Visiting Cebu in 2007

I had been in contact with April for over 9 months and during that time I had constantly had contracts move forward. We had never actually agreed to be any more than friends in the first 6 months. Simply just seeing how things went and curious about the things we both got up to. Exchanging day to day life with each other as we both had professional jobs but just in different parts of the world.

I had promised several times by now to visit Cebu and as one contract ended another started which stalled the trip. As I would rush to finish a contract ahead of schedule and another would be wanting to start early. But on a new contract in Swindon as it started I booked a holiday period. I had joined a housing association as a surveyor on a temporary to permanent basis, moving away from the contracting work on installations to something a little more stable and predictable.

By now the 9 months had past and we were talking online and texting everyday. April didn’t have a computer outside work at that time so we would make do where we could. Running up large phone bills both sides of the ocean, but simply we couldn’t get enough of being together even if it was thousands of miles apart. But by now my holiday period was coming up, flight was booked and the trip began to the Philippines.

It still seems like yesterday the first trip to the Philippines as I remember the guy in front of me at Heathrow airport complaining about his girlfriend in Thailand. He had rented an apartment for the 2 of them and she had gotten a rabbit to roam around the place. He wasn’t best pleased as rabbits have a habit of leaving a trail and not with chocolate buttons. But this was the first time for me back in Asia as I had lived in Hong Kong for a time as a child. But the Philippines was a country I had never heard anything really of at that time to the point I needed to look it up on a map. But whatever was about to happen I knew I wanted to meet April face to face. Nearly the whole of the last year had been about us and now I had the opportunity to meet in the flesh.

Although the flight was long I had felt alive and excited in knowing April was waiting for me in Cebu. But it was the plane dropping in over Cebu things seemed to move up a gear, the blue sea, the green palm trees and the bright sun soaked land. A country all new but already felt like home. After the rabble exit of leaving the plane which is the only way to describe it as Filipinos struggled to their seats to get off the plane before even the plane had parked never mind the doors weren’t open yet. I was in a long queue of at least 300 people waiting to be processed by immigration. I had already begun to text April to say I had arrived, the horrible thought of April not being outside suddenly crossed my mind but the text came back to let me know she was there. I headed off into the toilets and had a quick shave, wash and change of shirt. Surprising how rough you can look after traveling for over 24 hours.

the little slip of paper was all that was between me and April, the little slip of paper that is used for my temporary tourist visa on entering the Philippines. The same piece of paper it seems you could write almost anything on as my address in the Philippines was simply one name Tubod flowing waters. Which was either enough for immigration or they simply weren’t bothered. Either way passport was stamped, bags were collected and I was on my way out of the door to meet April.

The doors slide open and I was greeted by the bright sunlight and at least 300 people talking randomly that just created a noise I can only describe similar to a chicken house with thousands of chickens. Nothing is understood, no words can be picked out its just noise. I couldn’t see April and another text later I seen a beaming smile cross in the crowd as I could see not just April but my April. I had by that time already made my mind up this is, was and now the woman I wanted to marry and spend the rest of my life with. How can you make that decision in a short period of time? Answer is we already knew each other so well over the last 9 months and what was missing was some time to be in each others presence. It just felt right and even to this day 7 years later I am still more than happily married, I am with my soul mate.

After we crossed the road at the airport and worked our way through the crowd another small crowd of around 12 people were there to greet me. A little unexpected but aunts, uncles and cousins were all there to meet me. Strange thing is it didn’t feel awkward or weird as I felt me and April had been together years. I was surprised to find out recently though that April still had the receipt from the first meal we had at a pizza restaurant on the way back from the airport. There is something about the Philippines and people wanting food as people eat more often but less quantities. Getting off a long haul flight all I want is to shower, relax and sleep for a few hours. But here I was sitting in a pizza restaurant on Mactan island. Which was the first time I held hands with April although out of view under the table.

Eventually we ended up at Tubod Flowing Waters which is a hotel near Aprils home. Well the nearest, it isn’t exactly near with the potholed roads and flood spots. But it was near enough to spend time with April in the evenings as she was still working during the day. During the day I ended up doing the mall trips with Jovie who is Aprils sister. At that time had just finished college and I believe awaiting exam results. The odd thing is when people as you where you want to go in a location you know very little about, but it was good to get familiar with Minglanilla and Cebu at the same time getting to know about April.

A couple of weeks in Cebu was enough to know I wanted to be with April and I approached Aprils relatives for their blessing in the marriage.  After returning to the UK I found out I had an appraisal and offered the temporary job on a permanent basis. The downside was having to stop the appraisal to let my boss know I was not only not taking the permanent job but also leaving within the next 6 weeks. As I was returning to the Philippines to marry April.