1. Out of curiosity earlier, I asked Google, “Why do turtles live so long?”

Turtles and tortoises, if not made into scrumptious meals by sharks or whatever sea-dwelling predator, have a life expectancy of up to 150 years. ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY YEARS. And to think turtles and tortoises hardly move. Cats, nimble as they are, live up to 15 years, 14 on average. Rabbits, for all their hopping and libido-related metaphors, live up to 12 according to Google. Dogs, man’s best friend in hunting and checking out bitches, live up to 11. Turtles and tortoises, THEY HARDLY EVEN MOVE — and they live up to ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY YEARS (I might use this scientific fact for excuses…err, factual…purposes).

I mean look at this guy:

Credits to dizzyshell42 of redbubble.com

Credits to dizzyshell42 of redbubble.com

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1) Near-miss

As part of our preparations for the Pilot Test we’re conducting in Davao, we had to secure 10 biometric devices — 5 pieces each of 2 versions of the machines. The version 1’s were with me, no question. I pulled them from our safe last December to distribute to the teams which went up to mountains for simultaneous activities. The version 2’s were brought down to the Property and Supply Section last October by the IT for turnover of custody. At the time of our preparations, the turnover was still pending, and the last person who borrowed them was me. It was a pair of them circa November 2013 for a simulation conducted within the office. A colleague of mine in the IT (Emer) was sent searching (I couldn’t attend to it because of the data requests on my own table). There was a slight misunderstanding between him and the Supply Section, and I was pinned to the wall because of my signature in the Borrowed Equipment log book.

Shit, those devices are P35,000 each; although I only borrowed two devices, 5 were missing and they were pinning them on me and Emer (that’s P175,000). So we decided to search the Supply Section ourselves. Though I have to admit that the gravity of the situation coupled with the pile of data requests from my own unit was pushing me to the brink. I wasn’t talking, but I was beginning to draft the contents of my resignation letter.

Something along the lines of “I therefore have decided that I will migrate to the Swiss Alps where I intend to rescue lost mountaineers as a St. Bernard.”

As it turns out, the devices WERE there. The Supply Section thought we were looking for the version 1’s.

What a breath of relief. I totally inhaled that mass of oxygen down my lungs. We set off for Davao the following morning without much pain; although I still couldn’t pull through with the data requests. Maybe I’ll just attend to that next week.

 

2) Homesick

We have a new guy. He’s a good person. He takes notes during meetings, documents minutes when he can, and e-mails all participants a summary of what was sat down on. He seems very versed in the language of Excel.

He was hired to take my place in the Cordillera peace table. Our director insists that my priorities are with the documentation and the right-handing duties to a much larger project that spans across all peace tables, not just one. Thus, I was instructed to turnover all data pertaining to the Cordillera peace table over to Data Management. I still have yet to complete this though. We’re taking baby steps.

For reasons I know but am unable to enunciate, I still have a lingering attachment to the data. It wasn’t in my custody at first, but I accepted it with open arms. Slowly, the operations unit entrusted me with their lists, one by one. The transition allowed me to understand its background. It allowed me to see how it was built. And it allowed me to plan the next steps to improve upon it. It took me 3 months (with a lot of help) to harmonize all that information, with the end goal of creating one consolidated list.

Consequently, custody of the data meant that I was responsible for aiding the concerned client units, both in and out of the office. Nearly all of my travels last year (and this year’s February) was to aid operations in the mountains. I’m not sure how they feel, but I felt bonded with my client units. I (really) enjoyed working with them. The positive chemistry I had with them paved the way for motivated hours dedicated to the job. I grew attached both to them and the area of our operations. Being born in Baguio, the cold climate and mild atmosphere of the Cordilleras was very homey. Even the Isabela route (which technically isn’t part of CAR) to Kalinga, Tuguegarao and Apayao was homey. It was the closest I felt to enjoying my work, arguably much more than my internship days with the IT.

Unfortunately, change happened. Now here I am writing this, a month’s delay with the turnover of data because (a) I refuse to pass it on to the new guy with its current flurry of problems (I’m kind-hearted like that); and (b) the duties associated with right-handing the Systems Development tend to slow things a bit. Our pseudo-division head is starting to lose her head over my shortcomings, I imagine.

I have a hard time explaining to them that this transition takes time, and will continue to take time unless they want me to turn it over in its current state. If I do that, I’ll end up being called up again every now and then because there are things inside that database that aren’t self-explanatory; things that will come back to bite me in the ass if I don’t minimize, if not resolve, now.

From time to time, I get random flashbacks of the scenery one sees travelling to the North. Images of the fun, the difficult, the laughing, the yelling, the relaxed and the adrenaline-induced moments get projected in my mind. Last weekend, I found myself browsing my iPod’s photo gallery looking at the pictures and videos I took there; the roads, the venues, the rivers, the landmarks we pass by, etc.

I get homesick. I miss it. I wish I wasn’t pulled out of my duties there.

I have nothing against the new guy. He is a good person. He is probably what they need, what they deserve. I just can’t help but feel a tiny bit (okay, a lot) (an overflowing amount) of envy when I imagine him in the seats I used to sit down on; on the beds I laid my back on, the food I used to eat, the roads I used to see, the people I used to be with, the sound of the engines I used to hear, the laughter I used to enjoy, the stress I used to tolerate, the sleep I used to lose, the anger I used to witness, the smiles I used to see.

