My city. My heart.

“Hi Cat! What are the things you love about Australia??” – formspring

Since Australia to me is synonymous with Sydney, I think a short piece I wrote for Rogue magazine’s March 2012 issue will best sum up what I love about where I live. Hope you think so too. 


At twenty-seven I found myself newly single and restless with life in Manila’s fish bowl. Despite having never set foot in Sydney, something about studying there felt more right than many things I had planned more thoroughly in my past. So on a perfectly clear day in February of 2008, my balikbayan box and I boarded a plane and looked forward to a year of new possibilities. Three years later, to the exact day, I married the man who the universe had waiting for me in this magical new place. Even though, for a time, we lived just a few streets away from each other while we were kids.

Sydney was the perfect backdrop for a new relationship. It is an urban melting pot that offers something new to do everyday of the week. During spring, it rewards its residents for surviving the cold with film and music festivals, often dotted with fedoras and picnic baskets. In summer, it gives scorching days perfect for flimsy apparel and chilly dips at its rock pools. In winter, it warms tummies with authentic hot pots seasoned with Szechuan chilies. And in fall, it treats us to long bike rides and silky lattes while walking through its gorgeous parks.

A city’s magic is often found in its people and Sydneysiders are the heart that pumps it with chill pills and juice shakes. They are a laid back bunch who worship the outdoors, family, and good coffee. Sydney office goers despise overtime and would rather encourage their bosses to hire someone else for the job than take hours away from doing the things they really enjoy.  It’s not uncommon for multinational companies to reward their staff on a Friday afternoon with a cold beer. On weekends, the church of brunch is revered more than any other religion and beer is drunk more than water.

Aside from the one time when I was working as a barista and a Glebe local asked if I was from the States because he didn’t want an American making his coffee, Sydney has proven to be the perfect multi-racial blend of East and West. You’ll probably find a Greek family slurping on a bowl of Pho or a Thai man and his French girlfriend chomping on an authentic English meat pie after a drunken night out. It’s a young city, with new people coming to call it home from all over the world, myself included.

I discovered things I never would have discovered about my partner had we started dating surrounded by the curious eyes of everyone in Manila. Who’s to know if things would have been completely different if I didn’t get on that plane. But I will always be grateful to Sydney for starting me on a completely different path and making me realize that sometimes the decisions you make on an impulse are the ones that turn out to matter the most.

Snapped a few weekends ago with an iPhone4