Gut Feeling

It all started when Joey decided that she wants another litter.

She got busy with Benjie on 09/09/2016 despite our efforts to keep them apart. Unlike her first litter where we did not know when she got it on with Benjie, this time around we know the exact date. With that in mind, I went ahead and downloaded an app to determine when she would be whelping her second litter – yes there’s an app for that. The screenshot below is what I got:

screenshot_2016-11-05-19-07-45.jpgBred: 09/09/2016. Whelping: 11/11/2016

We wanted to be prepared when Joey whelps her second litter so we were closely monitoring her health, diet, temperature and temperament. I also committed to myself that I would create a whelping box similar to the first one where her pups would be kept safe for the first couple of months.

20161011_100014.jpgJoey on 10/11/2016. One month to go before the expected due date!

Right after All Soul’s Day (11/01/2016), I already had this nagging feeling that Joey is close to giving birth. I had to keep looking at the app and tell myself that I still have 10 days to go. I started to buy the materials for the whelping box on the morning of 11/05/2016 hoping that I would have enough time to finish. I guess Joey had other plans! She gave birth to her first pup for the second litter right after lunch. Exactly when I was in the middle of constructing her whelping box.

20161105_130451.jpgJoey and her first pup for the second litter!

It was a bit hard constructing her whelping box while also being kind of her nurse. Wifey and I would take turns watching over Joey as she gave birth to each of her nine puppies. We would then move the pups out of the way when she is resting or when she is having spasms when another puppy is about to come out. Although she gave birth to nine puppies, only seven survived. The other two were not breathing when they came out. We declared them unrecoverable only when Joey has already gotten too exhausted trying to revive them and only after we tried to do a CPR on the lung cavity. The final indicator that the pups were dead was when they let out a small amount of pee which signaled a loss of muscle control – much like in humans on their final seconds.

The whelping box I made measures 4ft. long by 3ft. wide which I think is enough for 7 puppies and Joey to fit in. Unlike the first whelping box, I made sure that the whole front is open and can be closed for safety reasons. I used a piano hinge to attach the front ramp to the whole box.

20161105_194513.jpgWhelping box with the ramp down.

20161105_194536.jpgWhelping box with the ramp up. Kinda reminds me of Bravestarr’s Fort Kerium in Fortress Mode 🙂

Although I was able to finish the box within the day, we decided not to move Joey and her litter from where she gave birth and just let her recover from exhaustion. We just prepared her box for their movement the following day. We added towels to keep them try and warm as well as some electric fan to keep them cool during days that are hot and humid.

20161105_194603.jpgAnother look of the whelping box from the different angle. 3/4″ marine board all around!

Here are some pictures of Joey resting after whelping her second litter while a curious pup snuggles with her.

20161106_111318-copy
20161106_105122-copy
20161106_111358-copy

When Services Don’t Work As They Should

Don’t you just hate it when you are paying for services that doesn’t work as they should?

Finally, after being a long-time subscriber, I went to a PLDT business center and asked them to cut my line. I told them to cut everything including the landline, mobile landline and DSL internet. They asked me why and I told them that the internet service is so slow (like less than 1Mbps slow) despite being subscribed to the 8Mbps plan. Then they proceed to ask me if I’ve reported the issue to their support hotline. F*CK! Of course I did! More than once! And nowhere near the advertised speed! For crying out loud, I am paying for almost 3,000PhP per month and I should be the one reporting if I am not getting the service that I am paying for?!

Moving on, I subscribed to Smart’s All-In 500 plan since the 4G-LTE speed in my area is way better than their sister company’s DSL offering (yes PLDT, I’m referring to you). I intend to use the postpaid line as my internet for the household.
smart

The idea is to get charged P5 per 15 minute from the plan’s consumable amount and let the Anti-Bill Shock (ABS) kick in to cap the charges. The ABS was 1,200PhP for as long as I can remember but this October, Smart changed it to 2,500PhP. As long as I am getting better (unthrottled) speeds and no volume caps, I can live with that. By my computation below and from my experience with PLDT, I’m still getting a better deal even with the new ABS.
minutes

The only problem with the ABS increase is that my credit limit is set to only 1,000PhP. This means that if my unbilled usage goes beyond that limit, the service is temporarily disconnected. Smart has a dashboard called mySmart where subscribers can request for an increase in credit limit. Below the form is a section for Important Reminders – fair enough.
creditlimit

