Sunday, February 19, 2012

An Alien Wife - This is how it happened


                                                     


Not Another Love Story (a love of a lifetime and maybe, for all there is to come.)

There is someone I love and that's Him
The one that married me a year ago
I am up North embracing the cold
Chasing the heart's Hymn

It was around -40°F that night when we arrived at my husband's 5 acre property in Alaska. I can barely move due to a long tiring 5 days drive from South Dakota. We both wanted to have a good warm place to sleep so he started to play with the stove the other Olsons left inside the cabin. He finally gave up dealing with the medium-sized wood stove and started looking for the old one the next morning. We spent the night covered with sleeping bag and comforters on that icy cold bed. Anybody could tell that the previous occupants left in a hurry. There were dry goods scattered all over the place. Children's drawings hanging on the wall.Couple of mobile phones and compatible chargers laying on the bed. A bunk bed next to the window housing a bunch of trash the family shoved underneath. A huge black electric stove and a double door refrigerator that almost took the quarter of the main part of the little cabin.We managed to get through the night without getting a frost bite yet i would say it was the coldest night of my life(literally).
"How was your sleep?".Hunter asked me while he slowly creep out of bed.
"It was good but boy i could have used more blankets!". i answered grouchily. He started cleaning the rest of the area that we left untouched last night as he continued conversing with me.
"Don't worry Bunny, I promise you this will be the last time you're gonna get cold like this.Once i get the old stove going we will be fine". he said.
Hunter is the most determined person i've ever met next to my grandfather i guess. He loves the idea of being in the wild and free of anything that you encounter nowadays living in the city. I would say he could be a survivalist among us. He will fight for his beliefs. And yes, he has the power to sweep you off your feet when he wants to. He will go against somebody that tells him he can't achieve something and will do everything in his power to prove that person wrong. Though sometimes he tend to be more opinionated than i am.I've learned to let it go when we fight about anything at all.To sum it up, he's a very fine man rather than a gentleman.
I slowly went out of bed to help him clear the rest of the cluttered room. When we got done cleaning we hauled almost everything that was inside the cabin and parked it in the yard. I am the kind of person that easily get grumpy when hungry so i head towards the pyrite mica tacoma 2012 to check for sandwiches we can munch on.
" Hey bunny, would you like to have a sandwich with me?".I asked him in a timely manner before he went back inside the cabin.We call each other Bunny/hunnybunny/baby ever since we got married.But i like it best when he calls me babydoll when i'm mad at him.
 " Yeah. Sure. No Mayo please." he answered politely. he'd been trying to maintain his weight since we got back from Manila.

2 1/2 years earlier...


I didn’t learn about online dating until I enrolled in a nursing school in Quezon City. It is one of the largest city in the Philippines. A friend of mine told me about this site where you can join single people searching for their soul mates or whatever reason you have you are welcome. I got a tremendous response with my posting yet most of them are con-artists and just wanting to take advantage of my naivety when it comes to dealing with people in general. When I am about to give up I stumbled upon a letter coming from a man named Hunter Olson who apparently was living in USA. We started exchanging e-mails every day until he asked me have a webcam date with him.
“Hi, how are you doing?” I remembered him asking me on yahoo chat.
I am doing good how about you?” I asked him back
“Things are getting better nowadays especially when I talk to you online”. He typed back.
“Riah, I am seriously looking for someone I can spend the rest of my life with”. He continued
“I am in search of somebody who will stand by me no matter what and is willing to accept me for who I am”. I clearly told him that.
It appeared that Hunter was a very busy person due to the nature of his job at the coal mine. He had forgotten about me whom he e-mailed and chatted for a little bit and didn’t receive any mails from me either. So both of us thought it was just a past time deal. But he knows in his heart he wanted to see my face on the webcam so he e-mailed me again to seek for a chance. As for me, all I wanted to hear from him was “I am a real person and will travel across the globe just to see you and everything’s going to be alright.” And that’s exactly what he said after we got back exchanging mails and this time a regular chat schedules. I fall in love with his character. He seems to be a romantic guy who’d never been hurt.
One day as we were chatting, he suddenly said something that made my heart beat sporadically.
“Since my passport had arrived today, I am going to book a ticket to see you this coming end of April.”I vividly processed that news in my head.
“No way! Are you kidding me?” I exclaimed in response to what seemingly unbelievable statement I just heard. That was the most exciting thing that I've known that day.


The idea of picking him at NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) was making me nervous! What if he doesn’t like me when he sees me in person? What if the feeling is mutual or he might not show up at the airport? I don’t know how many times I have imagined how it is going to be when I finally get to meet him in the flesh. Though those thoughts were killing me I still chose to trust my intuition that he will not let me down. Days and weeks went by so fast and the day that I’ve been waiting for finally came. I got to the airport earlier than his plane’s arrival. I was losing patience when I finally saw his flight number flashing on the monitor’s screen. Some people who aren’t used to traveling might not believe me if I would tell them I spent two more hours waiting for Him after that. I can’t believe I did it! I am the most impatient person on earth! And there’s no way I am wasting my time on somebody I haven’t seen or touched yet. But I’ll admit that wasn’t really the most nerve-racking type of all my experiences. It was only the beginning of it…When I got tired waiting outside along with the family members of OFW’s and tourists from all over the world, I managed to cross the walkway leading to the designated waiting area that is noticeable due to the alphabetically arranged letters above the platform where the two ramps meet when you exit the arrival hall in accordance to the person’s last name or first name you’re trying to fetch. It seems like the guards don’t allow you to enter the waiting area inside if the person’s flight number isn’t in the monitor yet or if they don’t see somebody waving at you. This only made sense to me after waiting there for almost two hours even after I confirmed that His plane had landed.
I saw Him first! He’s wearing black from head to toe with a military green backpack. I tried to hide from the crowd so I could surprise Him a little bit. He was startled when I touched His chest and grabbed His hand to lead Him the way out. I feel so stupid now when I think about what I did that day! I don’t know why I did that. I think I was being shy and I acted that way as a defense mechanism so I don’t get embarrassed around Him since it’s the first time that I will be interacting with Him in person. And there’s another reason why I did that. I thought he might be thirsty with that long period of time flying over the Pacific Ocean. (With a layover in Japan)
“Where are we going?” He asked me with a puzzled look in His eyes.
“Here”. I said as I pointed Him a booth of snacks.
“Hi, Meron Ho kayong C2?”I asked the storekeeper in Tagalog. (Which means: “Hi, Do you have C2?”)
“Oo. Meron”. Ano’ng size at flavor?”She answered in taglish. Tagalog and English language combination. (“Yes. We have, what size and flavor?”)
“Apple ho”. I answered back while I glanced at Hunter. He seemed amazed on what’s going on. I even thought I really want to speak English in front of Him but I don’t want my fellow Filipinos to look at me like I’m a conceited freak who’s trying hard to replace my native tongue or something.
“Here we go”. I opened and handed Him the bottle of commercialized apple juice very different from the apple juice I’ve had here in the US.
“Thanks! That’s very thoughtful of you”.  He added
“No worries”. Then he grabbed my hand this time after drinking some of the juice. I was thinking to myself (“He must’ve liked me better now that He can hold me”.)It made me smile, hoping He didn’t noticed that.
After we paid and got the change for the apple juice we went on and walked out of the crowded greeting area to look for a cab that will take us to the hotel he booked for us in the heart of Manila. I never get to study His face closely since I abducted Him from the crowd earlier. So I looked at Him and one thing I noticed was His pale eyelids. Based on where He resides currently, I never wondered why.
After a mile of walking we reached the parking lot of yellow cab drivers. They are only servicing the airport area and selected destinations around Metro Manila. This was pretty absurd to me, especially with them charging commuters triple the price that you could have paid a random cab driver based on the same distance you’re going. And when you complain they have all the reason in this world to give you a headache. This particular driver told me to stop bitching about how much it cost us because my boyfriend has a lot of money since he is a foreigner. Jeez! I hate people like that! All I can say is, if you want to make money be fair to everybody and expect the exact payment that you are entitled of. It’s up to the customer if he wants to give you a tip or not. I know this is not only happening in my beloved country but all over the world as well.If you watched the movie "The World's Fastest Indian" based on true events where Anthony Hopkins played the main character, you will know what I'm trying to imply about the cab drivers who try to rip customers off.
The three-star tiny hotel has typical standard rooms for Malate, Manila. I can’t believe that if you are a walk-in client you’d only pay less than a thousand pesos for one night accommodation which is reasonably priced based on the services that you get out of it. However, if you reserve these rooms online the minimum amount you’re going to spend in one night for a standard room is double the price. I guess the best way to solve this problem is to fly to Manila and check in at some of the local motels there that accepts walk-in customers then book your room cheaper on your desired hotel once you get settled in for the night. This is only advisable to the people who already know and is familiar with the streets of Manila and surrounding area. If not, you might end up somewhere tangled up with a lot of hustlers trying to offer you a ride for a couple of thousand pesos just to find a cheap motel. Right then and there you’re facing a big trouble especially when you’re in a budgeted vacation. So much for that, Hunter gave the front desk all the necessary information she needs for us to call it a day and let us check in. I am so tired of walking with my heels on and my messenger bag on my shoulder; I could really use some sleep and privacy for us to get to know better without the computer in my face. I remember our first night together being fun. Just like a normal couple I guess. We tried to be intimate but was limited to just hugs and kisses not because I am playing hard to get. It’s a woman thing if you know what I mean. We did what we are supposed to do after 3 days while we were still in the same hotel ;-). We spent most of our daytime sight-seeing.
