a city remembers our Christchurch 11


[Lalaine Agatep.  Mary Louise Ann Amantillo.  Emmabelle Anoba.  Valquin Bensurto.  Ivy Jane Cabunilas.  John Kristoffer Chua.  Jewel Francisco.  Jessie-Lloyd Redoble and Ezra Mae Medalle. Rhea Mae Sumalpong.  Erica Avir Reyes Nora.  These are our Christchurch 11. ]

Four years ago last Sunday, 11 of our kabayan among a total casualty list of 185 perished in the Christchurch, New Zealand earthquake.

For some of them, it was a giant step after the long hard grind of studying for and preparing for a rewarding career of nursing.  For many of them, it was the first job overseas.  But for all of them, it was a sad example of the double-edged sword of being an OFW : full of promise, but not without the risks of uncertainty and the unknown.  Tragically, the 22nd of February 2011 cut short lives of hope, lives of promise.  All too soon.

The City of Christchurch remembers each and every one of them, and yesterday held a moving 4th anniversary memorial service.  A representative from each and every country that suffered the ultimate loss was given a chance to mention the names of the dearly departed.

If the entire service is too long for you, please start viewing at the 49:18 mark.

Thanks to stuff.co.nz and the Christchurch City Council for the video.  Below by the way is an excerpt from the stuff.co.nz report on thememorial service:

City remembers

On February 22, 2011 a magnitude 6.3 tremor struck at 12.51pm killing 185 people.

Today, Cantabrians here and around the world will mark the fourth anniversary of the devastating quake. 

The River of Flowers commemoration will be set up along the Avon and Heathcote rivers, and at the estuary.

The sites will be open from 8am to 8pm, and will be hosted by local community groups between 12.30 and 1.30pm even if the weather is wet. 

Throughout the day people are able to throw flowers into a waterway and write messages on a Tree of Hope.

At 12.51 two minutes silence will be held.

Flowers also adorn road cones around the city and around the world an idea started by Christchurch artist Henry Sunderland on the first anniversary of the quake. 

The Civic Memorial Service will be held on the Archery Lawn at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens at noon even if the weather is wet.

***     ***     ***

Mabuhay po tayong lahat!

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5 things your kabayan learned from the wellington half-marathon


I can't believe while everyone was huffing and puffing I posed for a selfie during the half-marathon.  the sign btw  is for participants of a much shorter 10k event, which shared part of the route with the half-marathoners.  Thanks for all the encouragement!

I can’t believe while everyone was huffing and puffing I posed for a selfie during the half-marathon. the sign btw is for participants of a much shorter 10k event, which shared part of the route with the half-marathoners. (Note the cap pala 🙂 )Thanks for all the encouragement!

IN THE END, I finished the half-marathon on my own.  My younger son Bunso, who started the race with me, stayed by my side throughout probably three-fourths of the entire 21 kilometers, which I incidentally finished in two hours and thirty-one minutes.  But his knee was bothering him, and it was too much to ask him to run on my pace.   By the time I heard the drums and cheers for the finishers, I knew I could finish, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

The best I can offer you is my extemporaneous notes and observations on the Cigna Round the Bays half-marathon.  I can’t compare it to similar events in my homeland the Philippines as it’s my first such event.  [my father insists we ran a Magnolia half-marathon some 20 years ago at the Luneta, but because there are no records to back it up, I might as well have ran a triathlon. 😦 ]  Here goes :

New Zealanders don’t care much whether they win 1st place, cash or medals in many sports, as long as they have fun by participating.  It sounds like a platitude giving importance to the fun part of sports, but in New Zealand the reward of playing is in the playing.  Families, groups, running for charity, all take part for the sake of taking part.  I know it sounds too good to be true, but that’s how it is in here.  Granted, there were more serious runners in the half-marathon, but get this Precious Reader : the 6.5 km walk/run and 10 km fun run events were SOLD OUT, and enrollees to these events made up most of the 14,000-strong event.  For a city with less than 300,000 inhabitants, that kind of participation is truly overwhelming.

