Hilly Personal Milestone, 24 May 2009


The word reminds me of a VSO friend’s funny experience as a volunteer in Zambia, Africa. In her blog, she related how she, as Filipino, was mistakenly identified as Chinese, Japanese, Lebanese, Irish, Russian, etc. There were some who used Filipino (finally!) but spelled as Philippino. The worst case was when she was called as Philippian. I really find that so funny.

She was fortunate though to meet a couple of friends who knew about our country but they pronounced the name of our country as PhilipPINES, the trees of which Baguio City is famous for.

The word also reminds me of hills. I visited Baguio the first time in the summer of 2002. It was disappointing to note that Baguio wasn’t the same anymore. Gone are the hills rich with pines.

Hills—the very word evokes fear. Yet after conquering Antipolo Hills and McKinley Hills (Fort Bonifacio), knowing the right form as suggested by one of the Masters, I learn to love them. It was for this reason why I went to Baguio—to enjoy the run and conquer its hills.

The Trip

In the bus, while I was looking for my seat number, someone recognized me. She was a schoolmate of mine during my high school years whom I haven’t seen since 1989. After we exchanged pleasantries, they decided to come with me since, just like me, they too didn’t have any hotel reservation yet. However, to our disappointment, the hotel where I stayed the last time I was in Baguio, was already full. Together with her Mom and younger brother, we looked for a hotel in the city and ended up staying in an affordable transient house recommended by the kind taxi driver. The place was comfortable enough but not conveniently located near the city proper. Transferring to a hotel was our main goal the next day. That night, it was also the time for me to meet some of the takbo.ph runners for the “carbo loading” hosted by Craig Logan and family.

Before Race Day

I spent the day touring great sites in the area. An early swim in one of its hot springs made it a fine day! I bought some woodcarvings along Upper Asin Road and got a good deal. Strawberry farm in La Trinidad was OK but I enjoyed scouting some of its stores nearby. Baguio Botanical Garden showcased the best outdoor environment. Took some photos at the Mansion House, official summer residence of the President of the Philippines.

Tam-Awan Village, home to many works of art, authentic Ifugao huts, crafts and souvenir shops, cultural shows, and eco-tourism was the best site I’ve ever visited.

Another worthy of notice is the former Diplomat Hotel believed to be a haunted place. It used to be a rest house and a seminary in 1911 before it was developed into a hotel. A number of religious persons were beheaded during World War II and it was for this reason some people claimed seeing headless apparitions and hearing strange sounds at night. The last site we visited was Mines View Park before we parted ways and went to our respective hotels.

Later that night, I met Master Mon, Sir Ipe and Ver, a veteran runner for dinner. My treat this time.

I couldn’t sleep well the night before the race. Was disturbed with the loud music coming from the hotel’s restaurant turned-into-a-bar for the Saturday gimmick night. Sigh…

Race Day

I woke up earlier than possible and slowly ran from the hotel to Burnham Park, the venue for the race. There were not too many runners. The biggest delegation came from the police group. Mostly police trainees. Since most of them ran the 21k event, there were just a few of us who did the 10k race. Surprisingly, though we didn’t agree among ourselves nor talked about it, we wore the takbo.ph singlet. As if we were another delegation from Metro Manila! There were also three children who participated the 10k event. The race wouldn’t be complete without the photo sessions with fellow takbo.ph runners.

The Route

21k route was really a difficult one. Thank God I didn’t register for it! First five kilometers (for 10k) were mostly up hills and after the turn around point, they were mostly down hills. Not a legitimate 10k, approximately 9.6 km. But who cares? Reached the finish line not a PR but still considered a good time.

Post Race

I left the park with enough time to check out from the hotel, eat breakfast and hear mass. And what a mass it was! I came out from Baguio Cathedral not understanding any single word uttered by the priest except when he spoke in English for the service was said in Ilocano. Hahaha!

Later that morning, while in the bus on my way back to Manila, I received a text message from Queenie informing me that she accepted a medal on my behalf for I won 13th place, top 15 Women Division. Whooa! Number 13 can be lucky, eh?

What a way and a gift to celebrate life!

Yes, I raced on my birthday!