09 December 2013

What I learned in the 37th Milo Marathon 2013

December 8, 2013. Race day.

I have not run much this year, most of my time were spent studying for the Bar. And now that the exam is through, I found the opportunity so sign up for the 37th Milo Marathon.

Breakfast was modest, just coffee and bread. In between sips, I thanked the Lord for the opportunity to join this race, for health, and for the safety of me and other runners.

Is running your bread and butter?

I did not get enough sleep because of the excitement. This run was my comeback to running after a long while.

Race bib and singlet. 

I got out of bed at 2 a.m. to prepare. The race starts at 4.30 a.m.

I got the eye of the tiger, the fire. I got a tiger beside me.

3:00 a.m., I hailed a cab to Mall of Asia. I closed my eyes for a mini-nap. Meanwhile, my muscles were auto-assessing for any pain that may get in the way.

Runners get ready minutes before the gun start.

Selfie before the run. Eww, I hate this, but I have to do it.

I was calm at the starting line thinking, "How did I get here?"

It was two years ago when I started running. It started with just muni-muni walking, then long walks, then biking. Unhappy with biking, I sold my bike and tried running. I like running because clears my mind especially on sad days. Running is like what a System Restore does to a computer. It is where I found joy.


There were around two thousand runners that morning. Everyone knew what to do. It was a serious event, ako lang yata ang nag selfie sa starting line, hiyang-hiya naman ako. Haha.

I felt like I did not belong. Sometimes, it is easy to forget what you are running for. That is true even if the theme of this year's marathon is all over the place:

"Ikaw, anong hinahabol mo?" - Milo Marathon.

Ano nga ba ang hinahabol ko? To just finish the race? To be better, faster, stronger? To beat my personal record? World peace, perhaps? And, kailangan may hinahabol, talaga?

The host on stage reminded us that the cut-off time is 2 hours and 30 minutes "Jesus Christ." I've never finished running 21 kilometers that fast.

At gun start, everyone was screaming "Whoooo!" In my mind, springbreak(?)

The morning rush. Roxas Blvd.

I ran my usual pace. At the fourteenth kilometer mark my legs started experiencing cramps, but kept on running. Ran, walked, ran, walked. Just a little bit more, just trying to get from here to the next block. I want to finish this race. I was determined.

It was a matter of time before I crossed the finish line.

Truth be told, I finished the race behind most runners. The runners in this batch were fast. No wonder this is the Milo Marathon Finals. It is not "the finals" for nothing, I guess.

I finished the race just a tad short of the cut off time. Runners who made it before the cut off were given medals proudly displayed around their neck.

I wanted to tell someone about my run. I wanted to tell someone how I struggled to deal with the cramps, I wanted to tell someone how I did my best to finish before the cut off time but failed to do so.

Unlike other race events I have joined in the past, this time, no family was at the finish line to meet me. My running buddy didn't show up. No one bothered to hang a medal around my neck. Not a heartbeat that cared.

Finish line had never been this lonely. I sat at the corner of Mall of Asia parking lot. It hurts -- my legs, my shoulders, my calves, my thighs.

I remember earlier that day, nagpaalam ako sa mom ko, "Ma, alis na ako, please pray I don't get injured." She kissed my head and wished me luck. That meant a lot to me.

I remember my father who is in a business trip in another province calling me at 4:50 am, which I regrettably rejected because I was already running. He sent a massage wishing me God bless, good luck, and to be safe. That meant a lot to me.

I remember Avril calling to congratulate me after the race. The very dependable shoes I was wearing and all the running gear I own are all gifts from her. She very much supports me in my running.  That meant a lot to me.

I remember praying for no injuries. Prayer granted. No injuries, except for wounded feelings, perhaps. I remember almost making it before the cut-off time. I was this close to earning my first Milo Marathon 21k medal; considering I was coming out of a year of running lay-off.

I also realized this race is my personal best in this category. It is the fastest 21k I've ever ran. This race rekindled my love for running, an important thing for me. I realized I have a lot to be thankful for.

Sometimes, things make sense by just connecting the dots backward. I learned in this race that running is not just about personal best or running faster.

I wish there is a better way for me to say this: I guess, the finish line is not always about medals and cut off times. The finish line is about sharing. Sharing victory, sharing triumphs, sharing defeat. It is about sharing the joys being and pains of being a person. Sometimes, hug from a love one after a long tiring race is more valuable than any medal around my neck.

