Thoughts on Kids’ Soccer, Competition, and Sports

It was a really hot Saturday noon with the sun almost directly overhead. I held a big umbrella to provide shade to 2 members of our son’s soccer team sitting on the bench. First game of the Nashville Youth Soccer Association (NYSA) Fall season and the kids had 3 minutes left in the game.

Those two kids didn’t want to play. J, the son of my son’s coach, cried when the opposing team took the ball from him. It just went downhill from there. The other kid, U, refused to play after the first quarter. It is their first season playing kids’ soccer.

Our son did a little better on his first season, too. He played in the Spring 2017 season of the NYSA from February to May. He loved practice time but during the actual games, he just wanted to sit on the bench and cheer his teammates on.

If he ever played, he would kick the ball once then stand around watching everyone else play. But on the last quarter of the last game of the season, he blocked the other team’s attempt to score a goal, then dribbled the ball across the field, and then scored! I was so proud! We waited a whole season for that winning moment!

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How to Renew Your Philippine Passport in the USA

If your Philippine passport expires and you need a new one, here’s how to renew your Philippine passport in the USA.

Philippine passports are good for a maximum of 5 years. There is a bill at the Philippine House of Representatives that seeks to extend passport validity for up to 10 years. But we don’t know yet if that bill will make it as law and when that would happen.

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The Art of Packing and Letting Go of Books, Appliances, & Things That Won’t Fit into Your Luggage

Packing is a challenge. If you’re moving out of the country, you need to bring only the essentials and let go of anything you won’t need.

But as you start packing your things, you’ll start wondering where all those things came from. And then, you’d start thinking about which ones to bring, which ones to store in your parents’ house (if they let you), and which ones to let go.

It is tough!

There are a lot of things that are really tough to let go–the small clothes of your child, photo frames, books you love, appliances you’ve worked hard to pay for, and a million other things.

It’s not the price tag of these things that make it difficult to let go, but rather the emotional and historical value they represent in our lives.

Our things tell the story of our lives–they are the key to triggering our memories.

If you could only bring everything with you to the United States, why not? But it will be very expensive just to ship all those things from the Philippines.

So here are some tips that will help you pack or let go of your stuff.

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How to Convince Your Spouse to Move to the USA

If you are married and have kids, should you bring them to the United States with you? Are you willing to be separated from them across time and space so you could save more money?

These are not easy questions. And if you decide to bring them with you to the US or leave them behind in the Philippines, you would still need to convince your spouse either way.

So how did I convince my wife to move halfway across the world with me?

The short answer is I did not. Let me explain.

Even before we got married, my wife and I talked about the possibility of either of us going abroad. You see, for young people in the Philippines, going abroad to work is not a remote possibility. In fact, it is a very real possibility for us, although I did not really consider working abroad up until 2015.

So before getting married, Cha and I agreed that if one of us wanted to work abroad, it would be better for us to stay together in our destination country. It wasn’t a lengthy talk. We didn’t even argue about it.

When we had that talk, she was working with a large TV network in the Philippines and I was employed by a church organization.

We also agreed that as long as we’re doing okay financially in the Philippines, we were not going to work abroad. Cha enjoys a close relationships with her family and while I’m pretty close to my family, I am used to being away from them for long periods.

There were times that Cha asked me some “what if” questions: “what if you got presented with an opportunity to work in the US?”

I used to brush off her question and reply with a shrug: “that probably won’t happen…” Until one day it did.

And when it did, Cha and I talked once again about our plans. We remembered our agreement to stay together wherever we go for work.

I don’t know your situation. Here are some tips and suggestions on how to convince your significant other to move to the USA.

1. Long-Distance Relationship is tough on you and on those you leave behind.

There are countless stories of marriages that feel apart because of the Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) phenomenon. You know that you love your spouse, and your spouse loves you, too. But being away for a long time will place strain on your relationship. In a sense, you’re putting this important relationship at risk if you decide to leave your family behind in the Philippines.

And if you have young kids, you will miss a lot of their development milestones; and you may become more of an occasional Skype presence and Santa Clause instead of a loving, present parent.

But if this is a risk that you and your family is willing to take, you will need to find ways to preserve your relationship and be creative in addressing each other’s emotional needs.

2. Plan together for the long-term.

I hope that when you applied for the job opening in the USA, you consulted your significant other. If you did, that would make the convincing way easier. If you did not, then you’ll need to work harder at convincing your spouse. Plan together: it helps to look at the next 5-10 years. Those plans may not all come to fruition, but at least there is a blueprint that both of you are going to follow.

Some immediate questions you need to address are:

  • How long will work and live in the USA?
  • When will you go back to the Philippines
  • Do you intend to become citizens in the long run?
  • What are your financial goals?
  • How about your kids? If you don’t have kids yet, will you have one or two when you are in the USA?
  • What will daily life look like for you and your family?

Research online about the kind of life that you and your family will face once you get to the USA. Most of the time, spouses of work visa holders are considered dependents and are not allowed to work. If your spouse is used to having a regular job in the Philippines, there will be some struggle. Be realistic and set expectations. But before long you will be able to apply for Permanent Residency. After that, your spouse will be able to work.

3. Seek the counsel of people you both trust and respect.

This is actually one of the responsibilities of your Ninongs and Ninangs. They promised to help you as a couple by standing as your second parents. Seek their counsel. Ask for their thoughts and what options they can give you.

