I've had my fair share of Goodbyes.
I've watched friends come and go in so many different ways: some lost touch over time, others moved to a different city and we grew apart, and others I personally sent off (with tear stained eyes and a heavy heart) to another land, unsure of when I will see them again.
Usually on those days filled with farewells and indefinite "see you soons", the skies are painted with a deep shade of grey and seem to share my sentiments over the day.
But on the day the tables were turned, when it was me saying my goodbyes, my best friends sending me off, and leaving behind the beloved land I was born and raised in - the skies did not cry with me.
|See you soon, my Manila. | 09.10.14|
Sure, it cast a gloomy shadow for a while as we waited for the sun to rise that morning. But as the time of my departure drew nearer, the day became brighter and my heart felt a sense of peace. It felt odd to me for a while, because I remembered all the people I would miss, and the memories I've shared with them. Days before, the mere thought of it would bring me to tears, but on that day when I was leaving all it brought was a smile.
I learned I was leaving the country sometime in May of this year. The letter for our interview at the Embassy came in a little after the Holy Week in April, and we did our best to meet the necessary requirements in spite of time constraints and a lack in funds. At the time, our family still wasn't set on leaving. I had a cousin who received their family's interview letter the same time as we did, and though they too had mixed emotions, their hearts seemed so set on leaving the country and really believed God's favor was upon us. I and my folks on the other hand, couldn't seem to figure out where the Lord was leading in all of this. So I just prayed for a heart that would trust in His Hand day by day and that He would take me and my family step by step. If His will is truly for us to leave, then He would make every way possible for us to go. After all, there were a lot of factors to consider: we really had no means to go, and I had a budding career as singer and host which I absolutely loved doing. Though I've only been a year in, things were doing really well-- considering I had a duo in the oven, I was getting bookings and inquiries left and right, plus an opportunity to become a brand ambassador up ahead.
Things got really confusing. To the point that I would find myself crying at night when I would think about leaving behind my life in the Philippines. But every time I broke down, I remember coming before the Lord and He would meet me each time and give me comfort and peace through His word that things were going to be alright. I was at the palm of His Hand.
July of this year marked CCF (my home church)'s Mid-Year prayer and fasting week, and I just knew the Lord was leading me to seek Him for answers about whether I should leave or not. So I got really specific. I asked Him to send me a sign: that if He didn't want me to leave but stay in the PH, that I would book more singing gigs in the coming month. Preferably a regular at a bar, bistro or lounge. But if He really wanted me to leave, then He would give me the means to go. Particularly pamasahe to leave (a one way plane ticket to LA), and maybe a job or at least extra funds to get me by for the next two months while I'm there and settling in.
What happened next was insane.
I stopped getting singing gigs altogether. The regular bar that I usually play in didn't call me for a month. And the agency that books me for a high-end lounge at a resort in Manila was replaced by the company, which meant that I was no longer included in the roster of performers. I'd get a few hosting gigs and was able to book a commercial within that month, so I was still able to earn in a way.
Also, a few days after the fasting week we got a call from a relative who said they were willing to help with the fare for our flight plus give in a little extra to help us get by on our first few weeks. Help came in all forms and kinds. Even when we wouldn't ask for it. Reading back on what I've written down so far, I know it feels a little anti-climactic. Maybe because I don't wanna say too much. But I'm pretty certain that if you've ever been through a miracle moment like this before, then I trust you know exactly how I feel.
At that point I knew what I had to do.
There were no tears as I hugged my best friends Jikay and Bea for the last time until Lord-knows-when that Wednesday morning. There was only a heart full of joy and contentment, and a mind filled with memories to last a lifetime and dreams I need to chase as we boarded flight PR112.
This is only the beginning of the journey and we are all looking forward for what's to come. Of course, I am still prone to thinking back to my homeland and the friends I left behind. I miss them all very much. On the plane, my dad and I would sometimes joke: "Ayoko na, quits na lang. Uwi na tayo" every time the captain of the airplane announced our ETA to LA in between the flight. It's a little half-meant, but at the same time my mind is set on seeing His Promise through. It's not going to be easy, I know. But a chance to mold my character, strengthen my skills, give me courage and make it on my own? I couldn't pass this opportunity up without first giving it a try.
|Here we go!|
Please continue to keep me and my family in your prayers. We're currently still sorting things out -- trying to get an SSN, a drivers license, waiting for our Green Card to get mailed in. Plus, I'm still trying to look for a job that'll help me get by and pay for stuff, of course until I'm able to do what I love again (which is music and performing, of course -- the chase for the Dream continues!) Jared needs to get enrolled soon, and we really REALLY need to find a place of our own within the next two months before we run out favors haha. Dami pang kailangan gawin. Hirap pala mag-migrate haha. But hey, we've made it through Day 2 with zero casualties so far and a whole lot of Grace to go around, soooo we must be doing something right, right? :)) This jetlag is being a real pain, though.
And so, I end this post with a song I released along with my good friend and duo partner, (Luis Cortez) a few months back. Luis wrote the whole thing, to be honest. But he wrote it during the time I told him I might be leaving for the United States. It was a time when we just planned forming and launching a duo publicly and we were both doing really well with booking gigs and events. I was crying when I told him that this new "development" in my life complicated a lot of things, most especially my plans, and I was so scared because I wasn't sure if the Lord's hand was upon this. It was basically a conflict between the good and the Best. What I wanted, and what the Lord wanted for me. And so, Kapit was born; a song of hope, trust and friendship. And ultimately, God's message to us... To you, for whenever times get rough:
"Kung hindi mo na kaya,
Ako'y nandito lang
Wag kang bibitaw, Kumapit ka na lang
Sasamahan Kita, sa hirap o ginhawa.
Basta't kumapit ka,
Hinding hindi Kita pababayaan."
The video is actually a gift to me from my friends in the Philippines, which they showed to me during my surprise send off party. (Kinda cried while watching it. Okay, I actually cried a lot.) But if you wanna hear the original track, you can find it on The Fifth Day's soundcloud: http://soundcloud.com/tfdmusic/tfdkapit_original :)
And there you go folks. I realize I haven't told everyone my story yet, because my departure came as a surprise to most of you. So here's my story- it isn't finished yet, but I hope it inspires someone out there who might be going through their own confusing time right now. If there's anything I've learned so far this year it's this: KAPIT LANG, KAPATID. :) Hinding hindi ka pababayaan ng Diyos. Take life one day at a time. There's no need to rush.
Good morning, Manila.
Good night, LA.