Running was her escape. Sadly, she was not able to run fast enough or far enough from this man, her very own husband who would be her murderer.
Two Saturday ago, we celebrated my son Gabriel’s life with our 8th 12 hour event in his memory.
It was a fun filled day with activities happening simultaneously.
Before the official start, Maiqui and Drew already started their ironman with their 4k swim.
People started running and biking at 6 am…
and the kids tri was on it’s way at 7am.
The kids tri was special to me because my daughter Nadine did a tri in memory of her baby brother Gabriel.
We had the awarding for the kids tri then I did my bike ride.
After lunch, our new beneficiaries, the barefoot running kids arrived.
We had a class on cartoon drawing for them care of fellow triathlete Wayne Dearing and his wife Stella and their company, Top Draw Animation, led by animator Nary Jamlig.
Our special guest Filipino champion boxer, ranked 4th in the world, pound for pound Nonito Donaire and his wife Taekwando champ Rachel joined the kids for the cartoon drawing lessons and later for the run.
Then we had our special surprise, new shoes for the kids c/o New Balance.
After that we had the arnis demo…
our sunset run and relays for the kids.
Maiqui and Drew crossed the finish line amidst the loud cheering of the kids who also sang happy birthday to Maiqui.
I cried at the finish line. So did Ani and Mailet. It was just such a beautiful scene. — to be among friends who cared enough to make a difference in the lives of other kids.
My son Gabriel lived for 9 months. Every September, we celebrate his short life with a 12 hour event in his memory. Friends come to run, walk, bike or do a triathlon. By doing this, our foundation, Gabriel’s Symphony Foundation, raises funds for kids who are disadvantaged either because of a disability, sickness or poverty.
I like to think of it as a venue for families to have a day of fitness and fun while helping others. My own kids have done different things over the years. The first year, they actually biked and ran throughout the day stopping only to eat and rest. The succeeding years, they did the kids tri. This year, they both ran the 3k run with their friends. Anthony Pangilan and his son Donny won the Parent and Child buddy run (official results of all the events will be posted on Gabriel’s Symphony Foundation).
The kids triathlon and aquathlon was fun as always. Coach Ani de Leon’s Super Kids, our future national triathletes were there in full force. Three year old Kira Ellis was our youngest participant (youtube video of super kids).
Fresh from the CamSur 70.3 Ironman, my tri-friends, organized themselves into groups to do an ironman relay. There were 12 teams in all, including two all girls teams called Little Twin Star and Hello Kitty! The Carpo sisters crossed the finish line with their teammates in colorful head gear and attire. Similarly, the sea princess, Tessa Prieto Valdes biked in her tutu. Inspired by all this, I told Ani and Mailet, we should have a best in costume award next year!
Some of the visually impaired kids, beneficiaries of our Foundation were there too. They did a demo swim, which prompted me to tell their coach that they may want to train and participate in the aquathon next year.
Later that morning they did a demo of table tennis specially designed for visually impaired individuals. We have donated 2 of these tables to blind schools and has committed to donate some more.
We also forged a new tie-up with Carewell Community, a foundation dedicated to provide support for cancer patients and their families. We did a Carewell Bikes for Hope and raised funds both for Gabriel’s foundation and Carewell.
And of course, my friend, Maiqui Dayrit, did his 5th ironman. Every year, he worries that he is not in shape. But regardless of the shape he is in, he does his 3.8k swim, 180k bike and 42k run. He is by far, the foundation’s, longest running, largest individual donor. God bless your heart and keep you healthy and running strong Maiqui!
As Maiqui was finishing his run, my brothers and some friends on a whim, decided to do a 200 meter sprint. The arrangement was regardless of who wins, the group would donate to the foundation. The run lasted all of a few seconds but it was totally fun watching them.
Then we came up with the idea of having my senate staff do the same 200 meter sprint. Some of the women in my office are quite fit… In fact, three of them Mich, Marvee and Karen did their first sprint triathlon relay in the UP College of Law Dean’s Cup a few weks ago.