“Are we there yet?” he asked me while we were on a jeepney with the same route we need to reach our destination.
“We’re almost there just be patient.” I told him with a hint of smirk on my face.
“Oh, here we are! Let’s go and check out what’s going on right now in this place.”I added and guided Him to the ticket booth for entrance payment.
“Ok, where do you think we can get some water to drink? He asked me politely while we were inside Fort Santiago.
I pointed the convenience store located across the street using my lips. That was kind of funny and irritating to do that gesture but who cares? Everybody does that here, I was trying to convince myself of what I did was ethical. I’m sure He noticed that I’m not an example of a refined lady based on how I am with Him.
“Shall we go see the Manila Cathedral this time?” I uttered as I got up from sitting on a big rooted tree adjacent to a mini function hall for events that has native theme.
“I would love that!” He’s trying to calm the air tension between us. I got a little upset of what happened earlier inside the Fort Santiago when he wanted to get a drink right away without finishing our tour at Rizal’s shrine, the museum that houses a set up replica of the said hero’s cell right before his execution. I didn’t say anything but He can clearly read my actions. All of that went away when He told me afterwards that He was amazed to hear no complaints about me wearing heels and touring around on foot. What he doesn’t know, I can run with those little red shoes. I am used to wearing high-heeled shoes and it won’t bother me to walk around all day as long as it’s the right fit.
We then went inside the cathedral and sit for awhile. We observed some other tourists taking pictures of the altar. I suggested we should take some too. I even remember having a good picture inside the kneeling place, shame on me. I felt like I don’t belong there with my short green summer dress. We learned a few things about the simple church made of nipa and bamboo before it turned into an elegant cathedral. We proceeded to Intramuros to experience the solitude inside the walled city. This place is a good reminder of how the Spaniards tried so hard to keep the colonization in my home land. The walls remained strong and solid not until the Americans bombed the Japanese who tried to make the place as their garrison and prison during the World War II.
We ended the day with our last stop. The Manila Zoo was surprisingly busy that day. It must’ve been a weekend or something because I’ve seen a lot of families gathered around having snacks on every corner of the zoo provided with those concrete tables and benches.
“Hunter, look! Lions” I exclaimed while pointing at those angry animals
“ Oh, Yeah! They look stunning! He commented back adorning His face with that familiar contagious grin.
“Yeah, Right, Just because your birth sign is Leo doesn’t mean you’re stunning too! I playfully mocked him.
He has this undying line he picked up from a movie about promoting his ego that reads: I’m ruggedly handsome and savagely good-looking! It really cracks me up every time. Not that I don’t see Him that way but because the way He delivers it in hilarious way. In reality, He doesn’t really consider Himself a handsome one. It then became my job to remind Him every time he forgets what a beautiful face He has. It seems to me that people in general desires what they don’t have and take for granted what they possess. We came across a Koi pond, more like a wishing well that serves as a home of black and red fish that was bothered by our presence. Hunter looked at me and said:
“Would you like to make a wish?”
“Why not, let’s try our luck then? He handed me a coin. And I missed the hole of the jar situated in the middle of the pond. Surprisingly, He got the coin stuck right on the lip of the jar. It didn’t bounced back like what happened to mine that joined the rest of the coins at the bottom of the pond. I asked Him what He wished for but he said:
“You’re not supposed to disclose what you had in mind for it might not come true if you do”. His exact word still lingers in my head.
We never could’ve guessed that three months later the Zebra and the horse we tried to photograph that day was going to have a baby that is famously known as Hebra since the female Zebra mated with the male Horse. They said it could have been a Zorse if the gender of both animals were reversed.
We decided to ride the boat and paddle our way around a man-made island of crocodile replicas. We can see the back of Manila Hospital in this part of the Zoo. It reminded me my duty days when I was still in school. We enjoyed a bowl of halu-halo before we head to the train station that will take us to the street close to our hotel.
It was summertime so it means seasonal fruits are all over the place. I badly wanted that Santol that guy was selling in the street. Hunter stopped me from getting some for myself. He said it’s too risky.
“What if that guy just used the bathroom and never washed his hands?”He argued with me about it.
“Oh Come ‘on I really wanted to have some of those! Don’t worry I’m used to it” I pouted all the way going to the hotel empty-handed.
I know that he was just trying to protect me of getting some kind of disease that you get from pollution exposed street foods and not to mention the dirty hands of some random vendor who are clearly untidy. Some of them may look clean but you’ll never know what they did before peeling those fruits. Oh well, I thought to myself, I am going to get some of those when we shop for our groceries. I am not sure but I would still say this that from that very day until now, nothing has changed. When he says No, it means No! And when I’m hurt he’d say don’t worry you’ll get over it! Amazingly true! One thing of so many that I’ve learned from this relationship is to learn how to appreciate and respect the person that sticks around. He does, I do. Bottom line: We fight and love each other  so much that it doesn’t even bother us anymore if we’re hurt or not. To hold and achieve a winning relationship you need to cultivate it with foundations called sacrifice same as you do with the old school way of growing crops. You have to manually do the labor to plow, fertilize and water your plants. There are no machinery that are available up to date that can substitute your presence to make the love between the two of you blossom. Not even this computer that I am using now. But I have to admit it was our way of finding and initially knowing each other that lead us here..Right here, in this heart of Manila where most visitors try to comment about it being noisy and dirty. I don’t blame them, but I would ask not to judge the country as a whole just because you’ve seen a little portion of it. My homeland is a very affordable destination for tourists as long as you know how to manage and prioritize your finances while enjoying yourself. I may mention some of my disapproval of what my fellow countrymen are doing just to make a living in the streets and hustle most especially with foreigners who seem to have no clue of the place they traveled. But trust me; in my experience if they opt to visit again or establish a business based in my country, they quickly learn how to hustle back.
Today, we’re off to Bolinao a municipality of the province of Pangasinan.
We boarded a passenger bus in Cubao, Quezon City and arrived to our destination about midnight.
“Riah, the nephew of the guy who told me to use his place here won’t be available to take us there, so I am thinking we need to execute our plan B”. Hunter told me right before we got off the bus. He met a Filipino guy on the jet on his way to Manila that offered Him to use His vacation house somewhere in Bolinao. One of the reasons we chose to just pack up and leave Manila to experience the beach for three or four days.
“Well, that’s a bummer. Better luck next time then huh?” I answered while studying the bus terminal where we’re at.
I noticed a couple of tricycle drivers outside the station waiting for potential commuters who needs service. I spoke to one of them and told Him where we’re headed. The resort was closed when we got there so we asked the tricycle driver if he knows a place where we can spend the night over. He was a very nice older man about in his fifties or something so we offered him a good deal to give us a ride back to town and bring us to the nearest motel/resort to spend the night over.
The next morning we found ourselves enjoying the smell of the ocean breeze. No wonder I can hear the sound of the waves last night when we were there trying to get the attention of the resort keeper. The place is called Rock Garden and yes, it’s a beachfront. This was our plan B when all else fails at least we know a place we can go. We searched online for places we can spend our short retreat if ever we miss the original plan.  There were a group of teenagers having a barbecue party right in the cottage facing the room that we rented for three days. Right away we put on our swimsuits after having our breakfast. I will never forget their mini zoo with lots of pretty birds waking you up in the morning. The only thing I had frustration with was the beach itself. I was hoping for a deeper plunge with a soft sand of the sea floor that we never get to experience not until we decided to explore neighboring beaches of Bolinao. I think that’s why they called it Rock Garden because it really is rocky. It’s more of a kid friendly beach with its shallow swimming spots but I would say that the wooden benches tied to a tree were pleasing especially when you’re relaxing and listening with the sound of the ocean and you’re looking at the sunset with your loved one beside you and asking you to spend the rest of your life with them, the place wasn’t so bad at all! We were just fighting about some honesty issues when Hunter asked me if I could go and walk with Him on the beach.
“Can we sit for awhile? I’m getting tired and I want to watch the sunset until it’s gone.”I said to Him.
“Sure. Let’s use the other one.” He pointed to the second bench that was available at that very moment.
There were a couple of kids playing on the other swing bench. Hunter pretended to continue gathering seashells surrounding the bench. I don’t have a clue that he was going to pop up the most awaited question of every woman who wants to be seriously involved to someone special. He came to me with the ugliest seashell he found and said:
“Will you still love me if I’m ugly as this one? He was cupping a piece of corroded clam shell on His left hand. He is left handed so he might be thinking of taking the ring back to his pocket if it doesn’t go his way. That was a funny idea I came up with afterwards. I think he was anticipating me to grab the shell and examine it.
“Yes. Of course. “I was thinking to myself, don’t worry he’s not going to be like the shell someday and picked the shell from his open hand. I was speechless when I saw the beautiful diamond ring he got under that ugly shell. I never expected it to happen so quickly and be on that same day we’ve just fought! He must be full of surprises I guessed.
“Will you marry me?” He finally asked me that very famous question. I noticed Him sweating from his forehead to his hands.