I have nothing against the new guy. He is a good person. I am not angry with him. I am just…jealous.

It will probably take me another two month’s work of stabilization to get back on my feet. When I was transferred from the ICTU to the Planning Unit, it took me 3 months. Maybe there’s something in this for me. I just need to have faith.

I’m bad at introductions, so no introduction this time.

1) The Pelicans’ Anthony Davis is having a hell of a season. His statistics are monstrous (20 points on 52% shooting, 10 rebounds, 2.9 blocks per game), and he will be a force to reckon with in the coming years as he continues to learn how to use his unfair wingspan and perimeter prowess.

Image courtesy of ballislife.com

Image courtesy of ballislife.com

FUN FACT: Davis was a point guard in high school. Here is a timeline of his growth spurt:

End of freshman year: 6’0″
Start of sophomore year: 6’1″
End of sophomore year: 6’4″
Start of junior year: 6’7″
End of junior year: 6’8″

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I decided to separate the recap of my personal life from my professional life. I try my best to maintain the line drawn in the sand between the two. As much as possible, one must be as exclusive to the other as possible. I think everyone shares this sentiment. The only problem is that as an OPAPP employee, we are obliged to comply with instructions to travel and work and not get paid on weekends. Hence the first recap blowing into slightly large proportions; work ate up a LOT of my time.

 

I’m very fortunate to be in love with and be loved by my girlfriend, Catherine. All she wants are the simple things; time, effort and joy. The only things I’ve gifted her so far are a bunch of flowers from Baguio and a water container (because I insist that she increases her fluid intake). In return, she has put up with my lazy, dense, low-maintenance ass for almost 4 years.

She used to loathe my traveling — particularly the 6-provinces-in-3-days thing. Not only because my time with her shrunk, but because she could see how exhausted I got during the first few trips. But I reassured her that she had nothing to worry about. I suggested she do what I do: look at the good side. I’m being paid to travel, that’s a good thing. I bring her delicacies and souvenirs found in the places I’m sent to. I get to experience the different cultures in the country. These are things you can’t just buy. In time, her disdain for my job evaporated, and she even pushed me to stay for another year. It’s not like I’m womanizing with the locals or my companions anyway. I’ve worked long and hard to earn her trust, I’m not about to let it go to waste.

 

Despite the travel allowances we get, I have been unable to set savings aside. I’ve yet to learn how to budget things, and I am too easily swallowed by my urges to eat. I tend to stay late in the office; most of the time I’m not even working. Then I end up having to take the cab home from Commonwealth because of the transportation conditions in our area. To compensate, I’ve decided to bike to work.

I borrowed my uncle’s 20 year old mountain bike. They were pretty delighted when I told them what I planned to do with the bike. It’s still in tip-top condition; I’ve had bikes bought more recently that are already near retirement (reason why my grandfather despises machinery made in the Philippines). And in fairness, it sports Shimano brakes and gear cranks. I bought a helmet, a saddle bag for tools and a small pack of masks to hold off pollution. I’ve yet to find reflector tapes, but they’re a necessity during the ride home at night.

I don’t know how much I’ve saved so far, but bike commuting has been a breath of fresh air. I used to take 2 hours via public transportation. It involves a lot of waiting, sweating in a standing position, and 55 pesos. Going home, it can extend up to 3 hours; because I’m too patient, waiting to get into a more comfortable bus. It’s a stagnant wreck. With the bike, it takes me anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and 15, depending on the volume of vehicles and my pedaling. Biking also solved my tardiness issues. I have to be in the office early so I don’t expose anyone to the image of me in a towel (I bathe in the office). It’s tiring, of course. But I get exhausted just the same with the 2 hours and 55 pesos I spend on public transportation. And I get to sweat.

We have a distant relative who my aunt hires every week to do the more heavier cleaning jobs. He’s a deaf mute. He bikes from their house in Novaliches to ours (HIS BIKE HAS DISC BRAKES). You’d be surprised at how much he engages in conversations (I was going to say ‘how talkative he is’ but he doesn’t talk, because he’s…you know, mute). One of his consistent stories is how swiftly he just glides through traffic. Now I know the feeling.

Cyclist-189

So that’s all that has happened so far in the non-employee life of Duane Fernando. I’ve been indulged too much into my job (not that I have a choice) that I’ve lost time with my personal life. My friends call from time to time for get-togethers, only to find out I’m almost at the northernmost tip of Luzon. All they can do is shake their heads. Grandpa’s still the same. He still goes on guilt trips every now and then, but he’s always delightful. He tends to turn the house into a nest of sitcom situations.

I hope I get to spend more time with them this 2014. But I also love traveling. It has come to a point where I look forward to traveling. So it’s a toss-up. I guess I’ll just slide along the lubricated road of life as it happens; I’ve never been one who plans. I’m like the Joker, in a sense.

plans2

With the year 2013 ending, it’s always fun to recall all that has happened. All the changes one has gone through, new stuff, recurring stuff, good and bad moments, people you met, length of hair, realizations etc. Perhaps one’s New Year’s Resolution can be formulated from reflection. So, what has happened in my 2013?

(Okay, too much has happened in the 2013 of Duane Fernando, so this post will be strictly for my salary giving life.)

payday

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