Sunday, May 30, 2010

Doing my first half-marathon...

I did my first half-marathon today. Nature Valley Run at the Fort.

Despite all odds (not having enough training, sick with cough and colds, the terrible humid weather), I managed to cross the finish line.

That's good enough for me. For now. Haha!

Deciding to do the 21K
How did I end up doing the 21K anyway? Early this year, my goal was to do my first 21K at the Standard Chartered Run in Singapore this December. I thought that the Singapore run would be a great way to do my first 21K. I wasn't really planning on doing a half-marathon before that, until the day I registered for the Nature Valley Run.

The two Sundays before I signed up for the Nature Valley Run, I did the 15K for the Mizuno and the 16K for the Earth Run. Before this, I did the 15K of The Green Miles Run.

For the Nature Valley Run, the distances were 3K, 5K, 10K and 21K. I intended to sign up for the 10K. But when I was already at the Timex store submitting the reg forms for me, running buddy I-van, and friends Engel, Monet, Anthony, and Nino, I found myself deciding to challenge myself by signing up for the 21K.

It's true what they say. Your body can tell you whether you're ready for something or not. I guess that includes running.

And then there's the ego factor. After doing a number of 15Ks, it just feels logical that the next step should be to take the next longer distance - the 21K.

Wait, does this mean that I'll be doing a full marathon anytime soon? No. That's for sure. The plan is to get used to the new distance first, and then let's see in 2011. Hahaha!

Race day
The race day didn't come without any panic moments.

Days before today, I knew my body's not that conditioned to run because of cough and colds. Blame it on the maddening heat that the city has been experiencing these past couple of days (weeks?).

It doesn't help that while it's scorching hot outside the office, it's freezing cold at work. Very bad combination. That sort of led to the cough and the colds.

Then, I didn't get to do much gym time. Two weeks before the run, I was able to do a 12K and some cardio on the following days. A week before the run, I was only able to do a 10K and that's it.

When the race day finally arrived, I was both excited and scared of it.

I was finding comfort in knowing that running buddy I-van would be there, and that I must cross the finish line because he and I would have our traditional post-run photo shoot. Hahaha!

But 20 minutes before the run, there was no sign of I-van. I was starting to worry. A couple of minutes later, I had accepted that I-van wasn't going to show up. First time. (To be fair to my friend, he was really sorry that his alarm didn't go off, and we just agreed to do another run. But I have to say I really missed the post-run tradition. Haha!)

After calling JB and asking him whether I could leave my stuff with him, I quickly walked to where he was parked and left my stuff in his car. (Thanks, JB! Sorry for the hassle.)

I brought out the shirt I bought specifically for this run and changed into it. I figured that if I'm not going to finish the run with a good time, I might as well look nice when I cross the finish line.

So during the run, in a sea of Nature Valley singlets and a couple of race shirts, I was a scandalous neon green shirt. Wahahaha!

The run
Gun start was at 5:15.

I got in the starting line five to ten minutes before the start. That gave me a few minutes to do some stretching and psyching. I think JB made his way to the front of the pack, while I chose to stay in the back.

The race route was shown onscreen, and afterwards it was time for the run.

I had a pretty good start. When I reached the 5K mark, I checked my time and I was happy to see that I was still well within my average time for 5K.

The downhill began after that. Hahaha!

As with previous runs, the Buendia flyover was part of the route. Having ran there before, I was quite familiar with how to handle that part of the race. What made it difficult for me during this run was the Buendia flyover was in the 8K-9K(?) leg of the run. This means that by the time I got there, the sun was already up and with no shade and hardly any breeze, it was really challenging. I just pushed myself to finish it quickly.

After surpassing the Buendia flyover, the next portion was the one leading to Bayani Road. I was having a really difficult time by then. When I checked my time after I crossed the 15K marker, I saw that I had already taken a little over 2 hours. Eeep! Not good at all given that I finish the 15K usually around 1:49.

But I was really tired, and I was coughing every so often. The result was me doing long walks. I'd run half a kilometer and then walk the other half. And if it weren't for some people who "inspired" me to keep on going, I would have probably taken longer walks. Hehe!

I was extremely happy when I crossed the 19K marker. I could do it. I knew I could. A little pushing, some good music, and I was soon nearing the finish line.

