Journal Entry #1
I am writing this in Mexico City. It’s the ninth of November, 2021, midafternoon–3:24 p.m. to be exact. Writing this is surreal. After a year and nine months, I’m back in North America. I left Mexico City in February of 2020, to attend the funeral of my mom. I planned to stay in the Philippines for only two months, but then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. My younger sister, who is now residing in Minnesota with her family, also went home but only stayed in the Philippines for a week. When the worldwide lockdowns because of the pandemic went into effect, my sister was still able to fly back to the United States (via South Korea). I, on the other hand, was stuck in the Philippines, not knowing when exactly I’d be able to leave the country.
The answer to that is September 22. I boarded a Cathay Pacific flight from Cebu City to Hong Kong, and then another Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong to Los Angeles. But not before months of stressing out, doing all kinds of online research, Googling all the requirements for Filipinos to be able to travel outside the country as tourists. Because when the pandemic hit and the Philippines closed its borders to international travelers (belatedly, I might add), as well as disallowed Filipinos to travel outside the country (both essential and nonessential travel), I was really disinterested. I didn’t want to do anything, fuck going back to Mexico City. I mean, I would eventually plan on going back, of course I would, but I just didn’t have the energy to want to do something about it.
I was still grieving the death of my mom. I was still in disbelief (who wasn’t?) that the world was actually experiencing a pandemic–in our lifetime! My anxiety was worsening. Honestly, back then, I felt that being locked up at home, in my room, in the Philippines, was just what the doctor ordered for me. I was going to be locked up with my family anyway.
I was home.
Not being home for two years, being away for two years in Mexico City, I missed my family. Immensely. The pandemic gave me a chance to catch up with them. Talk about politics and sports with my dad. Enjoy my sister’s amazing desserts. Laugh at my brother’s jokes. Get the chance to see my niece grow up. It felt good.
I had to do something other than work, though. (An aside: way before the pandemic struck, I had already been working from home. Before I resigned from my full-time office job and decided to leave the country, I had to replace it with something that I could do from home and bring with me. Fortunately, I was able to find something–and ever since it has allowed me to work not only from Mexico City, but also in Cancun and Tulum and Guatemala, as well as from various cities in the United States. So no, working remotely is not something new to me, which was actually one of the few positive things during the pandemic.)
That something to do eventually became cycling. Not having a car to drive (shit, not even having a valid Philippine driver’s license–mine expired many years ago, and I haven’t found the time or the opportunity to renew it), but still needing to go places, having a bike made absolute sense. Luckily, my brother-in-law is a cycling enthusiast, and he helped hook me up to get a second-hand mini-Velo bike that was still in good condition.
So that bike became my lifeline. I biked to get groceries, to go to the tea shop to read, to get some exercise. I biked to the church where I’d just listen to the mass while I sat outside on a bench. I biked to a nearby beach just to hear the waves and smell the salty air. I biked to the bank; I biked to visit a friend.
That bike was also instrumental in helping me find–and rescue–Daisy the aspin. I rescued her from the streets (from a bridge, to be precise) one afternoon. I was traversing the bridge on my bicycle and heard the pained cry of a puppy, just as she was inches from getting hit by a truck. Luckily I had a basket installed on my bike, so I was able to take her home.
I didn’t know if she’d survive her first night at the vet, where I rushed her immediately to save her life. The attending veterinarian told me, honestly, that she was in critical condition–severely dehydrated and malnourished, low blood and platelet count, with a host of parasites, and with a life-threatening infection. She spent time at the vet, where she was pumped full of meds, and when she was strong enough I continued nursing her to health at home. She’s a miracle. She survived.
She has since gained lots of weight. She’s sweet, playful, and has an enormous appetite.
When she was strong and healthy enough I tried to find her a a loving owner, a good home. But I soon found out that the dog-adoption groups in Cebu were useless: some people join these Facebook groups not to adopt aspins but to look for pure-bred puppies, and to sell them eventually. Fuck that. Daisy has now found a new home in Talisay with our other dogs, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.