Humans at NLEX

Hearing Things from Afar

by Jovit Caballero, Nina Sangueza, and Rose ann Santos

Editor’s Note: This article was written by Group 3 during the Northlink Newsletter Writing and Photography Workshop held last January 2021.

Keeping the floors clean and tidy, serving hot and freshly brewed coffee, distributing food during meetings. These are the tasks that Kuya Rey enjoys doing. Reynaldo P. Malinao, fondly called “Kuya Rey,” is from San Jose del Monte Bulacan. Being the breadwinner of the family, he recalled that his neighbor had told him about the job at NLEX. Kuya Rey has been assigned in NLEX for almost 11 years. 

As he walks along the corridors and navigates the stairs of the building he is assigned to, you’d assume that Kuya Rey is just like any other utility personnel in the company. But when you look at him closely, you will know that he is unique from the others. You can easily pinpoint what makes him stand out when you see the blue-and-orange ear pod-like device inserted in his sensitive and delicate ears.

According to Kuya Rey, he bought the battery-operated item in Shopee for only one thousand six hundred pesos (Php 1,600) as he can no longer afford an expensive one. Why does he need the device? It’s for him to be able to clearly hear vibrant sounds and the instructions given to him at work. Kuya Rey has hearing impairment.

The sun is up, and Kuya Rey’s day is about to start before anyone else is around. He is walking towards the office lobby in his blue uniform and a personalized face mask. With full enthusiasm, he opens the doors leading him to the place where he has been with for the past 11 years.

Ironically, despite his condition, Kuya Rey enjoys the rhythm of his favorite Tagalog songs from Filipino artists like Martin Nievera, Regine Velasquez, and Morisette Amon. Though he suffers from a vibrating sound he sometimes felt inside his ears, this has never been a hindrance to his responsibilities. He lives a normal life.

After a full day of hard work and making sure everything is organized at the office, Kuya Rey looks out the window, looking forward to spending quality time with his family.

At 43, Kuya Rey remains a hopeless romantic. He said he is still searching for love. He wants someone who will grow old with him. Or, as he puts it, someone who will stay with him until his batteries wear off.

Kuya Rey is known for being shy and quiet, but he enjoys the company of his colleagues as they banter.
They are his essentials. Kuya Rey shows off the earpiece accessory that improves his quality of life. It’s the tool that lets him maintain his social life and good family relations.
Kuya Rey freshens up after hours of hard work.
Meet me here and there… everywhere.
The Floor Manager. Kuya Rey always keeps the floor clean and tidy. He never fails to do it every single day.
The Barista. Whenever there’s a need of hot brewed coffee, he will deliver it with biscuits on the side.
With his 11-year stint in NLEX, Kuya Rey eyes to expand his e-loading business into 
a sari-sari store.
The light casts a shadow of a family’s breadwinner and OMC’s go-to guy.

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