A review of the first 42 days

The flight/the arrival

I have to admit, it has been too long since my previous post. I wish I could update you on a weekly basis, but I’ve just been too busy. My expectations were more in the direction of a relaxing holiday … but that turned out kinda different 😉

After all the goodbye parties in the week before our departure, the day has finally arrived. The day of our departure to the Philippines. In the morning I still had a breakfast with my dearest friends of the theater [Jeugdtheater Scherven … I love you 🙂 ], then, after a last visit to my grand parents, we left in the afternoon, off to Brussels Airport. All together, mommy and daddy, brother, my wife and myself. The people I actually missed that day were my sister and her husband and their cute little boy. [miss you all]

Arriving at the airport we went checking in and after that, we all had a drink. We had time so we enjoyed the last moments together [hmm, I get teary eyed by thinking back] before we had to pass the passport control and had to say goodbye. From now on it’s real, we’re on our way to our new life.

The flight left around 6 pm [I’m not gonna discuss the flights and arrivals in different airports] and went first to Rome, then Doha and finally Manila. When we came out of the airport, my mother-in-law was waiting for us and we left on our way to our new home.

As we did the other time that I arrived in the Philippines, our first stop was at Mc Donalds before going home and having some sleep.

No relaxing, it’s working time

This is not a holiday. We should not relax but arrange first the things that have to be done to really start our life. On Wednesday, we went to the Belgian Embassy to register. That went quite fast. Apparently the city hall in Belgium has worked fast and my departure was already in the system. I only need now a Barangay Clearance, which states that I really live in the given address. I have to admit that I still don’t have that paper.

Because we were finished early, and we were at the right place, we went to a building at the other side of the street to apply for a job. Yes indeed, I wanted to start as soon as possible. That would give me some security, because that was the only thing I was worried about most. The company where we went to was Freelancer.com. They had a job opening for Dutch Email and Chat Support [or ECS as I will call it further]. The application existed out of a computer test. One tab was for personal information, the second and last tab were for questions about thinking logical, grammar, text writing. When that was finished we had a talk with HR, just checking the answers we have given before in our personalia.the next step was again on computer. Now it was a Dutch test. They gave us questions. We had to translate these questions to Dutch, look up the answers on their site and reply to the questions in Dutch. Now we just had a Dutch interview and they told us we had to wait for a reply.

The next week, we did’t get a call yet. After asking them, they told us that my expected salary was too high and they couldn’t give that. I said it’s negotiable. My wife said that if there’s only 1 position available, she didn’t want it because she wants me to find a job first. The next week they asked me to come back to the office. It was now the 26th of September. There was an interview with my possible future manager. It only tool like 5 minutes and they asked me again to wait for their call within now and 3 weeks. I informed them that at that moment I had also an application in the running to work at IBM which is very urgent and for which I would have to do a ‘Berlitz’ test the next day. That same evening, surprisingly, I got a phonecall saying that I have the job and that I can start the very next day. The 27th of September, two weeks and three days after arriving in the Philippines … I found myself a job.

That Thursday, Friday and the next week was training. I liked it a lot, company looks very nice, co-workers too and the job itself looks very good for me. Customer support for users of the website freelancer.com. On October 8, it was my first real working day on the floor. We had to start immediatly with answering tickets. No chat yet [good thing, that looks too stressy at the moment].

My second week has past now, I have answered quite a lot of tickets already and have been working on the Dutch translation of the site. It’s not online yet, cause they still have to edit some stuff, but normally in November, the Dutch site should go live.

More news is to come, I’ll try to not wait his long anymore 🙂
And I hope to postsome more ‘fun’ instead of business 😉

Arranging a long term leave

Less than two weeks. That’s all I have left here in Belgium with my Belgian family. After that, I will be staying with my other family. My Filipino family. It’s getting really close now, so let me inform you about the things I’ve been taking care of to arrange my departure, away from Belgium.

Quiting my job
• in June, I’ve informed my boss that I was going to leave the company. Well, actually I was gonna get ‘fired’ or placed somewhere else. There was not enough work coming in and they had to cut in the budget of salaries. I was the last to arrive, I was the first who had to leave. Of course the company didn’t really want to keep me in service for 3 more months and they didn’t want to pay these 3 months. So they’ve looked already for a solution for me, so I could start somewhere else. A sister company needed someone for a nice job. Because I didn’t want to waste the time of both of the companies I thought that was the perfect moment to explain my plans of leaving and moving. We agreed that I would just quit. I wouldn’t have to finish 1,5 months of resignation time and they wouldn’t pay any ‘firing fee’. On that way I could just search for some temporary job in 2 shifts, so I had time to arrange the necessary papers for my leaving.

Finding a temporary job
• in July, I started looking immediately for a new, temporary job. I found one within 1 week. I started looking on Monday and on Friday I could already start. A boring factory-job but at least I was earning and I had time to go to Brussels for the important papers.
I have worked for 4 weeks in that company until the summer holidays started to bring less work to the company. All the temporary workers didn’t have to come back for at least 2 weeks. In Belgium, the government provides an unemployment allowance when you have worked at least 3 weeks and didn’t quit yourself. Well, no worries there. I arranged my papers and so I still earn something while I’m not working.

Cancel my renting contact for apartment
• also in July I cancelled the rent for my apartment. Too late actually. You need to cancel your renting contract at least 3 months before you want to stop renting it. Unless you find someone else who wants to move in earlier. Lucky for us, we had a new renter somewhere around August 17. Our schedule to leave was no problem. Pfwew.

