Tuesday, April 27, 2010

NatGeo Earth Day Run 2010

No matter what the naysayers say, I've had a lot of fun in this run. That is ironic because I wasn't supposed to be in it. I heard about the organizers extending the registration by several days after the advertised deadline so I decided to give it a go.  So that early morning of April 11 I found myself at the starting line of the NatGeo Earth Day Run 2010 at the Mall of Asia Grounds for my 3rd 10K run.

There is plenty to like about this race.

First of all, it was organized by probably my favorite cable channel of all the cable channels out there; National Geographic. If there is only one channel left on my television, it has got to be this one. I was also a big big fan of the magazine when I was a kid. I remember my mom buying me subscriptions of it every year for several years. I eagerly waited for my copy every month, and will lock myself in my room to read and be amazed all afternoon. Needless to say I've quite a collection of copies at our house in Pampanga. My favorite thing about the magazine are the free maps that come along with most of the copies. The map of the universe flipped me out completely when I got it. The dinosaur distribution maps kept me fascinated for days. The map of Russia had me imagining how it was like to be on snow covered tundras and find undiscovered creatures. I painstakingly tried to preserve them by covering them with clear acetate, then each one carefully re-tucked into a huge zip lock bag. I treasured those magazines so much that I threw a crazy fit when my brother stupidly cut out a couple of really old ones for his school project. When I graduated from highschool and was asked by my mom what I wanted to take up in college, I told her unequivocally I wanted to be a Biologist and will specialize in Forestry. The issue about the destruction of the Amazon rainforest had that much impact on me. It took a lot of convincing from her end to make me change my mind eventually.

Needless to say I believe the cause too. It's fighting global warming and climate change. Although I doubt my run made the slightest impact in changing things around, I was just glad I was there to participate and make a statement. And the nice black shirt with the iconic National Geographic logo is something to smile about too!

It was also a great day with friends. Two friends, both new to running, decided to run their first race.  Mayumi ran 5K and Ish ran 3K. They joined me, Chase, Nina, Tim and Marie and got hooked to sweating as we did. We welcomed them, and happy that they're doing it not only for the cause, but also because they wanted to quit smoking. Next run with all of the gang will be this coming May, the second leg of the RunRio Trilogy.

Finally, and definitely the one on top of my "like" list about this race, is that I managed beat my previous 10K time. It was a personal record. I am slowly inching my way to my target sub-hour 10K time.


Official Time: 1:00:17 (PR!!) 

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Seen Around the Metro: Japanese

It's amazing how packaging could make ordinary grocery items look fascinating (at least to me). I was at a Japanese grocery one afternoon and I obviously went snap crazy taking random shots using my iPhone. It's actually becoming a habit of mine that I figured I might as well create a blog topic called...well...Seen Around the Metro. This is the first of a series of sets.










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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Mizuno Infinity Run 2010: My Thoughts

I was able to beat my previous 10K time by a little over 5 minutes! The Mizuno Infinity Run 2010 was especially hard because we had to run against the steep incline of the Kalayaan fly-over twice (once from each end). 

I'm not too crazy about this race though. First of all, it's the first race I joined without a timing chip, so it was kinda weird having to tear the barcoded piece of paper from the bib and hand it over to a lady shouting instructions at the end of the finish line. Not exactly the climax you would want after running this distance. I'm still pulling my hair out figuring how in the world were they able to track my time so accurately (to the second?). So that 5 minutes shaved off from my PR is a bit questionable if you ask me. I felt like I ran slower this race than  at the Unilab Wellness Run, but my time is much much better here than my last. Secondly, I was kinda disappointed with the freebies given. Call me cheap, but aren't freebies something you also look forward to after a race? I mean who wouldn't want to be rewarded (no matter how ugly a bag or a finisher shirt turns out to be) after sweating and laboring that hard? We waited in line for a good 20 minutes to get an oversized finisher shirt and a tiny bottle of rubbing alcohol. And lastly, there weren't any photos available for download. So I am posting the only photo somebody (thanks Jamie!) took of me during the run. I guess I just got pampered too much on my previous runs (Century Tuna Superbods, Unilab Wellness), and it's a pity that all succeeding runs will be compared to how successful those organized runs were (well at least in terms of how the loot bag made me feel after the race!). 

But then again, you get what you pay for as they say. At 400 pesos for 10K, I guess the only thing they could afford as a souvenir is a fleeting whiff of antiseptic in a bottle. At least everyone smelled fresh after the buckets of sweat. 


