Sunday, November 29, 2009

the morning after

Morning. I opened my eyes and felt like not getting out of bed. I was disoriented.

7:15, according to the clock in front of me. Crap, I’m gonna be late for work.

Force of habit, I looked at my phone to check for messages or phone calls. That was when I saw the date.

Saturday, November 28

Suddenly, two things hit me. First, it was the weekend, and Monday is declared a holiday. I can sleep over.

Second, it is the day after the closing ceremony of cadetship.

Next week, real work begins.


Rewind to six months ago.

Come to think of it, I was also disoriented.

It was the day after the last day at the previous office. I had the worst headache on record. Maybe because of too much crying—I never realized how much crying I can do for a week of saying goodbye to people, things and situations familiar.

I was telling myself then, maybe I should take at least a week off before cadetship started. I should have given time for myself to lie down and stare at ceiling (my favorite form of relaxation) before starting a new chapter in my life. It would have given me time to put things in perspective, to prepare mentally and emotionally to the things ahead, to wean away the separation anxiety.

But then, things have its way of turning out.


Initially, it was unfamiliar. For the first time in my professional life, I was commuting to the southern part of the metro—a part of Manila that I am actively avoiding because of the stress caused by the traffic. Yes, everyone, even a Makati denizen like me detests this part of the city during the weekday.

It was unfamiliar actually dressing up going to work. For the first time in my life, I paid attention to the number of my slacks, dressier tops and closed shoes rather than my casual clothing and open-toed sandals. I actually imagined my jeans weeping as I shoved them to the back of my closet to make room for the new slacks and formal tops. Ditto with my sandals.

It was unfamiliar attending flag ceremonies, so is going home with the sun still up. I was so used to going out of the office with the moon (and the street lights of Ortigas) guiding me, it felt like I was about to burn. It was unfamiliar to not having to worry about press releases, news monitoring and media enquiries, not getting messages late into the evening about something work-related, or not being concerned about economic-related news.

It was unfamiliar having a reliable supply of coffee and biscuits waiting for you whenever you need it. While there were a lot of eating places around the previous office, work usually was hectic enough that you get to eat only when everything is done and/or it felt like your large intestines are eating your small ones. Speaking of the previous office, it was unfamiliar not seeing Korean signboards around the new workplace.

It was unfamiliar not being familiar with a lot of people, with guards and other people calling you “Ma’am”.


But as the same time, there were familiar things.

Familiar was the laughter and the noise. As one batchmate pointed out, this was a laughing batch. It was just like being in Ortigas—everyone had a joke or a funny anecdote to share. And we all love to talk, too much though, that people were commenting not too postively on the noise we are making.

Familiar were the people who were there to help. The Foreign Service Institute, with our dear Mama Mina, our stepmomma Mam Amarie (and her staff) and everyone there at the new office were nice, accommodating and really great, things were made much easy for us.

Familiar were the things that were easily getting used to. The people who you get to kid around and kick back after the session. The eating and the after-work gimik. The people, who as it turns out, shares your interests and views about a lot of things.

Familiar was learning new things everyday. The lectures, workshops and roundtable discussions brought back the times of inter-agency meetings, press conferences, budget hearings (er…) and other events that were, for me, not just for work but also for personal education. The policy papers, promotions plan, projects, performances and other activities were like press releases, news monitoring, hosting gigs and presentations.


It’s really funny how things turned out. It is hard to imagine that this moment would come. As they say, time really flies.

Our band of 31 will be out of the comforts of A520 and sent our separate ways to the offices in the department, to get further training before the so called real world: foreign posting.

While we all wait with bated breath for the final assignment next week, it felt like another adjustment.

But then, as the same batchmate pointed out, being in the foreign service entails a lot of moving around and making adjustments. No time for being disoriented. It is imperative to immediately hit the ground running.

It is something I am telling myself as I take the next day off lying down and staring at the ceiling. Yes, there were tears, but not as much as six months before. Yes, there was a separation anxiety, but the thought of having everyone in the same building (except for those who will be assigned in consular) was comforting. Yes, it would be another adjustment, but the thought that it is training for the next years of being in this job is reality enough.

It is time.