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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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"!