MIZUNO RUN 2010
Global City Taguig, Metro Manila
April 11, 2010 * 5:30 AM
10K MALE RESULTS


Official Time: 1:01:03 Pace: 6:07



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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Isang Kwentong UP

Isang araw na ala akong magawa sa bahay, bumalik ako sa mahal kong UP Diliman para bumisita't makaalala.

Sumakay ako ng dyip na madalas ko ding sakyan papasok ng campus dati. Umupo ako sa harapan, sa tabi ng driver, ang paborito kong pwesto para magmunimuni.

Pansin kong tuyo nga pala ang damo sa Sunken Garden ng Marso hanggang unang patak ng ulan ng Mayo. Naalala ko bigla ang ROTC, at ang mga kasama ko sa Charlie Infantry na hinimatay sa tindi ng init ng araw habang paulit ulit kaming nagmamartsa sa ibabaw ng maalikabok na damo. At pagpatak ng Agosto, ang combat boots naming bagong biton na isasabak lang sa putikan, at ang "rip-stop" na fatigue uniform na basa hanggang loob dahil sa buhos ng ulan.

Dumaan ako sa Main Library, at umupo sa Lib Steps na kelan lang e tambayan naming barkada kapag hapon (at madaling araw pag cramming ng exams). Pansin ko nawala na ang vendo machine ng kape sa tabi ng poste, na nagsilbing murang Starbucks sa madaming puyatan at kwentuhan sa liwanag ng gabi.

Pansin kong iba na din ang itsura ng side walk, brick na pula na ito na may pa-alon na berdeng semento sa gilid. Sa berdeng semento'y listahan ng pangalan ng nagambag para ito matapos.
At mga asul na paalala kung san dapat tumawid at sumakay. At san dapat lumakad at mag-bike.










May nagde-date padin sa paligid ng sunken. Mapa-babae't lalaki man...
...o parehong lalaki.

May bike rental na din pala ang campus. UP Padyak ata ang tawag (base sa nakasulat sa gulong ng bisekleta). Magandang ideya na may bicycle lane na din at istriktong pinapatupad. Kalahati ng kalsada ang hindi pwedeng daanan ng jeep. Nakakita ako ng dalawang freshie, may mga librong nakalagay sa basket sa harapan ng bisikleta. Natuwa ako sa kanila, at naisip na sana may ganito na din nung mga taong nasa campus pa ako.
Pero may mga bagay pa din na hindi nagbabago. Nagkalat pa din ang mga protesta laban kay Chancellor Roman...

...at kay Gloria. Hiring padin naman pala ang NPA!











Dilaw pa din at pareho ang ruta ng Ikot...
singkwenta sentimos padin ang Xerox sa SC...

may Spamsilog pa din ang Rodic's,

at lab equipment...











sa tapat ng antigeng Campus Pharmacy (cheap version namin ng Mercury Drug!).

Binalikan ko din ang mga lugar na espesyal sa akin. Ang Melchor Hall na naging haligi ng karunungan (at kalokohan) sa limang taon kong pamamalagi...

at makalumang laboratoryong pangkemika na mas matanda pa sa akin.


Ang Kalye Bernardo, kung san umikot ang mundo ko pagkagaling sa eskwela...
at Molave, kung saan ako unang natutong umibig.
Pero ang aking sadya, sa buong lakad na to...

...ay eto! Ang UP hoodie na malaGAP designed, pero di sing mahal. Nang makita ko palang sa katalog, sinabi kong hindi ko ito palalampasin. Kinabukasan din, sumakay ako ng dyip para bilhin.
At napangiti ng mabili't maisukat. Naalala ko bigla, nung estudyante pa ako, na hindi ko malamang kayang bilhin ang hoodie na itong presyo ng isang linggo kong allowance. Natuwa ako, dahil ngayon ay kaya ko nang iwaldas ang pera kong pinaghirapan para sa mga bagay na hindi naman importante pero gusto kong bilhin.

Sumakay ulit ako ng dyip pauwi. Papunta sa direksyon ng mall sa dulo ng MRT. Naisip kong bumalik paulit ulit para maka alala at gumawa pa ng mabababaw pero aliw na kwentong UP.

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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Of Faith and Renewal

I used to pray a lot.

When I was a kid I used to pray the rosary each time before I sleep. I did it for fear of not waking up in the morning, but more so for fear that the devil may sneak in and possess my body while my soul takes a 10-hour stroll off to dreamland. I guess that’s what watching the Exorcist at such a young age does to you.  It corrupts your young mind into believing that the devil himself can force you to defecate from your very mouth, and then make your head spin 360 then back. I used to also wear the scapular, so that when I die while wearing it my soul may bypass purgatory and go straight to where the light shines bright. I was a church choir member, my high-pitched, pre-pubescent voice echoing against the vast hall of our church every Sunday. And a figurine of the Blessed Virgin Mary stood looking to the sky from the head of my wooden bed. But most importantly, I believed it when my mom said she saw Jesus himself appear out of the flame of a candle they used during one of their many prayer meetings at church. It was all, to me, so magical but true.

