Mabuhay to the Philippines!

In case you’ve been wondering, “Where in the world is Becky these days?” the answer is…Manila! Yes, we packed up our little family (now plus one new member) and left the lush coolness of the Pacific Northwest for the hot and humid Philippines.

It’s been a summer of big changes for us. Baby Boy was born in July. Just like big sis, he arrived on his due date. Our little peanut has been an absolutely delightful addition to our family—even if his sister hasn’t fully made up her mind about him.

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Baby Boy enjoying some snuggles before his first international flight.

The Philippines actually marks Baby Boy’s second non-U.S. country thanks to a trip to Vancouver right before we moved. We had to go to Blaine, WA for his Global Entry interview. Since we made it that far, we figured we might as well keep on going north. We even begged his first passport stamp from the Canadian border guard. In polite, Canadian fashion, the guard indulged us and stamped all of our passports.

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Fish and poutine on a chilly Canadian beach.

I also finished my first book this summer. Emerald and the Elf King publishes worldwide on October 7. It’s a middle-grade book about a princess who marches to the beat of her own drum. I wrote the original story as a picture book in seventh grade. It took on a life of its own when I turned back to that story about a year ago. This book marks the first of many to come. Looking for a Christmas gift for the kids in your life? Give them the gift that keeps on giving—my book! Find out where to buy it at beckybiggs.com.

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Our trifecta of changes was complete when we arrived in the Philippines a week ago. We left Portland on September 5 and started a whirlwind, cross-country journey to visit family and friends. Yes, we are that crazy couple that drags their two-year-old and seven-week-old to three different states and two different time zones before embarking on a nearly 24-hour journey halfway across the world. The kids did amazingly well. Matt and I survived too!

So that brings us to Manila. We’ve spent the past week adjusting to the new time zone (12 hours difference from the East Coast and a full 15-hour change from Portland). We are in temporary corporate housing for the next few months as we wait for our residency visas to come through. We may ultimately move into a house, but for now, I am enjoying our incredible views of the city.

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As excited as I was about our move, the nerves were real. Were we going to like it here? Would we feel at home? Would the heat and humidity be bearable? The first few days after our arrival, my anxiety levels climbed even higher. We had bags everywhere, couldn’t find anything and our toddler was all smiles and sunshine at 3 a.m. only to turn into a mess by the time the sun comes up (ok, we were all pretty much a mess by the end of the day—except for the baby. He transitioned the easiest of all of us).

A week in, we are far from being fully settled, but we are starting to make a home. We picked up a few items to help make the transition easier—including a stand mixer and really nice espresso machine (sorry, Starbucks, but mama’s gonna be making her lattes at home from now on). If there’s one thing that Matt and I have missed about having a permanent home over the past three and a half years, it’s been having a nice kitchen setup.

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My initial impression of the Philippines is a positive one. The people are warm and friendly and the food is really good. There are innumerable options for Asian food, but we shouldn’t have any trouble finding some comfort foods from home when the craving hits.

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Halo-Halo, a Filipino dessert made of condensed milk over ice and topped with purple yam ice cream, corn, toasted rice, coconut and more.

The low language barrier will definitely make our transition a little easier, as will the access to many American brands, including Old Navy and Carter’s. I still plan to try to learn some Tagalog, but being able to communicate in English has made the first week here a lot easier.

In some ways, the Philippines reminds me of Mexico (the climate, the Spanish influence and the huge gap between the rich and poor)—except it has the Asian shopping mall experience (massive mall next to massive mall next to massive mall).

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Fort Santiago, a 1500’s Spanish fort.

We live in the vicinity of three huge malls and can walk through one to get to the next. It’s a shopper’s paradise! I’m pretty stoked about finding some of my favorite Asian stores, including Miniso (a Japanese home and beauty discount store) and Etude house (Korean beauty products). Matt isn’t so thrilled about my finds. I just keep reminding him that the exchange rate is on our side. He just rolls his eyes.

As we get more settled in, I’m sure I’ll have a lot more insights to share. This is just the beginning of our latest adventure! Stick with me as we explore and experience expat life in the Philippines. Salamat!

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