There was just too much that happened that day for me to be sad. I miss my son every day of my life. But so much goodness has come out of his short life. I thank everyone who has made this day memorable, for taking time to join us and for making a difference in the lives of children.
On July 5, 2009, I woke up to the beautiful Cebu City lights. It was 4:15 am. That was my wake-up call to get me to the Milo 21k starting line around 5 am. But I jump ahead of my story.
This is my usually whirlwind 24 hour trip out of Manila. There were two fun things about this trip. One is my daughter Nadine was traveling with me. And two, there was a run the following morning
I had three meetings one after another soon as I arrived in Cebu. I decided my first stop would be a fueling station.. as in deadly delicious calories to satisfy my craving.. aka Leona’s Bake shop.
My friend Jane-jane, owner of Leona’s was kind enough to offer to send over an assortment of goodies to keep me energized for the day but I told her no way! I needed to absorb the good vibes that come out of a bake shop – all that goodness, sweetness and fresh scent of baked bread certainly must stimulate the production of endorphins and the feeling of happiness right?
So my daughter Nadine and I went there and like kids, well she is one, I’m not, pointed, whispered and stared at the cakes beckoning at us. To distract me from eating everything on site, I asked for a tour of the facilities which I knew would be an educational experience for both Nadine and me,. We happen to be baking enthusiasts.
After that 20 minute stop-over, we went straight to the hotel. I settled in my daughter with her books and went to my meeting in the lobby. I met with the women of Inner Wheel Club. Our objective was to discuss a joint project between my Pinay in Action and their group for a school tour on violence against women. There were also students who attended our meeting.
I explained to them that I felt it was important to focus on the youth so they could spot violence early on, avoid it and protect themselves. After some discussion, we agreed that we would try to make this happen soon.
My next meeting was with the representative of 4L in the region. 4L is the organization of women legislators. They are composed of councilors, board members, vice-mayors, vice-governors and congresswomen. My objective here was to inform them about my project with the local governments and the barangay health workers (BHW), particularly my BHW Health Wellness Summit.
My last meeting for the day was with members of the Cebu Press. I updated them on my legislative work, including the Food and Drug Administration Act which was awaiting the President’s signature, my thoughts on the automation, women empowerment, reproductive health and other issues of the day.
That ended my official business for the day.
Next morning started, not bright and early, but dark and early. We were up at 4:15, eating breakfast at 4:30 and out of the hotel before 5 am.
This was my 2nd Milo 21k in Cebu. It’s a huge race and the course takes us thru the city. Not what I would call scenic, as runners really do prefer the country side for a run. But I doubt if there is any countryside in the heart of Cebu city.
Being familiar with the course is a plus. I knew there would be no deadly climbs, mostly flats and a few gradual climbs. Thankfully, it was not hot either.
I ran steady. Did not plan on pushing too hard. This was a training run for me and Ani. We are doing a 70.3 ironman soon and we needed a long run. We were around 11th and 12th place at about 8k. We picked up the pace a bit and by the end of the run, I finished 6th in 2 hours flat. Ani of course, could have done much better, but like I said it was a training run and she just ran at my pace.
I need to commend the security that was assigned to me. PO1 Delailah Cayacap Samson was amazing. She is only the 2nd security assigned to me during an out-of-town race that has been able to stick with me.
The rest of the day was spent relaxing in Shangri-la Mactan with our friends. My daughter Nadine politely asked “can we go to the pool now” over and over while we adults lingered over buffet at Tides. We finally did get to the pool side and stayed there almost ‘til sunset.
We were back on the plane 27 hours after we landed, two pounds heavier (courtesy of Leona’s bake shop), but happy (thanks to Leona’s too, productive meetings, a good race and good company).
27 1/2 hours in Cebu. Time well spent.
Lino got me into triathlon. He was hooked at a time when I was a contented runner and scared of venturing into something new. He took me on my first “serious” ride around the village. I got hooked after two rides. Then he got a job that kept him up throughout the nights. I continued to train. He watched me with pride and envy, occasionally joining me for a 10k race or a duathlon.
