American expat, The Tom Cat, heads back to the States. Yes, my American amigo is going back to the land of the free and the home of the brave this coming October. Things won't be the same in Guimaras, his current stomping grounds, or in Iloilo, where my asawa and I presently reside.
But Tom is going back to find employment. When he first arrived in the Philippines and worked as an oblate, or lay person, for the Trappist Monastery in a "jack-of-all trades" capacity for the monks of the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance, he only planned to stay for a year. But Cupid's arrow struck his heart. He met the love of his life, the lovely LenLen, one of my wife's legions of relatives, so he extended his original stay. He might be gone for as long as two years, maybe longer. But like General MacArthur, he shall return to the Philippines.
The Tom Cat and LenLen at Lisa's Talabahan
My friend is a true Renaissance Man. Engineering designer for NASA, the Tomahawk Cruise missile project, shrimp boat captain, furniture maker, website designer, master brewer. There isn't much he can't do. But a great dancer, he isn't. I first spied him attempting Michael Jackson-like moves in front of the stage at the Manggahan Festival in Guimaras a few years back.
Tom was putting on quite a display, so much so, that I turned to my asawa and remarked: "I hope he's not an American. He's an embarrasment!" I'm sure others have thought the same of me especially if they witnessed my antics with "Fearless Frank from Florida" during the 2012 mango festival.
The Tom Cat on stage at the Manggahan Festival
But Brother Tom, as he was known as that time, and I crossed paths a few days later and became good friends. Tom is friends with everyone.
Tom is actively seeking employment in the United States and is pursuing various opportunities. If you know of anyone that could use a multi-talented graphic designer, who has completely redone the product line of the Trappist Monastery among other projects, leave a comment on this post, and I'll forward your interest or lead to Tom. I want to help him as much as possible.
One of Tom's graphic design websites, The Design Farm
Tom's new product design for the Trappist line courtesy of The Design Farm
My expat friend will be building a new home in Guimaras upon his return and word is that he will be coming back with "Fearless Frank from Florida" to help with the construction. Frank is a master builder who specializes in plumbing renovations.
Len2 will be working and living in Jaro, Iloilo, with her sister while her man is away. She'll tough it out during Tom's absence but they will remain in touch. My amigo, at age 54, is too young to collect Social Security and doesn't have a pension plan from a company to fall back on as I was fortunate to acquire with almost 30 years of employment with AT&T, the telecommunications giant.
But as I remarked earlier, Tom's original plan was to only stay in the Philippines for a year. However, he's very adaptable and self-sufficient and disciplined himself to live on a lower budget than we have access to. He'll do great upon his return to America, but I'll really miss the guy. He's an original. A good guy. True friend. And one extremely talented man.