ANDA, Pangasinan – A man from Cavite pedaled for 21 hours amid bad weather to Anda town in Pangasinan province to personally meet his long-distance girlfriend.
John Paul ‘JP’ Gatbonton started his journey for a ‘fairy-tale’ and not-your-average chick flick stunt on October 10 from Imus, Cavite with the intent to say “I love you” face-to-face to Donna Ocomen who lives here.
JP and Donna met each other some time ago 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 (The name of the Facebook group is The Life of an Introvert. I posted there on January 22 (this year), she commented and I added her on Facebook,” he said in an interview Tuesday.
Gatbonton said he did not expect that a simple online conversation would spark the romance between them.
He fell in love and began courting Ocomen on February 1.
Gatbonton said they both planned to meet each other personally but due to the sudden lockdown brought about by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, it became impossible for him to travel.
Travel from Pangasinan to Metro Manila has been banned since the lockdown last March.
But that did not stop him from pursuing Ocomen. Gatbonton then began securing the necessary documents for travel, such as barangay and health certificates, and travel authority.
On October 10, he left Cavite to his parents’ home in Nueva Ecija. From there, he rested for a night and then continued his travel to Pangasinan early morning the following day.
Gatbonton braved the rains and winds brought about by Tropical Depression Nika ravaging the Ilocos Region.
The 13-hour trip from Nueva Ecija to Anda was a difficult one as the latter is an island municipality in the far western side of Pangasinan that is only accessible through a 400-meter long bridge across the Kakiputan Channel.
Before this, Gatbonton traveled through a series of elevated and zigzag routes in Sual town, and steep slopes and terrains of Alaminos City, Bani, and Bolinao towns –a harsh challenge for bikers.
Not to mention a load of Gatbonton’s baggage for the long travel —his phone, power bank, travel documents, clothes, repair kit, and gift for his girlfriend.
He arrived in Anda late in the afternoon on October 12. He was met by Ocomen’s parents as they fetched him from town proper.
“My tiredness and weariness were immediately swept away as I caught a glimpse of my love at her home,” Gatbonton said, adding this was the first time they have met.
Gatbonton said he was deeply shy but at the same time happy.
After spending time for a date, he then mustered his courage to ask Ocomen if she could be his girlfriend “legally”. They had a mutual understanding prior to his visit to Donna’s home.
“Legal na kami (we are now legally boyfriend and girlfriend),” he said.
As of posting, Gatbonton is staying at Ocomen’s house while undergoing a 14-day quarantine as per order from local authorities.
Ocomen is staying in a boarding house where she is taking her online classes as the internet and data connection in their area is weak.
“Walang distansya sa love at kapag mahal mo ang isang tao, gagawin mo lahat para sa kanya at maging tapat sa isa’t-isa (In love, distance would not matter and if you love the person, you will do everything for her and you should both be faithful to one another,” he said. Ahikam Pasion / PNA – northboundasia.com