Last year, he took a year off to study and live in New York. I missed him. He suggested we do the New York tri together last July since he lived only a few blocks from the race venue.
He didn’t tell me we had to park our bikes in his bathroom, that we had to carry them down 5 flights of stairs..and then carry them back up. But hey, what could be better than racing in NY with my brother..
I trained a LOT in Manila, he trained a LITTLE in NY. I ran and biked under the sun, he sunbathed in Central Park..
I did wet suit swims, he bought a wet suit one week before the race. I raced seriously, he smiled for the camera.
He threatened to beat me. I laughed…Not this race, baby.
Truth is, he could beat me any day IF he trained just a little bit more.
That same year, he convinced me it was a chance of a lifetime to do New York marathon together. I convinced him to meet up with me after my conference in Geneva and do Amsterdam Marathon. We did both 2 weeks apart. I ran to do my personal best, he ran to capture his first marathon on video.
The day he returned to Manila was a surprise to me. I was running with my training partner Joey early one morning and out of the corner of my eye I saw this familiar figure in black sitting on the curb of the road. I started screaming. Joey had no idea why until a few seconds later when he saw Lino.
Lino is now back in Manila working. It’s harder for him to train when he has shoots. But we text each other daily making plans to meet within the week. He joins me for a swim or a run. Some days, we lie around talking about my work, about his work, about my life and his life. About our dreams of watching my kids become world class athletes. In Boracay over the last weekend, we gave my girls a crash course in volleyball which was both our sport in college.
Other times we hang together reading our books and ignoring each other. When he can, he comes over and cooks in my kitchen, eats and hangs with my kids. And we all go to church together.
And yes, we train together whenever we can.
n.b. Ani, Joey and I are convincing him to join the Camsur 70.3. Easy for him to do once he sets his mind to it… and if he had a bike. He left his in New York.
Every year I am asked why do a run to celebrate women’s month? My answer is because running is empowering. We gain strength and confidence in the company of other women.
We feel good when we run. We may be tired, but when we finish our run, we feel accomplished, proud and happy!
A lot of women are scared to run for the first time or to run a longer distance, but when they do, the feeling is indescribable! And it shows in their smile! I know, because I’ve felt this many times. And last Sunday, women came up to me telling me the same thing.
Whether we are moms, wives, daughters, professionals, employees, students or young girls, we should be proud of who we are.
We should never be scared to pursue our dreams (see my related article Phooey to Limitations, Yes to Possibilities). No one should tell us we are not capable of doing something because we are women. On the contrary, because we are women, we shall excel!
As a mom, I want my girls to have good role models. I want them to be inspired. I want them to meet trailblazing women who beat the odds. At the Pinay in Action Run, I saw lots of these women. And I am so happy my daughters saw and met them too.
Did you enjoy your run? Were you inspired by other women runners? I’ve posted the links of some of the blogs about the Pinay in Action run. I enjoyed reading their stories. If you have a story to share, we would love to hear about it .
The Pinay in Action 2009 Race Day by: imom
On Sunday, March 29th, my alarm clock went off at 4:45 AM to wake me up and hub and iPatch and VGood and Nate.
My first race was going to be a family affair!.. (more)
Running with Friends: by Penny
It was a beautiful day for for the Pinay In Action fun run at the SM Mall of Asia grounds. The race for the 10k and 5k participants started at 6:14am (behind schedule for both, by the way). The sun was out but it wasn’t too hot. and there were LOTS of runners. Although it was an “all-women run” there were actually more than a handful of men who ran with us. Also children and pet dogs. ..(more)
1o kilometers: by Regina
I have never seriously run a fun run before. Previously, I and some other troopers only walked in armor, and finished the shortest route, just to raise awareness for the cause..(more)
Pinay in Action with Workmates: by runpinayrun
Finally get to run a race with my co-workers! We always fail meeting up prior to the race so we end up not seeing each other after everyone crosses the finish line..(more)
At the end of the run, we gathered near the stage and awarded the winners (list of winners are on pinayinaction.com. Participants and spectators also took time to visit the different booths that were set up for various causes close to women such as the breast cancer detection booth set up by my friend Dr Cecille Montales, cervical cancer by GlaxoSmithKline, violence against women by Women’s Media Circle and various health products for women.
