Monday, August 29, 2011

# 29 21 @ 15

distance and age, kilometers and years

twenty-one kilometers at fifteen. tete conquered her first half-marathon yesterday it was a baptism of fire in the truest sense, an initiation rite fit only for the determined and the bullheaded.  no other route could jolt a first-time half-marathoner to her senses so intensely as yesterday's run.  it was a race meant for the battle-tested road warrior or a university star athlete, definitely not for a fifteen year old recreational runner.  the first half was all about hills - rugged, steep and unfamiliar. i would think that even the seasoned and weathered half-marathoners in yesterday's run had some difficulty in their ascent to and descent from the hills. there was nothing quaint about yesterday's hills. while the people up there were friendly, the stray dogs were not too happy with the early morning intrusion on their territory.  the second half of the route brought a welcome respite from the hills. there was an endless stretch of asphalt ahead but the sun was angry, beating hot and hard on the runners.  it was ferocious in its rage, to say the least.

tete loves to challenge herself. she thrives on doing things that would seem insurmountable for someone her age.  she explores where others fear to tread.  she was hoping to do her first half-marathon over the summer.  she had enough practice then and was conditioned in mind and body. by some stroke of (bad) luck, there was no schedule for a half-marathon when she was on vacation.  schoolwork prevented her from doing the back to back 21k's before yesterday's run.  she knew the odds were against her going into this run. she had no training and no decent mileage but headstrong, she was.

the run was a crusade for the environment. its goal is lofty but the potential of turning it into reality is all there.  participation in the 21k category was minimal as it came closely on the heels of two other half marathons.  a pity as it had all the elements of a perfect run. it would put other less-organized runs to shame.  the marshals were many and visible. they manned every intersection so efficiently and effectively.  half of the main road was closed to traffic. hot-tempered and hostile drivers and smoke-belching vehicles are every runner's nightmare. the club members made sure their runners did not have to contend with this problem yesterday. aid stations did not only have water to offer but cold sports drink, as well. the people who handed out the drinks were friendly and generous with their words of encouragement. the registration fee was affordable. one would wonder why the organizing club was able to do this while other runs with less to offer charge excessive fees.  the singlet material was of good quality. they had a finisher's medal, too. all the elements of a perfect run, i would say again. what more could runners ask for? 

the sun was unforgiving! following her  pacer-daddy with every ounce of energy left, tete trudges on with iron determination that belied her spent form.  with renewed bursts of energy,  she would  at times outpace her daddy.  quitting was never an option for her.  all she wished for was not to finish last.

the club members and support staff at the finish line were awesome. they cheered for tete as she was turning the corner heading for the finish arch.  they clapped and urged her to take the last remaining strides.  tired and fried by the sun, she was close to tears.  the finish line was conquered three hours and nine minutes after she started the race.  the finisher's medal was a joy to behold ! she didn't finish last.

tete was overwhelmed by the sense of fulfillment.   it was more tears of joy than tears of pain.  she gets a comforting hug from her daddy who paced her all the way.  at one point during the race, her daddy suggested a timed run-walk routine.   fast losing steam in the scorching heat, she said - i will run when i want to run and walk when i want to walk.  way to go, tete !!

thank you, talisay city runners' club (TCRC), for making this half-marathon a meaningful experience for our tete.  she will continue to do other half-marathons in the coming years.  her time will improve many times over and PR's will be set. she will most likely complete the full distance but her first half she will always remember with fondness.

thank you, teacher vicki, for kindling the passion for running in all of us. this is as much your success as ours.

kids dream big. when they do, they stop at nothing. their dreams may just be specks on the horizon now but with youth on their side, it will be within their grasp.  isn't that awesome?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

# 28 the help

it has risen to No. 1 and has edged out the apes!!  human drama lords over science fiction.  

you have probably seen the movie by now.  this screen blockbuster features an interplay of power and emotions revolving around race issues half a century ago. in present day society,  it is not uncommon to find house helps in most households in our part of the world.  there are several names for them - nanny, caregiver, domestic help, home companion, caretaker, babysitter, cleaning lady. they are referred to as milk ladies by some of our american friends.  that doesn't sound right taken out of context but they do prepare milk for their wards until the youngsters realize they don't like milk and revolt against being forced to drink milk.  in ultra-rich exclusive enclaves, some families have a domestic workforce with prescribed ranking amongst the uniformed staff. yes, starched and crisp uniforms are required of them. there is tyranny initiated by those in the higher rung of the ladder. internal politics, the bane of any organized group, is not exclusive to the government.