Selling my car
• I had a car in Belgium. My precious Seat Ibiza. We’ve done so many trips in Europe together. Paris (3 times), London, Berlin, Amsterdam and almost everywhere in Belgium. But I couldn’t bring her to the Philippines. Importing a car is almost as expensive as a new car and then you still have to arrange the transport. So I sold her, paid the rest of my loan to my parents and I’ve put the rest on my account as some starting money for in the Philippines.

Apply for a visa
• a visa? What visa? When you’re married to a Filipina, you can go to the Philippines for a year without having to apply for a visa. It’s called ‘Balikbayan’. All you need are your wedding papers. Once you’re in the Philippines, you can see if you can adjust to your new life. If so, you can apply for a resident visa for a permanent stay. Again no worries there, not much papers to arrange, just had the wedding papers translated so we’re good there. At least, that’s what we hope for. We’ll see soon enough if the immigration service will let us pass 😉

Closing bank accounts
• at the bank, I still have my normal bank account and my savings account. Of course I won’t need the savings account anymore, but my normal bank account I will still need. At least for a while. I still have to receive back from or pay for the taxes. (I hope I’ll get something back, I paid enough last time) Also, in Belgium you never know when something will come up that still has to be paid. So I’m leaving my account open with some money and I gave someone the permission to manage it. After 1 year she will be able to close the account and bring me the money that’s left when she comes over to visit me.

Fill out taxes
• because I worked this year, I also have to fill out my taxes. I went to the tax office and asked for a paper to fill out. In all the companies I’ve worked I asked for the correct papers and amounts I’ve earned so I could fill out the taxes. Now I’m just waiting for the last numbers to fill out.

Ship your stuff to the Philippines
• we had a lot of stuff to take to the Philippines. But I didn’t want to pay the super expensive rates for over weighed luggage. We found a company that ships every month a shipping container to the Philippines. You can fill our your boxes and have it shipped for very reasonable priced. The company is ELJO Balikbayan Box and is run by a Belgian and a Filipino in Belgium. They have contacts in the Philippines who are there to unload the container at arrival and they send it to your desired destination. We filled 3 boxes with books, albums, etc.

Buying your flight ticket
• of course a crucial step in moving to the Philippines … buying the flight ticket. We wanted to fly as cheap as possible and some stop overs were no problem, for as long as we don’t have to wait for 10 hours in an airport. (I’ve done that once, that was enough). We found some ok rates on cheaptickets.be. Qatar airways showed us one of the cheapest tickets. But when we checked on the website of Qatar Airways itself, it was even cheaper. So we bought direct from their website. We have stop in Rome (too bad we can not visit the city in the waiting time), then we fly to Doha, Qatar and finally to Manilla. We were supposed to fly on a weekday because that’s cheaper, but I’d like to have my family at the airport and they too want to be there for my last goodbye and so we chise for a weekend flight.

Qatar Airways at Doha International Airport.

Qatar Airways at Doha International Airport. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So these are some points you might want to arrange if you’re in that same situation. Other things I might have forgotten to mention, feel free to ask if I did them and how I arranged them.

A warm welcome

To everyone who has found his or her way to my site, I wish you a warm welcome. A warm welcome indeed. Warm is exactly the right term to describe it. Why? Let me just explain a little bit of my background and future.

Belgium

Who am I?
My name is Pedro, born from a Belgian mother and a Portuguese father my life started already international. But that didn’t lead into a life full of traveling. At least not when I was young

er. Life was normal. It lacked a little bit of salt in the mix. But what did I know, I was just a kid, traveling every year with his parents to Portugal during summer to visit the family from my dad’s side.

Life continued like that until the moment I finished college and I had to find a job. Not that easy in a time of economical crisis. Especially in my sector (the printing sector) it was a hard time. There were jobs available, but to many people just got fired due to the crisis. People with experience. So even though I tried very hard, six months later I was still jobless.

Thomas Cook logo

Thomas Cook logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Time to try something else, I thought, and went on with my search online. Jetair and Thomas Cook came up. Two travel companies that were looking for animators and hosts on their destinations. It seemed fun and I’ve always heard experience like that is great to add to your resume. I tried both. Jetair didn’t accept me, but Thomas Cook told me immediately that I could join them and follow their course in Majorca.

And that’s where the new me was born.

A Jordan experience
When the course of Thomas Cook was finished, we received the destination where we

Large Jordanian Flag, Aqaba, Jordan

Large Jordanian Flag, Aqaba, Jordan (Photo credit: BBM Explorer)

would live for the next 6 or 7 months. I chose for Jordan and that was exactly what I got. Apparently not as popular as Egypt or Turkey. For me it seemed very interesting. New culture, new country and a so much history to learn from.

What I expected came true. Jordan is a very nice and open country. It’s an Arab country, but not as closed as Saudi (which is just a neighboring country). People are friendly and there is so much to see. I’m not sure if I would have ever visited Jordan if I wouldn’t have worked there. It would have been a shame.

Anyway, during my job in Jordan, I met a girl from the Philippines. She worked also in the hotel where I was assigned. We met up several times to learn to know each other, she moved to Belgium and now, we are happily married and planning our future. But what is that future?

Our future
From the moment she arrived in Belgium I already knew that one day, we would move to the Philippines. Not just for traveling, because that I did twice already, but for living and working. During my 2 visits in the Philippines I felt actually more at home than in Belgium. By the end of June this year (2012) we decided we were gonna give it a try. Good jobs are available and at my work they were looking for a solution to not have to fire me (crisis again), so we had nothing to lose.

On September 8, my wife and I are traveling to the Philippines. Our future starts now.

Philippine Flag

Philippine Flag (Photo credit: sjsharktank)