When I met my now-husband, he had mentioned something about giving me a good life. It’s not that I didn’t have a good life in the Philippines, it just wasn’t his idea of what a good life is.
It’s common to think that when a Filipina marries a foreigner, she gets an upgrade in life. I try to make it clear to people that not all Filipinas are poor and not all foreigners are rich. I lived in El Nido frequented by foreign tourists and it was inevitable that some Filipinas wanted to “catch foreigners” for husbands or partners because it meant a better life. Maybe in my case, it is true, but “better” is also subjective because I was not some starving Filipina with twelve brothers and sisters and jobless parents. I grew up relatively well enough that I had braces in my teens, had a car sometimes pick me up from Manila where I went to university, and bring me back to the province, to name a few little examples. I once owned a more or less 350sqm rock bar in an affluent area in a good city. My parents, siblings, and cousins are well-educated. There was no poverty we needed to be lifted out of.
I insisted on looking at a home to buy in Sardinia as early as 2019, at a time when my husband didn’t even want to look. It took us two years and more or less 60 property oculars (meetings with different agents and agencies) before we arrived at a mutual decision as to the house to be purchased. My husband wanted a fireplace, and I wanted a bathtub. He wanted an independent apartment, called a dependance in Italy, and I wanted a large attic. He wanted a house by the sea or with a view of the sea, and I wanted to be near a bus stop. He wanted sunset views while I wanted full suns. He wanted a lawn, and I wanted a plantation. When he told me he would give me a good life, he didn’t know my idea of a good life is surveying my property on horseback on weekends. I am kidding!
We both agreed on one thing, though. We wanted to live a simple life away from neighbors. “I hate people,” according to a t-shirt my Spanish neighbor wanted, and I bought it for him and my husband, of course. It’s a private joke because my Spanish neighbor owns a resort in El Nido, my husband owns a diving center, and I owned a rock bar and a travel agency. Of course, we like people! But I like to say I’m a closet introvert because I can actually go for months without stepping foot outside of the door of our apartment in Torino. I love me my quiet coffee mornings and quiet me-time before bedtime. I like to think and a cluttered house and life is a hindrance to my thinking process.
It’s funny though how every time I see posts on my Facebook feed about people’s life goals about having a country home with a garden at the back or a farm, that is actually what I have now. I’m hard at work planning my own French potager garden or English garden or edible garden. Perhaps I’d go for a homestead in the future, but for now, I am starting small. The kids are young and we are busy, but perhaps once all the kids have flown the nest, chickens, goats, donkeys, and horses it is going to be.
I used to be extremely busy as a person. I used to go for months without sleeping properly. My neighbor liked to make fun of me and called me, “the woman that never sleeps,” because, in those days when he was single and partying out all night, he could always count on me to tell him what time he came home the night before. I worked like a madwoman in the time shortly after I left my first marriage, and before I went into my second, my then-boyfriend said it was imperative that we work on me being able to sleep eight hours straight at night. That never happened and will never happen because, apparently, my body’s battery becomes fully charged after six hours of sleep and I automatically wake up after that. I have to adjust the time I go to sleep at night to wake up at a reasonable time like if I sleep at ten in the evening, I’d be awake at four, and that makes my husband upset!
Our summers are extremely busy because my husband has a seasonal job, but in the off-seasons, we just spend our days ferrying the kids from one school to the other and doing errands in between. Errands mainly include buying produce at the farmer’s market, meat at the butcher’s, groceries at the local cooperative, and hanging out for coffee and beer with the questionable characters at the neighborhood bar. Our life is simple. My husband hates the mall and shopping and if I didn’t buy him socks and underwear, he’d go around wearing ones with holes all year long. He can go about wearing the same pair of shorts for more than a week! I am not into expensive bags, shoes, or even jewelry.
Our priorities revolve around eating well and healthy, sleeping well on good beds and pillows with high-thread cotton sheets, drinking excellent coffee and wine, and going out for quiet walks with our pets by the sea and around the neighborhood. My pre-occupation is germinating seeds and growing vegetables. We live our lives simply without traveling much, because we have traveled too much before, and now we are sick (sic), too old for it. Sometimes I think about all the traveling I did some years ago and conclude that it was a good thing I did that when I was younger because I would never do such a thing now. I just do not have the patience or energy for it. I am old. And now I just want to sit and think while sipping coffee on my front porch.
We have been hard at work in our permanent home. I found our architect-engineer by accident on Houzz and we absolutely love him! I found our gardener on Facebook marketplace and he is a real gem! I also found the listing for the house we ended up buying (actually, my in-laws bought it for us!) on Idealista.it on my 39th birthday. I’ve been dead set on recycling, upcycling, donating, or selling at give-away prices things we own but don’t need or want anymore, so I’m also dead set on buying second-hand items. I try to buy things on Facebook marketplace as well to avoid having people throw them away and add them to the dump, and now I’m into vintage and auctions. My husband actually dislikes old furniture, saying it makes him think of the old days and old people, but I love old things! When we furnished our first apartment in Torino, we bought almost everything from Ikea, because well, for one, I come from the Philippines, and for a time, everyone wanted to have things from Ikea, and two, my husband dislikes old furniture. We did inherit a good deal of old furniture from relatives that have passed on and I love every single one of them! I told my husband that in our permanent home, there must be no Ikea stuff because people in their 40s and 50s can actually afford real furniture. Thankfully, my mother-in-law agrees!
My excitement over our house being finished is not about how beautiful it will look but about how I will live my life quietly and simply after all this hullabaloo is over. I look forward to making healthy meals out of produce picked from the backyard garden, baking our own bread, and making more cakes while indulging in fruit and vegetable smoothies. I look forward to having friends of my children as well as our myriad of friends and relatives for barbecues and simple occasion-less gatherings and get-togethers. I look forward to gathering data and pouring over them to figure out how we can best maximize our resources and lower our living expenses while improving our quality of life.
These past years, our focus is improving our quality of life and finding out that that goes best with living a simple life. We now have modified our primary goal in life to reflect that the only way to live a good life is to live simply.
Crazy wife. Mother of two.