they say there is an important lesson one learns from high school that one never forgets.  one that stuck to my mind over the years is the reminder that we should never be caught saying 'maid' in reference to the help.  this is a direct affront to their self esteem for their job is noble and extraordinary. 

home companions are a dime a dozen.  trusted and loyal ones are a rarity.  our family is lucky to have home companions who have been with us for more than ten years.  they were both eighteen when they first came to stay with us. tete was two then. tete is now fifteen and a head taller than one milk lady. soon, all the kids will be taller than her. she knows everyone in our family tree and our tree has humongous branches, too. the other one became gugud's nanny. when gugud was too old to need a milk lady,  she became the family cook.  she left to start a family of her own four years ago but has remained in touch with the family.  she visits to cook on special occasions.

every year, we celebrate the birthday of another veteran home companion of over twenty years. she has been with us in various capacities - cleaning lady, laundry woman, cook, caretaker, caregiver, seamstress.  over the years, she has rejoiced with us in times of joy and mourned with us in times of sorrow.  she, too, knows each twig and limb of our family tree.  she knows all our friends.  countless times, we clash and yet we make up with her in no time. when we were down on our luck and had to let go, she found work as an office caretaker.  she has remained very much a part of the family.

we celebrate the birthdays of all our home companions. they are family after all. ours is a game of give and take. tolerance takes a lot of practice. they have become stubborn and have learned to speak their minds out. oh yes, they can rattle and ramble to kingdom come.  we have learned to live with it.  we have mastered the trick - in one ear, out the other.  we just let them be.  it is a small price to pay for their years of service. 

loyalty and dedication from our home companions in this time of changing priorities and lure of greener pastures.  isn't that awesome?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

# 27 two words..... i do

shining shimmering splendid on a magic carpet ride !! aladdin's song to jasmin.  that must exactly how one would feel.  on a magic carpet ride - soaring, tumbling, freewheeling !  

in that magical moment, everything around you will be a blur, you are told.  life-changing is what this one defining moment is.  from that day forth, you are a new person, they say.  it is long in coming.  people have been expecting you to do it but you take your time - ever so sweetly.  you are not in a hurry, you tell them. when the time is ripe, you will know it in your heart. you dream of that day with mixed emotions. you long for that day yet there is some gnawing fear. it consumes every bit of you. you prepare for it like you have never prepared for anything else.   every waking moment, you think of it. it is not even simple thinking. you theorize. you speculate. you visualize.  you deliberate.  how much harder can thinking be? when night comes, you lay your head on your pillow with even more thoughts of it.

you have many choices, several of them. you certainly would want to do it on foreign shores. somewhere cold but not quite piercing and shivery cold. you like the cold climate.  you have had enough of the hot and humid weather.  you turn sentimental and have second thoughts.  maybe it should be in your home city with family around.  yes, that would be the right thing to do. you may change your mind again later, who knows?  women do.  change our minds in a wink of an eye, that is. we get away with it, too.

you know the vow -- in sickness and in health, in good times and bad,  in times of failure and times of triumph.   you take the words to heart.  you know there will always be humps and bumps, hiccups and burps along this journey.  

one day you wake up and it hits you. the time has come. you are ready now. you can feel it in your heart and in your body.  they say you can only prepare so much for it. the rest is faith.  the moment arrives!! someone pops the question.

do you see yourself going the full distance of a full marathon?

you know there are but two words........i do.

in that one magical moment, the carpet ride of your life is ready for take-off. somewhere shining shimmering splendid, it shall bring you! soaring tumbling freewheeling, you shall be!  where asphalt is your carpet, you shall fly!  on the wings of love for running, you shall soar.  chasing your marathon dream.  isn't that awesome? 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

# 26 he said, she said !!

take the lyrics of this song and this song, put them together in a big bowl. add a teaspoon of honey, a slice of mozarella, a handful of cherries and you have one cheesy and syrupy love story.

