It’s been a month since we decided to pack all our things and move to Davao. What a feat it is to pack all your things and load them in one container van. I can’t believe all of our stuff fit in a 10-footer; the rest went into our Toyota Vios. Everything that mattered to us was in the van while those that we didn’t need and won’t fit in the new place were disposed of. I had to say good-bye to my rocking chair, the one I used to breast-feed my daughter and my baby boy. Some cabinets were sold as well because the new house has a lot of cabinets. It was a practice of complete detachment and a tough decision we had to make.
Although Davao has always been close to our hearts, the plan to transfer here had taken a backseat for years. Finally, when we were brought to the crossroads of really deciding for the transfer, somehow we knew that it was time to tick it off in our completion list. For Val, it was something new, something exciting because he has been away from his hometown (Manila) for a long time. This will be another adventure for him. For me, moving to Davao is getting out of my comfort zone. In Cebu, my parents were there. For the past five years, they had been our greatest supporters. Anytime we needed their help—from Gasul to bottled water to taking care of the kids, they were just a phone call away. It was so convenient especially when we have late-night meetings or out-of-town trips. Aside from this, I knew it will be challenging to relocate without any househelp with us. It will be like starting all over again, but this time trotting 3 kids—triple the fun, triple the adventure (yeah, right!).
It took one week for the shipping company to finally deliver our stuff. Meantime, we slept on the floor with two very thin camping mats between us and the floor. Good thing we packed some essentials in the car, such as the cooking utensils, some plates we used during our last week in Cebu, some clothes, pillows, rice cooker, electric heater, and electric fans. It made our lives a little convenient during the first week.
Finally, when our stuffs arrived, the big concern was unpacking all our stuff. If packing was stressful, unpacking was more so. We dined out most of the time to save on time in preparing the food and cleaning up later on. My husband was more than eager to finish with the unpacking so we can move on with our lives as fast as we can. He labored late at night, assembling our bed and other furniture. Thank God for a “houseband” who knows how to work around the house, from the drilling to the cooking hehe.
One month after the move, we still don’t have househelps. How I wish there was a yaya academy where I can actually list the qualities I prefer for a house assistant, and I can get most, if not all, of them. Sad to say, there’s no such academy that exists at present. My friend who resides here in Davao even laughed at me when I told him to help me look for a yaya who, if possible, speaks English since my kids are English speaking. This might be too much to ask, especially if you really need (read: desperate) one already. But then again, I want to believe that there’s abundance in the universe, and that includes abundance in human resources. I’ve already screened four househelp applicants, and so far I would have accepted the two, except for some concerns. One wanted to have a day off every Sunday due to religious reasons, and she wanted to leave the house at exactly 7:00 AM and come home at 6:00 PM. Mind you, she was in no way flexible to my request to adjust the time. While the other one followed the buy-one-take-one attitude. If I want her, I should get her friend as well. The thing is, her friend was super skinny with dark skin and super blond hair. I was really tempted to accept her offer, but I thought, “I would be seeing this person every single day, and she will be preparing our food and be with my kids when I’m not around.” I definitely have to be discriminating in my preference, right? The next question is, am I willing to wait for the next set of applicants? As challenging as it may be, I have to say YES.
So up until now, it’s like we are living in the US—we are so hands-on with the kids and the household chores. Val does the cooking and washing while I take care of the baby. It’s really hard work. There are days when I get so stressed out I’m so edgy and get irritated easily. The biggest challenge for me is washing baby’s clothes because I’m sensitive to laundry soaps. My hands get so itchy every time I wash his clothes, but I have no choice. I didn’t want to have it washed in the laundry shop. I still prefer hand washing for my baby’s clothes. The other simple chores, we have also delegated to my seven-year-old son like bringing down the nappy trash in the morning, cleaning up his room, putting the shoes in the shoe rack, taking out the garbage at night, and sweeping the floor after dinner. He gladly does this at a price of twenty pesos as his allowance. If he forgets to do just one, he won’t receive anything, unless he replaces the forgotten task with another task. Though he doesn’t need the money, we gladly give it to him, which he puts in his piggy bank for savings. I told him that even if we will have househelps already, he will still continue doing his tasks because we wanted him to be responsible and take ownership in the house.
Still, there are times when I’m so short tempered and get easily angry with the kids. I have to remind myself that it’s not their fault that we have no househelps, that we’re having challenging times right now. It was our (my husband and me) decision. There are nights when I asked myself, “Did we make the right decision? What if we made a mistake?”
Over dinner one time, my son looked at me straight in the eye and asked me a profound question, “Mommy, what are the biggest reasons why we transferred to Davao?” I felt I owe it to him to tell him the reasons right then and there. Although we’ve talked to them about it even before we transferred, in his young mind he was also probably trying to understand our situation.
So I told him, one reason is for the business. We just recently invested on a coffee shop here in Davao, and we wanted to be hands-on with the operation. In addition to this, we are also setting up another business that is based in Davao, and the meetings will be held here most of the time.
Another reason is that we want to establish our family. For the longest time, our lives revolved around my parents and siblings. Every holiday and birthday celebration, we did with my parents. It came to a point that it seemed redundant already, like there was no growth. What I didn’t agree on is my father’s way of encouraging my kids to play with gadgets every time he was with them. Even if I told my kids to stop, when they see my father, it was almost automatic to ask for the gadgets. And since I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, I just allow them. Somehow my husband and I agreed that living in Davao will really give us a free hand in bringing up our kids. Whatever attitude or behavior they will exhibit, we would more or less be directly responsible for them.
I think the third reason is that we want to buy our own house here in Davao. We think the real estate properties here are more affordable compared to those in Cebu. If we want to buy a house in Cebu, we have to accept the fact that it’s not in the city anymore, perhaps an hour away. Here in Davao, there are a lot of opportunities to invest in a property. Although we are still renting a townhouse right now, we are hoping that by next year, we will have a place we can really call our home. When we finally do that, then and only then I can already rest from all the packing and unpacking!
Meantime, we are still waiting for those persons who will be part of our family. Also, we are taking it slow as we explore the beauty and wonders of the city. I already found a nice place to get a spa (a very important place for tired moms like me hehe). The other day, my husband found a small dessert place that serves really yummy blueberry and strawberry cheesecakes. We also found the best place to buy fresh fruits, vegetables, and seafood. We were so amazed at how much cheaper the fruits and vegetables were compared to that in Cebu. My kids especially like the pomelo, so we bought a lot the other day.
I guess the question of whether we made the right decision to transfer here or not is yet to be answered; however, I still want to put everything in the positive perspective. When I saw the billboard along the highway that says, “Life Is Here!” I can’t help but smile and thank God. It was His way of telling me “All is well.” But what I really can thank God for that we transferred to Davao is that my kids, especially my eldest, are growing to be more responsible and confident of who they are and who they can become as the days go by as we establish our identity as a family in our new home . . . Davao. That, to me, is enough affirmation that indeed all is well.