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.
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.