she thinks he has the most beautiful smile of all.  he thinks when she looks at him, she sees things nobody else can see.  he says  ‘she does not judge, she just takes me as i am.’  she says  ‘he took all the worries and fears that i had.’  ‘she makes me love myself a little more,’ he says.  ‘he makes me feel things will work out just fine,’ she says.  he said ‘i see my dreams shining in her eyes.’   she said ‘he brought the sun to shine in my life.’  she believes he came at the right time in her life.  he believes her love has opened a door.  she knows that it’s not everyday that someone like him comes her way.   he knows that she simply lets him be and goes right on loving him.

like scenes out a disney movie, his song and her song pieced together tells of a love story so sweet and sappy.   it is enough to cause your blood sugar levels to hit the ceiling.  soap opera, anyone?

she wondered ‘how did you know i needed someone like you in my life?’  he just knew in his heart.  ‘is it going to be forever?’, she asked.  'forever,' he said, ‘come what may.’

when friendship becomes love, today becomes forever. once in a while such story happens to people you know.   it knows no age nor race. it just happens.  but only once in one's lifetime.  the stuff love stories are made of.  isn't that awesome?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

# 25 you've got mail !!

mr. postman, look and see if there's a letter in your bag for me....

when this beatles song was number one, the post office was the only way to send mail.  no one called it snail mail in its heyday.  when was the last time a postman came knocking on your door? centuries ago? then again, who sends mail via the post office nowadays? anyone who submits a post office-stamped envelope when asked for a self-addressed envelope for a college entrance examination cannot expect the test permit to arrive before the date of the exams. when there is much to be desired with  the local post office, as it is in our part of the world, you just have to grin and bear it.  ours may not be as slow as a snail though.  a sloth perhaps.  once again,  our postal service is filipino pacing at its worst.

time was when writing on someone's wall embodied bad behavior.  in the  twenty-first century, someone's wall is the new post office. in this time of tweets and posts, e-cards, email and e-everything else, real time is of the essence. sending that birthday wish or congratulatory greeting is done in a nanosecond. touching base with someone using a stationery or specially-designed card is abandoned in favor of the digital kind of correspondence.

handwritten cards and notes warm the heart.  it may come in ordinary envelopes but the coziness and familiarity that exudes from longhand scribbles transcends  trite acquaintanceship.

how many times have you heard yourself say that you have not written anything on paper for the longest time. you have forgotten how to write legibly.  this is true.  sad but true. the keypad, keyboard and for that matter, the touchscreen has paved the way for the extinction of the pen and paper. this progression is inevitable. without doubt, its benefits far exceed its handicaps.

once in a while, however, you long for the warmth of a handwritten card.  out there, someone you know may be on the same wavelength as you are. someone may be homesick for your handwriting. go ahead, send that card.  never mind if your writing is illegible. she will figure it out.  put in a little smiley all drawn out in ink. paint it with those highlighter pens that come in different colors. that will surely put a smile on someone's face. a smiley for a smile.  isn't that awesome?

Monday, August 15, 2011

# 24 twinkle, twinkle little star !!

not up above the world so high but like a diamond on the road, she is.

yesterday was the first of a three-weekend half marathon spree for the local running community. you read that right - three sundays in a row!! it is enough for others to turn green with envy. it is wallet-busting, too - insanely and incredibly so! the full marathon distance top-billed yesterday's race but it is the half that is featured back to back to back. twenty-one kilometers makes a half marathon. twenty-one kilometers pounding on asphalt is no joke, much more the full 42.

most often in cebu's road races, one would see a petite runner garbed in full costume taking flight in the cool morning breeze. mid-flight, the unforgiving sun takes charge.  she is a prominent figure on the road. twinkle is her name.  on my first few races, i would run beside her. i would match her every stride from start to finish. along the route,  many would call out her name. humble in her fame, she would wave back.  many would want a picture taken with her at the finish. she would gamely pose.

last year, at the first staging of yesterday's run, i ran my inaugural half marathon. as the faint rays of the sun started peeping out, i stood with hundreds of other runners, jittery and already sweat-covered even with the starting gun yet to be fired.  in the sea of eager road warriors, i found myself beside twinkle.  she asked if it was my first half.  the nerves must have shown on my face.  she cautioned me to take it easy. just take slow but steady steps and you'll get there, she said.  i did.  i took slow but steady steps. by her side.  i could have taken shade under her tiara of a mango tree heavily laden with fruits.  