I just looked at Him and the ring. Then I tried it on! He was getting nervous though because I didn’t answer the question directly! He told me later that He was worried and wondering if he should go and get ready packing His belongings so he can leave if ever I turn Him down. I barely know Him that time and the same for Him about me. I told myself, this is it! I have finally found the One!
“Yes!” I said it firmly. And I kissed Him on his lips gently.  Unlike other women, I didn’t shed tears that day out of happiness but I was overjoyed knowing that no matter what happens I have proven to myself that love comes to those who search for it and no matter how many times I’ve got hurt in a relationship from the past, I never gave up. We celebrated by watching the sunset and enjoyed each other on that wooden bench until it was dark. Before going to bed, we discussed about going for a good swim in a better venue. This time we rented a tricycle with its driver named Ronnie who took us to a few tourist spots in Patar, Bolinao.

We found ourselves window shopping for handmade souvenirs in front of Patar beach. There were a lot of fine crafts sold in every nipa hut we checked out. We told Ronnie to wait for quite a while so we could enjoy the white sand and powerful sun. We were surrounded by local boys who were swimming when we got there. I think they were amazed with Hunter’s color and appearance. It seems like Patar Beach doesn’t get much Caucasians even during the summer season. Despite being adjacent to one of the nicest resort in town, Treasures of Bolinao, where local celebrities and politicians chose to stay for an amazing getaway awakened my innate curiosity.
“ Hi, can I borrow your goggles? I asked one of the boys. He looked at me and handed the goggles after I struggled to explain that I’ll return it right away. After five minutes he came to me asking for the thing back.
“My Dad is calling me home”. He said with his hand open waiting for his stuff back.
“There you go.”I said with dismay in my voice wishing we could have gotten a pair of goggles before coming over.
“Hey there, It’s ok let’s go I’ll throw you in the water are you up for that? Hunter asked trying to cheer me up.
“Haha! “ I chuckled as I join him to swim and play against those big angry waves. I was a little bit concerned about my bikini top getting loose so I asked Him to tighten it up for me but a big wave comes crashing through. Good thing my hand was guarding my top as I went rolling at the seabed with Hunter out of my sight. I was so frightened when a pair of hands came to rescue me. It was Him.
“Are you alright?” he embraced me and led me to the shallow part of the beach.
“Let me fix your top” he said bringing me near him. His hands touching my skin makes me want to get out of the water and relax in a room where nobody can disturb us. I came to my senses when another wave this time smaller hit us both. We burst in laughter when we recovered back to our feet.
“Let’s go and sunbathe.” He said.
“Alright, give me a second. I washed my face before I get out of the water.
“You should bury me a live!” I said kidding to Him.
“No way, let me work on my tan.” He answered quickly. But he changed his mind right away when I begged him to come and help me.
“This is crazy but feels good!” I told him while he was working on my legs.
“Oh Yeah, but I don’t think it’s for me. “He was fighting to laugh as he said that.
My head was the only one sticking out so I could breathe.  After that, we decided to go back to Rock Garden. After we took a shower, we went out to have fun with the karaoke machine in the cottage in front of our room and stayed there until we ran out of coins to feed.
The next day, we headed to do some sight-seeing around the municipality but chose to be on the nature side avoiding the sunny beach for awhile to heal Hunter’s sunburn. He looked like a roasted pig being that he’s not used to the UV rays in Alaska that has longer winter season than any other state in USA.
“Our first stop will be at Enchanted Cave” Ronnie said. “I’m sure you guys will love that place.” He added.
I have a hint that the cave has some kind of place where we can have a dip. I have seen some when I was younger but I wasn’t sure. When we arrived at the entrance we had to get tickets for using the facility. There was an arch starting the steps leading the way up into the mouth of the cave. We entered a narrow passage descending towards the main part of the attraction. As we went deeper I can hear little voices echoing in every corner of the cavern. After a few minutes, we were wowed with what an amazing sight! It has crystal clear water where it seems to be a rendezvous of lovers in the past decades.
“Oh my God! This is so beautiful!” I exclaimed as I started stripping off my clothes leaving my pair of black haltered bikini underneath. There are few groups of friends having fun on the other end of the cave. A family of six was also there to enjoy the beauty of the nature has to offer.
“Come on Hunter! Let’s get in the water!” I shouted.
“No it’s Okay; I’ll stay here and watch you. I didn’t bring extra clothes.” He said as he stands on the edge of the rock.
Before we left we asked Ronnie to take a picture of us together having the cave as our background.
“Why didn’t you tell me that you already have an idea what this place going to be?” He asked me sounding upset.
“Well, I wasn’t really sure where we were going in the first place. I just thought that it was a nice cave with a little bit of water in it” I continued to defend myself as I walk down the steps towards the bottom of the Enchanted Cave’s visitor’s area.
“I’m sorry ok? Don’t worry we are going to enjoy the beach again when your skin gets better it’s our main purpose of this trip anyway right?” I was trying to convince Him that missing the cold crystal water down the cave was no big deal.
“Okay. I am hoping so.”Let’s get more pictures here where that sign is.” He continued while walking towards Ronnie. From a distance I can tell he’s asking Ronnie to take some photos for us. Ronnie was standing in front of his tricycle and tried to tell Hunter how wonderful it is to be with his girl pointing to his Kawasaki motorbike and he asked to be photographed next to it.
After we had a coconut flesh and juice, we continued on our whole day trip. We stopped at the famous Cape Bolinao Light House. We weren’t able to climb the said tower but I did enjoyed picking some raw fruits called “Sineguelas” or Jocote growing in the vicinity. Too bad I had to dispose them all since it was raw and green it tasted awful. I just thought it would be fun to share my first bite with such fruit with Hunter.
Our driver/tour guide Ronnie took us to a small secluded spring that has a fantastic falls in the middle of the jungle. There were teenagers having a good time jumping from the cliff down to the cold water where the falls settle down the mountains and eventually will be a part of the ocean. I stood beside Hunter to watch the party for awhile when he started to dare me do a back flip from the top all the way to what I estimated about fifteen feet water down below.
“Riah! Just go ahead and try!” I know you can do it!” he said grinning at me.
I don’t like it when people dare me and think that I won’t do it because I am a softy. I have started showering on the left wing of the falls when he started talking to me. I wasn’t going to remove my clothing but I have decided to jump and carrying more weight on my body while on air would make it harder for me so I started stripping my shorts and racer back shirt. I hurriedly went to the top using the mud stairs.  I think I got that unusual feeling when my body gives off heat trying to compensate my cold hands and feet so I could have more courage to overcome what seems to be an obstacle to success.
“Jump, Do it now!” Hunter howled at me. I was so nervous that when I looked at the gushing water I felt like I’m moving with it. Everybody seems to be in a slow motion. I heard the boys and girls chanting.Another flashback hits me while i hesitate to jump it happened when i applied for seaman's book a year ago or so. I recollected that it wasn't fun jumping that high against the water when you finally hit the bottom.
“Jump, Jump “The teenagers shouted in Tagalog.
I looked down to where Hunter was standing and I see the look in his eyes telling me I can do it! So I counted one to three and there I went crashing down that disturbed water from everybody trying to get everyone’s attention I guess. I am one of them, attention seeker. Yes! It’s funny but true! I don’t know how many people out there that don’t love attention. For me it’s the fuel to my hungry soul wanting to be the center of attention but at the same time trying to enjoy life while it lasts. I had a blast! On the other hand, Hunter kept complaining about everywhere we go we have to pay for an entrance ticket even when it’s a public facility. I understand what he was trying to point out because I feel the same way.  It is unfair for those people who can’t afford but wants to experience those little luxuries in life. I would be more obedient if the said facility was really well-maintained but it wasn’t. To end the story of that, we did pay for every single place that needed an entrance fee.
It seems like we hadn’t had enough of the nature adventure in Bolinao. As soon as we got up the next day in Manila, we planned for a Zoo animal viewing located in Rodriguez (formerly Montalban), Rizal. We used three means of transportation which is very common in Manila. First, we got into a train and when we got to Marikina station, which is the last station that time going East we took a tricycle to the place where I used to live to meet my older sister. Everything went well with me cooking our lunch my most favorite meal chicken soup and hot steamed rice. I also gathered some clothes that I can use for the remainder of Hunter’s vacation and off we went to the largest Zoo in the Philippines called Avilon Montalban Zoological Park boarding a Jeepney dropping us at the mouth of Barrio San Isidro where the exact location of the Zoo is. And to get there without your own vehicle that’s where the tricycle fills in the picture. I remember passing a bridge under water! And a muddy trail right before you see the big sign leading to the famous Zoo. It was a bumpy ride I’m telling you and being next to a six foot tall man, it felt so crowded inside the tricycle. Now, this is not the kind of tricycle that I grew up with but the ones you see all over Metro Manila and the surrounding cities. And Hunter doesn’t like riding at the back of the driver because he wants to be next to me!  Anyway, I am just cracking you up guys.
With the zoo comprising three thousand specimens of foreign and native animals you could actually be tired touring around all day long including the never-ending picture taking with these beautiful animals on the background. And let’s not forget about the four hundred species of plants that is said to have half of it are endemic to the Philippines.
“Hunter that’s the entrance, we should go there and get our ticket”. We already know how much it’s going to cost us so we just proceeded to where the booth is to pay for the entrance fee which was three hundred pesos per head.
“Oh, Yes I’ve seen it too. This is a beautiful place!” He exclaimed.
