No Place Like Home

It’s March! And it’s almost the end of another school year and I’m thinking of where to go this summer break.  This morning I remembered an essay written by my son last year and I got for his permission to share it with you. So here it is, an article about travel from the mind of a sixteen-year old boy.

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August 2014

Mark Twain said that travel is fatal. It is “fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…” For a sixteen year-old living near ricefields and in the distant, the sea, the privilege to travel is life changing. The most recent is our family trip to Western Europe.

What made this trip unique compared to the other places that we have traveled so far was going on a road trip and collecting a lifetime worth of memories in just 45 days.

Clowning around with my brother. Lausanne, Switzerland

Clowning around with my brother. Lake Lucerne, Switzerland

To experience diverse cultures, marvel at the uniqueness of each city and interact with people of different nationalities – from the castles of England, to the city lights of Paris, to the magnificent architecture of Rome, to the liberal culture of Amsterdam, to the Alps of Switzerland – Europe is one big school.

The Lourve Museum, Paris, France

The Lourve Museum, Paris, France

My first memory was getting lost. My family joined a walking tour around London. While taking pictures, I didn’t realize that everyone stopped for the sights as I kept on walking until I could not find a single familiar face in the crowd. I approached the first policeman I saw and told him that I got lost. According to him, I was the first teenage boy to get lost and ask for his help. We eventually found my dad who, bless him, was wearing a yellow neon jacket in a sea of black peacoat-wearing people, standing on a busy intersection looking for me.

london

What is important is not being afraid of getting lost but knowing how to find my way back (note to parents: buying a SIM card first thing would definitely help!).

Another memorable part of the trip was going to Portsmouth, a major port in England that reminds me of our own Subic, with my friend, Mac, a mechanical engineer at Jaguar, and his best friend, Elmer, a freelance photographer. Mac’s company was kind enough to lend us an F-Type while in England.

Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth, Hampshire

Looking down from Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth, Hampshire

The day started with the three of us having an English breakfast, followed by a photo walk with Elmer. I took it as an opportunity to ask him how to program my DSLR for more creative shots. After the photo walk, we took Mac’s F-Type for a fun run, and what made it really enjoyable was us filming the car being pushed to its limits and really enjoying the gravitational force that it was capable of using Elmer’s Go Pro. We capped our day heading back to London to celebrate binging on McDonalds at Trafalgar Square. It was especially enjoyable considering that most of the food on the menu, like the Big Mac, was about twice the size of what is served in the Philippines.

This seemingly ordinary day spent well taught me how to appreciate and value time.

I consider traveling as one of the most defining moments in my life simply because it broadened my perspective and exposed me to the beauty that surrounds us. I have learned to appreciate the magnificence of ordinary things.

Coming home every time only strengthened my love for my country. I have seen the Alps but I have also walked the terrace fields of the Cordilleras. I swam on the waters of Saint Tropez but was left in awe of Coron.

Banaue, 2011

Banaue, 2011

Lin Yutang could not have said it better: “No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.”

My greatest lesson: there is no place like home.

Coron, Palawan 2011

Coron, Palawan 2011

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TBRDM 2015 Done!

The marathon is so much more than a race. So much more than 42.2 kilometers or 26.2 miles. It’s a triumph of the human spirit. A life changing endeavor. A molder of champions.
– Coach Jim Lafferty             

Congratulations to Joy and Pinky for finishing The Bull Runner Dream Marathon last Sunday! I am so proud of you.

tbrdm 2015

Before gun start.

tbrdm 2015

Few minutes before 2am. I was glad that I wasn’t running. 🙂

Go, go, go!

tbrdm 2015

tbrdm 2015

tbrdm 2015

Pinky cuts the tape!

Joy crosses the finish line

Joy crosses the finish line

tbrdm 2015

happy marathoners

tbrdm 2015

tbrdm 2015

tbrdm 2015

tbrdm 2015

Congratulations! All your hard work paid off and you inspire me. How can this not make me want to lace on my shoes and run? 

Small Race Big Fun

A few days after the Condura marathon, my husband brought me to a spa and I was treated to an hour long Swedish massage.  At first it was very painful but after a few minutes it relaxed my muscles. I was so relaxed that I almost fell asleep. Too bad it had to end so soon.

The next day, I went to see my dermatologist friend for treatment of my sun-damaged skin. She is also a runner and of course we talked about running and the recently concluded Condura marathon.  Then she invited me to sign up for the Miles for Special Smiles 10 km fun run scheduled on the 15th of February. I told her I wasn’t ready and I still haven’t fully recovered from Condura.

