang. We went to a different side of El Nido, far away from the hordes of tourist and did private island hopping tours and I got to scuba dive. (It was my first time!) Then to wrap it up, on the way back we stopped at Port Barton and stayed again at Tribal Xperience.

During this trip, I got to learn some basic swimming skills. By Day 10, I was way more comfortable in the water compared to every other time in my life.



The Good
I brought my drone with me and got really amazing footage. There is a video clip compilation in the works!

The Bad
My work visa application could not proceed. The fun road trip ended. I had to go back to Singapore to pack up my things and leave for good.

I was extra active in commenting about politics on Twitter. I even got into a discussion with the staff of our local Congressman in Palawan. And no, they don't care about Palaweños' human rights.


At one point, I made a joke about wasting my entire life savings on another EU trip, consequently followed by a pretty bad internet meltdown.



The Good
I ended up not booking a flight to Europe and instead, I went back to Singapore. It was relatively hassle-free at both PH and SG immigrations. I got to attend 3 pole classes at Studio Sands, my home studio, got to enjoy a day at Universal Studios Singapore, and meet with a lot of my friends.

The Good
I had four new job opportunities just a week in. The first one to make an offer was my previous company. I went down to their office to sign the offer letter and prayed the work visa application will go well this time. Honestly at that point I had nothing to lose. I couldn't be any more disappointed than how I was with the past two tries with the work visa application.

In my mind, I was thinking if things go south again, it's not the end of the world. I can find something else, somewhere else.



The Bad
My 30-day social visit pass was already ending and my plane ticket to go home was due soon. I met up with friends one last time, not knowing if it was a proper goodbye or just a regular drinks with the girls. I was checking the work visa status online every day, hoping to see a status aside from Pending. If I was getting rejected for the third time, I'd rather know soon.

I left for Manila last Thursday feeling quite nervous.

The Good
I stayed at my friend Kriz's family home. It was already late when I got there. He and his family were already asleep when I got there. I was thinking of jumping to a bus the next day to go to either Baler or La Union and wait for the status while there. If it's a good result, I could celebrate by surfing. If it's a bad result, I could turn the trip into a soul-searching trip and figure out what to do next with my life.

I couldn't sleep because my mind was racing and making me think of a next gameplan. I was conditioning myself for another letdown and I wanted to be prepared for it that time. Finally at 5AM, I fell asleep.

I woke up at 10AM and before anything else, I prayed for a sound mind, no matter what the outcome will say. I reiterated in my prayer that even if it's a rejection, it's not the end of the world for me. I still have some money tucked in. I won't starve.

I typed in the URL of the online work visa status check page, pressed enter and closed my eyes...

Status: Approved

It got emotional for me very fast. I let out a long sigh, laughed and cried all at the same time. Finally, it happened. I get to stay in Singapore.

...........................

I just wanted to share an update about my life in a bullet-style way so it's easier to read. It wasn't my purpose to do a tally of The Good vs The Bad things that happened to me the past few months. But now that I have counted both, The Good far outweighed The Bad.

They say hindsight's 20/20. At the time, maybe my outlook is a bit clouded by the unfortunate series of events but it's as clear as day now. There are many things we can't control, but we can choose to be nice and kind. We can choose to maximize every opportunity with friends and loved ones. Heck, we can choose to be fit. Or in my case, I chose to be better at pole than I was since I started, even with all this going on.

No matter how shitty the situation is, there are things we can control and life eventually sorts itself out.

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