“I couldn’t agree with you more.” I said with a smile on my face. But that smile went away when I realize I was carrying my big maroon tote bag filled with my stuff.
“Should I ask that guard if I can leave this here?” I said while looking at Him.
“It won’t hurt to try, go ahead I’ll wait for you here.” He pointed on the direction where the animal card boards with holes in the head section were standing.
“Okay, I’ll be back right away.” And I went to the guard and ask if I could leave my belongings until we are done touring around.
“Sure. But please be back soon enough before the entire zoo closes.” He said trying to warn me that the closing time is almost there.
“Thank you very much Mister, Don’t worry we’ll be back in no time.” I just shoved my bag under a shelf which I assumed are used for lost and found items around the zoo. I saw hunter examining the birds in the cage close to the card boards where he was prior to that.
“Come, I’ll take a photo of you standing on the back of that leopard cardboard!” he excitingly said.
“Alright, Do I have to look like a leopard then?” I strike a pose with a big grin on my face.
We were both laughing when we left that scene. We were lucky to be there while the zoo wasn’t that busy.
It seems like we were the only visitor roaming around that day and well, being that it was late afternoon, we encountered zoo keepers maintaining the orderliness of the jungle-like 7.5 hectares flora and fauna man-made haven.
We worked our way up and down and circling around the entire zoo. From mammals, we proceeded to see the birds and decided to feed the fishes and the last that we visited were the reptiles and invertebrates. All in all, it was fun! I wish I could go back in time and spend more hours examining these exotic animals.  We weren’t able to see the greenhouse because we were running out of time.  There was one event that made us waste some of our precious time when I accidentally dropped the double A batteries for my digital camera. We searched for it but never found it so we decided to go back at the visitor’s area to buy a set of batteries as well as use the comfort room. It was funny because on our way to see the Philippine eagle, we saw the batteries off the pathway but was too late to return the new ones.
Since today is his last day, we’ve decide to just roam around Robinson’s Manila. We tried to find something native that He can give to his sister. We agreed to get a bamboo fan with her name embroidered on it. We went to see the biggest mall in the country the Mall of Asia. I was starting to feel indifferent of the outcome of this meeting in person phase of our relationship. Reality started sinking in. He will be gone tomorrow morning. I will be left broken-hearted or longing for something to happen that is impossible, for Him to stay with me forever. I tried to ignore the bad vibes I was feeling and focused on enjoying the last hours of our lives together if ever he’s not into me. How many times did I hope for something permanent? I asked myself. The answer was: A lot of times!  So, it wasn’t new to me at all. We took photos in front of the big fountain facing Manila Bay and getting a good Mall of Asia background. We even saw a man with His fishing arrow and a net pouch half full of newly catch fish. That was cool! I thought you only see that in provinces.
We made love that night and I cried. It’s funny because I’ve never felt something like that before. When I think back of what happened, especially when I hear Dire Straits’ Romeo and Juliet, I understand why.
We woke up early so he could be in time for his departure. We took a cab that was provided by one of the hotel’s staff. When we arrived at the International Airport, we still have enough time to have breakfast but we waited for thirty minutes or so before the canteen opened for business. It was so funny because we fought over ordering rice.
“I didn’t tell you to get me rice, did I?” he asked me hastily.
“Oh really, well I’m sorry for that! I didn’t hear you complain when I was ordering it at the counter!” I answered back with dismay.
After a while he acted like nothing has happened. He forced a roll of peso bills into my hand.
“That’s for your transportation.” He told me.
“No thanks! I don’t want anything from you.” I was getting annoyed by his gesture. Does he think its ok for people to hurt your feelings and suddenly if they’re feeling fine you should go with the flow?
“Come on Riah, I know you used up all your money while you were with me so just take it ok?” he was convincing me to take the money from the table where i put it.
“Haah”. I sighed and swallowed my pride. I was thinking he has a good point. If I don’t take the money then I will be forced to take the train and that would be a pain in the ass.
“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to make you mad about the rice thing. I just didn’t know that you were getting one for me too. I was thinking of a bread for breakfast and that chicken adobo with it.” He explained himself to me.
“Alright I am feeling better now. Let’s change the course of our conversation, shall we?” I said.
“Ok. Perfect. We should be enjoying our last minutes here. It won’t be long I’ll be inside that gate and it’ll take time before I see you again.” He added.
“Let’s get out of here then. I think our chair had been occupied while we were eating.” I said as I pointed with my lips the direction where we were thirty minutes ago.
“We only have thirty minutes more left and it’s time for me to go in.” he said
“Oh hold on, there’s a family getting up from that row we should get those chairs.” I was talking to him while heading for the chairs.
We took some goodbye photos. Maybe that’s how you call pictures that are taken right before you and your loved ones say your last words.
“It’s time to go.” He looked at me sadly
“Yeah, I know. The time went by so quickly. I wish you could just stay here with me.” I muttered.
“It’s ok, don’t be sad, I promise I’ll be back and see you again. “He whispered
I walked him towards the entrance where an airport officer was checking for traveler’s passport and itinerary.
“Have a safe trip Hunter.”I hugged him tightly for the last time.
“Thank you. You be careful too on your way home.” And he kissed me goodbye. I didn’t mind the people around us. They don’t know our story and I have nothing to be ashamed of.
I watched him walk through that door and on the next officer for other security and validity purposes of his travel. And as I turned my back away from his sight, I felt a warm liquid running through my cheeks. Yes. I cried again. I felt like I lost a part of me that day. I doubted what’s in store for us is really going to be a happy ever after.
Four months later..
I am headed to the airport today to meet someone that I knew from online dating. I hope that everything turns out well this time. I promised myself that if this one doesn’t work, then I’m done with online started relationships and maybe I’ll just make myself an old maid not necessarily a spinster because I have two beautiful children from a previous relationship. Too bad they don’t live with me, that’s why I never mentioned them earlier in my story. At that time when I was heading to the airport I was twenty five and was so worried about not getting married or just finding “the one”.
My prospect this time is thirty years old, Caucasian, with an ethnicity that’s fascinating. He told me he has some German, Norwegian and Cherokee Indian in his genes. Like me, he’s been in bad relationships and has one child from his previous marriage to a fellow Caucasian. That’s one thing I liked about him because when it comes to my kids he will understand what it takes to be a parent. That matter wouldn’t be an issue then.
I got to the airport about 20 minutes late. I thought it wouldn’t be an issue because the last time I was at the International Airport I had to wait a couple of hours after the arrival that I was waiting. It seems to me that the system changed in just a short period of time or maybe not, just got lucky I guess. I get to pass through the entrance right away when I told the guard that the person I am supposed to fetch was already in the waiting area inside. I am certain of that because I have spotted him from a distance. This man must love the color black he is wearing pants and a cut-off sleeves carhart shirt and has an Under Armour hooded sweatshirt hanging on his green backpack. He also has a laptop messenger bag on his right shoulder. He seemed anxious; maybe he’d been thinking I might not show up as agreed. I tried to hide from the crowd while I was walking towards his direction. But it was too late he already saw me.
“You made it!” we almost said it together.
“Yup! I’m sorry; it was so hard to get a cab where I came from.”
“Oh, it’s Ok. It wasn’t that long and besides I am comfortable sitting here while I count all the people that come and go.” he laughed a bit when he said that.
“Did you think I might never show up?” “haha!” I laughed too.
“Nope it never crossed my mind.” he answered back
“Oh and the reason I am late is I had to drop by at the hotel where we are staying at. I also left my luggage there. Do you need some help carrying your stuff?” I asked him.
“No thanks, I am fine.” He smiled while he walks with me out of the waiting area.
We were set to be in Puerto Galera for the next five months or so but we postponed our trip because my Caucasian date has a root canal done in the US without putting a crown. We scheduled an appointment with the dentist that I know in Marikina City where I live. I recommended him due to his friendly nature when I was there before for a filling. The dentist said we had to come back for the crown after a few days from ordering it because he doesn’t mold gold tooth on his clinic. We have decided to take off to Puerto Galera after learning what the dentist told us. We agreed to come back for it a week later because we’ve been worried about the apartment we planned on renting might be taken once we don’t settle the down payment for two months and just wiring money isn’t an option. Nowadays, it’s hard to trust anyone even your closest kin.
We are able to meet our agent on the port of Small La Laguna Beach. He then asked services of “habal-habal” (motorcyclists) to take us up to the hill where the apartment is situated. It was around mid night when we eventually get inside the apartment. That’s the first time we interacted with Ms. Merly our landlady. We settled the down payment for the rent. Before our agent take off I heard him talking about the fair for the motorcycle services rendered. My date was out of change so we told them to come back first thing in the morning if they wish. One of the drivers seems friendly I caught him smiling shyly.
“I am starving we should go find something to eat.” He said.
“Me too, I’ve been hearing my tummy gurgling all the way from Batangas port up to now.” I responded quietly.
“Somebody is getting tired”. He said playfully. “Don’t worry after we eat we’ll rest.”He added.
“I would really love that!” I started getting ready to go.
“What is in your mind for a late dinner or an early breakfast?” he asked me.
“It doesn’t matter to me. I’ll eat what they serve momentarily.” I told Him.