Seeing familiar faces really helped. I saw my HS classmate Joel, who finished way ahead of me. And then I saw JB and Sef who both gave encouraging words, "Finish strong. You can do it." I, on the other hand, gave my profuse apologies for making them wait. Hehe.

A little more, and the finish line was in sight. When I saw the time was already approaching the 3 hour mark, I mustered all the strength left in me and ran.

Originally, I planned on finishing the race in 2:45. But in the latter part of the run, I knew it wasn't going to happen so I thought that the next best thing was to finish under 3 hours.

If my computations are correct, I should have finished around 2:59 something. Hahaha! Super slow, but at least, I met my objective of finishing before the 3-hour mark. Hehehe!

The good thing about this is that I can keep on improving myself in this distance. So come the 21K in Singapore this December, I hope to finally meet my goal of 2:45 for the 21K. Or who knows, I may even finish at 2:30.

The good stuff
I really like the Fort as a race venue. Despite being familiar with the possible routes (which aren't that many), I always enjoy running around the Bonifacio Global City.

One of the super good things about the Nature Valley Run were the abundance of water stations. In fact, it wasn't just water. My fave sports drink 100Plus was also a sponsor of the run, and they served the drink at the drinking stations. There was a water station at almost every kilometer, and what's super about this is that they didn't run out of any drinks.

The freebies were quite good, as well. Aside from the Nature Valley loot bag (granola bar, towel, finisher's shirt, banana, running guide), all 21K finishers received a pint of Haagen Daz ice cream. Seriously.

As soon as I crossed the finish line, I went straight for the ice cream. Hahaha! But I found it too sweet. I only took a few scoops, and then I gave the rest to Jonjon and Engel.

My favorites were the Photovendo booth and the 21K finisher's medal. The good thing about finishing when almost everyone was done is that the line at the Photovendo booth was already short. Engel, Jonjon and I didn't have to wait that long to get our souvenir photos.

The finisher's medal, on the other hand, is a really great souvenir. I would definitely hang it at my office cubicle. Two years ago, I did my first run at the Fort, too. It was for the UN Paa-bilisan run, which was sponsored by the company I work for. I didn't think that I would one day be doing a half-marathon. And when I realize that, I just feel happy.

Lastly, the best reward for having completed the race was completely non-race related. Hahaha! Engel, Jonjon and I decided to head to Market, Market to have brunch. When we got to Serendra, Jonjon had to go to the restroom. Engel and I say by the bench near Sentro and waited for usual.

As usual, we people watched and checked out the crowd. Every so often, Engel would say, "Market ko yan," referring to a certain guy. From a distance, I saw this cute guy approaching. He was tall, wearing a pair of shades, and carried a long sleeved shirt. I told Engel, "Market ko yan."

The guy was heading our way, and when he was up close, that's when we saw that it was Akihiro Sato. Haha! Kamusta naman?!

I've been wanting to have a photo taken with him, but I haven't had the chance until today. I see him all the time at the gym, but I'm not stupid to forego my gym membership just so I can have a photo with him. Hahaha!

Anyway, when Akihiro approached the girl sitting a few feet away from us (his handler probably?), Jonjon and I approached him and shamelessly asked for his photo. Wahahaha! Deadma na. It was still early, and there weren't that many people in Serendra yet so we didn't have to worry about being judged. Hahaha! Besides, other people followed suit when they saw that these three guys were really kapal to approach Akihiro. Hahaha!

If all 21Ks would finish like this, please sign me up already for the next one. Haha!

That's it. Till the next run.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The trip to Pinatubo...

So, yeah, the trip to Pinatubo with my LSQC sacristan buddies happened over the weekend.

On the way back to Manila from our Sagada trip, Peter brought up the idea of doing the Pinatubo trip. Everybody seemed up for it and that was really great. I, on the other hand, didn't want to commit since something might come up at work. Thankfully, there was no weekend work. I was able to join the guys. My super best friend Tey even got to join us as well.

Tey mentioned before that she wanted to go to Pinatubo. I told her about the plan with the guys, and we were lucky enough that she didn't have any weekend work, too.