“Ano ka ba, parang hindi ka dentista. And it’s for a good cause.

She had a point.  Besides, my batch mate in college, Carie, who is now president of the dental society helped organize the race.  I should support her, right? And I also wanted to see my colleagues in the profession.  I heard that my friends from Saudi Arabia came home recently and they were running the 5 km race.

Carrie welcomes the runners.

Carie welcomes the runners.

At exactly 5 am the 10 km race started. It was a small, community fun run and it was nice to see neighbors and friends. There were no timing chips. The cut-off for 10 km was two and a half hours, two hours for the 5 km race making the atmosphere very relaxed. It was a cold morning and showering a bit which made it even more fun. I liked running in the rain.

It was also my first time to run in Daang Hari. We started from The District Ayala Mall, made a u-turn in front of Phoenix gasoline station and then back to The District.

“One foot in front of the other. No pressure,” I thought.

miles for smiles

I think my legs look macho here. Haha.

 

miles for smiles

Race finishers.
miles for smiles

miles for smiles

Dentists all are we.

Posing with the mayor, Manny Maliksi.
miles for smiles

I never thought small races could also be fun but surprisingly I enjoyed it. I think I will join again next time.

My Condura Skyway Marathon Story

The Skyway will forever and always be more than just another highway for me.

Running the Condura Skyway Marathon Run for a Hero 2015 was an unbelievable experience – it’s something I will always remember. I had an incredible time and ran a strong race, never once stopping to believe that I will finish, no matter how difficult things got.

Let’s recap.

CSM runners

Joy, Rex, and I stayed in Jehan’s house because it is near the race venue.  We slept the whole afternoon and by 9 o’clock, everybody started to get ready but for whatever reason, we lost track of the time.  By the time we all got in the car, it was already 11:30 pm, just 30 minutes away from gun start and traffic was a nightmare! The only consolation we had was we were assigned to Wave I.  That means we will start around 12:30 am.

Anyway, we made it to Filinvest, parked, then made a quick stop at the portalets. After that I heard the race host say, “Three minutes left before 12 o’clock.” We hurriedly found our corral and heaved a sigh of relief.  We made it.

csm runners

At 12:30, our wave was released.  Unlike other races where runners cheered at the start line, this race had an emotional start.  The Philippine Navy band was playing and standing on the left side of the road were 44 uniformed men holding 44 photos of the fallen heroes of Mamasapano.  The runners gave them a long salute. It was heartbreaking because it was a long line. It gave us a palpable image of how many actually died.  Some cried, others stopped to look at the photos.

csm 2015

condura marathon

ic3m0652

Holding back the tears.

Jehan and I ran together. Our strategy was to break 42.195 kilometers into shorter segments so that we will not be overwhelmed.  Alabang, Sucat, Bicutan, Nichols, Magallanes, Don Bosco, and Buendia.

csm 2015

condura marathon

For me, the toughest part of the course was the Magallanes bridge and we ran through it four times. There were runners sitting on the curb and medics were attending to them.

Every now and then Jehan would say something to cheer us up. “We’re strong.” And I’d reply, “Yes. Light and tall.” It was also nice to see JN on the course.

At 26 kilometers, my right foot numbed. Then it became very painful, like it was cut by a scalpel and then somebody squeezed calamansi into the wound. Then both feet hurt like crazy.  I told Jehan to go ahead.  I did not want to ruin her race because I was slowing down.  But she said, “It’s ok.  I’ll stay with you.” Then she gave me her bottle of water with hydrite. I was so grateful to her because I needed her for me to stay positive.  She is 10 years younger than me but she is more mature and emotionally stable and I am embarrassed to admit it.

At 28 kilometers, both of us were quiet, both absorbed in our own thoughts.  I listened to my breath going in and out, to my heart beating, and to my shoes pounding the asphalt. I glanced at Jehan and was surprised to see tears freely flowing from her eyes.

“Are you crying?”

She nodded.

“Why?!”

“I’m tired.”

“Do you need tissue?”

She shook her head and wiped the tears with her shirt. We slowed down but we never stopped.

I remembered the fallen heroes. I thought, “These men gave their lives for the country.  Who am I to complain because of my aching feet?”  I also recalled what Wayne Cordeiro said, “This is the moment you’ve been training for, the time when you’re ready to quit.”  I started reciting out loud the words that I wrote down on my hand:  “Strong. Finish. Strong. Finish.” 

It took a lot of effort to let my mind focus back on the race.

