Categories
Cats & Dogs

Cat Export – Complete! But… Minor Disaster At The Airport!

Cats in Changi Airport

So, the great saga of exporting cats from Singapore is now complete, but it ended in near disaster.

Everything was going great.  We got up on time.  We got to the airport on time.  The Philippine Airlines attendants saw us in the line and pulled us into the business class line to have the cats taken care of.  We wound up paying 330 SGD for the cats to get on the plane.  The rate was about 20.50 SGD per kilogram.

Then, they were tagged and wheeled away in their carriers.  We were assured that they would be taken good care of.  I’m not sure where things went wrong, but I think it must have been with the ground crew that loads the planes.

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We were already on board and seated when we looked out the window and saw one of those baggage trucks with the cat carriers pulled up alongside the plane.  I even took a photo, thinking it was neat that we had such good seats for watching them get put on the plane.

That’s when disaster struck.  We saw a guy holding up a broken carrier.  The carrier was broken in the middle.  I don’t know how they managed to do it, other than to think that maybe they put something too heavy on top of the carrier and it caused it to fall apart.  Why would they be putting something heavy on top of a cat carrier that has a live animal in it in the first place?

A guy bolted out of view, presumably chasing Marble.

I thought I was going to have a heart attack.  I put all that effort into securing my pet’s passage to the Philippines and she almost ran off into the airport somewhere, to meet who knows what kind of fate.  I ran back out of the plane and into the boarding area to ask the women there just what was going on.  I told them what the situation was, and that I saw the empty carrier and pressured them to get everything taken care of.

My wife called me on my mobile from her seat in the plane and said that she saw them bringing the carrier back with Marble inside of it.  The attendant then talked to someone on her walkie-talkie and confirmed what my wife had said.  So, relieved, I went back down the boarding ramp and back to my seat.

That wasn’t the end of the drama though.

There was some banging around under the plane and I started to wonder just what the hell they were doing to my cats.  Then, about 5 minutes later they began to unload all of the cargo from the plane.  They had broken the carrier again and Marble was running amok under the plane.

I offered to go under the plane myself and secure the carrier because I figured I’d have an easier time of it than they would, but they said that for security reasons they couldn’t let me do that.  So, we sat there.  Eventually the pilot made an announcement about why we were still sitting there 30 minutes after the plane was supposed to have taken off, and everyone got a good laugh out of it, but I didn’t think it was all that amusing.  I was worried about my cat.

At about 11:30 AM, 45 minutes after the plane was supposed to take off, they finally had Marble secured in her carrier, the cargo reloaded and they were closing the plane doors.

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I spent the entire flight worrying about how my cats were.  After a fiasco like that, I didn’t have much confidence in the airline’s ability to handle my pets properly.

Thankfully, things went incredibly smoothly in Manila.  We rushed off the plane to the baggage area, but our cats still beat us to the baggage claim area.  It seems like NAIA knows what ‘Priority’ tags mean.  It means take care with these animals, and move them along quickly, rather than put heavy stuff on the carrier and crack it open.

By the way, this is what the carrier looked like after the ‘fix’ at Changi Airport:

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Anyway, the paperwork was done in a matter of minutes.  We didn’t even have to take the cats anywhere.  The workers came to us and helped us get through the paperwork while I was pulling our luggage off the carousel.  That’s some good service!

The cats were a little terrified, but when we got into the taxi the quiet and the air conditioning put them right to sleep, all the way to Antipolo.

Stay tuned for more updates on how the cats are adjusting to their new home!

Categories
Living in the Philippines

Why The Philippines?

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This is a question my wife has asked me on more than one occasion.  It seems to boggle her mind that I would really look forward to moving there.  The Philippines is a ‘poor’ country and many Filipinos strive to find ways to leave and find what they consider a better life abroad.  There’s something of a joke that the primary export of the Philippines is human beings, as a labor force.  With so many of her countrymen trying to get out of the Philippines she finds it curious and a bit odd that I’m so excited about moving there.

