It has been a year already since I started working from home. It’s not a choice, but something that I wont deny choosing if the option is presented. Come on! Who would not want the perks of this kind of work set up? No daily commutes, not obligated to dress up, not forced to be up early, no transportation and food allowance and above all, you get to spend more time with your family. Who would not want that?
First, let me share how I ended up in this work set up. I’ve been working in the telecommunications industry for almost 4 years now (4 years on May 1 to be exact). I used to be one of those typical employees who goes with the hustles and bustles of a typical crazy city life. The absence of my sight never stopped me from blending-in to that crazy jungle in Ayala. Buwis-buhay ika nga, just to go to and from the office. The only diference is that I have a sighted guide; my sidekick as they say, who basically helps me move around. So as you guessed, without her, it’s pretty much impossible for me to navigate the city by myself. Why? Well, sad to say but I live in a city where it’s suicidal for a blind person to take the risk to travel without a sighted guide (I’m not antagonizing metro Manila, I’m simply stating facts). And that’s what happened to me, my sighted guide needed to venture into greener pastures and I was left with no other choice but to go home in the province… jobless… (or so I thought). I’m just so blessed that the company where I’m employed allowed me to work from home while looking for a replacement.
Now, the big “BUT” comes in. what used to be a piece of cake turned out to be one helluvah pain in the butt. Finding a replacement is no longer as easy as it used to be. You see, sabihin na nating I live in a province na late-bloomer. Urbanization has just kickstarted. Fastfood chains, grocery stores, restaurants, malls and other medium-sized businesses popped-out like mushrooms so that meant countless job opportunities became available. Add up the big Australian mining companies who were granted mining permits here in our province. These companies built-up sites, and they offered jobs to the locals in the barrios. With all the newly opened job opportunities, it became nearly impossible to find a qualified sighted guide. I can’t blame them. If I were in their shoe, why on earth would I choose to work in Manila and be away from my family when good paying jobs are readily available here in our place, right? So to cut the story short, I wasn’t able to find a replacement since then.
I would not deny the perks I get in working from home (especially in my condition). First and foremost, I’m a very family oriented person. I value every single second that I get to spend with my family. Another thing, and I guess the most important is I’m no longer putting my safety on the line. In roughly 3 long years of commuting, I had several experiences that if not by the grace of God, I’m probably dead by now (hahaha). Kidding and exaggeration aside, I’ve had my own fair-share of life-threatening moments during the rush hours.
To share a few, well the MRT and LRT experience alone. For all those who tasted the morning and evening craziness in MRT3 and LRT!, I guess explanation is already out of the picture. But for the sake of story telling, there goes those times where my foot nearly slipped inside the gap between the train and the platform. Andiyan yung pilit pinuputol yung kapit ko sa sighted guide ko (walang PWD PWD, walang buntis, walang senior citizen) pag rush hour, bahala ka sa buhay mo. Because even sa areas reserved for PWDS, elderly and pregnant women are always jam-packed. Or I guess, dagdag factor kasi yung hindi halatang blind ako, that’s why. I can’t forget that one incident in LRT1, people are pushing us around then I needed to strap my sandals kasi the lock came off. I bent down, I was pushed sa dami ng tao then I accidentally hit my face sa isang metal platform. I went to the office with a bleeding lip. Thankfully hindi natanggal ngipin ko. And the most unforgettable? Dahil nga rush hour, mas madidisgrasya ka pag babagal-bagal ka, at yun na nga, I fell down sa stairs ng LRT. Talk about bruises overload.
As for the busses. Hmmm. Where do I even begin? For those who ride the bus in EDSA or especially in Gil Puyat, ika nga, kung hindi ka makikipaghabulan, hindi ka makakarating ng opisina on time. Andiyan ang nabitawan na ako ng guide ko while riding the bus kasi naman, kailangan mong sumakay kahit umaandar ang bus. That happened as well while riding a jeepney from Ayala. The good thing naman in all these experiences, I realized na yes, super duper dami ang walang pakielam sa mundo, but there are still those helpful souls naman pala out there who would pause to help kahit pa sobra silang nagmamadali (ratio is, 1:5. Hahaha) etc… etc… etc… sobrang dami pang horror stories sap ag-commute.
I must admit though, in everything that I have experienced during those times, I really saw the goodness of God kasi He never placed me in situations na may mga masasama talagang tao and help is always available pag kailangan ko. At sa lahat ng nakakalokang experiences na yan, nothing really damaging ang nangyari sa akin. Thank you, Lord!
Lastly, my pocket is much happier this time. (wootwoot!!! Hahaha) I can finally say that I have my savings. Kasi naman… before, because I’m sustaining a sighted guide, everything is times two; from food, transportation allowance and all other expenses. To top it off, I’m paying my rent and my bills and of course, the salary of my sighted guide. And oh, let’s not forget the cost of living in Metro Manila especially in Makati. So yeah, it’s only now that i am truly enjoying and sharing my financial blessings with my family (at its fullest).
In a more personal aspect, my heart, my mind and my whole being has been recharged. (liko tayo ng konti) At the height of Billy Crawford’s break up with Nikki Gil, we we’re watching this episode of The Buzz where Billy was insanely crying and he mentioned leaving the country to go home to his family because he needed to heal himself. I’m guilty that I’m one of those who found it “OA” and I’m also guilty that I’m one of those who thought of it as pautot lang to escape from his monsters that time. However, for the past year, I may not have realized it instantly, but apparently, I needed the same thing. Last year, I was at a very devastating state in my life. I felt so drained, my self-esteem, self-worth, my self-confidence are all spiraling down. It’s only now that i realized how exhausted I was that time. All the bottled up emotions took its toll on me; all the heartaches that I kept, all the hurts and discriminations and basically all the crap that I’m going throughback then. It ate up all of me.
God knew what He did. What happened between me and my guide was actually a blessing in disguise, not just for me but for her as well. And the best part of all of it? This time that I had with my family for the past year truly healed me. The time spent with my bestfriends helped me big time. I needed those bonding moments in order to unleash myself again. I’m not saying that I’m perfectly well, but I’m in a better place compared last year. Now, I can say that I’m ready to face the world once again (medyo OA. hahaha). I felt revived, recharged, energized or whatever you may want to call it.
I’m still actively scouting for a sighted guide, but honest to goodness? If I have it my way, I wouldn’t fake it and say that I want to go back to my old routine. But yeah, life is not about what we want, it should be balanced with what is needed, and I fully acknowledge the fact that I need to work at kasama na dun ang pag-embrace ng situation na kakambal ng trabaho ko. Yes, of course this set up has its downside as well (but let’s save that for next time), but in terms of convenience and practicality, this works best for me. If time comes that I really need to go back, if God wills, I believe he’ll give me the strength once again to face that kind of lifestyle and if it is in His will, He will surely give me a new sighted guide. For now though, I’m enjoying this work set up while I still can. A big thank you as well for technology for making this work set up possible. Big clap clap to whoever invented virtual private networks. Wink wink and of course, for my workmates, my superiors… for understanding. Big thank you. 🙂