click click click

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Yes I Do, Australia

I got married again...this time to Australia.

On Thursday, 5 March 2009, I said "I Do, Australia" and officially became an Australian Citizen.

A few days before I celebrated my 3rd year in Australia on October 2008, the Immigration sent me a letter saying my citizenship application has been approved. The letter advised me that I will soon receive another letter regarding the schedule of my oath-taking.

On February 2009, I finally received the letter telling me that my oath-taking is to take place on the 5th of March.

With my husband in tow, we arrived at the Bowman Hall in Blacktown at 6:45pm. There was a long queu for the registration as there were 180 new Australian Citizens that night. Parang graduation!!!

The event commenced a little after 7:30pm. We started with the singing of Australia's National Anthem and then the welcome address of the Mayor of Blacktown, Charlie Lowles. After that we were all asked to make a pledge of commitment to Australia:

From this time forward, under God*,
I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people,
whose Democratic beliefs I share,
whose rights and liberties I respect,
and whose laws I will uphold and obey.

Then the calling of names and handing out of Australian Citizenship Certificates began. All new Australian Citizens were also given a small Australian plant as a gift.

After all the names were called, they ended the ceremony by serving sandwiches and drinks.

My photographer/husband had a bit of sandwiches before we left. He got hungry because he roamed around the place taking photos. The funniest thing he said to me that night after my oath-taking was "Congratulations, may asawa na akong foreigner." hehehe.

We went straight to Le Colonial (Vietnamese Resto) in Westpoint for dinner.

We had Sizzling Pork with Chili and Crispy Chicken. It was delicious, another great find in Blacktown.

So how did I feel throughout the ceremony and now that I'm an Australian?

I felt a sense of relief and accomplishment because achieving Australian Citizenship is a milestone. It's not a joke moving to another country to start my life all over again. There were times I thought I would pack my bag and leave this all behind but it never happened. It never happened because I learned to love and appreciate my life here too. And I learned to love this country as well.

And as a Filipino who loves the Philippines, did I feel guilty? A BIG yes!!! There was a part of me that felt like I was a traitor. There was a part of me that wasn't happy.

Honestly, it took me awhile to submit my Citizenship application. I thought hard about it, prayed for it...asked for signs. When I received my letter of Citizenship approval, I almost called them to say "I'm backing out." Yes, that's how a big deal it was for me. But with the help of my list of pros and cons and with the smart inputs of my Husband, I embraced the blessing and got over my issues. If not now, maybe later I can work on being both an Australian and a Filipino Citizen.

Thank yous:

My being here in Australia will never happen if not for the following special people:

My Grandma, Tita Bess, and Tito Andy for giving me the opportunity to be here and for being my second parents here in Australia.

Tita Ma and Tito Jun, Tita Edith and Tito Raul: for the additional guidance and support.

My cousins, who helped me in adjusting to Aussie Life.

To all of you THANK YOU!!! It is thru all of you that I have learned the greatest lesson of Generosity---That helping people goes a long, long way. Your generosity did not only help me, but it helped my parents in Manila and I'm able to help other people as well. I may not be able to repay your kindness in lots of ways but I always pray that you receive a thousand more blessings for the generosity you have shown me and my family.

Special thanks:

To my Tita Cyn for being a part of my support system. She may be a thousand miles away from all of us but she has a way of making me feel that she is always there for me. :)

To my Mom and Dad, for letting me go and for letting me spread my wings this big.

To my husband, for being the brainchild of this little adventure and the one who did everything just so he could follow me here.

To my friends, for being the food to my soul especially when I'm wondering what I'm doing here in Aussieland.

I've been meaning to share this excerpt of an email I wrote to a friend of mine asking for advice on moving to another country:

"Moving and starting a new life in another country is always good especially when you have your family in tow--like an adventure. It is of the hardest thing that a person can do but like I always say, there's always a reward for moving. It's daunting, scary, tough and you will feel certain insecurities when you move to a new country BUT that is all normal....and most of the time, it's just THAT---it will pass. Cherish the bad times, the struggling times because after you've gone thru it, you look at life sweeter--mas masarap :).

Be ready for the bumpy ride: mga homesick moments, mga nakaka-bwisit na language barriers, mga nakakalokang accent, on how they do things, mga bagong ka-trabaho na kailangan mong pakisamahan, mga times na bigla mo na lang sasabihin "This is it, I wanna go home!" pero hindi ka naman makauwi talaga (I've got a couple of moments like that), mga sandali na bigla ka na lang luluha kahit nasaan ka man dahil naalala mo ang mga kapamilya, kaibigan at buhay mo sa 'Pinas.
Ganyan ang first year---it's a struggle everyday lalo na kung mahal na mahal mo ang Pilipinas. The first year is the hardest because everyday will be an achievement for you--an achievement that you didn't pack your bags and leave, an achievement that you were able to survive another day in a foreign land. There are times na parang hinihila ang puso mo sa sakit na nararamdaman mo na dulot ng homesickness. But you will get thru it, things will fall into place...just go with the flow.
For the bumpy ride ang kailangan lang ay TAPANG...lakasan mo lang talaga ang loob mo...and count your blessings. These two kept me sane because (1) kailangang matapang ako dahil kailangan kong mag-survive sa kung nasaan man ako and (2) hindi lahat ng tao nabibigyan ng opportunity to live and experience life in another country.
Be ready to enjoy: the culture, the sights, the cuisine, the people. Just enjoy everything---the good, the bad. :)
And to psych yourself on the move, isipin mo na lang na ang pag-migrate or pag-move sa isang country ay parang Marriage. It's like you're marrying a country, ganun. Di ba sa Marriage, may adjustments, may struggles, may challenges, may getting-to-know-you phase...ganun lang din ang pag-move. The Phils will always be your mother, will always be your family, will always be there for you...ang pag-move sa isang country ay para namang pagsama mo sa asawa at paghiwalay mo sa pamilya mo dahil asawa mo na sya."
For anyone who is planning to migrate or work abroad or probably experiencing living in a new country, I hope the one I shared above will give you a better perspective.