Just to clarify, I’m not going there with some wealthy expat package lined up.  I’m moving there for other reasons, which I’ll get into later in this post.  But, for all intents and purposes, when I move to the Philippines I’ll be living pretty much as the average Filipino does.  That will have both its ups and downs, but I look at this as a great opportunity rather than a disadvantage.  The easy answer is that I’m moving to Manila to go to college, but there’s more to it than that.

I spent the first part of my life in the US Army.  I was actually enlisted in the US Army Reserves before I even finished high school and shortly after I applied for and was accepted to active duty.  During that time I had a few odd jobs on the side, but my service in the Army was the only ‘real’ job I’ve held.  I wouldn’t call service in the Army a waste of time, but it can seriously set you back if you don’t intend to see it all the way through, or if you later decide that you’ve had enough and don’t want to do 20 years for a retirement.  I didn’t completely gimp myself.  During the last year and a half I was in, I realized I wasn’t going to make a career of it after all and managed to squeeze in almost 2 years worth the college credit hours through CLEP tests, sit down courses and online courses through Park University and the University of Maryland UC.  Those college credits paid off by giving me enough points to get promoted to Sergeant before getting out, and by giving me a leg up on getting a degree.  I earned a scholarship while in the Army that will pay 100% of my tuition.  There’s a time limit on it, and it’s hard to go to school full time and still make it financially, but I’m in a position to make it happen now and I want to take advantage of this opportunity, because it may never come again.

In the US, it’s possible to get a decent job based on military service alone, but outside of the US that’s nearly impossible.  I’ve found that out the hard way.  Having a degree on top of my military service would make me look real good though, both to peers and to potential employers.  It’s a nice thing to be able to say you have a tertiary education and a piece of paper to prove it.  I want that.  I am by no means an idiot, but just saying you’re smart or good at something isn’t going to win you a job interview or a high paying executive position.  People want proof.  They want evidence that you’ll be a good, solid investment.  Even if your degree isn’t necessarily applicable, it will show that you’re at least smart enough to learn.

Eventually I’ll make my way back to the US, and I think that having lived abroad for a number of years and having a degree from a foreign, but US accredited university, will give me an advantage.  The work climate in the US right now seems to be focused on finding people that can interact in multiracial groups of people from diverse backgrounds, and having lived abroad and having gone to school abroad would be a clear indicator that I at least have experience with getting along with people who are different than I am.  That’s also something you learn in the Army, though to a lesser degree.

The time I spend in the Philippines will also be an opportunity for me to enrich myself on a personal level by gaining a greater understanding of the world around me.  The Philippines is a place rich with history and culture in a way the US can’t quite match, now or in hundreds of more years.  The US is a melting pot of cultures and while that has its advantages, it causes the US to lack any sort of distinctiveness, politics and war aside.  So, it’s a very thrilling prospect for me to live in a country that has so much history behind it, to learn about the people living there and to experience it all first hand.

It’s also an opportunity to connect with my wife’s family in a way that a short visit just can’t accommodate.  My wife is from the Philippines and we’ve visited a few times but the visits are brief and while we try to mix in sight-seeing with visiting time with her folks, the whole thing always feels rushed.  Living there will give me more time to hang out with them and get to know them.  It’ll also give my wife an opportunity to reconnect with her family before we move on to other things and other places.  I’m also hoping she’ll be able to finish her second degree, a master’s degree, or medical school while we’re there.

So, moving to Manila and going to college will provide me with a lot of advantages in terms of future employment when I return to the US, as well as being personally enriching for both my wife and I.  I think both reasons have equal value because living life isn’t just about the job you hold or your income; it’s about family, experiencing the world, learning, progressing, understanding and eventually contributing to society.  This move will be a win-win situation all around.

The focus of this blog will be whether or not we achieve these goals, how we make it happen or how we fail, and the adventures we encounter along the way.