I attended a private high school. A school owned by the Archdiocese of San Fernando. Although it’s a co-ed environment, we adhered to a strict Catholic regimen of prayers everyday during flag ceremony, then more before each and every class. Hearing mass on each first Friday of the month was absolutely required. Nobody from any other religious sect other than those from the grand old Catholic church were allowed to enroll (although I knew of one girl, Jhoanna was her name, who was a Born Again Christian). Our graduation was dedicated to the Virgin Mary first, our parents last. The school of course, owns the middle slot.

I went on believing that absolutely everything was answered when one believes hard enough and waits all too patiently after praying. I considered myself, by all accounts, quite religious (in a Catholic kind of way!).

Things happen in life that changes that belief for some of us. It happens in varying degrees, in different stages of our lives. Mine happened, as far as I can remember, back in college. It was when too much freedom consumed me that I started believing I can depend on myself alone. I was far away from home, too busy with my studies, too tired at the end of each day, too sexually aware (and confused), was with people who influenced me to feel the same way about faith as they do. I saw the world as an adult, unsheltered by the influence I’ve had when I was still living at home. I went from being a firm believer to a baffled questioner. I found reasons to ignore, and through constantly ignoring I decided to just slowly give in to apathy. It happened gradually for me, like termites eating away on good wood. And that constant, shifting gnaw is a struggle I go through till this day.  It is sadly ironic, that the more a man knows about the world, the less he clings to the things he once held dear. Family becomes a cumbersome weekly trip back to the province. Old childhood neighbors become mere acquaintances.  Religion becomes a frantic emergency call to the heavens when problems arise.

There are moments when I see glimpses of that boy I was before. In times when I get goose bumps as I listen to church music, or times when I’m moved by what a pastor or a priest talks about after a homily (which happens rarely now, as I now don’t regularly hear mass). These are the times when I remember the many good things I have to be thankful for and the many answered bargains I failed on my end to keep. The many times I called to Him for help and the many times He made me realize He was there to hear my pleas. But it’s also in these moments when I realize how far away I’ve changed from the boy I once was just several short years ago. Until now, as I write this, I am still trying to look for the reasons, and is still fighting an inner battle for justifications.

Today, I may not be as prayerful as before…

Because adulthood has shown me that prayers alone can’t magically put money in the bank. Or pay one’s mounting bills each month. Or get a quick meal on the table when hunger strikes. Or make me well without me visiting a doctor first. I’ve become too centered on the comforts I need and want to have. I cannot blame myself for choosing that, as I live independently with only myself to depend on.

I may not be praying the rosary everyday now, but still I know it’s better because I pray from the heart. I ask for guidance and grace when I need to, when my mortal capabilities fail me. And I never forget to thank Him when my prayers bear fruit. I may not be as prayerful as before, but I still have faith that God listens and hears. That will never ever change.

I may not be as dependent on miracles as before…

Because I realize I have to solve my problems first as a grown up man, using whatever potential given to me as a capable, thinking being. I can talk my way out of a crisis; I can use my hands to earn my keep. I can use my mind to think of ways to be better then act upon them with all the guts and moxie I’ve earned through my years. I’ve depended too much on myself and relied so heavily on what I know how to do. But in the cutthroat world called real life, is there any other way to live?

I may not be expecting that I’ll get what I want as soon as I want them, as miracles are often measured, but still I believe He will give me a break when I ask for it hard and wants it real bad. He will give it to me when the time is right, in His own time. Or if He does not, I know a reason is to be shown to me soon enough.

I may not even be a believer of my church anymore…

Because I saw that even prayerful priests can hide indescribable evil beneath white robes. And that a supposedly holy prince of the church, after probably praying about it too, decided to do nothing against such acts. After all the lies that have been exposed, and even more lies to cover them up, what words could the faithful trust and believe?

I may not be a believer of my church anymore, because I believe God intended His words to be individually discerned, not rammed through one’s throat by demagogues of organized religion. I certainly do appreciate a thoughtful sermon from a pastor, and I try my best to find the practicality of it in my life. As for the justification for the lies and the crimes, I can think of none.

I’m writing this during Easter, when all of Christendom renews their belief through grand and pompous rituals.

I sit in front of my laptop reflecting on the current state of my faith. I feel like I’m already doing my own little rite of renewal.


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