After the awarding, I headed home, went to church and gave thanks for this day.
At the Tokyo Marathon Expo, the theme was “I Promise my Goal.” Not a perfect English translation, but we figured it meant set your goal and accomplish it. That sort of pressured me to do just that. Thing is, I didn’t really want the stress and the pain of attempting to break 4 hours again. The last time I tried five months ago, I missed it by 2 seconds! But even though I had less time to train for this one, the night before the race I decided I would to try again. I would run an under-4 hour pace for the first 21k and then see how it went from there.
With that decision, I had to stay up an hour later, scribbling my splits per km on my white medical tape which I taped to my wrist. Arggh!
I was actually out late the night before mingling with the other guests of the Tokyo Metropolitan Govt. Officials from other countries were there and I had a wonderful exchange with the women representatives from Singapore, Thailand and Japan, talking about women issues, like discrimination and empowerment. I was the only guest who was running the race. All the others were just there to observe.
The holding area was filled with runners, not a surprise since there were 35,000 participants. I was hoping that they would release the runners in waves so it would not be as crowded when we started running. But as I had feared, it was still very congested at the start and we were forced to run at a much slower pace for the first two kms until the runners spread out more.
As the run progressed, there didn’t turn out to be much to see. There was just building after building and then more buildings. But what was interesting were the people who ran in costumes. I was passed by a slimmer version of Winnie the Pooh, a clown and lots of runners in funny hats. I also spotted a gay fairy and most memorable of all was a girl who passed me in angel wings. I remember thinking, buti pa siya may pakpak.
To my utter horror my garmin malfunctioned and was showing wild numbers for my pace. Grrr! Oh well, the race went on. After about four hours of running, what will forever be etched in my mind is the finish line. The last three kilometers we ran thru the howling winds and the pouring rain. I had to hold on to my cap and shades because it already got blown off early in the race. It was never sunny enough to put on my shades.
Into the last 3kms, I already knew that we would not break 4 hours. We might have if I had been able to maintain a 5:30min/k pace at 35kph. But at km 39, we had about 14 minutes left and I had slowed down a bit. I told Joey he could do it, but being the gentleman that he is, he said we would finish together.
So we pushed thru the wind, climbing one of the very few bridges, where to our delight the theme song of Rocky was blaring (Joey and I are Rocky fans because we box as part of our cross training). The Japanese spectators enthusiastically cheering us on, sadly in a language that was totally foreign to me.
At the 1km mark, the crowd got thicker, the cheering got louder and the rain poured harder. I loved it!
By then I started looking out towards the bleachers, because my kids and Che were suppose to be there. When we turned the last bend, I finally saw the finish line! I felt like I was running in slow motion because I can remember carefully scanning the faces in the crowd trying to find my children.
I was suddenly knocked out of my slow-mo mode when this female runner in blue tried to run pass me just a hundred meters to the finish. I outsprinted her and Joey and I crossed the finish line in 4:04 but still no children in sight.
Then right after I crossed, to my right I saw them, my two girls smiling, clapping standing in the rain in raincoats! I had requested that our host the Tokyo Metropolitan Government arrange to have my kids at the finish line, but I expected them somewhere up in the bleachers. I was blown away. I was so so happy to see them. This was my birthday gift good health and my family.
My kids were with Che (who did her first 10k, woohoo!) Usec Cesar Lacuna of MMDA who gave me beautiful pink flowers!!!!…and the people from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in their suits (reminding me of Men in Black) .. all of them standing in the rain in raincoats cheering for us.
After I hugged them, we lined up to get our goodies and then Joey and I did what we always do after a race. We ran again. Just 1km.. to celebrate life.