So I went ahead and submitted a request for an increase in credit limit to 3,500PhP so that it is more than the ABS.
notification

Lo and behold, I got a response the following day via SMS:
mysmart
I was almost impressed with the response time – almost. Reading through the SMS, I would have to…

  1. Submit the same documents I submitted when I applied to become a postpaid subscriber – just a few months back.
  2. Submit those documents to http://www.smart.com.ph – when the form to request for a credit limit increase does not have any facility to do so!
  3. Go to Help & Support and narrate the concern – what the f*ck is the credit limit increase request form for?
  4. Fax. lol

In just an hour or so, I get another SMS:
notsmart

Can somebody please let them know that a quick response time means squat when it is out of context?
triple-facepalm

Gallery

Seagate Backup Plus Unboxing Photos

A few weeks ago, I bought a 4TB Seagate Backup Plus Portable online from one of the local sellers in Manila. This drive will serve as a storage for snapshot backups of my NAS (Network-Attached Storage) at home. Below are the pictures I took during the unboxing. 🙂

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The label on the box says 200GB of Cloud Storage for OneDrive is included but must be activated by June 20, 2017.

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The top of the box is has a tamper-evident seal that guarantees that the initial contents of the drive came straight form the manufacturer.

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The same tamper-evident seal can be found on the bottom of the box. This is how it would look like if the seal has been tampered with.

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The contents of the box are the Quick Start Guide and the drive itself inside a protective plastic shell which also contains the USB cable.

20161027_230519.jpg
Here’s the “top” of the protective plastic shell. Notice the six nubs that should somehow absorb and distribute the force should there be any impact from this side during transit. The protective shell is easy to open, much like Amazon’s frustration-free packages.

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The drive is wrapped in plastic inside the plastic shell together with the USB cable.

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The drive itself comes with a Micro-B SuperSpeed USB receptacle.

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The included cable is a Micro-B SuperSpeed on one end and a standard Type-A on the other end.

seagate
After plugging it in on my laptop, it was recognized immediately by Windows 10 without the need to install any drivers. The OS reports that the total drive space is 3.63TB and so far, this is more than enough of what I need for my NAS but as the saying goes, “you can never have too much backups.” 🙂

How To: Auto-mount A Network Share On Raspberry Pi On Boot

Find Out What’s Available

The first thing I did was to show all the mount points available on the server where the network share is:

$ showmount -e 192.168.1.4

The result should be something like this:

Export list for 192.168.1.4:
/Recordings
/Multimedia
/Download

Create Mount Folder in the Raspberry Pi

Then I created a folder in /mnt so that I can mount the network share on the folder:

$ sudo mkdir /mnt/multimedia_share

OPTIONAL: Mount Manually Before Attempting To Auto-mount

I manually played around with the mounting before actually trying to get it to auto-mount. A fun exercise for n00bs like me.

If the network share allows anonymous access, the following command should “map” the network share to the /mnt/multimedia_share

$ sudo mount -t cifs -o guest //192.168.1.4/Multimedia /mnt/multimedia_share

Otherwise, a mount error will be returned:

mount error(13): Permission denied
Refer to the mount.cifs(8) manual page (e.g. man mount.cifs)

If the network share requires credentials for access, the following command should be used:

$ sudo mount -t cifs -o username=user_name,password=plain_text_password //192.168.1.4/Multimedia /mnt/multimedia_share

To unmount, use the following command:

$ sudo umount //192.168.1.4/Multimedia

Configure Auto-mount on Boot

If we manually mount the network share, we will lose the “mapping” once the Raspberry Pi reboots. To have it mount upon boot, we have to edit the /etc/fstab file:

$ sudo nano /etc/fstab

Add the following line at the end of the file:

//192.168.1.4/Multimedia /mnt/multimedia_share cifs username=user_name,password=plain_text_password,file_mode=0777,dir_mode=0777 0 0

Save the file and run the following to have the network share mounted:

$ sudo mount -a

There wouldn’t be any feedback like a success message if there are no errors. So to see if the mount was successful, run the following:

$ df -h

That command should return something like this:

Filesystem --- Size --- Used --- Avail --- Use% --- Mounted on
/dev/root --- 15G --- 2.9G --- 11G --- 21% --- /
...
//192.168.1.4/Multimedia --- 5.4T --- 3.1T --- 2.4T --- 58% --- /mnt/multimedia_share

Note the last line where the details of the network share is displayed including the total size, used and available space.