We walked down that muddy hill towards the center of the town called Sabang. It was funny because Sinandigan, the apartment’s location is just 20 steps away from the boundary of the town. It is home to various ethnicities that have chosen to reside and establish their businesses years ago. Which was a good thing because my date is Caucasian and being surrounded with fellow white-skinned no matter what the origin is better than no comparison at all of the same kind. That way, people doesn’t look at us amazed or differently because they have been used to seeing whites all over the place.
“I think that restaurant on our left will serve something quickly.” I pointed to the first restaurant I’ve noticed on our way up earlier.
“Sure. Anything or a sandwich would satisfy my hunger.” He said.
“I’d like to have this continental breakfast please.” He told the waitress that was serving us.
“Ok sir. Anything else?” the waitress replied.
“That would be all. Thanks!” He answered. “How about you, did you find something you like?” he asked me politely.
“Yup, I’m having a tapsilog.”I answered.
“What is that?” he curiously looked at the menu.
“That’s it.”I pointed to the one listed on the menu with a corresponding image of the food I ordered.
“That means Tapa, Sinangag at Itlog.”I added. This is a very popular meal in the Philippines especially for the middle class to poor consumers. I am not saying that wealthy people don’t eat Tapa which actually originated from Spanish Cuisine due to a certain event when King Alfonso X of Castile ordered taverns to serve wines with Tapas to avoid illness-related to drinking without accompanying food. It’s just that these types of food are commonly served in fast-food restaurants and also pocket-friendly. Beef is the most common meat that is used here to make tapa. And I would say that tapa is made in a similar fashion with beef jerky that I came to love here in the US of A. Sinangag is simply fried rice and itlog is the Tagalog term for egg.
The next morning was the beginning of our almost five months stay in Sinandigan, Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro. With that length of stay we managed to do what you could possibly imagined staying in a beach. The only thing we didn’t do was diving. It was out of our plan due to our tight budget being that we were planning to stay longer if needed so we could be together for good. Now, I might be wrong but I have a hint that you are wondering why we would think of something long term plans like that if we’ve only met two weeks ago. I’m sorry but I wanted to surprise you that the person I am with is finally “the one”.  The guy who asked me to marry Him is no other than Mr. Hunter Olson. Right! I know! I know! You’re wondering how we made it this far aren’t you?
Here’s what happened four and a half months earlier…
When Hunter got back to his normal life in Healy, Alaska he seems to be missing something in His life. He always have felt this way before but it was even more intense this time that he get to meet someone he think would possibly be his match. And he was afraid I will forget what we have agreed and move on to find someone else. We were set to apply for the K-1 or fiancée visa. He intends to bring me to America to live with Him for the rest of our lives. The K-1 visa was the most appropriate thing to acquire since we can’t wait any longer to be together and we intend to marry within 90 days of my arrival in the US. After filing the petition and based on what we read online how long it would take in some cases to finally be approved, Hunter made a huge decision in His life.
“Hey, I can’t wait to see you.” He said to me one time when we were on yahoo chat.
“That makes us both wanting to see each other.” I sounded sad. I don’t know, even if he already proposed to me, I still have the fear that he might change is mind or worse he might end up in an accident or something that will cost his life. It was weird thinking about horrifying ideas that could happen to Him while we’re apart. He told me about his job at the coal mine being so demanding and is said to be one of the most dangerous job in America. I still get the same feeling every now and then when he talk to me about accidents and close calls he and his co-workers have to undergo every night of his shift.
“Yeah. I know just hang in there this time when I come and see you we’ll be together for good.” he said.
“I don’t understand.” I was confused. I thought he will be waiting for me to get there.
“Well, I have decided to just quit my job and be with you while we wait for the visa.” He said while looking straight to the built-in camera on his laptop.
“Wow, really? Are you going to do that for me? I happily asked him.
“But of course! That’s why I asked you to marry me!” he said smiling.
“OMG, I am so excited to see you again!” I said loudly on the microphone.
“Ok, settle down. It won’t be until September though. I need to get rid of some of my properties here. And I need to make more money so we have something we could spend while I stay there without a job.” He explained.
“Oh yeah, it’s ok with me as long as you keep your promise I’ll definitely wait.”I answered back.
I still can’t believe he’s coming back to be with me and to top it all he’s quitting his job! I really hope he won’t regret it though. I don’t want to be blamed in the end if everything doesn’t turn out well.
It won’t be until the 5th of November that we will know that our petition had been approved but due to the fact that Hunter changed his address to his parent’s residence, we end up getting the notice later in the 3rd of December. Which actually isn’t the exact date we receive the mails but I base it on the notice date which I assume that those are the time when the said notice leaves the Department of Homeland Security which in our case was processed in California Service Center and was later transferred to National Benefits Center in Missouri. Since we were currently living in South Dakota that time, they scheduled my biometrics in Fargo, North Dakota just before our interview in Bloomington, Minnesota to assess if I am eligible for the petition to obtain a permanent resident card.
So much for that, as days had fallen off the calendar, we’ve tried to just look forward to the coming September of the year. We did have lover’s quarrel over the net but we always come back to each other and make-up. Most of the arguments and misunderstandings are rooted from me trying to hide the truth about my past relationships. I wanted him so bad that I never told him everything that he needs to know while we were chatting online. I don’t know, it’s hard to talk about your past especially when it’s not bringing you any good memories. I always try to convince myself that in due time only that I can reveal what my secrets are. I am afraid he might back out on me. This is my awaited chance and I know it’s unfair for him not to know everything about me when he swears to his life he had told me every little thing that he thinks might concern me. I just can’t be all out at once. I have never ever trusted anybody in my whole life to know every inch of my secrets. Not even my closest peers nor the person I have lived with for the past years, my very own sister. I am afraid one day he might leave me for that, but I will take my chances, won’t I? If you were in my shoes would you have done the same?
But here we are, (after that four long months of waiting) in this beautiful Island of Mindoro. Sometimes when I am alone I think about a lot of what happened in that four months and two weeks of living like an Islander!  Not that I am not a real Islander but to live like one along with that special person who have not much experience living in a paradise. Yes, a paradise that people take for granted. I have nothing against the people that own and manage these businesses along the stretch of Sabang Beach but I am disgusted of the sewer pipes coming from these diving shops and restaurants that go directly to the ocean! I have read in an article years ago that the same problem was arising in the famous beach Boracay in Aklan province. I am not sure if this kind of practice really has something to do with the ear infection that Hunter contacted after several days of snorkeling. We went to visit a general practitioner because we were in a small town to look for an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist only to find out he has the so called swimmers/tropical ear or in medical term otitis externa. I would say that was a very expensive visit to the doctor just to be checked a little bit. I admit we panicked because it was so painful as verbalized by Hunter and it interrupts His sleeping pattern. He even stayed awake some nights because it was unbearable. This infection emerged when he started using a cotton swab to clean his ears after every swimming and to think that we always go down to the beach so he had been cleaning the protective earwax. And the main cause of the infection is the retention of the water in his ears after every swimming/bathing in the warm temperature of the tropical beach which is a good medium of certain bacteria and fungus. Also not to mention the contaminated water in the beach might be a contributing factor. You can actually buy the eardrops over the counter along with the antibiotic he had to take with it and some painkillers. I never did get any kind of infection from swimming because I am immune to whatever bacteria were present in the beach.
We spent most of our first month sight-seeing all around Puerto Galera. I remember travelling from Sabang to Calapan City by motorcycle. I could have only took us 16.15 nautical miles to 17.55 nautical miles if we travelled by air but we didn’t. We actually opted for the hardest and longer route not only that we were riding a tiny motorbike but we went through a long winding road with some gravel and mud parts which were located next to a marble mining site. I would say those part of the road are accident prone areas especially for rock falls and landslides. Close to the mine we passed a vast area of wild citrus fruit called dalan-dan in Tagalog/Filipino. They were growing alongside of the road where passersby can definitely take advantage of like us. It was a bit dangerous since they are mostly growing at the edge of the cliff. Hunter managed to pick some for me as I am a fan of sour fruits. From that area, we can see the spectacular view of the Tamaraw falls where we stopped to take few photographs for the trip. I am not entirely sure but I guess we spent three hours on the road before we arrived to our final destination which is Calapan City. There was nothing special about the city. It looked more like a tiny city with a super busy street just like what you would see in Baclaran (a market place in Pasay City).I was so disappointed because I badly wanted to shop for some stuff  that we need in the apartment that we just moved in. On the other hand, I was thankful too that we didn’t get anything huge or something perishable by water because on our way home we were soaked in the rain. We stopped a couple of times and the best recollection I have was in a tiny cottage built purposely as a waiting shed or along the road fresh  produce store.
“Shall we stop here for a while? I am really starting to shiver.” Hunter asked me what my opinion was.
“Sure. I would love to have a break clinging on this tiny bike.” I told him.
“I saw a tiny cottage down the road let’s go back and warm up a little bit before we proceed.”He said to me.
“That’s a good idea. I am seriously starting to feel pain in my lower back.”I answered. This 125cc motorbike wasn’t the best mode of transportation and I have totally promised myself not to use one when going to a far place.
“Come closer.” Hunter whispered. He took his shirt off and squeezed it to dry and hang it on the plank in front of the cottage.  We cuddled for 15 minutes or so and started our journey back to Sabang again. We were trying to catch an online video conference with his daughter that’s why we were in a hurry to get back to where we stay. The computer shop in Sabang closes at 10:00pm so we need to be there before that and last time I check my wristwatch it was 8:00pm. We still have enough time if we would push a little more.
