Monthly Archives: June 2013

Our US Trip FAQs and Facts!

If you were following me closely in Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, you know that I went to the United States just a few weeks ago.  What you probably didn’t know is that it’s my second time there. I first went there when I was 16/17 years old. What’s with the 16/17 part? Well, I first went in when I was 16 years old then I celebrated my 17th birthday in Disneyland. Best. Birthday. Ever.

But now that I am 25 years old, I realized that United States is not all about Disney or the cool weather or the land overflowing chocolates we, Filipinos, imagine it to be.

Before we go deep with some details, let me answer the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that me and my family encountered from Filipinos in and out of the country.

First, why did we go to the United States? Answer: To meet our relatives that we have not seen for years. You see my parents are both very thrifty individuals. Everything they do has dual purpose. For example, if they decided to take a leave from work to watch my siblings or myself perform in school, they will also use that leave to pay off the bills or call someone to fix some things in our car that day. Thus, since 2005 (our first US trip), we never really had a vacation except some swimming trips with their officemates or staying overnight in a hotel in Pampanga on December 31st. What’s with December 31st? Well, my parents want us to have a refuge from all the smokes our neighbors make on New Year’s Eve because one time when we were children, we all welcomed the New Year with bronchitis.

Anyway, two of my mother’s siblings were there together with their respective children and grandchildren. Also, my Dad has super close cousins who migrated there.

Second, how did we obtain the Unites States multiple-entry tourist visa? Answer: We applied like any ordinary persons applying for visa. The secret for our approval, you ask? Candidness. Americans appreciate candidness. Be calm. Answer their questions politely and directly. Do not show documents that they did not ask. You will only look suspicious in their eyes. Also, make sure that you send to them the message that you are willing to return to the Philippines after your vacation. That’s all.

And hey, America is a very beautiful place to visit. I’ve been to California and Nevada for this trip and I really want to see more. It’s a rich and progressive country with so many places to see, cultures to immerse with and people to know. I want to explore more of California and I want to see the West Coast next time. Yes to New York and Florida! Also, we met an Australian tourist. She claimed that Alaska is so beautiful. I want to see more of that but I guess I must practice to get used with the cold. Oh and do not forget that Hawaii is also part of the Fifty States! I know I sound ridiculous and ambitious with my future American itineraries but hey, a girl can dream.

Third, do you have any business in the United States? Answer: None. That’s why it hurts my parents’ wallet a lot touring there because they earn nothing but peso. Yup, it also means nobody will petition us so we’ll be Filipinos for the rest of our lives! Haha! Also, I noticed that prices of the goods there severely inflated compared to the first time we had been there. Probably because when I computed the gas prices, their price is just a few centavos cheaper compared to ours and diesel there is more expensive. Also, it is obvious that their economy is just starting to pick up again. The news of retrenchment from fellow Filipinos there are common, too.

That’s it for this blog entry. I’ll continue writing more about it in my next blog entry. I decided to put in some of my favorite pictures from the US to end this post. Let the pictures and some captions give you the gist on what happened for our two weeks in there. 🙂

Ooh la la, Eiffel! Just Kidding. The infamous Las Vegas Strip (which is surprisingly NOT in Las Vegas City) is home to  beautifully themed hotels and Casino. That is Paris Las Vegas
New York
The City That Never Sleeps. Yet another faux famous landmark in Las Vegas Strip. This is from New York-New York Hotel and Casino
MGM Grand. Of course as a Filipina, I'm a huge fan of Manny Pacquiao. It is an honor to walk in the place where some of his most unforgettable matches were held
MGM Grand. Of course as a Filipina, I’m a huge fan of Manny Pacquiao. It is an honor to walk in the place where some of his most unforgettable matches were held
Happy Accident
Happy Accident. My Dad and his cousin, Rolly, were BFFs when they were in college and later in their adult life. But Uncle Rolly found out that he was a US Citizen later on in life because his father worked in the army. Anyway, I first met him 8 years ago when we first went to their house in San Jose, California. But it was unbelievable that they were in Las Vegas the day we were there. And get this, although Uncle Rolly and his family was staying there for 20 years, it was also his first time in Las Vegas!
Reunions. My uncle was petitioned by his daughter when he was 61 years old by her daughter who was working there for ten years. It was quite a surprise for us. But it seems he is happy. Anyway, this is in Ventura, California. There aren’t many Filipinos here and it isn’t a famous places either but the place is so beautiful and clean. There are many clean public beaches and also we even had campfire in the backyard. I’m telling you, Ventura is California’s best kept secret.
Happy Accident
We Made It. My cousin Rony, who is working as a seaman (chef) in that luxury cruise ship “Grand Princess” messaged me that his ship will stay in Pier 35 for a few hours. His wife found out in Facebook that we are in America. My parents were hesitant to go there first because we have to commute all the way from our place (South San Francisco) to San Francisco. But it was fun! I love riding in the BART.
Blessed. My family with my cousin Dino’s children. I love then all so dearly. I’m glad that I am their aunt.
Sunset. This is the beach near my cousin’s apartment in Pacifica, California. Yes, they named their beach after the Pacific Ocean. I think this is my ideal place. After a long day’s work, I will stop by the public beach and meditate. It is kind of difficult in this beach, though. It is freezing! But you see how wonderful it is. It is also bittersweet to think that that this big body of water is the only obstacle of us, Filipinos, to America…
Old and New
Old and New. My father was able to meet his closest cousins in the US. We were able to meet their children and their children’s children. Some of them for the first time in my life. Yes, Filipinos have many, many cousins. Haha!
Kinship. I was close to my cousin, Marian, before they left for the States. It’s surreal to see her again. She is also is with her brother Michael. Michael was a very little boy when I last saw him. Anyway, he is now an incoming sophomore in the renowned Columbia University in New York taking up Biomedical Engineering in full scholarship. Just wow. I’m so proud of him.