The passion for writing is ageless…

As a child I used to write my diaries and log my dreams. In my teens I learned to make journals. This habit developed into a passion. It carried through to my university days as I learned more about writing. In university I became a campus press journalist. Many applies for the position but the board decides who is suitable for the job from numerous applicants. They require a sample of your writing and one done in actual time supervised by the editorial staff. So it is prestigious to become one. I ventured into scriptwriting for film, television and theatre. I adapted well into this passion but it never led me to where I want to be. I have participated in writing competitions and landed some awards which is a big time achievement for me as a neophyte in literature. I have written poems and short narratives as well as short scripts for stageplay productions that received an award of excellence.

However work and studies got in the way and my family discouraged me to have a career in writing and as a young journalist the political upheavals in the Philippines became too oppressive for our generation of young budding campus journalists. The freedom of the press was curtailed in 1984

So I went into further studies in 1986 after spending two years of my life in the theater and I decided to pursue the study of law. I managed to stay on for one year and the coup d’etat attempts in 1986 continued. They Cory government amended the constitution and it was known to be the Cory Constitution. The deposed president Marcos left for Hawaii and lived there in exile with the rest of his family. The country was never in a stable position to allow the student population to thrive in their respective fields. The times were dangerous for law students and writers.

So I shifted my interest and went for practical approach in life. I searched for works abroad. I chanced upon a job vacancy onboard luxury liners so I went for it. I trained in a five star Hotel in Manila before joining the ship. My call came to join the ship in Port of Tobago. It was my first major flight and first major job. The job was easy and I enjoyed the adventure. I sailed for nine months and gained experience travelling the world. I was able to save my wages and still managed to send 30% of my wages to my parents. Onboard I had extra source of income assisting in the stageplay productions as a technical staff on lights and sounds. I also had my free time spend as a cruise assistant for passengers who go on a tour of the destination. I also was asked to assist the photographer in the publication of newsprints on literature about the places that we reach each week while we are embarked at ports. So this opened up more adventure for me.

I finished my contract of nine months and moved on to another ship. I had a vacation of one month then I received my call to join the second ship. That was a six month contract as a Hotel Crew. The job was practically the same. It is a smaller ship that has chartered cruises to SE Asia and Western Australia. Unlike the first ship that goes worldwide and trans-Atlantic crossing, the second ship only done chartered cruises. Mostly the passengers are from big corporations who decided to have their conferences onboard for a maximum of two weeks. So in that period of time we have different companies onboard. The theme is always festive.

My whole shipboard experience has taken over my time and I have stopped writing as the job was too physical. It was on my second ship where I met my husband. He courted me for six months. We spend the whole time knowing each other. The romance started to flourish onboard. Most of us were single and many of us got engaged onboard. So by the time the cruise was nearing its final voyage, we got engaged. He wanted to get married as soon as we reach the port of Manila. So I wrote to my parents and arranged for them to meet my soon to be husband. My parents were a bit taken by surprise and wasnt too happy in the thought that I would be marrying a foreigner. Somehow, they were disenchanted at first but along the way, they gave me their blessing and conceeded for the marriage.

The meeting was held onboard. My mum arrived and met with him. They had a short chat as he was on duty manning the ship being a Third Officer. He was adamant to met my parents and wanted to meet my father as well. That means travelling to the province and we didn’t have time for that. The ship was due to sail for Hong Kong for the final voyage and was also due for the handover. He went back to the UK and came to Manila a month later.

We arranged for the marriage. We did a short cut of procedures and went for a Civil Registry in the province then a month after we had the church wedding in my hometown. His mother attended the wedding. There was a big celebration in the house where we received guests. We proceeded to Hong Kong with his mother and stayed for a week. Both of them went back to the UK and I had to stay behind and got back to Manila. After a month he came back and we both went to the British Embassy in Manila to apply for a settlement visa. It came after a month. He went back to the UK alone and waited for me to join him. He applied for a mortgage and got us a flat in Glasgow. As soon as I got my visa I booked for my flight. When I reached Scotland, he again wanted to marry me. So we went for another Civil Registry in September 1990.

I stayed with him for a year. He continued with his further studies at the Nautical College in Glasgow and I became pregnant. I gave birth to our son in August the following year. He said he is due to join his ship so he has given me the choice of remaining with my son alone in Glasgow or go back to the Philippines. I said I would like to take my son to be with my parents in the province. So it was done.

The years went by and we had more children. The rest of the three kids were all born in the Philippines whose births were all registered at the British Embassy making them all dual citizens from birth. We stayed with my parents until their primary years in school. Every five years we would be going to the UK to visit his parents. So that was the living arrangements for several years.

Through these times, I lost contact of my friends. When I was settled in as a mother of four children I begun to search for my friends. Some I got back with and some disconnected. There was no social media at that time. Computers were just beginning to emerge in the market in the 1990s and we were one of the few starters. We subscribed to an internet provider which came at an extortionate price. The connection was really slow and we just exchanged emails and managed to chat online. He bought me a Motorola Handset which at time was costly to run. But that’s how we communicated. He would call via Inmarsat and I would receive it at my end. The phone bill is huge. But he was earning well. One thing that really burdened him is the cost of hi-tech communications. He was asking me to get back to the UK and bring my parents with me. It was not possible as my mum was still far from her retirement as a Principal and my father was tending the farm. So we lived in the province up to 2002.

My father passed away in 1997 after three years of battling diabetes. My mother deeply mourned for my father. My husband continued to rise in his position and became a Captain. He was earnestly begging me to return to the UK. So I had a conflicting desire as I couldn’t leave my mum behind. I wouldn’t want to leave her on her own. That would be unbearable for me.

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