As we near the end of 2012, I think it is fair to say that this year was an interesting one. Lets look back at some of my best and worst of 2012.
A Love Affair – January marked the end of my internship at Nexon. I was living in Manila (in a rather posh apartment), my contract was completed, yet I didn’t quite want to leave the Philippines yet. I had fallen in love with Manila; its people, its food, its beautiful culture. By contrast; upon arriving to the Philippines in October, I was feeling a bit homesick and had a touch of culture-shock. Both of which are uncommon for me, as I am a very social being, always eager to meet new types of people and see new places. So what changed my mind? A very important factor would have to be Nomads Sports Club.
Nomads is the Philippines’ oldest sports club. It has tennis courts, squash courts, a pool, lawn bowls, two bars, a weight room, and one of the only well kept grass pitches in the Manila area! They also boast one of SE Asia’s premier rugby squads, a strong youth academy, and host both international rugby and football tournaments each year. This became my home away from home.
Most travelers would agree that if you are seeking a true culture-immersion in a given country, then you should avoid spending too much time with expats residing in that country. Though the club was a regular meeting place for many expats, it wasn’t a place for me to escape — it was a place for me to gain my bearings. Nomads provided a place I could feel comfortable right away. Within the first week , I was able to join up with their football squad for the KIA Cup (a 7v7 Tournament). I scored in my first match and we ended up winning the tournament, making a nice group of friends in the process. Football is where I feel most at home, out on the pitch: unlimited ability to create, move, pass, and mesh with others. The connections I made on and off the pitch allowed me to better experience the Philippines. Trips to Capones Island, Boracay, and Tagaytay were all made possible through connections I made at the club. The food, friends, and family made there will stick with me forever.
So my internship contract was completed and I made the decision to stay an extra two weeks(turned into a month) at my own expense. This is where the next part of my decision comes into play: hospitality in the Philippines. Throughout the entirety of my stay in Manila, I was constantly impressed with how genuinely kind Filipinos were. The offer of Christmas dinner at his home, with his family– from the police officer on my daily route home. The offer of a place to stay during my last two weeks–from a friend. The offer of a place to stay during my actual last two weeks in the country–from another friend and his family. Along with these offers, the daily kindness shown by friends I made in the office, my coworkers. Whether it was an offer of lunch, someone to chat with, or assistance with work itself; genuine kindness was abundant. While there were certainly exceptions to this– the two pickpockets I experienced or a few cab drivers trying to take advantage of my wallet–they were just that: an exception.
I enjoyed the Philippines so much that I am working out a way to get myself back there to live on a more long-term basis. “Its more fun in the Philippines!”
Home At Last – I finally arrived back in the United States in February. It was sort of eerie, returning home. I don’t know why I expected changes, but very little had actually changed. It likely had to do with everything I had experienced during my 7 months overseas. I experienced a lot. I learned a lot. I changed a lot. I think that I am more or less the same person, only with a better view of the world.
It turns out that while I was in Manila, my brother stole and pawned some of my most prized possessions. I don’t consider myself very materialistic, but the items he decided to sell had a high personal value to me. The acoustic guitar I wrote some of my first songs on, the snowboard I used during my year in Breckenridge, Colorado, my television(not as meaningful), and my original NES and Sega Genesis systems(received as a childhood gift) along with all the games for each. I managed to re-purchase the television and snowboard, but the guitar was forever lost to me as someone purchased it shortly after it was pawned. After returning to the US and not receiving an actual apology, I decided to give my brother another chance. I let him borrow my car on a few occasions. Then one night after telling him he couldn’t use it as I had plans; he searched my room intently, found the spare key, and stole my car. He returned the next morning, acting like nothing had ever happened.
“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
In the coming weeks and months, he would steal money as often as he could get away with it. Now I think it is very import for me to explain that I really love my brother a whole lot!! He doesn’t agree with me on that most of the time, but it is true. I only have one brother, and I hope things get better between us in the future. But lets just say his privileges are currently very limited when it comes to my assistance.
DCFC – Shortly after returning home to the US, I heard about a new semi-pro football team forming in Detroit. Detroit City Football Club (NPSL). The owners were not simply looking to make a profit, but to help the growth of the sport as a whole as well as bring the people of Detroit together. They hired a pair of quality coaches, Stannard(MSU) and Wasserman(SVSU), and they were off! They held three tryouts, selected their squad, and were on to training. I attended the third tryout, picking up my season ticket in the process.
Along the way, some supporters groups popped up to show their support for the team and the city. Motor City Supporters is the oldest of the bunch; they have been strong supporters of bringing a professional football team to the Detroit area since around 2008. Northern Guard and Le Rouge were the other two, newly created supporters sections. MCS and NG went above and beyond the expectations of the team owners, organizing pregame and postgame parties at downtown bars as well as a pregame parade to every home match! Imagine hundreds of people marching through Detroit, singing, chanting, and waving flags in support of their new home team! As for the match atmosphere; over 1200 people attended the first match, with more and more fans turning out to each match after. This number may not seem that impressive, but considering the 400 strong season ticket holders whom pack the West End stand each matchday, you might change your mind. Rain or shine, win or loss; these supporters can be found standing through the full 90 minutes of each match bellowing songs, much like that from a European football match or a new MLS supporter section. I feel privileged to have been part of this historic first season(of many) for DCFC. I will never forget all the people I have met and the great times we have shared as a result of DCFC.
Some other notable moments from 2012:
– Trip to Boracay – 3 days in pure bliss on a pristine beach in the Philippines.
– Port Huron SC’s run in the Gerhard Mengel State Cup (Quarterfinals).
– The week in Florida, visiting with my grandfather, who has since passed away. Always make the effort to visit your loved ones, no matter their condition; you will never regret that!
– Game 4 of the ALCS Championship – Detroit Tigers vs New York Yankees – Detroit swept New York in 4 games. The atmosphere was ELECTRIC! (Special thanks to Bill for the invite).
– Skydiving with my father as a gift to him for his 50th birthday.