Earlier this morning we visited one of the tourist attractions here in Puerto Galera the Talipanan Falls. It was about 20-30 minutes hike from the highway. And right on the mouth of the jungle we passed one of the native villages (Mangyan) that are still thriving in this part of Mindoro. I remember us trading with them on some of their handcrafted products. We got a little basket that we plan to give to Hunter’s mom since He told me she’s into getting her house some kind of a theme. And I would say it’s an antique-hunter type of a theme when I personally stayed there for a few days and get to experience their nice house.
“Do you want anything?” He asked me. “Just look around and if you find something to your liking just let me know ok?” He added.
“Yeah I’ll let you know”. I browsed and loved the bangle made of some kind of a vine growing in the wilderness.
“Here, I would take two of these.” I showed Him what I wanted to get.
The man who was in charge of the little hut store was trying to sell Hunter a bow made of bamboo. I noticed He was interested in that thing but He didn’t buy it.
“Let’s go. It’s still a long hike ahead before we get to the falls.” He told me.
“Alright.” I said as I tag along. I put away the things we bought in the sling bag that I was carrying.
We passed a bunch of Turkey feeding on the ground with a company of a few chickens.
“Hey, wait up. I want you to pose for me in front of these birds!” I excitedly convinced Him.
I thought it was a good idea and will make a good picture out of it. Which it turned out pretty well until now I still keep those photos. On our way to the falls, we encountered a tourist that looks like a man from Middle East based on his facial features. He has two guides and I guessed a girlfriend with Him. They said Hi to us and warned us that it would be a slippery hike up to the mountain where the falls is situated.
“I wonder how much they paid for the guides.” I talked to Hunter while walking.
“I am not sure maybe just enough or they might have a rate going on you know.” He answered back.
“Yup but I guess it won’t be that much they are one of the villagers.” I sound confident when I said that.
After fifteen minutes hike from the Mangyan village, we stumbled upon a very nice view of the Talipanan falls. We took some photos and we decided to go further to discover where this falls originate from. But to our dismay it narrowed as we ascent up in the mountain and here comes the rain. I decided to pee somewhere close to the stream when I noticed a crackling noise coming from behind. I saw a couple of native kids strolling and I hope they didn’t see me when I was hanging my a** to pee(LOL).
The next day we went to White beach since we discovered right away that Sabang beach is as contaminated as Small La laguna. And Big La laguna isn’t that bad but not as good as White beach if you are a huge wave lover and quenching for those powerful waves desire. And I am one as well as Hunter. We also love swimming in the depth not worrying about rocks underneath that can potentially hurt us. But that is the glory of snorkeling though, swimming and rock hunting for fish haven and nice corals that can only be admired underneath. We plan to dive in the future and I would really love to experience the thrill it brings. It was late when we arrived at White beach so we just had a dinner and decided to come back for swimming next time. We befriended one of the gay servers at the restaurant and he invited us to watch him perform that night as a fire dancer but we didn’t stayed longer so we missed the show. Oh and I should not forget that this was the second time we’ve been there. Four days ago we got matching tattoos from a guy whom Hunter named Master Rex. I would say that he is a good artist and I respect the kind of job that he does.  Call it matching tattoos since his first tattoo is a bigger version of my old one a scorpion with my name on its back and the tattoo that I got is a Tibetan letters for his name on my right ankle. That’s another reason we skipped swimming today because of the fresh tattoos.
On the third day of renting the motorcycle, we explored some parts of the map that we bought when we got there. It includes the tourist spots that are located all over Puerto Galera and it had been a great help to us as tourists. We went to this place that has a very bad road and I was so skeptic if we can make it out of there without breaking the motorcycle down but we finally made it to where we thought was a good part of our exploration goal. We parked the motorcycle alongside of the road and off we went looking for that hanging bridge we saw on the map. After 10 minutes or so we found ourselves posing in front of the hanging bridge. We didn’t exactly know what was on the place that was called Coco beach on the map but nothing stopped us from discovering it for ourselves.  We were amazed with the idea of the owner of the secluded beach. It has a basketball and a tennis court. There was a jeepney that runs up and down the hill using a cable. It is for transporting guests up to the restaurant and a pool together with a gym for those who want to exercise. The bamboo huts for guests are surrounded by luscious coconuts that would explain the name of the place I presume. They have a second pool that is more crowded being that it was accessible right next to the restaurant where we dined the second time we visited this place. They also have a bungee-like jumping thing that was going on in front of the beach. And the most important part of the place in my opinion was the visitor’s area where they sell all kinds of hand-crafted jewelries made out of seashells and native raw materials like coconut husk. It was an amazing experience just to browse their items! But of course the trip wasn’t complete without buying anything so we grabbed a turquoise necklace for his sister and a seashell bangle for me. We also bought stuff for my friends in Manila in that store and it comes with a wrapper that has the name of the beach in it.
On the fourth day, we spent half of it in bed and the rest in Bulabod beach. I heard that there are professional film makers that opt to use the place as the venue for shooting a movie or something. I would not dispute about that since I saw the beauty of the place myself and its sand or should I say gravel was amazingly soothing when you walk barefooted. Unlike White beach, it doesn’t have those angry waves but calm and quiet ones that tickle my feet while I lay down with Hunter to watch the blue sky. We observed a party of people in the big hut they must have been celebrating a birthday since we heard them sing that never ending song when we got there. The beach wasn’t crowded at all and I like it that way.
And last but not the least, our fifth day of renting the motorbike was just as fun as the four consecutive days of touring around town. I don’t know but I have an inclination of climbing higher grounds whether its buildings or mountains so I could see in bird’s eye view how wonderful it is to be on top judging your surroundings in a good way. I didn’t get to see the lighthouse that the map says in town so I have settled myself on somewhat a tourist attraction of Sinandigan, another lighthouse. I enjoyed the scenery so much when I was on top of the tower. I wish to do that again in the future if I find one or maybe when I and Hunter finally visit my hometown we can go to a lighthouse just the same as this one.
We thankfully returned the motorcycle to its owner named John Lagare. He and Hunter became friends ever since he saw us walking up and down the hill and every time we pass his renting shop he tried to convince Hunter to rent his bike.
On that same month, Hunter and I dined at a local diving/restaurant called Octopus. We were encouraged by the ad on their business sign that they also have a free Wi-Fi access which we badly needed that time since we are working on my visa and he talk to his daughter occasionally. We can save money and at the same time have a good dinner as well. We dined in that place twice and every time we went there the password didn’t work all we had was a limited connection to the internet which was obviously absurd.
November is my favorite month. Why? Simply because it’s time to celebrate my birthday! We early planned a trip to Manila to visit my friends and my sister.Since we are trying to save some money we opt to stay in a cheaper place called Eurotel situated in Cubao, Quezon City. It’s just going to be for the night anyway so before visiting my friends somewhere in the same City, we went to shop for the things we need in Rustan's Supermarket and Hunter bought me a pair of semi-formal clothing from Espada and Kashieca also in Gateway Mall. Then, we proceeded to look for a jewelry store because he wanted to get me a birthday present which I end up getting a white gold medium loop earrings. A couple of stores away there was a shoe store that we checked out that will go with my outfit for the visa interview. We also met my sister that afternoon to have an early dinner in Gateway. Later in my friend’s house, they prepared a lot of food I don't know what the occasion was but we definitely remember gaining a pound after that feast. They even set-up a disco light in the living room so everybody could dance, it was awesome! I wish to go back in time and party minus the drama of course. It was funny because before those guys started playing poker we were in the living room having fun with the karaoke when one of my friends who sat next to Hunter started talking to him and I got jealous! But when I think of it now, I am grateful that she took the initiative to talk to him in English because he badly needed that when we're around other people. And knowing Hunter, he won't ignore you if you are talking to him politely. And to think that we had a fight for how many days about what happened that night! It was crazy I know! I somewhat want to believe in the saying that “A true friend stabs you in the front". To all my friends especially the owner of the house and her beau, we are so delighted with the hospitality you've shown us! And I want to take this opportunity to thank another friend of mine who included me as one of the Godmother to his child. I know I am not the best mother in the world but it makes me happy when my friends want me to be the second parent to their children.
The next morning, we arrived at the bus station earlier than the next departure time being that it was a walking distance from the hotel we stayed at. When we got to Sabang Beach, we dined in a seafood restaurant just because the waitress had always been nice to us every time we pass by. The name of the restaurant is Bondi and the place was made of bamboo which I can totally relate as I have stayed in a bamboo hut in the city for some years. We were seated right next to the window where the view was spectacular being that a couple of floating cottages was right straight in the direction that we're at. It was amazingly surprising how things have changed just in the couple of days that we were in Manila. The locals are preparing for the Christmas season.
"You guys should come and see us there.” the friendly waitress said.
"I would love to enjoy that slide right there!"I was pointing to the well-made cottage.
"Oh, I see. That other one next to it is the place where my sister is managing and I am looking forward to work there too seasonally."She uttered.
"In that case we should check that other one out then."I smiled at her while saying that.
"Sure we can". Hunter added.
"How much do you think we should tip her?" Hunter asked.
"I don't know just leave some in the table after she comes back with the change."I added.
"Okay then."He answered back.