To test if the auto-mount configuration worked, reboot the RPi:

$ sudo reboot

After it restarts, connect to the RPi and try to access the contents of the network share by going into:

$ cd /mnt/multimedia_share

How To: Generate SQL scripts from Liquibase changesets

There is a useful feature in Liquibase called Offline Database Support that allows you to generate the SQL scripts from the changesets without actually updating the database. This Offline Database Support functionality is called updateSql. This becomes handy when you cannot directly run Liquibase changesets on the target database or if the output of the changesets needs to be reviewed.

Note that updateSql checks the transactions within the DATABASECHANGELOG table to determine what SQL statements to generate. With that said, in the event that you cannot directly run the changesets against the target database, you can ask for the DATABASECHANGELOG table and use that to keep the history correct.

To streamline the process of generating SQL scripts, it would be useful to create a batch file that would contain the command and parameters. Let’s say that the filename is GenerateSQL.bat which currently contains the following values targeting an Oracle database:

C:\Dev\liquibase-3.3.2-bin\liquibase ^
--classpath="C:\Dev\liquibase-3.3.2-bin\lib\ojdbc7.jar" ^
--driver="oracle.jdbc.driver.OracleDriver" ^
--url=jdbc:"oracle:thin:@ORA-DBDEV:1521:DEVORA11G" ^
--username=DEV_LIQUIBASE_TEST ^
--password=asd123 ^
--changeLogFile="C:\Dev\LiquiBase\ORACLE\%1" ^
--logLevel=debug ^
--logFile="C:\Dev\LiquiBase\ORACLE\output.oracle.log" ^
updateSQL > C:\Dev\LiquiBase\ORACLE\output.oracle.%1.sql

where…
Line 01: Location of Liquibase binary
Line 02: Location of JDBC driver. Valid values are:

  • ojdbc7.jar (ORACLE)
  • sqljdbc41.jar (MSSQL)

Line 03: Name of the JDBC driver. Valid values are:

  • oracle.jdbc.driver.OracleDriver (ORACLE)
  • com.microsoft.sqlserver.jdbc.SQLServerDriver (MSSQL)

Line 04: Details of the database server. Valid values are:

  • jdbc:”oracle:thin:@<SERVER_NAME>:<PORT>:<SERVICE_ID>” (ORACLE)
    • jdbc:”oracle:thin:@SERVER01:1521:DEVORA11G”
  • jdbc:”sqlserver://<SERVER_NAME><SERVER_INSTANCE>;databaseName=<DB_NAME>” (MSSQL)
    • jdbc:”sqlserver://SERVER01SQL2014;databaseName=DEVSQL”

Line 05: Database server username
Line 06: Database server password
Line 07: Location of the Liquibase change set file (*.xml)
Line 09: The log file for the operation
Line 10: The file where the generated SQL scripts will be stored.

Lines 07 and 10 have “%1” which represents an argument passed during execution of the batch file. This batch file can be used as follows:

C:\Dev\Liquibase\GenerateSQL.bat ChangeSetFileName.xml

This command will create output.oracle.log and output.oracle.ChangeSetFileName.xml.sql

You can integrate this process in Visual Studio by following this article. Note that you need to change the contents of the batch file to use updateSql.

How To: Install Liquibase On Your Local Machine

STEP 1

Download all pre-requisites and dependencies:

* – Download sqljdbc_4.1.5605.100_enu.tar.gz then extract sqljdbc41.jar
** – Download ojdbc7.jar

STEP 2

  • Install Java JDK
  • Extract Liquibase to a folder on your local machine (e.g. c:devliquibase-3.3.3-bin)
  • Copy sqljdbc41.jar and ojdbc7.jar to the lib folder of Liquibase (e.g. c:devliquibase-3.3.3-binlib)
  • Modify the liquibase shell file located on the root folder (e.g. c:devliquibase-3.3.3-binliquibase.bat) by adding “-Xmx1024m” after JAVA_OPTS=
IF NOT DEFINED JAVA_OPTS set JAVA_OPTS="-Xmx1024m"

java -cp "%CP%" %JAVA_OPTS% liquibase.integration.commandline.Main %CMD_LINE_ARGS%

OPTIONAL:

  • Add Liquibase to your PATH environment variable by:
  • Right-clicking Computer > Properties > Advanced System Settings > Advanced tab
  • Click Environment Variables button
  • Edit PATH variable and put in the Liquibase folder (e.g. c:\dev\liquibase-3.3.3-bin)

Congratulations! You are now a proud owner of a computer with Liquibase.