Oh and what does “I promise my goal” mean? Well, the Japanese refer to the finish line as the “goal.” So, I promise my goal, means to finish.. I guess we can say that we accomplished that. Meanwhile, I still have my under 4 hour marathon to work on. Maybe next birthday run.
n.b. I will write another article about the race course, race conditions and other details runners may want to know.
Like many Sunday mornings, my friends and training partners, Ani, Joey and George wake up in the dark to get to a morning race. And each time we get there, we are always pleasantly surprised by the number of people who like us choose to spend their Sunday morning at a race.
During a conversation with my friend Gap Legaspi. a neuro surgeon, but in the good-ol-days, the captain of the UP track team, he said to me, wow, everyone seems to be running these days and getting a running coach.
Me: Yes, I have a few good friends who are running coaches.
Him: Really? What do they teach? How do you teach someone to run?
Me: Gap, not everyone is a gifted runner like you. A lot of people have never run. They don’t know how to swing their arms, how to land on their feet, how fast or how slow to go..
Gap: So, everyone is getting a running coach these days?
Me: A lot of people who want to get started do. I personally recommend it when people start asking me details on the right running form. It’s good to know that you’re training properly. And if you already know the basics of running and are comfortable running, a running coach can take you to the next level “ running and racing longer distance, racing faster, training wisely
Gap: so, its true, running coaches are the new DIs.
Me: haha, yes, I guess, you can say that.
We went on to discuss how thrilled we were that more people where discovering the joy of running, the joy of being healthy, of being outdoors and feeling strong. These days, there is a race almost every weekend. My triathlete friends and I meticulously plan our race calendar for the year. We combine run races and triathlons.
My running and racing has taken me so many places. I have seen different parts of the country and other countries on my feet. Every run is an experience. Just the other week in Batangas, at the Milo 21k run, Ani, Joey and I were running up endless hills. I was wondering when our misery would end. Suddenly, someone shouted, â€œMalapit na, dalawang barangay na lang!
My friends and I get high on being fit. We are conscious of the food we eat, the air we breathe. We are thankful for good health. For people like us, this is our gimmick every weekend. Instead of saan ang gimmick? We ask each other:
Saan ang karera (where is the race)?
What distance are you doing?
Where are we eating after?
On the eve of my birthday, I will not be going out. I will be sleeping in, because the next day I will do a birthday run “ a marathon! And after that I will celebrate the good life.
This is the life I choose. This is the life my friends and I live.
My eight year old daughter came home last week with a major decision
to make – whether to run for student council Assistant Treasurer or
not. Why was this decision so major? Well, she is currently class
president and the rule in their school is, if you run and win a
position in the student council you have to resign as a class
So, I asked her, which position, do you think you will do better at
and enjoy doing? She says, “I dunno.” So, I said, “okay, let’s look at
each position carefully, so you can decide.”
me: What does a class president do?
Nadine: Helps the teacher and tells the class to be quiet.
me: ok, do you like doing that?
me: how about student council assistant treasurer, what does that person do?
nadine: helps the treasurer (oo nga naman).
me: What do you think of that position?
nadine: Well, I have a bit of a problem with it mom…
me: what’s your problem, baby?
nadine: I dont think I count very well.
me: ah, well, hmmm, that might be a problem.
me: Let’s do this, let’s pray about it and then see how you feel in
the morning, okay?
nadine: okay mom.
So, we prayed, she slept, I slept… and in the morning, she gets in
bed with me and I ask her how she feels and whether she wants to talk
about it some more. She says yes, so we talk.. I finally realize that
she seems to be excited about the whole idea of the campaign – making
posters, talking to people, campaigning with her partymates…
So, I said, “Nadine I think, what you are excited about is the campaign but
not the position you are running for..Why dont you be the campaign
manager. That way, you dont have to run and give up being class
president but you can help your party and enjoy being part of the
campaign!” I thought it was a brillant idea, she seemed to think it
was okay too. So, we prayed again before she left for school and she
said she would think about it.
That afternoon, she came home and I asked her, how did it go. She said
she asked if she could be campaign manager, but was told she was too
With that, Nadine decided, and never waivered in her decision to stay on as class president and not to run for student council, despite
the persistence of the party. She said
she’ll think about running for student council next year.
