The ITCH

Learn Bisaya/Cebuano

It’s been a long time since I last put fingers to the keyboard and pounded out a LiP article.  So much has transpired since that last missive.  Almost all of it is of a personal nature – I won’t bore you with the details.  Let’s just say that it’s been a long, difficult summer here in the States.

The ITCH has started again, though.  That itch to get moving.  That itch to be in the Philippines.  That itch for sharing cold San Miguel beers with friends and relatives.  Throughout these past months, the desire to return to the Philippines has grown.  It’s time to scratch that itch and make tracks back to our home in Pasuquin.

As far as I could determine, everything we left behind us when we slipped back into the States is still in fine working order.  Our wonderful housekeeper has done a fantastic job taking care of everything.  That is quite a task to ask of anyone during the rainy season.  All it would take is one near powerful storm to cause problems at the old homestead.  Our housekeeper made sure that all was protected and cared for, all bills were paid on time, and any minor disturbance to the status quo was quickly remedied.  So, there’s also that itch to return and show our gratitude.

Somebody has an itch!

Somebody has an itch!

THE  LUGGAGE  RITUAL

Now, it is time to take care of all final preparations on this side of the pond.  It is time to go through the luggage ritual that all of our Filipino and Fil-Am contemporaries know and practice.  It starts with stuffing a suitcase.   When it is sufficiently bulging, out comes the scales for weighing.  After checking and comparing the suitcase’s weight against airline baggage limitations, contents are rearranged to make room and it is further stuffed.  This brings on another bout with the scales and so the ritual continues until those baggage limitations are exceeded.

Once the suitcase’s weight exceeds those limitations, the fun begins.  First there’s a quick rearrangement of the contents to make sure that air isn’t trapped in the suitcase.  I never understood this step.  It must be the remedy for “heavy air.”  After the required, renewed battle with the scales reveals that those limits are still exceeded, the heart breaking task of determining what will not “fit” in the suitcase and must be removed ensues.  This step of the ritual is repeated until the suitcase’s weight is within a pound or two of the limits.  (At this point in time, there is great belief that one can sweet talk the airline agent into allowing a “very slightly overweight” article to pass the airline scales.)

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With all suitcases stuffed, weighed and passing home inspection, phase 1 of packing is complete.  Other phases will occur during the days between the initial performance of the ritual and the trip to the airport.  Any “excess” articles will then be stuffed into the carry-on baggage.

 PRE-TRAVEL  SHIPMENTS

This time around, we have wisely shipped a number of balikbayan boxes filled with items that just wouldn’t make it with the luggage.  If it was up to me, I would ship almost everything via “BB” and just take one light suitcase with me.  Nothing says, “ouch!” more than hustling around numerous over-stuffed, many-multi-pound suitcases among the terminals at the airport in Manila!

Making shipments to the Philippines prior to traveling there just makes sense.  Why pay for excess baggage or go through a rather embarrassing airport procedure for “lightening your load” at the ticket counter?  Packing up and shipping all of those little items you might need or want there in the Philippines prior to your flight will certainly add a little sense of relief.  Just remember to ship those items early enough for them to make their trip to the islands before you make yours.  Waiting and waiting for the delivery of your shipment can spoil your otherwise wonderful days there – especially if your trip is only for a couple of weeks or months.

PRE-TRAVEL  ACTIVITY

Nothing makes time start to drag and slow to a near standstill than eagerly anticipating and constantly thinking forward to your flight day.  Counting the days doesn’t help, either (at least, it doesn’t help scratch my itch).  There are plenty of things that can trigger thoughts of an upcoming trip.  For me, the weather is one.  With temperatures dipping to autumn lows, thoughts of a nice, sunny beach fill my head.  Those thoughts lead to counting the days, and the gloom attached to numbers larger than 1.

I find it best to try and maintain a day to day regimen to keep my mind free of upcoming travel thoughts.  I have some tax work that is still in progress, so burying myself in the Internal Revenue Code seems to make my days pass quickly.  Of course, being human, I still have moments of anticipation.  Finding a book to read, or even yard work at my son’s house easily cancels those moments out.

As we all differ and our situations are unique, each of us has to find which activities “speed-up” the clock.  I wish all potential travelers the best of luck in discovering what works for them.

Post Author: PaulK (203 Posts)

Paul is a CPA and a retired tax accountant, having served companies and corporations of all sizes, as well as individuals, in public accounting practices. Prior to what he refers to as his "real job," he served a 24-year career in the U.S. Navy, retiring as a Master Chief Petty Officer. It was during this career that he met and married his OFW spouse of 35+ years, Emy, while stationed in London, UK. (Though he pleaded for the assignment, Paul never received orders to the Philippines.) A "Phil-phile" from an early age, Paul remembers his first introduction to the Philippines in the primary grades of a parochial elementary school where, one week each year, children donated their pennies to purchase school supplies, food and other necessities for Filipino children in need. That love for Filipinos continues to this day. Calling Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte--in the far northwestern part of Luzon--home (just about as far away from Davao as one can be while still being on one of the major islands) Paul prefers a more relaxed provincial life style, and willingly shares a different view of the Philippines from "up north"!


Comments

  1. Paul Thompson says

    Paul;
    Welcome home. When I was working for MSC I would ship the contents of my ship’s stateroom back to the home office in California. Fill my one hard-side suitcase with presents I’d gotten for the ladies and go home. All eyes would be on my suitcase on the ride home in the van. When I’d get to California I retrieve the box, move the stuff I needed on the ship, then mail the rest to the ship TV Stereo coffee pot, ect. Traveling light is the way to go.