“Let’s bring it home,” I told her.

We started overtaking some runners.  In my mind I imagined I was PacMan.  Every runner I passed was a power pellet that gave me a boost.

Sucat. Just one more exit and then the finish line.  “Konting tiis na lang.  I think we’re going to PR!” We high-fived each other.

We exited the Skyway then sprinted towards the finish line and after we felt the timing mat under our feet, we hugged.  And then the tears, happy tears fell automatically.  Oh wow, we did it. Five minutes shaved off my PR and an incredible 15 minutes off for Jehan. We were ecstatic. Yay!

That morning, we conquered the Skyway and ran 42.195 kilometers for our heroes.

Appropriately, an army soldier gave us our medals. Thank you Sir for your service.
csm 2015

Sweet victory.

csm 2015

We met Rex who finished earlier, and Joy who ran the 21 km race at the Condura Village. Everybody had a great race, thank God.
csm 2015

csm 2015

Salute!
csm 2015

After three marathons, I can actually say that I love the marathon distance. It’s the perfect distance to test both the body and the mind. It’s tough but I learn so much not only during the race but in the training leading to it. One of the most important things I learned is that long distance running is a mental game. Negativity has no place in this sport. I went into this race with a positive outlook and won in the end.

I thank God for giving me the strength to finish. It was an incredible journey which started months ago. But back then I have decided that this will be my third and last marathon. I told my siblings I will retire after Condura.

Back in Jehan’s house, we were relaxing and I was reading a copy of Multisport magazine. I came across a CW-X ad and said, “If we push through with our trip to Bangkok, I will buy this. It’s cheaper there.”

Joy didn’t answer.

“Oh wait, that’s right I’m already retired!” I totally forgot. LOL.

So, when’s the next race?

Run for a Hero

Today, January 30, 2015 is the National Day of Mourning for the 44 members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force that fell during an armed encounter in Maguindanao last Sunday. 

Banner_Day-of-National-Mourning_150129-01

fallen

Read about the heartbreaking story HERE and HERE.

Allow me to quote my friend Jet Arbis. He said,

On midnight of this Saturday, I will be running a full marathon — my 3rd in a year.

This Condura Skyway Marathon aims to benefit the Heroes Foundation whose mission is “to provide educational assistance in the form of stipends to children and dependent siblings of Filipino soldiers killed in action (KIA) or totally incapacitated while in line of duty.”

On this date, I commit to run a kilometer for each fallen hero of Mamasapano. With each kilometer, I will say a silent prayer — for my sympathies for their families, for the Hero Foundation to include dependents of PNP officers, for sobriety among all Filipinos whether Christian or Muslim, for the powers that be to keep in mind that an ambiguous peace is still better than certain war.

I hope to cross the finish line by dawn and lift all my prayers to the heavens together with the rising sun. So help me, God.

 

I could not have said it any better.

Run for a Hero

Ready, Get Set, Go!

Marathons are tough, that’s a fact.

It’s only three days before the Condura Skyway Marathon and I have transformed into a bundle of nerves. I guess it’s natural and shows how much I care. Lisa Macuja said, “Seriously, it’s when you stop feeling nervous that you should start to worry because that means you are becoming apathetic towards what you are doing.”

“Did I run enough in training?” Ah, I remember those runs at 4 a.m. in Nuvali and BGC.  I remember braving the cold December  morning to run from Alfonso to Nasugbu. I remember that uphill race in Casile, Laguna. I remember the runs with Jehan, my run buddy, around her village. I remember those solo runs in Island Cove and Filinvest.

“Yes, I am ready!” It’s time to put all those fears and doubts away and trust my training.

My last marathon was full of drama only because I wasn’t prepared mentally.  At some point I doubted if I could finish the race and I almost gave up.  I lost in the mental game. Now, I will use that lesson as a stepping stone and prepare my mind to get me through 42.195 kilometers.

This video was shared to me by Joy.  It is about a story by Pastor Wayne Cordeiro when he was about to hit the wall during his 41-mile canoe race in Hawaii. 

Powerful message. So I wrote something on my hand to help me focus through the toughest part of the course.  I know there will be one.

strong. finish.

Going into this marathon, I promised to be kinder to my self. I promised not to be obsessed in a time goal that I will let it ruin everything if I didn’t meet it.  The time on the clock will not define me.

I have trained well and now it’s time to sit back. I will enjoy the day. I will give my all on Sunday and will celebrate at the finish line.

It’s going to be great.  I can’t wait.