Hello to all! This week, I was contacted by Bob requesting that I join his LIP team as a regular writer. He felt that LIP needed a little broader perspective, and, the fact that you are reading this first posting shows that I happily accepted his kind invitation.
So, I guess an introduction is in order.
I’m getting old enough to grumble about little things… However, I tend to compensate with plenty of excess, whether smoking, drinking, or just plain being ornery. I was raised a North Carolina redneck, by non-redneck parents. Fortunately, I became a little civilized and learned a bit about the world. I truly thank the Jesuits in university for the teachin’ beyond readin’, ritin’, and cipherin’. Grammar slipped through the cracks.
I have been a regular (daily) reader of LIP for around 8 months, and moved here in mid-April. I met my fiancée, Rebecca, when I was posted in Abu Dhabi for one year, visiting there for four years. She spent a total of 23 years in the Middle East, in Kuwait, Sharjah, and finally Abu Dhabi. I truly was lucky to meet her there. We are getting married on October 8, in Abulug. Needless to say, this move has been a huge adjustment for both of us… New location, new relationship, new business, new everything. VERY different backgrounds. We are living the change day by day, some things difficult for me, but many more difficulties for Rebecca. I’ll write a little about these experiences that we were sometimes surprised happened.
I was also lucky with respect to the fact that my company decided that I could relocate anywhere in Asia that I wished. For the last 8 years, I have worked as Director of Sales for a small US company, MICAD Marine, that manufactures computer systems for commercial and military ships. These systems are normally for fuel and maintenance management. Sometime in the next year, I will be starting a full branch office in Manila, in order to serve our Asian customers better. Our market is truly global, however, and I travel all over the world on business, around 275 days per year, and to over 25 different countries this year so far. First world, third world, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Asian, European… You name it. Been to every continent except Africa, and may have to go there this year too. Hence, the first part of the title of this column… I think of myself as a global citizen….Who lives in Quezon City! I will try and write a little about the generalities of being an expat, with a focus on my new home.… Many commonalities exist, regardless of location, and, being exposed to dozens of different cultures every year, I have learned many things the hard way. If my experiences save someone grief, all the better.
Now, the Luzon part of the title. One of Rebecca’s dreams was to return to the Philippines and start a small business so that her family could become self-sustaining. Becky’s family lives in the far Northern part of Luzon, in the town of Abulug, in the Cagayan Valley. Find Aparri on the map, look a little to the left, across the river, and there it is. If you keep going North, you had better learn to swim and speak a little Chinese. The business we are starting is a prawn farm, and we have just cleared the land and fenced it in… Now, the fun part…. All the political and legal stuff. Living approximately 600km away from Abulug, we travel back and forth quite a bit, right up the center of Luzon. You cannot manage a business like that from afar… Unfortunately, the closest airport is in Tuguegarao, around 3 hours away by bus, two hours by car. I need to be near an airport in order to do my job, not starve, pay bills, etc. We had considered living in Tuguegarao or Laoag, but they simply do not have a sufficient number of air connections for me to travel weekly, otherwise, we would probably be there. The Cagayan Valley is a world of its own, very different from Mindanao, Manila, and the rest of the Philippines, geographically, culturally, and economically… Same country, but very different. With this column, I hope to at least write a little about this region. There is very little on the Internet about this area, and I hope that some of the LIP readers will want to explore a little up there. Since we are also starting a business, I hope to share some of those experiences also (Without stepping on Martin’s toes.).
I hope you find my writings interesting, as I will try my very best to make it so. I truly look forward to the upcoming weeks.