Joseph and the rest of the guys picked fetched me and Tey at my house on a very early Saturday morning (around 5:30PM). From QC, the drive up north began. We passed by Meycauayan to get Dennis, followed by a quick stop at the next gas station just outside of the NLEX toll to get breakfast.

We reached Pinatubo Spa Town in Sta. Juliana, Capas, Tarlac a little after 8AM. It was quite easy to reach the place. There were enough signages to make sure you reach the place. Joseph was able to park at a spacious lot of one house across the Pinatubo Spa Town. Private parking was just P50.

While we prepped our stuff, Peter went ahead and got us registered. We had to pay P1,500. This includes the the 4x4 vehicle, a local guide and a heavy Filipino or Korean lunch when you get back to the Spa Town from the trip.

After all the arrangements, the drive to the jump-off point began. It took us almost an hour to reach it. It's a bumpy ride, but I didn't care because I was too absorbed by the panoramic view surrounding us. When I told some colleagues about the trip, they said it was different from before. I guess the last Pinatubo eruption changed the surrounding lanscape literally, huh?!

When we reached the jump-off point, there were already close to twento 4x4s parked. There were that many people! Woohoo! But seeing so many 4x4s also was a sign that we already started late. Hehe! It was true, because as we made our way to the crater, we already met some groups who were making their way back.

The climb was nothing spectacular for me. Except for the land formations from the lahar which made me feel like I was on the set of Lord of the Rings, the climb was just like one of the climbs I have done during the tree planting activities I cover for work.

What was really awesome for me was when we reached that part with paved steps. There was nothing more in sight but the clouds. I knew that when we reach the top of those steps, the Pinatubo crater lake would come into view.

Even if I knew that, nothing prepared me for the beautiful scenery that welcomed me when I reached the top. It was out of this world. Can you see that I'm struggling to find words to describe to you what I saw?! I am failing. Hahaha!

Seriously, you have to be there to appreciate the picturesque view. I'm not really a mountain person (between the beach and the mountain, I would always for the former) but Pinatubo is most definitely an exception.

After the mandatory group photos at the "welcome" signage, we walked further and the lanscape was further reaveled to us. I was already on a major high trying to absorb all the colors and the wonderful scenery around me.

We rested a little bit, and then I managed to convince Tey to take the walk down to the lake. We were there already, so we might as well. I would have liked to go swimming in the lake but I didn't bring swim clothes. I was really after the photo ops, rather than swimming. I did want to try to go boating though and find out what was on the other side of the mountains.

By 1PM (or was it already 2PM?), we decided to head back to Pinatubo Spa. Just as we reached the jump-off point where the 4x4s were parked, it rained hard. We were really soaked. Hahaha! What would have annoyed me on any other day instead made me happier. Yeah, we were drenched. But hey, I just saw the Pinatubo crater. Nothing could dampen my mood. Haha!

Back at the Pinatubo Spa, we had a fantab Filipino lunch - noodles, soup, grilled chicken, veggies, rice, more rice. Haha! We had a mostly silent lunch because everyone was just too hungry. Hahaha!

Once done with lunch, we took a shower and changed into fresh clothes. The shower rooms had a spacious changing area. Lockers are free to be used. There were also clean towels available for use. For P1,500, it wasn't bad at all.

The venue offers different kinds of massages and facials, but we didn't get to try them anymore since it was already getting late. We had to get back to Manila already.

It was a fantab experience! Would I want to go back? Definitely. But this time, I would like to be there much earlier so that we can spend more time at the lake. It would be such a perfect spot to just enjoy nature and free one's mind from the wearies of the metro life. Haha!

Pinatubo Spa Town
Mobile +63 928 3410402
Landline +63 45 4930031

Trip pics here.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Glee goes GaGa! =)

Just finished watching the episode.

Loved it. Not just because of the Lady Gaga homage. But also because it touched on homosexuality, or just being different.

I'm glad that the show is tackling these important issues, indirectly. The show can do a lot in teaching tolerance and many other GVs, given that it's such a fave among the young(er) crowd.

Going over to the fashion... (of course, this has to be mentioned). Saw references to the Kermit the Frog dress, the Armani dress, the Alexander Mcqueen dress, to name a few.