06 December 2013

Nineteenth Century Tondo, Manila

I'm currently reading "The Philippines" by a French traveler Jean Mallat published in 1846 and I am surprised of how he depicted the ninetieth century Tondo, Manila. It is a very sharp contrast to our common notion of Tondo today. Mallat writes: 

"Province of Tondo. Although included among the small ones, this province is nevertheless one of the richest, most industrious, most populated. In short it is one of the most important in the whole archipelago. This town swarms with mestizos and Chinese. The province of Tondo produces sugar in small quantity, a lot of fruits like mangoes, bananas, chicos, pineapple, and oranges. They also raise animals. Its industries are agriculture and manufacturing; it trades extensively in all the products of the Philippines. Moreover, Tondo is the only one where foreign businessmen are allowed to set themselves up. (p.121)" 

It's great to know that Tondo was once a center of commerce in the Philippines. I appreciate Tondo more now. I will never see‪#‎Tondo‬ the same way again.

The Philippines: History, Geography, Customs, Agriculture, Industry, and Commerce of the Spanish Colonies in Oceania. By Jean Mallat. Translated by Pura Santillan-Castrance. Manila: National Historical Commission, 1983. (French original published in 1846.) xiv, 528 pp. Tables, Index. N.p. (paper).

03 January 2013

Our Kota Kinabalu Adventure

Avril and I decided to level up and attempt to climb Mt. Kinabalu, the highest peak in South East Asia. The idea sprang out after we climbed the second highest mountain in the Philippines back in 2010,  Early this year, when we saw a piso fare to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, we didn't hesitate to book the flight.

What happened before our flight to Malaysia

I wish we had more time to prepare more for the trip. Unfortunately time was a luxury we could not afford. Desperate for help, I borrowed money from my family and asked my friends for tips on traveling abroad. Their suggestions came in handy.

  • Travel light. Bring a map.
  • Bring a buddy with you.
  • Bring converter plug for your electronics.
  • Check about the culture of the country.
  • Check the weather of your destination before hand.
  • Photocopy your passport and other important travel documents.
  • Blend with the locals. 
  • Save the number of the Philippine Embassy or consulate.
  • Bring a small sling bag, to carry all your important documents.
  • My friends are very helpful. In a foreign land, these information can be very valuable.
  • Be a traveler, not a tourist. 
My favorite tip was: Huwag magdala or magpapicture ng shirt na may print na coming from another country (e.g. I heart SG), it's just wrong. hahaha, oo nga naman. 

I found their suggestions helpful. The art of travelling is still a skill I have to master. There must be a a plan and a contingency plan despite the lack of time. There are just some things we can't leave to chance. They say, "failure to plan, is planning to fail." This is true, especially when booking your accommodation in advance.

We booked our accommodation in Sabah in advance, fortunately the host of our budget lodge was Filipina. We have been in e-mailing her to confirm the particulars. Funny thing was, she had a special request. She requests "na kung puwede, bilhan namin siya ng 2 bottles of Bench Raspberry Cologne at 2 Goldilocks cakes, 1 Neapolitan and 1 Ube Macapuno roll. Avril was cool about but I, on the other hand, went crazy about the request. Ang hassel kaya! We obliged to grant her special request. It was all worth it naman, because when we were at our lodge, she treated us like a VIP. You should have seen the look at her eyes when, Joy, our host met us at the airport, she knew it was us right along because we were the only ones carrying her requested cakes.

An Incident at the Philippine Immigration

We had to be interviewed by the Immigration before departing the Philippines. The old man check our passports, look at our faces, in complete suspicion. His eyes widened when he read our info slip.

"Anong occupation niyo?" "Students po." I replied. "Meron ba kayong school ID?" I scratched my head remembering that I intentionally left my school ID when I was preparing my bag. Who would in his right mind bring an ID when he's on vacation? "So kung wala kayong ID, hindi kayo estudyante!" The immigration officer raised his voice.

At the back of my mind, "ganun ba yon, pag walang ID eh hindi na estudyante? lolo, logic(?)" He asked where we'll be staying, while studying the flight history of our passports, suddenly Avril remembered that last year, I gave her my old 2011 IDs that she has kept in deep in her purse. When he saw my ID. He asked us our course. We told him we were studying law. He was convinced and stamped our passports like a mad man. 

This old man was probably just concerned with our safety. Marami kasing TNTs kasi doon sa Sabah. Travel documents can be very important, when you are travelling. I realized that there are lots of things that could go wrong while travelling. For our own safety, I must prove the reason for our travel by substantial evidence.  

The best milk tea experience

The best drink you can have is a one that is especially prepared by the cabin crew 50k ft. up into the clouds. There's nothing like a pretty stewardess preparing milk tea with a smile. 

Touchdown to Kota Kinabalu. Small Airport, like our domestic airports.  First experience in this country to be lost in translation. There are no arrows that bring you to the exit. We just went with the flow, followed everyone else, and found our way to the exit. 

We booked our hotel at Traveler's Light Backpacker's Lodge. It's a small dorm type budget accommodation. It doesn't have the usual comforts of a hotel, but the warmth of the people  and its very convenient location makes up for it.