Friday, December 30, 2005

Chamoru Hockey in Canada

For those of you who know me, you know that I can't say enough about my hockey-playing nephew Nikko. He's a great kid and a phenomenal hockey player who has a genuine love for the sport. His play record speaks for itself (and if you're still not convinced, just spend 15 minutes with me and I can spout off all his major accomplishments). Speaking of which, if you check out this website, you'll see a quote from Nikko (his real name is Theo Tydingco). If you click on the "video of the skate weight in action -- 4mb .wmv" which is right next to "What the players are saying," the skater in the video is Nikko!

As you can see, I'm a VERY PROUD auntie. There's just something cool about a Chamoru-Filipino hockey player that I think is fascinating. It's also amazing for me to watch Nikko grow up and develop into a great player. Granted, I do worry that he'll have hockey burnout and eventually hate the sport, but right now, I just don't see it. He has a lot of fun, takes everything in stride, and is simply not a spoiled child (because if he were I'd slap him in the head!). The family loves him, is extremely supportive and of course, is proud if him. In fact, I'm always in awe of my niece Sonia Ann and nephew Brendan because they love their brother so much that I can't recall any bouts of jealousy towards Nikko. That's true family love for you.

I always tell Nikko that if he were ever to play for team USA, that I would make t-shirts for the family that read, "THEO'S FAMILY." Additionally, I would be in the stands madly waving a Guam and Philippine flag in each hand.

This picture was taken about three years ago as well. It was during a tournament that my nephew and his team competed in. Nikko is the one in the middle with the "C" on his jersey. Yes folks, was and still is the team captain.

Just so you all know, we're not pushing Nikko to play pro hockey (he's only turning 13 for God's sake!). Whatever happens with his hockey life is completely up to him. I'm just glad that I get to watch from behind the glass.

Anyway... he and my brother-in-law Norbert are in Canada for a hockey tournament. Long story short, the local Ottawa paper wrote a story about Norbert and Nikko. It looks like they were also fascinated about a Chamoru father who wanted his son to play hockey. (I'm assuming that they were also impressed because Nikko was the MVP of their team's first tournament match, where he scored the only goal. He was also named "Best Defenseman" in the tournament's All-Star game. Okay... enough of the proud auntie moment.) When you get a chance, check out the article!

This is my brother-in-law, Norbert Tydingco. This was taken about three years ago during Christmas. Note: His eyes are closed because he's totally feelin' the music:)

Just in case the story is down, here's the full text. If you want to see the photo of Norbert catching the puck during my Nikko's first hockey game, click here (and then click on the prompt to see a larger photo). Man! I can't believe it's been that long since Nikko was a baby. Enjoy!

Fri, December 30, 2005
Visitor loves Hockey Country
BELL CAPITAL CUP: Guam native shares passion for sport with son on California club


FOR HIS first 22 years on this planet, Norbert Tydingco lived in a tropical paradise, growing up on the tiny island of Guam in the western Pacific.

At this time of year there, the temperature reaches the 30s (yes, Celsius) and doesn't drop much lower than the low 20s at night.

Yet Tydingco gave all that up when he moved to the San Francisco Bay area where he fell for a Canadian obsession known as hockey.

The game means so much to him now that he's on the coaching staff of his son's peewee team, the Santa Clara Blackhawks, competing in this year's Bell Capital Cup.

While relatives and friends in Guam are enjoying Pacific breezes, Tydingco is experiencing a vastly different climate here in Ottawa.

"Well, let's put it this way," he said after his team's first tournament game yesterday at Carleton University. "I spent more time climbing coconut trees when I was a kid than I did skating on frozen ponds."

Tydingco never saw snow until after he moved to California and drove into the mountains near Lake Tahoe. It makes one wonder how a person from a place so foreign to a game played on ice could become so enamoured of it.


In Tydingco's case, a trip to a San Jose Sharks game against the Calgary Flames got him hooked. The diminutive Tydingco paid special attention to one particular visiting player, Theoren Fleury.

"I couldn't believe that in what's supposedly a big man's game, here's this little guy about 5-foot-6 and 160 lbs. going around out there proving everybody wrong," he said. "And I was thinking, 'That's me.' "

Tydingco told his wife Christina that night that if they ever had a son, his name would be Theoren.

And sure enough, when that baby boy came along, he was named Theoren Nicholas to go along with Tydingco -- for the planned initials TNT.

Three months later, Norbert and Christina dressed their baby in a white sleeper outfit and took him to his first NHL game in San Jose -- against Calgary and Fleury. He ended up getting a puck that flew into the stands.

"I think it was (Joe) Nieuwendyk who tipped the puck and it just started coming toward us,'' recalled Tydingco.''There I was with a baby in one arm, trying to get the puck with the other."