Seems like such a simple story. But not really. I went through almost
the same nightmare/walk-through-the-unknown during the days I did not
know whether I would be a candidate for the senate or not, whether I
wanted to be such a public figure … No, I did not for once, worry
that I could not do the legislative work. Like Nadine, I had thought
about my skills and knew what the job involved. Being a lawyer, having
worked on radio on my dad’s legal talk show “Companero y Companera”
and actively doing advocacy work, gave me the experience I felt was
necessary. My problem was taking on a new life style/role as a public
official, something new to me, something I was not too familiar with.
But like Nadine, i prayed about it, I asked myself if I could do a
good job and if so, what was stopping me. I realized what was stopping
me was fear…
-fear that I would cry when I gave my speech and remembered my dad ( I
did that and survived),
-fear that I would lose a bit of my privacy (I did and still
survived), but I also met and continue to meet a lot of inspiring
– fear that I had to do things I did not want to do ( I do, but who
says life would be easy)
– fear that I might lose ( I did not, I actually came in 6th).
I was not rating well in the beginning (though my standing did improve
with every survey)..I was so scared of losing…But in the last few
days of the campaign, I knew in my heart, that I had given it
everything I had,
and if I did lose, that was God’s choice and I was a
better person for what I had gone through. After casting my vote that
day, over 3 years ago, I went home, ate and went to sleep. I woke up
in the late afternoon, looked at my celphone and saw numerous texts
from friends congratulating me for being in the top in the first few
hours of counting…the rest is history.
What’s the point of this entry? It started out with a simple story
about my little girl, and at this point is about my campaign story.
But this is not about my running or Nadine’s decision not to run. It’s
about setting aside your fears and believing. I’m reading this book
“Life’s Missing Instruction Manual” and I was totally struck by the
following lines quoted by the author Joe Vitale (www.mrfire.com):
“There never was anything to be afraid of. The opportunities I passed
up, the people I never approached, the rock star I never became. All
sacrificed at the altar of fear–fear that never really existed.”
-Dr Paul Hartunian (www.Hartunian.com/ezine).
“I wish I had learned that I can do anything I really believe I can
do. It may sound simple, but it’s the basis of any and all
achievements (or lack thereof) in anyone’s life…If you want to
change your life for the better, change your belief about what’s
possible for you..and what you can accomplish, if you simply put your
mind to it.”
-Jim Edwards, author of 5 Steps to Getting Anything you want (www.HowToGetAnythingYou.Want.com)
It’s true. I grew up not thinking there were any limitations – not
because I was a girl, not because I was young, not because I wasn’t
smart enough or talented enough (even though all around me there were
smarter and more talented people). No one ever told me, I couldnt do
With that background, I entered college at 15, joined the UP
volleyball varsity (although I thought I was going to die on the first
day of training), eventually became its team captain and the youngest
member of the Philippine team while getting my degree in Economics and
graduating cum laude at the age of 18. I went on to become a lawyer,
practice law, set up a retail business (Maxibear, Maxitoylab and
Maxiworks), write parenting books, give talks on parenting, became a
radio host, an advocate for breastfeeding and children with
disabilities, oh resumed my passion as an athlete – this time as a
runner/marthoner, cyclist, duathlete and triathlete..and yes, my
current job, I am a senator with a few more advocacies- health care
reforms, the environment, education and women’ s and children’s
I mention all this, only because I want to emphasize the point that
you can really do anything you put your mind to.
So, whether your dream is to change the world, to be a doctor or a
rock star, an olympian or the next President, set your sight on that
dream, do what it takes and conquer your dream.
Oh, one last story…Right after I put down the book I mentioned
above, I looked up and saw my other daughter Maxine, 12,
in front of
our mac, blogging. I went up to her and looked at her home page,
which she is constantly changing/redesigning… it read “Remember
possibilities… phooey with limitations.”
What can I say? My daughters… I’m a happy mom (big smile).