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Mixing cement, digging is more fun at Re-Charge.PH

RE-Charge.PH's official slacktivist doing something out of character.

RE-Charge.PH’s official slacktivist doing something out of character.

MANILA—I love my job.

And I’m not saying that because I’m expected to A) become a productive member of society; B) settle my bills on time; C) remit enough income taxes to cover the budget deficit; or D) pay for my own beers and, quite possibly, cover my pulutan (gasp!).

I love my job because it is a lot of fun.

Let me repeat that for the benefit of my boss, just in case he forgets to sign my paycheck: I am thoroughly enjoying myself as the official slacktivist of recharge.PH.

I get to stay in an apartment in downtown Tacloban, immerse myself in Tacloban City’s culture (an experience enhanced by ice-cold beverages, usually paid for by someone else), become acquainted with new people (no femme fatales just yet), and bike all around the city (and outskirts such as the San Juanico bridge on my multi-speed bike, the Black Swan*).

Recently, my job became more interesting.

Lindol (right) got his name after he was born during an earthquake in Manila.

Lindol (right) got his name after he was born during an earthquake in Manila.

I was assigned to help out workers at the construction site of the solar-charging station of eJeepneys in Tacloban, an initiative of the Institute of Climate and Sustainable Cities (iCSC).

I shoveled dirt, mixed cement, carried sacks of sand and rocks on my shoulders, and transported hollow blocks from one end of the construction site to another.

And no, I didn’t do these tasks because I was running out of material to write about.

I was prompted to do manual labor because I was under contractual obligation to do so.

To show proof that I didn’t renege on the agreement (and perhaps even risk a lawsuit), a co-worker took photos and shot video clips of me trying my best to avoid becoming the laughingstock of the foreman and his fellow workers.

The tasks weren’t as difficult as they looked.

After all, I was given a tutorial in cement-mixing and shoveling by Arnold, who was born and bred in Tacloban, and Bernard, who got his nickname, Lindol, because he was born in Antipolo, Rizal on the same day an earthquake leveled the Ruby Towers building in Manila in 1968.

Unfortunately, two hours after working under the searing Tacloban sun, sweat pouring down my cheeks like rain in July, I was called off to an early afternoon staff meeting.

Too bad I had to go.

I was just about ready to show off my enhanced shoveling skills—and bigger biceps—for the cameras.

*FROM THE I WANT TO RIDE MY BICYCLE DEPT. My bike is named after the Black Swan, the bestselling book by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, which I recommend that you should read, if you’re going to read just one book this year. It’s about how we have downplayed the importance and the role of luck in our lives. “The graveyard of failed persons will be full of people who shared the following traits: courage, risk-taking, optimism, et cetera. Just like the population of millionaires. There may be some differences in skills, but what truly separates the two is for the most part a single factor: luck. Plain luck,” he says. Take my word for it. Look at me, for instance. I’m a lucky bastard.

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