    • says

      Hi Paul – Well, I’m not quite there, yet! Still have a couple of days left on the countdown.

      I totally agree with the sentiments of traveling light. Too bad I can’t break my better half of the “packing for a safari” routine. It’s getting better each trip but still, I get to feeling like a pack animal at times! :lol:

  2. Neal in RI says

    Paul K
    I know the feeling 24 days and a wake up, counting the days is not working.
    Every weekend is busy with getting together with friends and way too many cocktails, watching football and more cocktails. The weekends fly by but the week days are draggin arse.

    • says

      Hi Neal – Day counting really makes time slow down. Had to resort to “heavy duty” yard work today at my son’s house in order to take my mind off of the count. Re-reading the article, though, has slowed things back down again! :(
      Will have to try some cocktails and tv. Maybe that will speed things up a little :lol:

    • PapaDuck says

      Neal,
      I see the Patriots layed a whipping on the Bills in the 2nd half last week. I envy you for only having 24 days before you go to your new home. I will just have to settle for a 2 week visit for now and wait for retirement in 2014.

      • Neal in RI says

        PDuck
        Yes after 2 losses the Pats are back on track.
        We are more than ready to make the move back to RP, it’s has been a looong planning process.

  3. Miss August says

    Paul, it’s nice to see you back here on LiP. Interesting to read this article when I am experiencing and doing the same thing. Two more weeks and I’m getting on the plane bound for the Philippines! :-)

    • says

      Hi Miss August – I’m happy to return to print! Plus happy to hear that you’re sharing the experience! My countdown rests at a smaller single digit. When it gets down that low, the clock truly goes slow! :lol:

      See you there! ;)

    • PapaDuck says

      Mrs August
      I will also be boarding a plane to the PI in 2 weeks. Started counting 6 months ago lol. Will be staying in Cavite most of the time. You will be in the Subic area right?

  4. Ricardo Sumilang says

    Paul, the sage of Pasuquin, it’s so nice to hear from you again! All these talk I hear from a number of you on here counting the days until you get on that sweet plane headed for the Philippines is getting to me. I couldn’t take it anymore :( LOL For me, though, the packing and the feeling of anticipation is sometimes much more enjoyable than the end goal. If only I could up and alsa balutan just like you all, but, as fate would have it, the closest I can be “home” at this point in time is only in my dreams and through LiP. To those of you who are either suffering from what seems like an endless wait, or enjoying the anticipation, I bid you all fair winds and following seas.

    • says

      Hi Ricaardo – Thanks for your kind words!

      After years and years of not being able to enjoy life in the Philippines, it is finally our turn to do so (even if it’s just for 6-7 months at a time)! Don’t worry, you’re a day closer to your turn! ;)

      • Ricardo Sumilang says

        Actually, Paul, I’m not getting any closer to “my turn” because there isn’t one that I can see on the horizon. LOL Your 7-5 or 8-4 arrangement is an excellent compromise because you get to enjoy huni ng ibon at lawiswis ng kawayan sa bukid when you wake up each morning for months per pop, while not entirely relinquishing your connection to the U.S. It’s a definite advantage to have a baket from the culture. Combine the cultural advantage with a possible grandchild along the way, I’m pretty sure both lola Emy and lolo Paul will have more reason to look forward to the yearly migration stateside than just doing yardwork at your son’s and preparing income taxes for other people.

    • says

      Hi Scott – We are coming off of vacation in the States. We live in the Philippines for about 7-8 months then take a 44-5 month “vacation” back in the States to visit with relatives and friends.

    • PapaDuck says

      Paul,
      Glad to see you will soon be on your way back. Missed reading your articles. I guess it’s the chill is in the air in Ohio as confirmed by my father who also lives there. Have a safe flight back.

      • says

        HI PD – Yes, it’s definitely the chill in the air that is pressing us to leave soon. Were it up to me, however, we would have already made the trip. :lol:

  5. Roxas Ron says

    Congrats to everyone on the 2 week countdown…..146 DAYS HERE…so much to do…can’t wait to live the life.

    • says

      Hi Ron – Thanks for the kind words. Congrats to you, too — those triple-digit numbers will soon turn to double-digit then single-digit. Hang in there! ;)

  6. Jetdoctor says

    Hi,
    My wife and I have been making trips to the Pinas for many years. Right now the overweight baggage fees on Philippine Airlines is 165Php/kilo. The amount of luggage weight allowed depends on your ticket price, and it is a better deal to buy a bit more expensive ticket if you have a lot of stuff. Another thing we have been doing is using boxes which weigh less, rather than suitcases since we always have more going over than coming home.

    Philippine Airlines Air Cargo is a much better deal. You can ship a Balikbayan box from Manila to Davao for about 40 Php/kilo. We stay at the Nichols Airport Hotel, and the drivers have not had a problem taking us to Air Cargo for a reasonable upcharge on the 300Php they charge for an airport transfer.

    Another strategy is to buy local goodies for the kids. You can buy enough goodies to open a Sari-Sari store with what I see most people spending on excess baggage. It took a trip to convince my wife, but now she plans that way.

    Cheers,
    Doug

    • says

      Hi Doug – We’re well versed on the excess baggage charges, etc. with PAL, as well as going the Air Cargo route. Still, it’s a good idea to spread the word to all readers of these comments. Thanks for voicing that info.

      As for the goodies for the kids – they somehow can detect the difference. That’s why we ship the goodies in balikbayan boxes with the other “just have to have” items that don’t fit in the baggage. When it’s time to open the bb’s, everyone gathers around and they savor the opening. Often is heard, “It smells like America!” ;)

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