The New Zealand spirit of volunteerism is impressive.  Everyone chips in with an exuberance of team spirit, and because the Cigna Round The Bays is as big as it gets in a small city like Wellington, everyone, from many age groups, contributed during the event.  From manning the cooling stations, marshalling the runners away from the traffic hotspots, to entertaining the finishers at the end of the race, it was a massive, massive event.

Running a new, unfamiliar route may sometimes be better in long distance runs.  My training runs were run in practically the same area on the same street.  I ran to a certain point and when the mapmyrun app on my phone (free by the way) told me I’d run half the kilometers of my goal that day, I’d turn back.  It was effective, but tiring.  The Round the Bays route, sea and mountainside scenery, and deceptively elongated trails actually tricked me into thinking I had covered relatively short distance before I realized that the half-marathon was nearly over, although my lower extremities were starting to complain to the high heavens by then.

Running in huge numbers energizes you and your giant complaints seem minor by comparison.  When you are in a massed start with around 2000 other runners, the fears, insecurities and uncertainties aren’t that formidable anymore.  When everyone around you is focused on a smashing brilliant and scintillating performance, that nagging little pain above your ankle and callus on your other foot becomes no more than an insignificant irritation.  Only after the race, when you conquer distance, pain and your own personal demons, does it occur to you that you, with the assistance of several hundred runners with the very same objective, have achieved a remarkable milestone of exceeding your physical limits, in the most encouraging way possible.

Running is a good way to improve yourself (duh).  And extending a thought from the last paragraph, you can improve your life mentally, emotionally and physically, but the easiest way to get tangible measurable results is via the latter.  You see results almost immediately, and the more improvement you see, the more encouragement you get.  Preparing for a marathon organizes and pools your efforts so that every ounce of energy is harnessed towards getting ready for the 21 kilometers.  Along the way, you don’t want to detract from your goal of running the marathon because it’s only one day a year.  Whatever happens, you have to be game-ready on game-day.

Judging from my results, I think I did OK.  Thanks for reading everyone!

pinoy turning 50 : why run my 1st half-marathon?


hopefully Bunso & your loyal blogger will be here trying to finish, just like everyone else. :)

hopefully Bunso & your loyal blogger will be here trying to finish, just like everyone else. 🙂

[Absolute disclaimer : I’m not one of your Facebook friends who lead a picture-perfect life & nail one achievement after another as if they’re buying socks, in fact I’m a certified couch potato, have difficulty hiding my bilbil all the time, stashing chichirya and ice cream from my esposa and eating these when unmonitored at night, and I’m hopeless at sports.  I’m just saying this in advance to convince you I’m a real person who’s actually considering doing this.  Mabuhay!  ]

I’M a witness virtually everyday, and it’s like watching a train wreck, so I can’t avoid it (it’s actually before the news, so I’m a captive audience).   It’s nearly the same situation every day.

Australian Deal or No Deal.  Less than 6 briefcases left.

Three blue briefcases (anwhere between 50 cents and $750), Two red ($1000 to $20,000), and ONE green ($50,000 or 75 grand or $100,000 or $200,000).  Banker offers anything between $18,000 and $25,000, on the high end if the contestant is a girl and/or has a sob story (sick relative, never had a vacay in his/her life or something like that), even higher if the contestant is funny and is in touch with the audience.

That’s 18 to 20 thousand dollars more than whatever you had in your pocket when you woke up this morning, and more money than you’ll ever earn in an hour, the rest of your life, or forever, whichever comes first.

Guess what?  Nine times out of ten, the contestant listens to the crowd, ignores the law of averages (c’mon, risking $20,000 on a one-out-of-six odds?) thinks he/she hasn’t been lucky enough (to get chosen as a contestant AND get to that level) and curses to the heavens, “NO DEAL!”

