We were told yesterday that we will be heading to Manila next June for our second post. I don’t really want to get into all the reasons we are not too happy about this posting. It has nothing to do with the city. We think it’s going to be great for our family, that is not the point. It is a 20% differential so considered a hardship post, we are leaving a 25% differential post. It was ranked 20th on our list. We had 19 places all over S. America and Europe above this ONE Asian post. It’s just amazing to me how time and again we are told one thing, such as, “You’d never go from one hardship to another hardship your first two tours.” or “They want entry level officers to have the experience of a hardship post and an easier post.” or “When leaving a hardship post, especially a 25% one in Africa, you can guarantee ending up in the continent you want to be.” just to have it thrown in our faces. Again, it’s not the city, I’m sure it’s great. We don’t need any encouragement there. It’s a lot of other personal factors that make this upsetting. We’ll make the best of it and I’m sure we’ll love it, but it’s very hard not feeling disheartened and defeated. I just hope, hope, hope we get housing where I can take the kids for a walk to the park and the coffee shops and the mall.  That sounds like a dream to me.

I’ll leave you with a few cool things.

  • Our son, who will be born this July, will have lived on three different continents before the age of one.
  • We’ll have household help again, this time I’ll hire someone who can cook.
  • We’ll qualify for the student loan repayment plan again. So good by to our thousands of dollars a month payments we were making so to pay it off by the end of this tour and hello to a new Mac (per my husband’s request).
  • Traveling to other countries seems to be cheap and easy. We have a great friend who is posted from the Mexico boarder to Bangkok. Flights there are super cheap. Hope you don’t mind a couple of tired parents and their two kids every now and then, Andrew! : )
  • Lastly, there is a direct flight to Vancouver BC (15 hrs.) so we will be able to fly there and drive down to Bellingham, Seattle, Tacoma and over to Walla Walla. That in it self is amazing.

14 responses to “manila?

  1. I am very sympathetic to your wanting to take your kids for a walk etc. Believe me I am. But whoever told you that you would not be doing your first two (or even first few) tours in hardship posts was either pulling your leg or feeding you a line. Our first four posts were hardships, and that was back in the 90s. It was normal then, and I suspect it’s normal now.

    I’ve seen several blog posts along these lines the last few days, and I have to wonder what they are telling people now! That said, we never had to come up with 20+ posts back in the day. It was more like 10. That would be hard to do, especially with kids.

    • Well, the people “feeding us these lines” are all high up officers who we trust and respect a lot. I’m sure they know how things are run right now and were not just trying to make us feel good. I have plenty of thoughts about the whole situation. I’d rather not voice them here though.

      We had to pick 30 places, actually. Had we only had to pick 10 we would have been thrilled, our top 10 were amazing.

  2. Congratulations on your new baby!! That is so exciting!! We are expecting again too in August, another girl. I just wanted to say that I have read your blog and you have always inspired me with your positive attitude about all that has been thrown your way. Being a “trailing spouse” is not easy. Bringing our little ones to these places in my opinion makes it even harder. You always seem to point out the silver lining and I admire that. I wish you the best of luck at your next post and hopefully Manila will surprise you. One of Andrews co-workers is headed there this summer and she is great.

    • You are so sweet. Congrats to you guys too! Your little girl is just a doll! We are looking forward to Manila, as it settles in more. When do you find out your next assignment? Are you summer bidders?

      • We are summer bidders so we have a little bit of time before the craziness starts. I am super nervous after all that I have been reading and hearing, but I have faith that where ever we end up we will get through it. Quito is 15% so we have to bid on the second round (the scrub list). Coming up with 30 from the scrub list is going to be a real challenge.

  3. hi – just so you know, at State, it’s the squeaky wheel that gets better assignments. usually, blamed on a condition of a spouse or child which prevents them from being able to ‘live’ in a difficult environment. you see, someone has to go to ‘bern, paris, rome, mexico city, buenos ares – also, it helps to find a ‘champion’ on the 7th floor, or at least a senior level. staying out is not the best idea; if they don’t know you, they won’t care. i enjoyed our assignments, but we had 5 hardships posts.

      • hello noble wife, by the way i am Jolo Penafiel, i just read this post and got me curious by the way im from the philippines im currently studying international studies in a university here in manila i dream to be like your husband. goodluck you’ll be working with the current amb. harry k. thomas he’s so noble i admire him as an ambassador he love us i mean the filipino race he’s embracing it, the culture even studying our national language, i heard in our local news that he’s always attending different events here in our country. i want you to not worry, manila is fine, but you will get problems with the traffic jam. lol, its fine the us embassy is located near the rizal park and manila hotel theres the ocean park you want it. lol, and theres a lot of mall here in manila and theres a lot of coffee shop you can take your kids for a walk like in glorietta mall its amazing. i also have a friend he’s a son of an ambassador he’s arabian and he loves here in the philippines im currently studying with him in the same university, sorry for this, i just wanted to share this like a welcome present i promised you will enjoy your stay until you will go for you next post.

        Truly yours,
        Jose Alfonso “JOLO” Penafiel

  4. Hi there! I know what you mean about being disheartened. We were supposed to go to Madrid for our first posting (I even took basic Spanish classes to prepare) and yet here we are on our 3rd year in Jakarta. Our AO for Madrid was signed but somehow it got “lost” because someone we knew actually stole it from right under our noses. And now we are requesting for transfer because of our desire to have a family and my health problems. We got called about SG but it looks like it won’t pan out.

    We live in Salcedo Village in Manila and would take our dogs for walks in the park, have weekend markets on Saturdays and also walk to this really nice mall called Greenbelt which expats love because of the indoor outdoor architecture. So if that’s your wish, you can easily get it in Manila. Most diplomats live in Salcedo village, Legaspi Village, Dasmarinas or Forbes park. Security is really awesome and walking to the park is something we regularly do. It might be hot (tropical country) but it’s lovely to do at dusk – it’s also when all the doggies come out for their walks with their “yayas” (nannies – LOL!) and kids love it seeing all the dogs out. =) Just wanna share with you some lovely memories I miss in Manila. Jakarta is not a walking city (barely any sidewalks) so sorely missing walking to my friends house to meet up for lunch or dinner. Good luck with your post and feel free to ask me anything about Manila if you ever get posted there.

  5. We’re so happy about the travel opportunities in EAP, Bangkok is definitely on our “to visit” list too! We met & hired our yaya already because the family she worked with before loved her so much they brought her to the US while the FSO went to language training for her second post.

    • Hi Allison! My family and I will be arriving in Manila late July (our first overseas post, 3 times posted here in the DC area) and since you had already hired your yaya, I was wondering if I can ask you a few questions? I have 2 boys and I am looking to hire a yaya as well, mainly for my 2 year old since my eldest will mostly be in school. I’m planning on getting an EFM job thus the yaya search. I just want to ask about your experience with the “logistical” aspect of it. Please e-mail me at

  6. My husband I are suppose to be coming there and I just wanted to pick you brain about few things. We have one 4 year ok daughter. Thanks.

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