Happy new year! It was a rough 2021, but glad I managed to survive.
It's my first month living in the US. Although I'm a US Citizen by birth through petition (dad is a naturalized citizen), I haven't set foot on the continent for the 28 years of my existence. Only in 2021 my sister and I decided to move to the US for good.
Moving to the US was my dad's plan since we were young. However, it never happened because of our family and financial circumstances.
After graduating college, my dad's dementia progressed until he needed special care. In 2018, my sister brought him to the US. But because of his condition and agitation, my sister was forced to put him in Rosecrans Care Center in Los Angeles. The costs were too high for us to shoulder, so we put him in an aged care facility in the Philippines.
I didn't see anything interesting in the US. Instead, I wanted to go to Japan because of its interesting culture and technological scene. While working at Bizwind, I even expressed my interest in working for its Japan branch. I even studied the Japanese language and got JPLT N4 certified.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic happened. Most countries, including Japan, closed their borders to slow the spread of the virus. They implemented stringent border measures, including limiting visas and travel from "green" countries only.
There were still no signs of when Japan will open its borders. The Philippine government is insufficient at handling the pandemic. These situations forced me to reconsider all other opportunities. I realized that working in the US will give me more opportunities than in the Philippines. Also, given my dad's worsening health, my sister and I decided that we should make his plans for us a reality once and for all.
We gave ourselves about three months to prepare and booked our flight with Philippine Airlines for November 12. I resigned from my work on August 30.
The flight was rescheduled multiple times due to our COVID-19 vaccination. After booking, we got our first shot on August 23 and the second one on November 15. We had to allow at least 14 days after the second shot to be considered "fully" vaccinated as per the CDC travel bulletin at the time. The final date of our flight was rescheduled to November 30.
Our flight baggage allowance is limited to two 23 kg check-in and 7 kg hand-carry, so I had to let go of most stuff such as memorabilia, electronics, and school medals to make room for the important ones. I left a few things to my girlfriend that I wished to ship some other time. However, I probably won't because shipping those is expensive and impractical.
Flights to the US were restricted. The CDC requires a negative test result at least three days before departure for vaccinated individuals and at least a day for non-vaccinated. We were not fully vaccinated three days before our departure, so we took the test on the day of our flight. We tested negative (faak you, COVID).
At the time, the Omicron variant was discovered and has eventually found its way to the US, prompting the US government to update its travel advisory. On December 3, all passengers to the US must provide a negative test result taken at least a day before departure, regardless of their vaccination status.
Our flight was PR102, an Economy Class flight from Manila (MNL) to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on November 30 at 21:10. We arrived at NAIA Terminal 2 at around 16:00. Passengers are required to show the negative test result upon entering the airport. We went through a luggage inspection at the airport entrance.
The airport wasn't crowded, and there were also no lines at the immigration counters. The check-in took us about 30 minutes because of multiple inspections. We were permanent residents, so we paid for ECC at the immigration to depart the country. After the immigration check, we went through another luggage inspection then waited at Gate 10.
They also conducted another check at the gates. Overall, we went through three inspections, which in my opinion, are inconvenient and unnecessary.
The flight was delayed to 23:00, almost two hours from the original schedule. The trip was 12 hours long. We slept throughout the trip, except during the meals. With the complimentary 25 MB in-flight Wi-Fi, I was able to send a few messages to my friends and relatives.
We arrived at Los Angeles International Airport on November 30 at 20:20. It was a bit hazy outside the airport.
After disembarking, we went through an immigration check, then picked up our luggage from the conveyor. Our cousin picked us up from the arrival area and drove us for about two hours to her condominium that we rented in Lakeside, California.