When we got to our apartment, we talked about renting the motorbike again for another trip to white beach.
"What are you going to put in your leg?" we've talked about him getting a new tattoo last night.
"I think I want your name on my right leg.” he stated.
"That's not a bad idea."I answered. 
"Okay, it's your name then, i am not sure with the color yet."We need to ask Master Rex about that."
"It's set then." Lock it!" Every time we agreed on something we lock it by putting our inner thumbs together and twisting mimicking a locking gesture.
 
He got his second tattoo now with a fanatic “Riah” right on his leg. This had made me think of getting my fourth ink with His name on it. We decided to come back to White Beach for that after we had a drama when we went up to the famous Ponderosa golf course. There I had a better view of the surrounding forests and the villages as well as the town of Puerto Galera. I still can remember the thick fog in the summit of the mountain where the golf course was surprisingly built. I would have never thought someone could devote hauling building materials up on that dramatically elevated ground. Too bad when we were there I ran out of battery charge so the digital camera that I brought didn’t capture any moment we’ve spent up there. I would look at that as meant to be because honestly, I don’t want to have any memories of our bitter past so it would remind me later on in life. But life and brain doesn’t work that way, yes we may force to forget those bad experiences when our brain shuts it off but there will always be a tiny spot in your heart that will make you wonder what that was all about when you are faced with the same situation in the mean time. And of course when someone special wants you to remember it leaving you with no choice but to gather up everything that will help you collect all the data needed to indulge in reminiscence.
Moving on, just like what I said I got my fourth tattoo and it reads “Hunter” right on my back. I don’t know how I came up with the idea of getting it in green. I think that time green was in. And Master Rex convinced us that the ink was totally of a high end brand and imported from the land of the rising sun(Japan). While I love products made in the pearl of the orient, it’s not a bad thing to try new things in life. I recommend you guys to keep trying and experimenting! That’s the essence of adventure. If you’re afraid to try and try, you will never find and get what you really want and variety is a good thing. But, you have to know when to settle for something “good enough” because the truth is you will never find the perfect one. There is only the right one that comes with some baggage. And again as the most famous and quoted line “you’ve got to take the good with the bad”. That is my key to happiness. I think I have said enough with the ink topic but I want to add that in my point of view, if you are somebody that wants to have your first tattoo and is afraid because rumor has it that it totally hurts, I want to confirm it! But it totally depends on your pain tolerance. In my case, to boost my courage I mixed iced tea with vodka and it worked! Some tattooist recommend their clients to intake some form of alcoholic beverages for numbing purposes which I totally overdid it because Hunter was right there to take me home in case I pass out. The only con about it was I kept moving for it was so hard for me to stay still being that I was tipsy and was still drinking! But all in all I had fun!
During our stay in Sinandigan, we visited White Beach for quite a few times and I would say that there are store there that you can get affordable swimsuits. I actually had a favorite place that sells products from Bangkok. They have a good selection of almost everything you will need in the beach from slippers to snorkeling gears available for all ages in both sexes.
And for Hunter to stay in the Philippines with me for that long period of time, we had to keep extending his tourist visa. From what I can remember we visited the BI (Bureau of Immigration) three times and I would say the fees weren’t pocket friendly. After the 21 authorized days that comes with your free visa, you have to extend it for an additional 38 days. And when we did that, since it was new to us we were scammed by an attorney who notarized Hunter’s online printed application which we later find out wasn’t needed at all when we were at the BI office. As what Hunter says people will always take what you are willing to give. The staff was friendly in that particular outlet for Puerto Galera. They informed us that we can get the form right there in their office every time we come for an extension. I remember the woman that was acting like a receptionist was friendly and very accommodating. She even told us about her travels outside the country particularly in Japan where she has a sister who married a Japanese and showed us some photos. Everything went smooth at least we are confident that nobody from the Immigration will come and pick Hunter up and deport him for not extending his visa. After 59 days we opt to extend his visa for 2 months and when it was almost up for another extension since we don’t really have a clue for how long will my K-1 visa application will take, Hunter decided to renew it again for 2 months giving him until March to stay legally in the Philippines. The Immigration officer also told us Hunter was required to have the ACR I-Card since He will be staying more than 6 months which we thought was going to happen. But if we’ve only known earlier that we will be leaving Puerto Galera soon enough we could have not taken the initiative to spend more dollars to extend his stay and obtain the said card. For more information on this it is best to visit their official web site:immigration.gov.ph. If I could turn back in time, I would have still done the same though because when we got to South Dakota it was in the middle of winter. I could’ve still been swimming in White Beach had we stayed longer and used our deposit for the apartment which we over-looked and paid an extra month which we just gave it up for our landlords who had been nice to us the whole time we stayed there. And being that we didn’t really finish the entire 6 months which was agreed would be the entire time we will be renting the place. They treated us very well and even invited us to attend their son’s wedding. We get to witness a very different kind of wedding from the traditional one that I know in my hometown. I was so amazed how they could start a living from the money they made when they give wedding attendants that come forward a native rice cake in lieu of money. From what I’ve seen this would be the counterpart of the traditional “money dance” where the newly-weds would dance in a tune of a local music or whatever the preference of the couple and the visitors will pin bills on their wedding attires or just throw it in the dance floor.
During our four and a half month stay in that Island, we rented a boat with a crew of three that took us to White Beach by ocean, Coral Garden and a secluded mini Island. We did some swimming and shopping in White Beach that day after we visited Coral Garden. This is a famous place to do some serious snorkeling and feeding a school of fish. It has fantastic coral reefs with colorful fishes swimming around you that made me wish I have a waterproof camera to capture the natural beauty of the area. And being that the current was stable, it makes it a good place for novice photographers and snorkelers. About half a mile there lays a sanctuary of Giant Clams which was an awesome experience and I am proud to say that it was one in a lifetime opportunity I grabbed! After we got tired playing in the water with our snorkeling gears we have decided it’s time to feed our growling stomach. That’s when we stopped at that lonely Island only to share it with Koreans who I believed were there to get a solemn background for a wedding themed photo shoot. We brought with us enough food including the boat crew that I marinated the night before our trip. It was a pork barbeque on sticks and beef cuts for grilling too paired with a pot of steamed rice and water.We get our meat supplies from the store of our landlords they even make our life easier and deliver it to our door step whenever we want if we don't feel the need to go back down to the wet market since we live up the hill. We went to white beach afterwards and spent the rest of the afternoon and headed back home.
Christmas time was just in the corner and we were busy preparing for my upcoming visa interview the following month. But prior to that, I needed to pass the most important phase of the visa application; the medical examinations or else we will not be able to push through if by any chance I have some kind of disease that is contagious and incurable. We made a special trip just to get all the requirements needed for the interview.
We got to St. Luke's Medical Center extension clinic early but there was a lot of people that was in the line prior to us only to find out from the guard that i have to have a 2x2 colored photo with a white background and 2 photocopies of my appointment letter from the Embassy or Instruction letter from National Visa Center (NVC)if you have it in hand.In my case, we already have scheduled for an interview right before instruction letter arrived so we used the appointment letter for this purpose.We spent about half an hour getting a rush colored photos and stopping at a computer shop a couple of blocks away to photocopy our appointment letter.
Hunter can't go in with me due to a lot of visa applicants needing medical examinations and bringing a family member or friend will add up to the crowd since the clinic wasn't really spacious for such big business they're dealing with.I presented all of the requirements needed to the receptionist located right in the corner of the waiting area where a lot of clients are seated waiting for their name to be called.I was told to go to the designated floor to pay the medical examinations fee. I have done everything they needed me to do but i had to come back for the vaccinations the following week since we were there Friday and i went in half day only so it was a little bit disappointing since we live out in Puerto Galera that time.To make the story short about my experience of the medical exams, I did pass everything from Physical exams down to chest x-ray and blood tests. I wasn't so happy about getting another chest x-ray coz only a year or so prior to that,I actually had one from the main St. Luke's hospital which was mandatory before you start the training as a nurse assistant. You know how powerful these ionizing radiations are and can be carcinogenic if you over-expose yourself to it.Moving on, if anybody out there who wants to ask me all about this medical examination process can check out this website: http://www.slec.ph/us-visa-applicants.shtml#required-exams
I wanna add a funny story that happened while i was inside the clinic though. My fiance was outside waiting for me right? When i came out after all the tests He was surprisingly gone. I thought to myself " Well maybe he just went to go get something to drink which he actually did. But when He came back there was a man that told him that his girl was somewhere out there in the streets so my poor fiance tagged along until he realized there was something wrong because the guy lead him to a bar that has women who entertains men (you know what i mean) So he paused for a while and was like " Oh no, my girlfriend isn't there. I'm actually waiting for my wife inside the clinic. he told the guy which was so surprised when they saw me coming to their direction. My fiance thought that guy recognized us together and saw me walk out of the clinic while he was gone and thought he was directing him where I was (funny experience huh!)
