Posted on August 10, 2015
It honestly feels like forever since I saw this blog. Really. The only time I even got to actually write something was to get some #feels off my chest to spazz over No Filter before its last two shows.
One Saturday was spent recuperating, then the following Sunday felt even more blah, and the following week went by piled with workload that I just couldn’t take even a peek of my online life, save, of course, the few moments during my bus commutes to and from work where I flood everyone’s Facebook feeds with random shared links or posts or lyrics with #feels.
Just two weeks ago, I scheduled my appointment with the US Embassy less than 48 hours prior to the actual interview schedule. I was having second thoughts if I should schedule it too soon but I didn’t really have a better option since the next available schedule was not until August 26 and my contact from the US Office advised that I have the interview as soon as possible.
I was nervous. I had been hearing stories about how it’s difficult to get an L1 Blanket visa approved especially if you’re applying under the specialized knowledge category. You have to prove that you really have a specialized knowledge that the company needs and can’t find anywhere else. It sounds easy enough to do if you already have four certifications in your credentials and you graduated from one of the best universities in the country but if you’re like me who usually doubts her own abilities and gets anxious whenever asked the question, “what’s so special about you?” it can be pretty nerve-racking.
Since I work nights and I wanted to be well-rested before the interview, I sent and email to my project manager asking if I could take the night off to “prepare” for my interview. I was lucky enough that my current project at that time had just finished go live and didn’t have a lot of issues that needed to be addressed. My project manager approved my leave and I spent the night drafting short speeches in my head about what I was going to say during the interview. I asked my dad to drop me off in the morning before he went to work.
That morning was chaotic.
You know how in the guidelines in one of the online forms or applications you submitted it says you are not allowed to bring a cellphone or any electronic device for that matter? I’m pretty sure I read that before coming in but I guess I just assumed that I could probably leave it there somewhere.
So my dad dropped me off and he headed straight for Sucat afterwards because that’s where he works. Minutes after I get inside the building, they scan my bag and found that I had my cellphone with me along with the charger and one powerbank. They wouldn’t let me in because those were not allowed inside. I gave out a plea because my dad had already left and I wasn’t sure how far he’s already gone. I was panicking but I kept my calm and went out the exit door a bit disheartened that I already had my first struggle of the day.
I quickly called my dad and told him he needs to come back to fetch my cellphone and all the other stuff that were prohibited to be brought inside. Luckily, he hadn’t gone too far and he was still able to turn around and come back for my stuff.
While I was waiting for my dad, I sort of hung out with this security guard outside the building. He was telling me how I should always keep my cool in dealing with the security, the staff, etc. He even told me stories of some people coming out of the embassy in tears after getting their visas denied (I’m not sure if that’s even true because I didn’t see a single person crying after my trip to the Embassy lol)
So as disheartened as I was, I still trudged on after my dad had picked up my stuff and hoped that there wouldn’t be any more mishaps after that.
Steps 1 and 2 didn’t take too long. After I had my documents checked, paid the fees, and had my fingers scanned, the only thing that really took long was waiting for my turn to be interviewed. A lot of people were waiting for their numbers to be displayed on the LED screen and there were only three or four windows that processed L1 and H visas.
I can’t even remember how long it was that I waited there sitting and being utterly bored because I forgot to wear a watch and I had to leave my phone with my dad. I had my journal with me but I couldn’t write because I was too nervous about the whole thing.
I can still remember how I felt my heart pound against my chest as I heard some of the questions being asked. I remember how this old man was standing across the room from me as he was about to have his fingers scanned. The lady behind the window was asking him what his name and birthday was and he just stared at her. The lady had to ask him twice before one of the staff approached him and repeated the questions to him again. I wasn’t sure if he was just nervous or if he just had a hard time hearing.
I also remember how one celebrity caught my eye after I recognized who she was. My initial thought was, why isn’t anyone flocking towards her to ask for a selfie?, until I realize, oh yeah, no one has their phones with them now. I had probably been waiting more than a half hour then and I was so pissed at how the staff just told them to go ahead and stand behind the person already being interviewed at Window 3; they didn’t even have to wait for their numbers to be called. But oh well, c’est la vie!
What sucked even more was that the number assignment to the windows were randomized. It would’ve been fair if the numbers being generated upon entering the embassy were random numbers as well, but no, they weren’t, so I really couldn’t estimate for how long I was going to be there. I found it weird. I just really wanted to get it over with since I was already running out of energy and I still had to worry about how to get to my father’s office afterwards.
After another hour or hour and a half, it was finally my turn. I handed in my passport, I-129S, and I-797 and kept the other supporting documents to one side in case they were asked for.
I wasn’t sure if that was just simply the consular officer’s demeanor or she just wanted to be done with it since it was already probably around noon at the time and there were still a lot of people waiting to be interviewed but the moment our eyes met I knew that it wasn’t going to be a long talk.
She asked me the usual stuff—which school or university did I graduated from and what degree did I take; how much my salary is now and how much I will be making upon the transfer. And then came the question about what specialized knowledge do I have. I honestly felt like Ross in No Filter during The Interview monologue. There were all these voices in my head talking while I try to answer the officer’s questions. But I kept calm and feigned confidence because to be credible, you have to look confident, right?
The whole exchange of questions and answers didn’t take more than twenty minutes. I didn’t even have to show her my diploma, transcripts, and the printed copies of my certifications. The ringing in my ears stopped the moment she uttered the words, “Your visa is approved and you’ll get it within a week.” This was it. My visa was approved. I’m moving to New York.
So now the waiting game resumes. The biggest roadblock against my work transfer was getting my visa approved and now that I already have it, I am only waiting to get called in for a project. No definite date yet as to when I’ll be leaving so each day feels like a YOLO moment: I need to read this book I have from my piles of to-read before I leave; I need to send this out to Louise because I can’t leave it lying around the house for my family to peruse; I need to sign up for this workshop because this will definitely be something I’ll miss once I am miles and miles away; I need to go out, experience life in the Philippines and take A LOT of photos!
While I’m sure life in New York will be an exciting one, I can’t help but feel anxious about the stuff that I’ll be missing here while I’m away. But that’s just the price you pay for grabbing a once in a lifetime opportunity such as this; you just have to make the most out of it.
Posted on July 13, 2015
Today marks my grandmother’s 71st birthday and I still miss her every now and then. She passed when I was twelve.
Sometimes I’d wonder how life would have been like if she had lived longer—would we be sharing the same room until now? Would she still watch over me at night when I have a burning fever? Would she still have listened to stories of the boys I’ve loved and broke my heart?
Every year, I remember her on her birthday with longing. If only to hug her one more time. If only to seek counsel. If only to tell her how much I love her and how her loss still cripples me with a pain I’ve always been trying to ease all these years.
Today marks my grandmother’s 71st birthday and it’s been almost eleven years since she passed. She’s not gone. Not completely. For she and her memories remain to walk with my heart.
I miss you, Nanay. Happy birthday.
Now they’ll walk on my arm through the distant night
And I won’t let them stray from my heart
Through the wind, through the dark, through the winter light
I will read all their dreams to the stars
I’ll walk now with them
I’ll call on their names
And I’ll see their thoughts are known
Not gone, not gone
They walk with my heart
Posted on July 12, 2015
After publishing four blog posts this weekend, I decided to set aside all my other personal to-dos for this day to reward myself with going to the salon to get a keratin treatment and color touch up for my hair. (It’s actually more than just a touch up since it’s been more than a year since I last had it dyed lol.) So I guess that makes it two items ticked off my list of 7 things. 😉 Read More