The other video above is from a Glee tour. (The guy in red is Harry Shum aka Mike Chang.)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Workout for the day was lifting heavy school chairs...

The work week started quite early.

I was already up by 4:30AM. I was needed at the office by 6AM.

Along with almost 100 work colleagues, today was spent away from the office and in the classrooms of some public elementary schools.

We joined the DepEd's Brigada Eskwela program, and I had to go to cover the team that went to a school in Pasay.

We were at the school by 8AM. The activity started with a parade around the surrounding barangays. I didn't know there will be a parade, and I can't remember the last time I did something similar. Hehehe!

So the parade was quite interesting. Good thing work colleague Rhyz was there.

After walking about a kilometer under the heat of the sun, we reached the school again. A short program took place, and afterwards it was cleaning time.

As for me, I had to take some photos first. Trusty photog JL was there. I just had to tell him this is the kind of shot we need.

When I got the photos that I needed, I went around and helped out, too. The classroom chairs were so heavy. Seriously. I was dead tired from carrying them out of the classroom. I can't believe those chairs were that heavy. It was already my workout for the day. Hahaha!

Despite the hot weather, it was great seeing all the volunteers so dedicated in the tasks at hand. A group painted the window grills and chairs. Another group cleaned the rooms. Another group scrubbed the walls. Everyone was busy until it was lunch time.

I didn't get to finish the whole day activity though. I had to be back at the office after lunch for a meeting. Besides, the #1 objective why I was sent was to take the photos we needed. Still, I was very much happy to have been able to help out even if it was just for an hour or two.

Volunteer work always is a happy meal for me.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I was a war hero back in the '40s/'50s...

Now I know what I was in my previous lifetime.

I was a corporal who was part of the Bataan Death March, along with the almost 61,000 Filipino and American soldiers. If I didn't die during the march, I could have been brought to the Capas Concentration Camp where I probably suffered more.

Weird, huh?!

Before heading back to Manila after our Pinatubo trip, we decided to pass by the Capas National Shrine. It was on the way back to Manila, anyway.

And a little history lesson wouldn't hurt.

I know about the Bataan Death March (or at least, a bit of it). I remember that I've already seen a shrine dedicated to the heroes who died from that horrific war event. The shrine I remember was along McArthur Highway.

It still is there. The one we visited is a newer shrine. It's hard not to notice this new shrine because it was the only towering structure in the area. The design of the tower itself draws attention. It looks like a space rocket. A little reading, and I found out that the three pillars of the memorial monument are supposed to represent American, Filipinos, and Japanese people of today - peaceful and very different from the time of World War II.

Surrounding the tower are the names of the war heroes.

After taking photos of the magnificent memorial monument, I went around the war heroes wall to check if any of my ancestors are there. That's what my companions did anyway.

When I reached the section M, I looked for Morales. There were quite a lot.

While going through the list, I was surprised to find my own name right there - Angelo Morales. Weird. Freaky. Morbid. Hehe!

Right under the name of the guy with my same name was a guy who had the same name as my Dad - Antonio Morales. Jeez. Double the weirdness. Hehe!

I thought it was really eerie seeing one's own name on the list of the dead. For a minute or two, I wondered about how the other Angelo Morales' life was like. What did he do? How old was he? Was he married? Is he even straight? How did he become a soldier? What did he have to endure? How did he die?

Man, is that weird? I guess you would do the same if you saw a name similar to yours on that wall.

Near the memorial monument is a preserved boxcar. It was one of the boxcars used to transport the prisoners of war to Capas. It was a bit creepy to be standing near it, after reading the marker which described how those boxcars became vehicles of death.

To make the whole thing weirder, there was a "Welcome" sign right underneath the boxcar. What the?! Whoever among the shrine admin suggested that a "Welcome" sign be placed by that war relic is a weirdo. Hehe!

Before leaving the memorial shrine, I said a little prayer. Not just for the other "Angelo Morales," but for all the names listed on the wall as well as those whose names have been forgotten.

That prayer and the visit to the awesome shrine is the least we Filipinos of today could do to say thank you for fighting for our freedom. We salute you.

Good thing I decided to wear my gray "Peace" shirt. Hehe!

To a different world for a day...

Today was spent here.

One word to describe the whole trip - SUPER!