How To: Execute Liquibase Database Change Log file (a.k.a. "driver file") from Visual Studio

The Liquibase Database Change Log file or as we refer to it, the “driver” file, is the root of all changesets. This is the file that is passed to Liquibase during execution as the changeLogFile parameter which lists all changesets that needs to be executed in order. And because we love Visual Studio, we’d like to execute the driver file right from the IDE.

First step is to create a batch file with the following contents. Place this file in a folder that you can easily remember (c:\Dev\Liquibase\LBUpdateSQL.bat):

C:\Dev\liquibase-3.3.3-bin\liquibase ^
--classpath="C:\Dev\liquibase-3.3.3-bin\lib\sqljdbc41.jar" ^
--driver="com.microsoft.sqlserver.jdbc.SQLServerDriver" ^
--url=jdbc:"sqlserver://127.0.0.1;databaseName=TARGET_DB" ^
--defaultSchemaName=dbo ^
--username=******** ^
--password=******** ^
--changeLogFile=%1 ^
--logLevel=info ^
--logFile="C:\Dev\LiquiBase\logs\output.log" ^
update

Don’t forget to change the values for TARGET_DB, username and password. Also make sure that the paths are valid and appropriate (lines 1, 2 and 10).

Next step is to open Visual Studio and click on TOOLS > External Tools… and click the Add button. Fill-out all the fields as in below and make sure Close on exit is not checked:

liquibase-external-tool

Now this part is important. Make sure that the Initial directory points to the location of the driver file (in this case its C:\Dev\git-repos\DatabaseScripts\(project_name)\updates). This will ensure that the filename field in the DATABASECHANGELOG table only contains the filename of the changeset and not the full path. To understand why this is important, read more here.

Click on Ok to close the External Tools window.

Lastly,open the driver file in Visual Studio and click on TOOLS > Liquibase (this is what you placed in the Title field in the screenshot above).

run-driver-run

There should be a command window that pops up that shows if the execution has failed or succeeded. The equivalent of all of this is like executing the batch file via command window while on the folder that contains the driver file with the driver file as an argument.

How Liquibase Considers A Changeset As Unique

We have a sandbox here in the office that has a database that we run the Liquibase Database Change Log file (a.k.a. “driver file”) against every now and then. We do not develop against this database since one of its purpose is to ensure that the latest version of the driver file runs without problems.

A few days ago, I took a backup of that database and restored it to my local machine. According to the DATABASECHANGELOG table, the driver file was last ran on 17 JUN (see screenshot below). However, when I tried running the latest Liquibase driver file from /develop against my now local db, I got a variety of errors ranging from duplicate key values to tables/columns already existing.

databasechangelog-table

I might have missed the email but last time I checked, the idea was to allow running and re-running of the changesets without having a negative effect and without having the execution error out. I had to exclude a bunch of changeset entries in the driver file to get it to finish without reporting any errors. Below is the list with the reason why it failed:

liquibase-problem-files

An officemate tried to run the latest driver file on his local machine and worked without any problems. We checked the DATABASECHANGELOG table for the existence of the IDs of the changesets and to our surprise, they were already there. The errors being thrown due to the lack of precondition in the changesets are just a manifestation of a different problem altogether (although the lack of precondition on the changeset is a problem on its own). We were able to come to that conclusion because Liquibase will only try and run the changeset if that changeset’s ID is not on the DATABASECHANGELOG table. So why is Liquibase trying to execute a changeset when the ID of the changeset is already in the DATABASECHANGELOG table?

Upon further investigation, we came upon this question on StackOverflow: Liquibase tried to apply all changeset, even if database is present‌
The take away is that Liquibase tracks each changeset as a row in the DATABASECHANGELOG table which is composed of the combination of the “id”, “author” and a “filename” column.

