I was born and raised in the Philippines. My family and I moved to Newfoundland, Canada when I was twelve years of age. Newfoundland was home for my next twelve years while finishing both my elementary and high school years in the province.
I also completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Geophysics at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Soon after graduation, I moved to Vancouver to join my sister who at the time was also getting married.
Knowing my ineptitude in Geophysics, I decided to go back to school in accounting and computers. For the record, I wasn’t able to parlay my degree into a career. So, why do science? My father was a teacher but he really wanted to be an engineer. I’m guessing he wanted to live vicariously through one of his three sons and pushed us all in the sciences.
My older sister became a nurse and I happened to be the oldest of three boys. I was first in line for the passing of the proverbial torch in science.
I only stayed in Vancouver for a couple of years. After getting my diploma, I moved to Metro Toronto where I began my career in accounting. I also pursued an accounting designation and passed the national board exam but just fell short of a requirement for a designation.
Although I ended up working as an accountant for many years, I vividly recall saying to a co-worker early in my career that there must be a better way to make a living. There was also restlessness within me that needed to be addressed but unbeknownst to me at the time. It’s worth noting that the restlessness remained for many years until it didn’t anymore. I made references about this peculiar feeling in the different parts of several chapters ahead.
It was also while living in Metro Toronto that I got married and had a beautiful baby girl. Unfortunately, the marriage was short-lived, lasting only eighteen months. There was infidelity involved which made it harder on me, given my Catholic upbringing and sensitive nature.
The separation and an impending divorce was the impetus that made me move back to the west coast of the country. I left behind a daughter who was not quite five years old at the time. The move was made especially difficult when she asked me to stay. It broke my heart.
I once heard that a change is not a change unless it’s a drastic change. I desperately needed a change for my personal well-being. The west coast of the country in British Columbia has a particular allure to me having lived there before.
I believed the province had a subliminal message; I was being asked to come back after a decade long absence. Perhaps it was the laid-back lifestyle or the rainforest, the mountain terrains, the giant trees, meandering rivers, picturesque lakes and ocean waters…beautiful British Columbia.
My life on the west coast, although different in a good way, was also much the same. Wherever I went, there I was! The emptiness endured. It was always present although obscured at work; and during vacation travels, social and family gatherings.
After three years of living in Vancouver, life in the new environment was not turning out the way I had imagined. Another drastic change was in order so I decided to pack my bags and move back to the motherland, the place of my birth. The plan was to stay in the Philippines for a year and hopefully gain a different perspective and perhaps a new beginning in another country. As life would have its way, there was no such rekindling and I found myself heading back home to Vancouver after only three months of stay.
Still, life in Vancouver was much of the same old, same old after a year or so of being back. This time, I’d decided I was going to be California-bound after speaking to a cousin who encouraged my move. She offered her place for me to stay temporarily until I got settled.
The plan was set in motion and I informed my employer of my decision to leave the company. Then a funny thing happened. Literally two weeks before my last day at work, I met a girl. The girl later became my wife. I stayed in Vancouver and remain married to this day.
My wife also has a daughter who is a year younger than my biological daughter. I had been in the same accounting career over the years. I was still unhappy but availed myself to a number of other possible career paths by taking night courses including career counseling. The search for a new and different career went on for years. I was convinced my unhappiness was the result of my chosen career.
As life would have its way again, the internal struggle shortly translated itself to problems emerging early in the marriage. I felt misunderstood in my desire for emotional support from the inner struggle. In retrospect, it was my inability to understand, articulate and manage the peculiar feeling that was the primary issue.
In one sweeping motion, I had an unfulfilled career, a daughter whom I so missed and a marriage that needed to be worked on; all playing in my psyche. And the sanity of my life hung in the balance.
Finally, I caught a break. The company where I was employed was bought out by a major international corporation. As with most mergers and acquisitions, jobs were lost and my position as an accountant was displaced.
Luck was on my side that day. I was offered a permanent position as project coordinator despite not having the technical background for the job. The position entailed managing projects and supervising a number of field technicians. In addition, the position paid more than my current job and I felt the new work prospect was the right move.
As much as there was some unease over the first few months, the prospect and excitement of a new career gave me a sense of a better tomorrow. As I learned the ropes of the job, my confidence grew and the life force inside me started to change for the better. I took up martial arts, participated in the annual Sun Run events, bought my first luxury car and new friends began showing up in my life.
Life was good. We hosted BBQ’s at our house and also attended parties at friends’ houses. Texas Hold’em poker and karaoke were the usual themes. I’m typically shy in belting it out but with the aid of liquid courage it would take no time for me to get going. At times, we would alternate those week-end activities with dinner and dancing at the casinos where live bands were playing.
We also went camping during the summer months. Camping was not our thing as a couple but we enjoyed ourselves because of the camaraderie. My job was fulfilling and I felt that life had definitely turned around for the better. Little did I know that life had more surprises, but of a different kind, in store for me. Nearly three years after accepting my new position, I found myself handing a letter of resignation to my boss.
I’d decided that the corporate world and I would part ways permanently. What would I do for work? As an alternative, the logical solution would be to become my own boss so that’s exactly what I did. After a few failed negotiations on several business ventures, my wife and I settled on the purchase of a small retail business.
I became a proud owner of a bakery café near the downtown core of the city and my wife and step daughter helped me run the business. I was fully committed to making the business work and did everything in my power to make it a success.
It was my intention to operate the business until retirement came calling. But true to the invisible hand that seems to guide me along life’s path, less than a short eighteen months into the business, I had to sell.
A few months have passed since we sold the café. While visiting a cousin from Denver, I happened to tag along with him at a seminar on investments. Having taken many courses on financial planning during my accounting career, something was ignited. It made sense as to what my next career path would be.
I passed my Canadian Securities course and Life Insurance course which allowed me to become a licensed investment advisor. I enjoyed my studies and did reasonably well. I was encouraged by what I learned and looked forward to helping clients achieve their financial goals.
The new career lasted for about four years. This one had to end as well, mainly because I realized that I’m not the greatest of salesmen. Knowing what to sell and how to sell I realized were two different things. This was on me. Though, I would like to point out that I was also pushed by extenuating circumstances beyond my control.
… The circumstances I found myself took me on the path to an early retirement. For the most part, I enjoyed my free time and took on various projects in the quest of reimagining myself. There’s a sound bite you hear a lot about after leaving a career. “Reinvent Yourself.”
I was also doing some volunteer work to fill my time and not having much to complain about in life. Then, the unthinkable happened. I was hospitalized and was put in life support fighting for my life.
When I woke up from the hospital and later discharged; only days had passed when everyone’s world was turned upside down. Humanity found itself in a global pandemic.