LONG DISTANCE RELATIONSHIP WORKS
WHAT man would ride his bike and pedal through 315 kilometers, just to say “I love you” to a girl he never met personally and knew only via social media nine months ago?
John Paul ‘JP’ Gatbonton, 23, is one such man who biked from Imus, Cavite to Anda town in Pangasinan. He simply could no longer keep his longing for Donna Ocomen, 21, who came into his life via Facebook on January 22, the onset of COVID-19 pandemic, the most difficult period to start a relationship.
COVID-19 made certain they would not meet personally through the months with lockdowns in the country, particularly in Pangasinan and strict requirements imposed for travels between regions and provinces.
JP and Donna met through a Facebook group. He was working in Cavite, while Donna was a second year Accountancy student then.
“The Life of an Introvert ang name nung Facebook group. Nagpost ako dun noong January 22, nag-comment naman siya, and in-add ko siya sa FB”, said JP.
He said he didn’t expect that a simple online conversation would spark the romance between the two. He fell in love, and began courting Donna on February 1. The connection over the months was simply electrifying that he knew he had to meet her in person. And he knew it would not be easy.
They had plans on meeting personally but all public transport to Pangasinan remain suspended since March.
Weeks before October 10, JP decided he could no longer bear to wait another week or month. He had to meet her in person with a mission. So, he planned to do the bike travel over the weekend – that would bring him to Nueva Ecija initially to be with his parents.
Documentation for travel requirements to enter Pangasinan is challenging but he would not be deterred. He secured a barangay certificate, health certificate, and PNP travel authority to make his travel possible.
Ready and packed — his phone, power bank, travel documents, clothes, repair kit, and his gift for her – JP set out early morning for Anda on October 11 after a night’s rest at his parents’ home in Nueva Ecija. He biked for 13 hours that included getting soaked as he battled the rains and winds of Tropical Depression Nika.
Finally, JP was in Anda late afternoon. Tired and weary, he finally met Donna, accompanied by her parents, in person.
“Nahiya ako sa kaniya pero sobrang saya ko po kasi nakita ko na po siya”, he said.
“Ilang beses naudlot ang pagkikita namin, at ngayon nangyari na”, he said.
He said the trip between Nueva Ecija and Anda was difficult, since Anda is an island municipality in the far western Pangasinan and is only accessible through a 400-meter long bridge across the Kakiputan Channel after pedaling elevated, zigzag routes in Sual, and steep slopes and terrains of Alaminos, Bani, and Bolinao.
On October 12, he mustered enough courage to accomplish his mission – to tell Donna “I love you” and to ask if she could exclusively be his girlfriend, he as her BF.
“Legal na kami”, JP said and kissed her hand showing the ring he brought for his mission.
As of writing, JP is staying at Donna’s house while undergoing the mandatory 14-day quarantine, required by local authorities.
Donna, on the other hand, stays in a boarding house, where she holds her online classes.
Meanwhile, JP has this message for couples engaged in long distance relationship (LDR).
“Walang distansya sa love at kapag mahal mo ang isang tao gagawin mo lahat para sa kanya at maging tapat sa isa’t-isa”, he said. (Ahikam Pasion)
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