Wayfaring Pinoy Transplant is Home

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I find it hard to believe that it has been 7 years since I moved here in Iowa. After leaving Manila, which had been the cradle of my childhood, and after short stints in New Jersey, New York, California and Florida, I now have settled here in Iowa and have accepted to call it home.

Truly, my world have changed from the one I was reared into. I transitioned from the congested streets of Manila to the wide open fields of Iowa. Our neighborhood in Sampaloc was so crowded that if I open my window and ask our neighbor to lend me some salt, they can literally hand it to me through the window. Now, where I live, if I open my window and shout to my neighbor to pass the salt, he should have a very good arm to throw it that strong so I can catch it. That is if he can hear me shouting for the salt first.

Manila skyline (photo from the net)

Consider this: the state of Iowa (145,000 sq. km.) is bigger than the total land area of Luzon (105,000 sq. km.). But the population of Iowa is only 3 million. Yes, 3 million! That’s only the population of Quezon City! Can you imagine scattering the people from Quezon City alone, throughout the whole island of Luzon, and that will still be more dense than Iowa.

You may be able to drive for miles after miles here without seeing people. But you cannot go very far without seeing the handiwork of people, as stretches of cornfields, soybean fields, cattle and hog farms are the constant scenery here. Only a very small portion of produced corn here is used for human consumption, as most of them are for processing ethanol for fuel and other industrial use. There’s so much corn, that it is just considered cattle and hog feeds. The cattle population (almost 4 million) is more than its people. And hogs? We have 20 million. There is plenty of steak and pork chop to go around.

typical Iowa scene

(photo from here)

I remember when I told my friends that I will be moving from Florida to Iowa. Their first question was, “Where is Iowa?” The next question was, “Are you nuts?” And when I told my family in the Philippines that I will move to Iowa, their question was, “Is that still in the US?” Many people, even Americans cannot locate Iowa in the map. I admit that I had no idea where the heck Iowa was, or knew that it even exist, until a good friend of mine years ago invited me to consider moving here.

This friend is a classmate of mine from pre-med to medical school in Manila. Then we both did our post-graduate training in New York City. He moved to Iowa while I went to Florida, after our training. And for some reason he was very satisfied of the way of living and his practice in Iowa, while I was not in Florida. Besides, this is the man who was the best of our batch in medical school and was the top-notcher of the Philippines’ Medical Board of our time. If it was good enough for him, then there must be a very sound reason.

downtown Des Moines

(photo from here)

As a matter of fact, Des Moines, Iowa is always in the top 10 cities in the US for raising family, for business and career, and a place to relocate. (No, I’m not making those up, but perhaps I need to hear those reports to convince myself that I made the right decision.) But what I like most here is its people. They are friendly, laid-back, simple and are family oriented. Moreover, people here still like their doctors, as the rate of medical malpractice lawsuits is not that high compared to other states. (The states where I lived before were among the high risk states for malpractice lawsuits.)

Seven years and counting. So far I have no regrets. Except when I am freezing while shoveling snow in my driveway, that moving somewhere warm (like the Bahamas) crosses my mind. But winter is almost gone now and spring is on its way. I will soon forget about the bone-chilling cold, at least until the next winter.

Will I stay here for good? Only time can tell. But for now, this wayfaring Pinoy transplant has found his home.


  1. Because I’m from San Diego, Iowa will always be too cold for me weather-wise. But I found the people there very warm-hearted during the months I lived there caring for my mother in her last days.

  2. Dear Pinoytransplant. Thank you for stopping by my blog. It is a very different experience when caring for the elderly whom you’ve spent your whole life looking up to. Like you, my husband and I have traveled and lived in many places. We have settled in the San Francisco Bay Area. But at one time, we did live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where the four seasons were quite distinct and unique. And so, I can relate to your Iowan life, in a way. We did not, however, have the other very American experiences. Iowa figures in the political arena when it’s around election campaign time. Somehow, the pundits think Iowa is some kind of oracle that can foretell who will be favored by the masses to win. You must be surrounded by a lot of conservatives. And by libertarians too.
    As for whether you made the right decision? There’s no one right decision, really. There are only a multitude of choices, adventures, and experiences. It’s all what we make of it, huh.
    For what it’s worth, have a happy holiday these coming weeks!

  3. Why Iowa is so important in the political arena is something that still beats me. Why this quiet, mainly agricultural state, and not necessarily a diverse cross-section of America, becomes such a strong voice or endorser of any candidate is hard to explain. It is not the reason I came here though, as I may be the least political person in this state.

    Well, because presidential election is just around the corner, our state will be in the spotlight once again. Thanks for visiting. And happy holidays to you too.

    1. The political cross-section is there. You have to look for it – it is not a racial or cultural issue and people are generally tolerant of other viewpoints – And no, I am the most apolitical person in the states.
      I see your post if rather old – and the biggest concern I hear from those who move to the midwest (ie, Iowa) is the “cold.” All I can say – dress in layers, buy the proper clothing for the winter. Imo, LLBean is the best for proper ratings of equipment, temps, how to layer… and a lifetime guarantee.
      Active Endeavors – a local vendor – is very helpful with advice – but sign up for the sales.

  4. I can relate somewhat, our first winter after immigrating to the U.S. was spent in the state of Maine. My sister and I definitely had to learn a new way of dressing to keep warm.

    I like your lending salt description to illustrate the dramatic difference in the population between the two places. I have not been to Iowa, but I do know that of the people that I have met throughout my life, those hailing from the Midwest seem to be the nicest and most down-to-earth. I wonder why that is so… and maybe that is among the reasons you like it there?

    I’m very happy to find your blog, and I will be back to explore more articles (especially that I spot on your sidebar an article about usog and anting-anting) and more that I want to read 🙂 !

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