Many people had to adjust to the “new normal” life when the pandemic hit in 2020. The worldwide lockdown was implemented, and companies had to close their doors indefinitely. People still employed had to deal with working at home through online platforms and going outdoors and were limited to buying necessities for their families’ consumption.
A Filipino advertising creative director, chef, and food content creator named Joey Ong, and his wife, Ciara, welcomed their first baby, a son named Joselito, while on lockdown and living in a condo at the height of the pandemic. The couple was living a good life in their condo in Makati when their priorities changed when they became parents.
“We had a very nice condo, and we’re very comfortable in Salcedo. I just had the unit renovated before the pandemic started, so really, it was pretty good for us. We had access to everything,” Joey shares in an interview with SmartParenting.com.ph.
Makati is one of Manila’s well-known business districts and a posh neighborhood due to its high-rise buildings, elegant shopping malls, classy hotels, coffee shops, and night markets. Joey has been living in the city for almost 20 years. However, an idea prompted him to make a bold move that would be more beneficial to his family, a healthier way of living.
“A fast-paced life used to be cool, maybe pre-pandemic and before becoming a parent,” Joey said. He wanted his son to experience the great outdoors, which was better outside the congested city. Additionally, their current living conditions restricted their visits to the parks, and he did not like to see his son grow up in a condo with limited space. Witnessing their neighbors get sick prompted Joey to make the big move.
“One night, sabi ko sa wife ko (I told my wife), I want to check out Alfonso in Cavite. I’m pretty sure there are farm lots we can invest in and see how it goes. I also wanted to get out of the city…” Joey recalls. “I met up with a broker, she showed me some spots, and I saw a super nice area which was semi-private with a community already, called my wife, then game. Good thing she was very supportive of my plans.”
While the couple’s new home was still being constructed in Alfonso, Cavite, they decided to move temporarily to Nuvali, Laguna, in December 2020. The family adjusted from living among high-rise buildings to tall trees and fresh air. It was a learning experience for the couple and their son. Nevertheless, they were content and had no regrets about the bold move.
“Our daily expenses went down — magastos sa city (it was costly living in the city), especially in Makati. We love the fresh air and the sound… When you move to the province, it’s peaceful, not quiet, but peaceful,” says Joey.
The move from Makati to Nuvali was an advantage for the family since they could do more outdoor activities. Additionally, baby Joselito did his first steps on an open field right outside the village.
Managing their work was never a problem with the couple. Online jobs were easy as long as the internet was stable in their area. “My wife is an amazing teacher, and she works in PR. We have Wi-Fi everywhere, even in our car. We adjusted to work easy,” Joey shares.
“It was a chance to turn a new leaf,” Joey said. “Moving out of the city is not just a physical move. It is also mental and even spiritual. There’s so much baggage you’re leaving behind, and the pandemic made it easy.” He admits that he will miss living in the city. However, his decision to live on a farm in the province did not waver, and the advantages exceeded them.
Joey Ong, the founder of DadbudPH, admits that moving to the province was more of a decision for their son, Joselito, who was growing up, but he is not completely against city life. The idea of living a simpler life on a farm excited him the most.
“We are not too much into gadgets for our kids. We want to keep it this way. He will definitely have more space to play outside, and this is the whole point of the move — open space for all of us,” adds Joey.
Joey also admitted that they got rid of 70% of their unnecessary belongings. Moving to a new place is never easy, especially hiring a hauling truck to move your belongings and furniture.
“This is something I would advise people to do. If you get the chance to get rid of your junk, go for it, and don’t bring it to your new place. It will feel so much better,” he says.
Joey is grateful to his wife, Ciara, for making “the big move” happen. He says managing the migration would be better as a team, and he thanks his wife for her full support of the idea.
“We conquered 2020 together,” Joey proudly shared. “All our decisions are discussed, planned, and we collaborate with each other. A peaceful partnership can do wonders… always agree on things,” he advises.
It is a known fact that leaving the city is not for everyone. There are important circumstances you need to consider before you move away from the comforts of your home, including daily expenses and work.
“As long as you are together, healthy, and happy, you can move anywhere or choose to stay put. I am not bashing the city life. It’s not just for us anymore, for now,” Joey said.
Images credits: Joey Ong for RealLiving PH