I would shut my eyes and cringe, but I see it every day.  Green briefcase gets wiped out, Banker offers less than barya needed for the pamasahe home, contestant has nothing left but fumes, to salvage pride tries the next highest briefcase (which is less than $1000 usually), and has no one to blame but himself herself.  Next contestant please.

This I see everyday, of course, there’s the occasional lucky contestant who is smart enough to quit when he/she’s ahead, and goes home with enough cash for a nice vacation.  Not a whole lot, but better than barya.

What does this have to do with little old me?

I’ll tell you : I’m turning 50 this year, but I’m (knock-knock) as fit as I’ve ever been my whole adult life.  I’ve never been athletic, but neither have I ever been (if memory serves) fat enough to not be able to clip my toenails.  A combination of running weather the last few months, healthy eating (Mahal watches nearly everything I eat) and healthy living (sleeping right and moderate drinking) have only improved my situation.  🙂  I may not look the best among my high school contemporaries, but I usually leave a reunion smiling.

Now, why do I need to ruin it all by potentially disappointing myself (in case of failure) by committing to my first-ever half marathon?  Here are the reasons.

I’ve never achieved anything noteworthy in sports.  I’m terrible in anything involving physical activity.   Oh, like every Pinoy I love basketball and always pretended I was Robert Jaworski, sidestepping an opponent with a clever dribble, faking the running shot airborne and passing to Francis Arnaiz or Arnie Tuadles on the wing.  But then I always woke up.  Even worse with team sports, be it barangay basketball, office volleyball or even The Amazing Race-type event, where I couldn’t finish a challenge if my life depended on it.

In a marathon, you don’t do anything.  No skills, no talent, no nothing. It’s just you, the road, and the will to finish.  And God’s grace so you don’t pull a muscle, roll an ankle, or slip on a rut and tear your ACL.  At the end (if you can afford it) you have a finisher’s T-shirt or $5 medal that sez you’ve done something that can never be taken away from you, and that’s punish yourself on a Sunday morning when everyone else is sleeping in.  And if you can’t afford it, there’s the tiktok website where you can always look up your race number and name next to your finishing time.  Wow.  And that’s why the achievement alone is worth the effort.

Timing and energy.  I’m hale and hearty now, full of energy for the day, enough for work and a little left for recreation, but I don’t know how long it will last.  Like I told you Precious Reader, I am on the cusp of reaching the half-century mark this year, and though it’s only a number it is a milestone that bespeaks care of the body and safety first before embarking on a major physical activity.

Literally, I’ve done the hard yards.  As much as possible, I run everyday, not only to train but to condition my body to both intensity and endurance.  To put it simply, I’ve never run a half-marathon in my life.  But it’s the same idea that turns me on.  I don’t need to emphasize to you, as well, that I may never do this again.   Who knows if I’ll have the same motivation and enthusiasm next year?

Bunso on my side.  My younger son Bunso has become a bit of a prima donna of late, visiting and expecting a grand time with his cousins in Auckland, and coming back to Wellington expecting to be enrolled in the Wellington Roundthebays, which is the marathon we are running in.  But the truth is, he’s worth it.  With him as my pacer, running buddy and morale booster, I can’t go wrong.  He has that combination of being ultra-fit (well, he is only 19), ultra-focused and ultra-willing to help his dad, who has the willing spirit but not always the flesh to go with it.

He is my secret weapon in the mission to complete the half-marathon, and my only problem is that I may not be able to keep up with him the entire race.  I certainly don’t want to hold him back; I want him to finish the 21 kilometers in the fastest time he’s capable of.  Hopefully, I can keep up maybe three-quarters of the way before he breaks away.  That will be enough, I think, for me to finish even if I’m alone.

After all, I win or lose the race of life with my own two feet.  Please pray for me so that the Almighty gives me strength and endurance for the Cigna Wellington roundthebays Sunday the 22nd.  Thanks for reading!