A friend who recently went told me a day before I went, "It's like being in a different place."

I have to agree!!! It's like Lord of the Rings meets Journey to the Center of the Earth. No, seriously.

Forget the bumpy road ride. Forget the trek. Forget the rain.

It's super worth it.

More pics to follow. And a blog post with more details.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Gilas boys are superrr...

The guys of the SMART Gilas team recently took a break from the basketball court to spend some time with kids from a public school in Manila.

A couple of weeks ago, the basketball court heroes trooped to the Marcela Marcelo elementary school in Pasay to become classroom heroes.

For a couple of hours, the guys led classroom games, read different stories, and served merienda to the children. The team joined the employee volunteers of the company who were conducting a summer reading and storytelling session in the said school.

I wasn't able to attend the activity, so I borrowed some pictures from colleague Kuya Manny who was there to document the activity. I would have loved to attend the activity, but I had something else scheduled on the same day.

Anyway, I just thought it would be nice to share this activity. I'm not a huge basketball fan, and I don't know the names of every Gilas member but I know that to basketball fans everywhere, these guys are similar to what Madonna is to me. Fine, fine. Madonna is OA. Tita Shawie na lang. Hehe!

The kids probably don't know who the guys are, and to a certain extent, that seems to be a good thing. At least, they really listened to their "teachers." And it was also great seeing the guys being so game for the whole activity. In the hard court they are superstars, but in the classroom on that day, they let the spotlight be on the kids instead.

That's just super.

Thanks, Kuya Manny, for the photos.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

That stupid post...

It's been a little over four years since that low point happened.

I'm definitely 101% okay now. I know I am. Otherwise, I wouldn't have written that blog entry a year ago.

However, I find myself backsliding once in a while. It's just like when Stefan started craving for human blood again. Yeah, I know. I've been watching too much Vampire Diaries. Haha!

Anyway, the other night I was reading the post of a friend in one of the more popular social networking sites, when I read the post of the "next" guy. I shouldn't have read it because that triggered the BVs. Ugh!

I felt a mix emotions for a couple of minutes. I even messaged a very good friend telling him that I now understand why he still had certain feelings for someone who's long gone. Mine's somewhat different though.

It's funny how a phrase, a small photo, a visit to an SNS can stir some emotion. It shouldn't anymore.

The wound heals. But you remember how you got the wound.

Sheesh, sorry. Emo post. A thirty-year old guy emo-ing. Gross. :P

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Standrad Chartered Marathon Singapore 2010 reg opens tomorrow

This is it! :)

Registration for the Standrad Chartered Marathon Singapore 2010 opens tomorrow.

First 80 registrants will receive a premium goodie bag worth over $500, while the next 800 registrants will receive an exclusive goodie bag.

Too bad for me, I'm in Manila. Huhuhu!

But thanks to my good, good friend Jean who's working in SG, I just might be lucky and be able to register tomorrow. Crossing my fingers.

I'm pretty excited about this event. I already know a few friends who are going to fly to Singapore for this. Just how excited am I? Uhm, I already booked a flight to SG during the last CebuPac sale. Got my roundtrip tix for only P4,300. Not bad, huh?!

For more details on the run, log on to

December 5. Sunday. 5:30AM. All roads will lead to the Esplanade Bridge for the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2010.

Let's do this!

Monday, May 17, 2010

From the theme park to a sports park...









If Saturday was spent at a theme park, Sunday was spent at a sports park.

Though I only had a couple of hours sleep, I had to get up at 5:30AM yesterday. It was the first day of the Gawad Kalinga CYD Olympics and I had to cover the event.

It’s one of my favorite events to cover because it’s nice to see all these youngsters so full of life and of energy. It’s also great to see them filled with passion for sports and determination to excel, despite having limited resources.

What I also like about covering the event is the venue. For the second year now, the venue is at the Marikina Sports Park. The place is great. Marikina residents are lucky to have this place, where they can go work out and not have to pay steep gym membership fees. The sports park seems to be complete – track oval, basketball courts, volleyball courts, badminton courts, table tennis, swimming pool, dance studio, and so on. Great, huh?!

Anyway, the event didn’t start until 930AM.It was perfect because I got to do some rounds at the track oval. Hehehe! Good thing I decided to bring some running attire.