If we go back to the first screenshot above, you’ll notice that the value for the FILENAME column after 17 JUN 2015 has changed. At this point, it means that I’ve restored a backup of that database to my local machine and the path where I’ve been executing Liquibase is different from the path where Liquibase was being executed on the sandbox in the office.

So how did we solve the problem?

1.) We cleaned up the filename column so that it only contains the actual filename of the changeset.*

2.) Made modifications on the way we were executing the driver file moving forward so that the FILENAME column only contains that – the filename without paths. (How To: Execute Liquibase Database Change Log file (a.k.a. “driver file”) from Visual Studio).

fixed-filename-only

.* truncated the DATABASECHANGELOG table, dropped all affected tables and ran the driver file.

7 Lessons I Learned When I Got Married

To my mind, these are the things that I learned after I got married. Well, it doesn’t really mean that everything listed here are new to me, it’s just that some of these got more emphasized in the months that came by after tying the knot.

#1: If The World Ends On 2011, 2012 Or Any Other Year, It Doesn’t Matter

On 2011, doomsayers were predicting that the world would end on May 21. For some reason, nothing happened and it got rescheduled at October 21 of the same year – just a day after my wedding. Despite not knowing what the future holds, my wedding vow went like “… to love you, take care of you and provide for our family… This is my promise, this is my vow and this is what I intend to keep for all the rest of my days in this life and the next…” To some, it might be too ideal and unrealistic but to me, it doesn’t matter what they say. I got married to the woman I love, the one I know I will grow old with, to the one whom I know I would like to be with until the end of time – either the end of my time in this world as an individual or the world’s end at a cosmic scale. Either way, I’m the happiest man dead or alive.

#2: Individual Personalities Will Clash

I grew up with only one big brother; she grew up with two big sisters and one big brother. We are both the youngest in our families (“bunso”) thus, as I am told (and I do not believe in this by the way), we always get our ways. Assuming that the last statement is true, that fact alone merits as a good excuse as to why we will always have our different views on things, different stand and different expectations. Every now and then, we get to a point where stubbornness sets in and we can’t even agree to disagree. It’s like being alone for the longest time then you bump into something in the dark and all of a sudden that something bumps back. But the kicker is that it’s ok. It’s ok to get into fights and make a mess every once in a while just as long as you both clean up the mess and try to find closure.

#3: Money Is Essential But Not The Purpose Of Life

This lesson is best explained by Twitter CEO Dick Costolo when he said that “we should think of revenue like breathing – it’s necessary for life, but it’s not the purpose of life.” Due to the nature of my family’s business, there are times when the grass is green and there are times when the well is dry (at the time of writing this, the well is not only dry, but has already accumulated dust). Maybe it serves as a reminder that the value of money is always more than what you think it is but it doesn’t mean that that is all there is to it. It’s true that money makes almost everything in the world happen. Keyword: almost. For the simple joys in life, no amount of money can ever replace rare instances where you both know that you are truly happy. Like raiding the kitchen at midnight or staying in bed on a lazy rainy Sunday afternoon or singing at the top of your lungs while on a road trip or just sitting in the park watching the leaves fall down as you welcome winter on a foreign land. Money will buy you a lot of things but money and all the things that you bought with it won’t last. Shared happy memories do.

#4: Being Married Doesn’t Mean Giving Up Time For Yourself

Social norm dictates that married couples should always be together, most especially for newlyweds. I don’t know why that is but I believe that it exists for a reason. Is it relevant at this day and age? Maybe or maybe not. But my point is that the demands of society can put most of one’s plan in the backburner. This includes personal goals and targets like a master’s degree or a solitary trip to Europe or a pilot’s license. Most often than not, when faced with a choice between an activity that involves both me and my wife on one hand and an activity that can be done with just myself on the other hand, I end up choosing the one with my wife on it. I’ll admit that during the first stages of my realization, it felt like the dreams I’ve set way back before I got married will never come true. But as they say, never say never right? What I didn’t realize back then was that my dreams are still the same. They’re still dreams, the same ones I had before getting married. They may be a lot harder to achieve now but when I do, success will be so much sweeter and more fulfilling now that I have someone to share it with. If I fail, I know that someone will always believe in me even at times when I don’t.