And so the most awaited part of our visa journey arrived. It was January the 5th of 2011. I would say it was a very interesting day at the US Embassy with all the applicants wearing that face you could easily tell eager to pass the interview. For us it was  very unnerving to see people unhappy after they came out of the booth where the final interview takes place with a consular officer. That means you failed to present all the necessary documents for you to be approved a visa.I felt sorry for a couple(a Filipina and an older American guy) that was there to get an interview yet they weren't prepared. I was thinking to myself how did it occurred to them to go in the battle with out arming themselves the knowledge you can easily get from the internet. Hunter looked at me like: Hey! stop entertaining questions from them they should have done their own research before hand just like we did. But you know, when you know something isn't it fulfilling to share it with somebody who needs it the most? I kept an eye on them but they disappeared for quite a while and right before my final interview I saw them reemerged in the crowd with papers in hand. I was happy to see that. I know how frustrating it is when a lot of people tells you you can't do the things you want to do right away especially if you don't follow the right procedure. I thought that the interview would be so awful that i have to defend myself so badly to get approved but it turned out really quick and easy. Maybe because my fiance was right next to me ready to answer questions from the consular officer and we were really prepared and gathered all the papers needed. The bad part of that day was fighting. Yes! We were supposed to be celebrating about our success! But before we came out of that American facility, we were so pissed with each other and I don't even remember now why.
And right now,almost a year after we got here in Alaska It's winter again but definitely not -40°F. Still here in our small cabin tending the same old wood stove to make the fire going until Hunter gets home from working all night with his night shift schedule.There are a lot of things that have happened in the past year. Tears have fallen through happiness and sorrow. We are still fighting for our right to love and security.I am still the same sensitive person that I've always been and He is still the same guy I wanted to be with no matter what.

The year 2012 is somewhat a glorious year for us. Little did we know that the following year would be devastating in terms of financial security and stability of our household.But before we get to the upsetting scenario, let's imagine the beautiful sands of Hawaii in particular, the Big Island, since we allotted most of our vacation in the biggest island of the 50th state of USA. I practically spent most of my life in a tropical country, Hawaii wasn't that foreign in terms of its temperature only cooler in the winter in comparison to the monsoon season of Asia.If I am not mistaken, Hawaii is the 9th state i have set foot on at this moment and I'm hoping to explore the rest of the 41 left and when would that be? time can only tell. It is pretty much doable since we live in the 49th state and the lower 48s are just a flight away. Speaking of flights, we flew to Honolulu and spent the night in a condotel in close proximity with the Waikiki beach. The next day we were off to the Big Island. Hunter was fascinated with one of the eight major islands of Hawaii not just because it was the most affordable route but you get to experience so much in just one place. We first stayed in a campground in Hilo with our newly purchased Cabela's XPG tent. When people ask us about our trip we always say we went backpacking and they would answer "that's the way to go". My husband would rather go hiking and stay in a tent than to be confined in a city hotel. I can only do so much and get tired of the routine of putting up and taking down the tent but if you want to save money or when you're in a tight budget, that's the way you do it. We roam around the Big Island for the next 20 days. We were dead set on spending a month or two until i got tired of hiking and we were running low on "Bens". I'd like to elaborate the story of us going to Hawaii the first time but there's just too much to tell and I can write another book the entire two trips which was Dec. of 2012 and November of 2013. To make the long story short, we managed to see most of the tourist's spot in the Big Island excluding the highest mountain on earth measured from its base below sea level, the one and only Mauna Kea. I love astronomy and to be on top of that mountain would mean so much to me which leave us with something to look forward to if we end up visiting Hawaii ever again. On our first visit, we met a Filipina who was driving passengers to and from the airport. She mentioned, if only she could make in the Philippines what she's making in Hawaii there's no question about it, she'll pack her bags and go back to her native land. She also said that she worked in a Macadamia Farm and also does some nursing assistance job to make ends met. In one of our trips, I believe it was the one in 2012, we got late for our flight due to our once-in-awhile drama. Hunter and I fought that morning of our flight while the rain was pouring. I told him we should go ahead and call a cab but he insisted we wait for somebody to come by but end up walking in separate route since we were mad at each other.I took the umbrella and he end up getting wet. We eventually got reunited at the entrance of the airport. Now, we woke up so early, we had a lot of time before the flight but because of the drama we end up being late. And because of the shi**y weather that morning, Hunter got wet which set off the alarm when he was going through the scanner. Had he not been search/pat down for quite some time, we would've been fine. They end up notifying the flight crew that we were on hold at the screening area and have to wait for us and open the door again since it was already sealed. Yes, the moral story was: Never ever fight before a flight! as we were walking by the aisle of the business class i heard someone say "they are a special case" which i thought it sounded like "here comes the special kids". The entire thing didn't turn out to be in vain since we were late, somebody took up our seat and we were assigned to the emergency exit row which has a lot of leg room, a recipe for a comfortable flight. We spent the night again in Honolulu i think it was in the Courtyard by Marriott and spent the morning sight-seeing. We actually visited the Pearl Harbor that time and went back to the hotel to tidy up before our flight home. Now, you would think we had enough about being late in a flight but we did it again in minor case this time on our flight from Anchorage bound to Fairbanks. We were thinking we still have at least half an hour before the flight so Hunter went browsing the area but i was wondering why there were no people at the gate, when the boarding will commence in a few minutes. Good thing a concierge person approached me to confirm my last name and she told me everybody except us has boarded the plane and she paged Hunter to immediately come to the designated gate. The funny thing is we live in Alaska and to know the time difference is never a confusing thing to us. I think what had happen was, Hunter actually changed our flight in advanced in Honolulu to buy us some time but it probably never happened..who knows?
So, we're back from the 2012 Hawaiian trip and Hunter is with out a job. Yes! i told you I don't want you to worry about the stressful situation while i was telling you about our vacation. I know you might be screaming: "What were you thinking guys? Why would you go on a vacation without a job waiting for you when you get back home?"
Well, the thing is, Hunter was laid-off after we booked the tickets so I personally didn't wanna lose some money and cancel all our plans so we thought: "Hmm, this is probably a good break and adventure for us so let's do it!" So yeah, it ended up well. It even inspired us to own a land in the Big Island in the future if it's meant to be. People may find our life not so extravagant but I love it! Yes! I'm bored everyday staying home waiting for my husband to come home from work but this is my current situation and it allows me to write. I say that our life ain't so fancy because we are still trying to pay our debts off. And now that Hunter was out of job, everything's going downhill but not our relationship. I don't know, when things get rough and tough and when I say tough, is when we're in a bad situation, i tend to love my husband more. I don't mean when I want to go shopping and he says no to me but when times like this when there's nobody else we can turn to but ourselves i get protective. Because I know as much as I am suffering He is too! I may be evil sometimes but I am not that cold. Hunter once called me an ice princess because when we fight I actually don't say a word sometimes and it makes him go crazy because I'm trying to make him suffer by not acknowledging him. I tend to pretend that I am tough enough not to show emotions. But he knows..I can't fool him. He can feel it..He can see it in my eyes and the cold treatment he is bestowed upon is just like an excruciating pain of a wound that the more i ignore the more it feels like someone is rubbing a sand to it. So much about the heartaches talk, we have come to a conclusion that If we stayed any longer, we'll starve and that is not a good idea specially in the middle of the winter in interior Alaska. We started planning on our "Big Move" down to South Dakota where we got married back in Feb. of 2011. We only brought a pick-up load of our belongings since we don't own a trailer to haul everything we own. Luckily, we can always just come back to the cabin since we still own it. I think we traveled in the second week of Feb. of 2013 and end up staying at my in-laws house in Frederick. Hunter decided to help my in-laws build their addition while getting paid by the hour. So to even-out our income I had to take 2 jobs. One was a full-time the other was a part-time. We were doing good financially until I decided to be a quitter. I am not sure if I can keep a job for a very long time. When I get bored with what I'm doing and when co-workers start being a pain in the butt i just stop working. It's not a good thing because when you're applying for a new job, we get tired of remembering all of those jobs you previously had and some of them or most of them you can't really use for reference since you quit, I'm sure they don't have any pretty things to say about you. It is embarrassing, really..Just as June have started and my step-daughter was about to go back to her mom, we headed back to Alaska and this time, we are staying for good. I hate moving back and forth or just moving in general because all the things that you have accumulated, you either get rid of them or they get damaged in the process. We decided Alaska is our home-base no matter what especially when Hunter got a job for the Borough then it made it more sense to stay put and start again to grow some roots where we are right now. Ever since Hunter hold the day time job, we started having a "life". In the sense that we could go to town during the day and be a member of Sam's Club. We went to a lot of road trips to the South to see if we can find an affordable lot to own. We have gone salmon fishing in the world famous Copper river in Chitina. Hunter just like his name started hunting grouse, moose and sheep for subsistence. I mean, we are missing all of this good stuff when he was working at the coal mine. Yes, he was making good money but we were restricted in enjoying all of the nature can offer. My husband is an outdoor person and I on the other hand isn't much but I do enjoy the outdoors as long as i am feeling alright. That one, is a hard thing to understand about me so don't even bother. So basically, we did a lot of camping throughout this year. And as I mentioned earlier we went back to Hawaii in Nov. but stopped in San Diego, CA for a few days to do some sight-seeing. The trip this time was booked because we had a credit for Hawaiian Airlines that was originally a flight to Manila that they stopped operating beginning that year. Thanks to that we enjoyed some perks of flying business class but really there's not much of a difference in between economy and first class especially if it's a domestic flight. I think i would suggest flying business class if you are uncomfortable with the seats they have in economy or fiesta class when traveling overseas.
In 2014, I get to visit my kids in the Philippines. _to be continued by AK-WOLFHUNTER






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