With her bags and a road bike, Jackie Mandig flew to Kalibo to fulfill a dream she had back when she was still studying Geology in college: to live far away from the city.
“As someone born and raised in Makati, I took moving to Aklan as a challenge. Gusto ko kasi maging independent and experience province life,” Jackie said. “With my bicycle, alam kong mas madaling mag-explore ng places at mas ma-appreciate ko ‘yung lugar.”
She added, “Big risk itong ginawa ko pero very grateful ako na I took the challenge kasi kung hindi ko tinanggap ‘yung work sa malayo and didn’t bring my bike, magiging ‘what if’ ‘yun sa akin. Happy ako na nakilala ko ‘yung sarili ko.”
This cyclist works as a geologist assigned in Aklan. Before this job, she used to be a research assistant for a university working daily in front of the computer.
Late last year, she had a burnout with this job and realized that it’s time for her to take a rest. Knowing that she’ll have more time for herself, she decided to buy a bicycle.
“Naisip ko, ‘ano ang gagawin ko kapag nag-resign ako?’ Bumili ako ng road bike kasi nagba-bike din ang kuya ko. Noong December, doon lang ako sa BGC and Makati para mag-kape,” she said.
Jackie admitted that she was discouraged to go far because of Metro Manila’s crazy traffic. However, now that she’s in Aklan, the cyclist has been doing long rides especially on weekends.
It was interesting that her first bike ride in Aklan was also her first gran fondo. Jackie said that she didn’t know anyone and searched online for bike groups that she could join for leisure cycling.
“Naghanap talaga ako ng group noong first week ko dito. A day after ko makilala ‘yung isang grupo, nag-bike na kami kinabukasan,” she recalled. “First 100 kilometers ko ‘yun at nakuha nila ng half day. Pero ako, 5pm ako natapos. Sinamahan naman ako ng dalawang bikers until the end.”
As a geologist, Jackie studies the earth — rock formations, soils, mountains, rivers and sea. And in Region 6, there’s definitely a lot of interesting cases to study.
The cyclist-geologist loves her work but admitted that there’s a difference between experiencing earth during field work and when she’s cycling.
“Kapag nasa field work, may kailangan kang puntahang area at kailangan may ma-accomplish ka at a certain period of time. It’s work,” she said. “Pero kapag bike, parang bahala na kung saan ka mapunta tapos chill pace and pwede ka mag-stop anytime.”
In Aklan, Jackie is happy. Here, she gets to have a work-life balance and she’s living her dream that was formed back in college. Perhaps, she has found a new home.
“If nasa Manila ako, mag-timeout ako ng 5 tapos magco-commute, pipila sa MRT at bus and makakauwi ng 7. Pero dito, excited ako umuwi kasi magba-bike na ako habang sunset. Tapos kapag weekend, minsan may long ride,” Jackie said.