following a few strides behind twinkle on the homestretch of my first 21k,  the finish line venue comes into view. the sense of fulfillment is overwhelming.  never have the blue skies been so breathtaking, the gentle waves of the water so comforting.  i bask in the early morning sun.  i am almost there!

twinkle is uncontested in the best costume category. she takes on different characters befitting the concept and purpose of the race, much like an avatar to a screen name.  photo credits go to the owners of these pictures pulled out from race albums posted online.

twinkle adds color and zing to local races. true to her name, she is a jewel of a road warrior who twinkles not up above the world so high but like a diamond on the road, she is.

a severe vertigo attack late last year set me back a couple of months. when i got back on the road, twinkle had conquered greater distances. full and ultramarathons became her turf.  i am stuck with the half.  she is faster now than when i was running alongside her.  i would have my tongue hanging out in no time if i even attempt to be at pace with her. speed remains illusive to me. my time yesterday was slower than my inaugural 21k but it is okay.  i am not complaining. i am thankful i am back eating asphalt when there was but just a glimmer of it a few months back.  i still see twinkle on the road in some of the weekend races. she is on her way back, effortlessly weaving through while i have yet to make the turn-around, relentlessly kicking into higher gears. i wave at her and she waves back.

the full marathon is in my bucket list. when the mind says 'yes, i can do it!', an old pair of legs questions 'can i do it?'  mine is an old pair of legs but my wonderful mentor (thanks, voss!) who got me into running a couple of years back believes mind will prevail over body.  i know the voss is right. i will get there. someday before my legs turn rickety and wobbly on me. perhaps i will run alongside twinkle again - stride for stride - just like i did on my first half.  isn't that awesome?

Friday, August 12, 2011

# 23 bursting a bubble !!

literally. bursting. a. bubble.

let us keep things simple. no confusing techy talk analyzing the bits and bytes of the internet bubble nor the highly philosophical interpretation of the bubble of happiness.  we are not experts on these. let us talk gums. not the one inside your mouth. leave that to your dentist. it is the one that is blown out of your mouth. the one that bubbles. bubbles and bursts.

big in flavor and color, bubble gums are a constant companion in good times and bad.  we pop one into our mouths when anxiety threatens to knock us out. stress levels are kept low chewing on an artificially-colored piece.  overflowing joy over some good news blends in with its savory and sugary smell.  yes, artificial smell, too.  the cluck and pop of a burst bubble is a source of amusement. when we have nothing to do, we chew. when we have tons to do, we chew even more.   we start out young with them and blow bubbles well into adulthood.

despite the shrill shouts of gugud and wawa to keep blowing, yangi can't make the bubble grow any bigger.  her air-busting effort is but a small fraction of the 26-inch bubble that holds the guinness world record.

messy remnants of a burst bubble
 a burst bubble and a mess - they come together like coffee and cream.

once in a while, we face up to the challenge of blowing the biggest bubble. we know it is a losing game but we give it a try.  just for the fun of it.  we start out small. and end up small.  simple joy!  isn't that awesome?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

# 22 overload !!!

get real !! seriously, get real !! reality shows are the in thing on tv nowadays - dancing, dating, losing weight, traveling, job hunting, house cleaning, house renovating.... and cooking!  you name it, there is a show for it - even two competing shows of the same genre.

you are so hooked on one show that you rarely miss an episode. you rush home to watch it. dinner time is always before or after the show, never during the show. nobody channel surfs on the show's commercial breaks. the show? masterchef (australia) - the reality show to beat in your household!  it is season two that is being aired at the start of summer. you are there from episode one. fourteen weeks and eighty-four episodes later, you are still there. it is now down to two contestants and the title is up for grabs.  as a special treat on the final weekend, the network airs old episodes hour after hour after hour leading up to the grand season finale.  a masterchef marathon is what it is - two days of non-stop kitchen olympics, two days of culinary overload.  you wake up on saturday morning to the show's theme song. you go along your day, going in and out of the house. each time you get a break, you turn on the tv. they are still battling it out in the kitchen.  you start winding down for the night and get settled in front of the tv for more gastronomic matchups. you wake up in the middle of the night and a team challenge is underway.  it is the same on sunday.  you start thinking overload is too subtle a word for this marathon.