#5: Be Ready To Add More Rules

As you both discover more about each other in the context of married life, expect to add more rules in your relationship in every waking hour. These rules vary from the mundane to the complex such as shaving your smug face before seeing her mom or when it’s time to become that psychic mind reader once again just to know if she wants flowers, chocolates, coffee, a new bag and shoes or all of the above. [DISCLAIMER: these are out-of-this-world examples only. The names/identities of the person(s) involved are changed for their protection. Yeah, you know who you are.] But despite how crazy these rules are, you know that it goes both ways. Sooner or later you’ll realize that you have the power to do the same. What is important is to know the rules so you’ll know how to bend them and make them work in your favor. Spend an afternoon finding loop holes just for fun and have the courage to break them every now and then for sanity’s sake. The most important thing to determine is to know if the rules are worth breaking. Pfffft! Rules? They’re just guidelines anyway. 🙂

#6: Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Married Couples

The best teacher is experience. So what will you do when you don’t have any experience and you’re not sure what to do next? Ask. Just ask. There’s no definitive manual for living a married life. You play it by ear. So when you ask, listen. For sure, someone has experienced something somewhere sometime that is somewhat similar to your situation. You can learn a lot from their stories and how they handled the situation as well as from their mistakes and how they would have done things differently. Families and friends are more than happy to share a story or two especially if they went through similar situations that you’re in now. What’s good about this is that as you progress in your married life, you’ll realize that you knew that right thing to do in certain situations all along. You just needed to hear the right words to boost your confidence and the affirmation that everything is going to be alright.

#7: Parents Hit The Bull’s Eye When They Said “You’ll understand this better when you get married”

When you’re young, you’re probably curious, eager and stupid. And mostly stupid. You tend to question a lot of things on why they are the way they are. It’s not farfetched that you’ve probably heard this line a couple of times: “You’ll understand this better when you’re married.” Then it’s the end of the conversation. There are simply no words that can describe what married couples have that most single people don’t have. I cannot accurately pin point it if it’s the unspoken connection and understanding, the motivation that drives the couple on certain decisions or the trust on each other that the right thing will and shall be done.

To my Mom and Dad, thank you and I love you both. I think I understand now.

Faith and Grace

25th of June 2012. It was the day I named my mountain bike. I never had any real intentions to name it but that day – on a Monday at that – I had to.

I went to SM Fairview from our house using my then-unnamed bike to meet up with Pao. We planned on spending the morning going up to Timberland in San Mateo, Rizal. We’ve been there countless times and we just wanted a quick fix for our biking needs. After loading our bikes in Pao’s Revo and as we were on our way, heavy clouds started to appear and it started to drizzle. We decided to push through with our plan hoping that it would stop as soon as we get there. When we were on the vicinity of Batasang Pambansa Complex, the Sun was out and the road was dry. I remember thinking that it was going to be a great ride since the paved road after the basic trail will not be scorching hot. Boy was I wrong! Dead wrong!

We got there at around 10:00am so we decided to start at the clubhouse (hindi pa naman ako nag Wall 1 or Wall 2 e). After unloading the bikes and finishing up with the safety checks (naks!) we started to ride to the trail head. Our dear friend Sun gave up on us and heavy clouds started to settle back in. After the first climb or so, rain started to pour down. We thought that like before, it would stop soon. But the rain did not stop. The Sun did not come out. There we were, in the middle of the trail with nowhere to hide and only one stop to run to which was at the end of the trail. We pressed forward trying to enjoy the wet and wild ride with hearts pounding, body fats shaking and mouth pursed to hide the silly childish grin brought about by biking in the rain and keeping mud out at the same time.

We reached the end of the trail and like clockwork, the rain stopped and the Sun was out again. As we started the ascent on the cemented road leading to Giant, I remember looking up and seeing the road literally give off steam as if the rain that just poured down was evaporating. Sala sa init, sala sa lamig.

