Thursday, June 10, 2010

No Running

In Patin-ay, Proseperidad town where the Government Center of Agusan del Sur stands its grounds, the Provincial Government is shifting high gears in preparation for its 18th Naliyagan festival which will commence on Saturday, June 12, together with the Independence Day celebration of the rest of the Philippine islands.

I do not know the origins of the weeklong Naliyagan festival, I don’t even know where the word comes from but from scant sources, I learned that it is equivalent to the Sinulog of Cebu, albeit on a much smaller scale.

Festivities prop up like pop corns and already the Rizal monument is littered with booths displaying native food delicacies unique to the province to anything from hardware to ‘ukay-ukay.’

People speak of the much anticipated Bautos boat race on the 500-meter long man-made lake fronting the Provincial Capitol, where the much cultured catfish abound; ‘Battle of the Bands’; the Manobo-inspired dance competition, and a host of other events I plan to see.

This I observed as I made my runs yesterday and the other day amidst the tight formation of the Philippine Army practicing their drills for the festival opening.

This is the first time I will be able to witness the annual event. During my father’s time when he was Provincial Administrator in the mid-90s, I was only able to attend one event—a 6k run from Poblacion San Francisco to the Provincial Capitol—vividly recalling the cramps and bumps I suffered the day after the event.

After that, school took me away from the Naliyagan festival.

Now that I am back, I was hoping that there would be one running event in the works but sadly not this time.

Running may have infected other cities and areas in the Philippines but it has not resurfaced yet here in Agusan. There used to be events like these before—dashes mostly and some mile races (that’s why they call runners here either ‘dashers’ or ‘milers’) but not anymore.

On most occasions I run around the Provincial Capitol grounds, 1.22 km from end to end, I see a few relics of past events—dashers and milers mostly who continue the sport in their own time and place long when ballroom dancing and badminton has had its ups and downs replaced by online computer games, Friendster and Facebook.

Me? I am a runner, a ‘miler’ mostly because I don’t run sub-30 minute 5ks or sub-1-hour 10ks, not even a sub-Piolow in my wildest dreams but I have ran my half marathon in less than ideal conditions.

But I will persist, I promise myself. Long before races or events die or resurrect on me, I will make time to run because I can. Hope you will do, too.

Catch you on the road, my friends!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Kids turn to run

The alarm squealed at exactly 5 am. I jumped up in bed and for awhile I was confused what race I was running this weekend. Not me, I thought. My daughter!

I woke my sleepy children and had them hurriedly dress for the Looney Tunes Active Fun Run 1k for 5-7 year olds. Just 2 days ago, I had registered my only daughter for the run, my 2 boys being noncommittal. She was excited the night before, decorating her race bib with glitter glue and, and with the help of her mommy, pasted some flowers, too.

Never in my 5 months into running, from joining my first ever 5k to my first 21k, was I ever this much excited-- running with my daughter.

We arrived at SM City Cebu at around 6. By now, runners from the 5k and 10k categories, which had started earlier, were beginning to arrive at the finish line while kids tagged along with their parents to the starting point for the children's 1.5k for 9-11 years, 1k for 5-7 years and the 500-meter dash for 4-year olds and below.

The atmosphere mostly were one of excited parents and sleepy children. They must have thought, "What's the fuzz?"

Promptly at 6:30, the organizers, with Bugz Bunny, called up the runners for the 1.5k event. They did some stretching and warm ups, lined up the runners and counted 10 to 1. Then off they went.

Next came the runners for the 1k event. This is where we were joining. I lined up my daughter near the front. The sun was up and the heat was already getting to us. Noy Jopson, the triathlete and organizer, did some stretching exercises and warm ups but my daughter was already getting antsy. Let's run already, as if she'd say.

There was the countdown once again from 10 to 1 and then almost a hundred shoes (including parents, grandparents and yayas) pounded the parking lot of SM City Cebu. For a moment in the melee I lost sight of my daughter and when I saw her again she was off to a sprinting start. I saw 2 or 3 runners stumble and fall and parents and guardians were quick to pick them up.

I ran up to my daughter and looked at my watch. She was running at 6/km pace! I told her  to slow down and take it easy but she would have none of it.

At 300 meters, my daughter took a breather this time, obviously for running too fast. I told her we'd count from 1 to 20 while walking but just at 10 she ran again. Whew! It's hard to keep up with the young ones.

I admit I must have looked ridiculous running with my daughter trying to take pictures and videos at the same time while coaching words of encouragement. My daughter didn't know how to slow jog. She just ran fast and walked.

Some of the kids we left behind while some sprinted ahead of us towards the finish line. When we rounded up the last 50 meters to the finish line, my daughter concluded she's had enough running for the day and decided to walk. Spectators, parents and photographers, lined up on the side, were shouting words of encouragement and even I was running circles around my daughter just to entice her to run but nope, she walked! Haha!

One old-timer near the finish line exclaimed, "Naunsa na man ni!"

Time: 9 minutes + for her first 1 km race. Not bad. Her brothers were there to greet their sister and was I the proudest father ever! I hugged my daughter and claimed her certificate signed by the race director.

Though there was some confusion in the start times, it was a great run nonetheless. We then treated our kids, as promised, to breakfast at Jollibee's.

Later that morning my wife asked my daughter if she would run again and her answer was an emphatic no. I laughed remembering my first 5k and thinking 'never again!'

Later that evening, I asked my daughter why she was running so fast when I told her to slow down and she simply answered, "Because I want to win, daddy."

That's the spirit, little girl! Now go for it!