a virtual bond is formed between you and all 24 contestants over the fourteen weeks of daily shows plus replays.  you have never cheered for tv personalities as you have for these amateurs. it is hard to see one go after an elimination round.

glimpses of sydney's famous landmarks shown in the background in almost all of the episodes stir up memories of a grand sydney vacation several years back.  the memory recall makes the show even more a hands-down favorite.

a rain of confetti is released after the new masterchef is announced. he breaks down while everybody gathers around him. you cheer, too. you celebrate yet you feel sad it is all over. the kids say it will be different without their favorite show.  it has become a part of their day.  you tell them they can start on their homework early now. one thing is certain. the show has awakened a dormant potential for some form of culinary exploits. you know there will be some real masterchef action in your kitchen soon.  isn't that awesome?

Friday, August 5, 2011

# 21 spellbound !!!

you have yet to read his books.  you are introduced to one of his works;  it comes with a good recommendation.  a must read you are told. you put it aside thinking you would come back for it sometime. it would take months. there are other titles more appealing, more covers on the shelf that seem to beckon you like a lighthouse to a passing ship. his books can wait. or so you thought.  one day, you get curious and finally open his book.  the prologue holds promise.

such promise indeed !! nail-biting suspense, heart-thumping thriller, cliff-hanging storyline, bone-chilling drama, mind-twisting whodunits - okay, enough said of meltzer's books.

captive - that's you after reading his first book. you are held hostage by the pages. you have errands to do but you can't do anything else until the last page has been flipped. the last line finally brings you that sigh of relief as you dab the sweat off your brows.  calm now, you tell your beating heart, it is over. the good guy has won - wounded, dazed and bloodied but victorious. you know you have to get a hold of his other books and you know exactly where to go.

booksale is a haven for book hounds whose tight budgets forbid them to buy new books. this nook has treats for everyone - fiction, non-fiction, soft bounds, hard bounds, cookbooks, maps, children's books, magazines, review books.  it takes a lot of searching but you find a couple more of meltzer's books here. you swoop them up and head straight to the cashier.

there is only one book missing in your meltzer collection. you know you will find it the next time you go to booksale. a good price for a good read. isn't that awesome?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

# 20 swift like taylor !!!

meet the crew:
gugud - president
yangi  - vice-president
wawa - secretary
tete    - honorary on-and-off member

collectively and exclusively, they are the members of the taylor swift fans club, local neighborhood chapter.  they breathe taylor.  they are taylor-made.

all four club members are in the car.  one of them plays a taylor song on her cellphone and everybody sings along. the song is new to your ears. it is taylor's latest release, they say. the kids sing out the lyrics from start to finish. it is amazing how these kids are quick to learn a new taylor swift song.  they only need to listen to it once and their inner ear stores the lyrics on default. the next time they hit the play button, an impromptu sing-along is launched.  kids nowadays do not need to look up lyrics, they just retrieve it from the memory disk stored in their inner ear. just like kids nowadays do not read instruction manuals. they know how to operate gadgets straight out of the box.   they are swift that way. just like taylor. 

yangi peruses a taylor fan magazine. she informs us that more shows are being cancelled as taylor is still battling bronchitis.

 gugud has a complete collection of taylor's CD releases.  emulating taylor's likeness, gugud opted to have guitar lessons during the summer.  slowed down by several distractions, her  taylor swift showpiece of a song will have to wait another summer while her guitar gathers dust.

when taylor visited the philippines early this year as part of her asian tour, we flew all the way to manila to watch the show.  let me rephrase that - the kids watched the show; we stayed outside the concert venue waiting for them. the tatti-sponsored tickets were only good for the four kids. putting her index finger and thumb an inch apart, wawa said 'taylor was this small' from where they were seated. so small that she almost looked like an ant, she said.   miniature taylor had tete, yangi and gugud jumping and  screaming themselves hoarse.  it is their taylor onstage after all !! no matter how lilliputian she may be, no scream can be loud enough. at its peak, the decibel level inside the coliseum could easily match that of a 100,000-strong audience. the venue only has a 16,500 capacity with the SRO crowd stretching it out to 20,000.

it is a breather to have a celebrity who is well-grounded. young stars are in a rush to grow up, perhaps blinded by the glare of the spotlights.  they forget that there are equally young fans who mimic their every move. for now, the kids have taylor - sweet, youthful and unoffending.  isn't that awesome?