Every now and then, we usually talk during recovery portions (flats, no gradient/incline) of the route. Pao asked me if I wanted to try a new route which included fire roads and single tracks. And being the adventurous type that I am (ahem!), I said yes. So we went to this trail called AFP (dunno why). This is where everything started to go downhill (or uphill – depending on your outlook in life). The entrance off the road was covered in soil. The type of soil that is clay-ish, brownish-orange in color and is very sticky when wet!!! It was so sticky that my tires were quickly covered in mud and the harder and faster I pedal the slower I became. Para akong kalabaw na nag aararo ng lupa. My tires were like fat tires. Mud was everywhere: in my rear derailleur, both pulleys, cogs, chain, front derailleur and fork arches. Both Pao’s and my bike were no longer functioning as they should so we had to walk and remove all the mud. Walking was also hard because even our shoes’ sole accumulated mud and made it loose grip. As we were shaking off all the mud, Pao’s chain got stuck between the granny gear and the spokes of the rear wheel. I think it took us more than 20mins just to free the chain since we did not have the proper tools except for an allen wrench which we used to pry the chain off (which we also forgot to pick up sa sobrang excitement pagka-ayos). Once we got the chain to its proper place, we started to ride out once again. And as if some unknown force was trying to keep us in the middle of nowhere, Pao’s rear derailleur hanger broke off!!! There was no way we could repair it so we had to walk all the way to our destination.

When we got to Giant, we ordered our brunch and started talking about how much misfortune we’ve had and it wasn’t even time for lunch. I asked the vendor if there were other bikers earlier that day and to my surprise, she said that we were the only ones (adik lang). As we were eating, it started to rain again. This time, it was seriously pouring down. Since we had time to kill, we fixed Pao’s bike so that at the very least, he could ride downhill. We tied his chain and rear derailleur to the chain stay with straw ropes just to make sure that nothing will get caught in the spokes of the rear wheel when riding downhill. Good thing I also tried my bike and discovered that the second pulley in the rear derailleur was not moving at all due to the mud. The whole rear derailleur assembly was being stressed by the chain coming from the crank. I suspect that this is what happened to Pao’s bike which ultimately led to the rear derailleur hanger’s failure. All we had to do was to clean the pulleys, cogs and crank and I was able to ride it again.

Improvisation after a broken rear derailleur hanger: Downhill free rider!

After “fixing” his bike and waiting for about 10-15mins, the rain turned into drizzle. We decided to start on our walk back to the club house. I remember talking with Pao on how lucky we were because instead of walking under the heat of the Sun, we get to walk on a relatively cooler cement road without the Sun. I can’t exactly remember who said it but one of us joked that God doesn’t love us because of all the things that had happened to us. It was like we were abandoned or something to that effect. Then it rained again – hard. It rained so hard that every piece of clothing that I had on me was soaking wet. Every. Piece. Of. Clothing.

What we did next was to look at the brighter side amidst the gloomy weather. How often can you ride a bike on a Monday? When was the last time you played in the morning rain? When will you be able to ride a bike on a Monday and play in the morning rain at the same time?

We may have been unlucky the whole time during that ride but somehow, we managed to reach the end of the cemented road and the start of the basic trail without any new misfortunes aside from Pao forgetting to put his phone back on its waterproof case! We went inside the guard house and asked for permission from the guard on duty to allow us to wait out the rain before hiking back to towards the basic trail and to give Pao enough time to put his phone inside its waterproof case. As we were about to walk back in on the rain to start our hike, we saw what could be described by anyone who was in our situation as the most beautiful thing anyone would ever want to see. It came almost out of nowhere or maybe we just didn’t notice it approaching. It was a white Mitsubishi Strada 4×4 pickup truck! We asked the guard if he knew the driver and wondered if we could hitch a ride. The guard told us that the driver was known in the area and is a priest.  We had this ridiculous looks on our faces! And even before I could finish my question on the possibility of hitching a ride, the priest was already nodding his head! We were on a state of disbelief!

We loaded our bikes on the truck bed and stayed with our bikes. As the 4×4 was moving up the trail, we could see the torrent of mud water running down. This would have been against us if we hiked back. We estimated that at certain points of the trail where it was flat, the mud water was knee-deep. Thank God for not letting us hike back! Thank God for all the delays so that we would be where we were when the 4×4 was passing by!

As we were patiently waiting for the 4×4 to reach the end of the trail, we decided to name our bikes to remind us that wherever we are, whatever we do, God will always be there for us no matter what happens. The names will remind us that there will always be difficulties along the way but they make the journey much more worth it and that there’s a bright side in every situation. And if all else fails, if everything seems so hopeless, God will send you a sign, an answer or maybe even a white 4×4 pickup truck.

So without further ado, I’d like you to meet Faith and Grace:


Left: Faith with a broken rear derailleur hanger (before “fix”). Right: Grace