I finished just in time for the start of the event. The next couple of hours were spent checking out the different sports events and taking photos.

It was so hot, but the kids didn’t seem to mind the heat. They were so psyched to play and compete. Galing!

Yesterday was just part 1 of the GK CYD Olympics. Next one is on May30. That’ll be the kids’ category. Should be more exciting. :)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Fun Familia at Enchanted Kingdom...









Saturday afternoon was spent being a kid again. Haha!

One of the nice things about working for where I work is we have an annual R&R day. The choices usually are 8 Waves and Enchanted Kingdom. For two years in a row now, I've been choosing the latter. The idea of being half-naked in front of thousands of other employees and the idea of seeing thousands of half-naked work colleagues just don't sit with me very well. Hehehe! Ergo, I choose where the magic stays with me. (So says at the theme park.)

And for two years in a row now, I've been going with my very good friend, Tey, and her nephews. The nice thing about this is I get to be a kid, and I get to be a Tito at the same time.

If it were just me, I wouldn't really want to go. I'm not a huge fan of theme park rides. I will go spelunking and white water rafting, but there is now way I'm gonna get on the Space Shuttle, or on any other form of rollercoaster. Seriously. Hehe! And I'm not a huge fan of waiting in line. I'm more than happy to sit it out and watch everyone else have fun. Yeah, yeah, nagmamatanda lang.

Anyway, the cast this year included Engel and his friend Jonjon, and the usual suspects Mich and Ken (Tey's nephews).

The trip to EK was testing. SLEX traffic was really horrible. Ugh! But a little perseverance and lots of jokes and junkfood kept us entertained during the trip.

We reached EK around 4PM. Compared to last year, there were fewer employees this year. I dunno if the SLEX traffic had anything to do with it. In any case, I was quite happy. Haha! There was hardly any line in the rides that we wanted to try.

We did the Rio Grande Rapids, the Flying Fiesta, the Rialto, the giant ferris wheel, and yes, even the Discovery Theater (even if what was showing was Dora the Explorer. Haha! Patulan na lang lahat.)

Before heading to EK, Engel and I were planning to hit Malate after our trip to EK. We’ve been away from Malate for a couple of months now and I think it’s time to go back. Hehehe! Pero kamusta naman? We were able to head back to Manila past 11PM. And by the time I got home, I was dead tired. I also had work this morning, so it wasn’t a very good idea to not have any sleep again.

Anyway, EK was completely fun. Definitely a fantab Saturday afternoon. :)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Today, I am angry but also hopeful...






Addendum: I wrote the post below right as soon as I got home. When I found out that some friends waited in line for 4 hours, 6 hours (!!!) just to cast their vote, I realized that I have nothing to complain about. Really proud of everyone who decided to bear the heat, the inconvenience, the high BP just to be able to vote. Galing mo, Pinoy!

Two hours lining up to enter the voting precinct. Five minutes to cast my vote.

I am a very, very angry and frustrated Filipino voter.

I got up early so I can be at the voting precinct early. The goal was to finish the whole process as quickly as possible.

Guess what, I ended up standing in line for about two hours. I almost got into an argument with a guy who was just doing his job. I got so angry and frustrated that the whole thing did not have that much order and process. I got angry how some fellow voters would let their friends or relatives cut the line, while we waited and waited.

But above all, I felt sorry. I felt ashamed.

Today is a day I am not proud to be a Filipino.

But today, I am also hopeful. That despite everything, things will change, things can still change. Things can and will get better.

And that is why I didn't leave the line. That is why I chose to bear the heat and the inconvenience. That is why I kept my cool.

That is why I voted.

If you are a registered voter, I hope you exercised your right today. I hope you went out and vote.

That one shade could be the key to change in this country.

Sagada in "Hanschen's" eyes...









The recent trip up north gave me a chance to play with Hanschen (my LX3).

I loved, loved, loved how he really delivered.

One of my favorite settings is the Film Grain. For very obvious reasons. The photos come out more dramatic, and I feel good about the results of the photos. Hahaha!

I'm a huge, huge fan of B/W photos. Thanks to the Film Grain feature of Hanschen, I can now shoot in B/W and take the same subject in full color.