Ask the experiences of couples you know who have stayed together in a foreign country and those who have decided to be separated from each other because of working abroad. Ask them for practical tips how they made it work and ask them to name the challenges they faced. This will help you understand the difficulties that either option entails.

When we started planning for our move, it was always for the three of us. By the time I’m writing this post, it had been a year since we moved together to Nashville. It is more expensive since there are three of us. But it’s been worth it.

First Day of Pre-K and Soccer Practice

Our son woke up really early today. My wife was cooking breakfast and I was drinking coffee this morning at 7:30 am. Then our son stepped out of the room and we heard a loud “good morning!” followed by a hug. (Yes, that is really very early for him.)

He was excited for the first day of his Pre-K! I can’t believe how time flies. Summer is over for him and he goes to his class now.

That lunch box is deep.

Before eating breakfast, my wife had another practice session with Coco about opening, unpacking, and repacking his lunch box. The new lunch box case, carrier, or whatever you call it, can carry more, but is also a bit heavier. It’s also more difficult to open. Hence, the need for the practice session.

After breakfast, we helped him prepare, and after an hour, we were ready to go! At least my wife and I were ready to go. In between toothbrushing and putting on his shoes, he found the remote, turned the TV on and found YouTube! Then we had to convince him to turn it off, otherwise, he might miss class.

Coco loves that Lightning McQueen bag.

Thankfully, he turned it off, and off we went.

Shy Guy…

During the summer, he went through what I call a “SHY phase.” He’s not as sociable as he used to be and he would just be shy around people. He probably missed the socialization with classmates, friends, and teachers in the school. So he’s really looking forward to school again.

When he met his teacher, he had that shy look again in his face. Hopefully, as the school year moves along, he’ll adjust well and be sociable again. It also helps that one of his former classmates last year will be in his class.

First Day of Soccer Practice, too!

Today was the first day of soccer practice, too. We went to the Heartland Park, where the Nashville Youth Soccer Association has practices and games. We met his Coach and his teammates. He also got to show off some of the skills he got from last Spring’s games.

Last Spring, when he enrolled him for soccer, he just loved the practice sessions. But every game day, he would just kick the ball once and refuse to follow and kick it to the goal. Only in the last quarter of his last game did he really show up, block another kid’s attempt to score, then kicked it and dribbled all the way to score a goal!!!

That was only his second goal during the whole season! But it was totally worth it! Just to see the pride in his eyes and his running form. It was awesome!

We’ll see how it goes this season.

As parents it is very difficult to resist the urge to be competitive and urge our son to be a good, competitive player. But we reminded him to enjoy the game and have fun. We could use that advice, too!

We’re just glad that he has several opportunities to grow his physical and mental abilities, and make friends in the process.

 

 

How NOT to Freak Out about Moving to the USA

In February 2015, I got accepted as the top candidate for the Director-level job I applied for. It was great and felt like a leveling up of some of the things I worked on over the past 5 years.

But here’s the rub: I need to move to the United States for this position.

It was a whirlwind application process. I applied for the position toward the end of November 2014, filled up some forms, wrote an essay, and then got interviewed.

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Along Came a Child…

It was an ordinary July (2012) week for me and my wife. Except that her period was delayed for two days. I didn’t want to hope too much because by that time, we had been waiting and praying for a baby to come along.

On the third day, we finally got a Pregnancy test kit and it came back with two lines! Positive! We were pregnant!

I couldn’t contain my joy and happiness. I was going to be a father. My heart swelled! I couldn’t believe how much love I was feeling–for my wife and our soon-to-be-born child. Continue reading

#WhereisCocosCar: Johannesburg

Last May, as part of my travel to the Holy Land, I decided to bring something that reminds me of my son. I asked him about it and suggested that I bring one of his toy cars. He chose one of his HotWheels: a Red Mustang. So I brought it with me and took photos of the red car in Masada, Qumran, and in almost all the places we went to.

I did not take photos of the red car in the sacred places as a sign of respect.

When I traveled to Johannesburg, South Africa, he decided to send his Blue and Black Subaru HotWheels car. So that is going with me to different places. Check out all the places that Coco’s cars are traveling by following the hashtag #WhereisCocosCar on Instagram and Facebook.

The photo above was taken at the Hector Pieterson Memorial. It was the site where a young boy (Hector Pieterson) was killed as a result of the uprising of the community against apartheid in South Africa.

Here’s an excerpt from the Gauteng Tourism Authority:

The Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum, situated in Orlando West, Soweto, commemorates the role of the country’s students in the struggle against apartheid and in particular the role played by the school children who took part in the Soweto protests of 1976, many of whom were shot by the apartheid police while protesting against the sub-standard of education in black schools in South Africa.

On June 16, 1976, Soweto high school students took to the streets in a peaceful protest against the mandatory use of Afrikaans as a language of instruction in black secondary schools. The students planned to meet at Orlando Stadium before marching to the regional offices of the Department of Bantu Education, where they intended to raise their grievances with the authorities.

They carried placards that read, “Away with Afrikaans”, “Amandla awethu” (“Power to the people”) and “Free Azania” (“Free South Africa”), and sang the hymn Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika (God Bless Africa), now the basis for the national anthem of democratic South Africa.

One of the things I realized coming from my trip to the Holy Land in June 2017, and then going to this memorial and to the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, almost every place on earth has a memorial on human suffering! As humans we are very good at inflicting pain on each other. Every continent, almost every country has an oppressed, marginalized sector.

Hopefully, when Coco grows up, he’ll learn about these incidents in history and learn to respect people whoever and wherever they are.