The moment was captured on the game broadcast, and Tydingco has an image from it posted on the team's website. Wearing a Sharks jersey, he's shown holding the puck in his right hand while cradling his son with his left arm.

The Blackhawks, coached by Gary Bortolotto whose mother is from Sudbury, will try to see as much of Ottawa as possible before the tournament wraps up Monday.

But no matter what happens in the tournament, they want to enjoy playing hockey in a city where the sport reigns supreme.

"Back home, my friends in baseball tell me to quit hockey and concentrate on baseball, but I just ignore them," said Blackhawks forward Mattia Bortolotto.

He's having too much fun with this bunch.

Forward Wesley Starr, who's considered the team comedian, had a rough day because most of his equipment was left behind in California. Luckily, he has big feet and borrowed the coach's skates, a helmet from another California team here, and shinpads that were a few inches too short.

These are the kind of lifetime memories created by tournaments such as the Bell Capital Cup.

As for Theo Tydingco, he'll go into the books as the first Santa Clara Blackhawks player to score a Bell Capital Cup goal.

Despite playing with only nine skaters because some players couldn't make the trip, the Blackhawks managed to score a 1-0 win over the Ottawa Sting in the Major Peewee AA division game.

The lone goal came late in the third when Tydingco ripped a shot from the right point through traffic to score during a power play.

It was a victory for the Blackhawks and northern California.

With an assist from Guam and its coconut trees and ocean breezes.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

gearing up for a new year of running

A few weekends ago was the premiere of the Runbutan 2005 Maui DVD. It was put together by Mateo Reyes and I must say, he did a phenomenal job. I loved the way he juxtaposed the marathon footage with the I-Hotel footage. Also, his music selection was great. I can't say enough about it. My favorite part was the special features that had Coach Herb and Mark Ramos's original song, "26 miles ain't no joke." Bravo Mateo for such a great DVD.

It's funny because as I'm watching the footage, I kept thinking, "what a bunch of posers!" For some reason, everyone looks so happy to be running the actual marathon. When the cameras go on, the smiles turn on. It's hilarious! For me, I remember the actual marathon being a lot more grueling than the DVD shows. I was glad to see that I wasn't in the footage much because all I could remember was the heat, the misery, and the guilt that came over me for not pulling my weight for my team. I think Cici has some photos of me hunched over in complete agony. Those photos encapsulate the actual marathon experience for me.

Just to clarify, there is a big difference between running the actual marathon and training for the marathon. The training was a lot of fun and hard work, but the company, laughter, and good times with folks is immeasurable. For that, I wouldn't trade in being a runbutan for anything.

Sadly, I won't be running anymore full marathons. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that my running days are over. I've just decided that half marathons are the way to go for me. They're gentler on the body and allow me to pursue other athletic adventures. Right now, I'm running in the gym (but will probably take Rex's advice and go on an actual outdoor run on Dec 31st to celebrate my year of running), doing yoga, spinning and strength training. Also, I'm back to krav maga training at a new studio in Union City called One World Martial Arts. Right now, the building is still under construction, but classes are offered for FREE (until construction is complete)! So check them out if you're interested.

As the year is close to an end, I am gearing up for the future of my running. As mentioned before, I needed running shoes and orthotics, both of which I finally invested in. For my orthotics, I went to a place in Fremont called Foot Solutions. The people there were great! I went there before the marathon to show them my old orthotics and explain my blister problem. They helped me fix that problem by replacing my old orthotics with an arch support. Although I still got blisters during the actual marathon, they came from the sponges and not the insert. When I went in to get my new orthotics, they took a digital, 3-D imprint of my feet. The actual inserts came perfectly molded to my feet. I didn't need a break-in period at all. They're perfect! I also invested in a brand new pair of running shoes. I switched to Brooks Aerial, which have treated me well so far. A very big THANK YOU to my family and friends who so kindly donated to my "running fund." You gave me all the money I needed to get my new year of running started. Thanks!

So cheers to everyone who ran this year or plans on running (anything) next year. If you know of any good, local races, please let me know. I'm looking to run the SF Half Marathon in July and the Nike Women's Marathon in October. I'm hoping to do one in March or April as well. Any takers? Contact me. I could always use the company.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

holiday reunions

The rain has been making it difficult for me to want to run these days. I'm still shooting for the half marathon in February, but my training schedule is off. Oh well...

I hope everyone's holiday was great. Mine was pretty decent. On Sunday we had a reunion of sorts with my cousins, who I haven't seen since I was 12 years old! It's funny because this reunion is actually runbu-related. Earlier this year, Coach Alex and Coach Rex ran into my cousin Cha-Cha at a family gathering (quite a small world we live in). Through them I connected with Cha during my nephew Ian's baptism (you remember the fierce Ian-saurus Rex from a few postings ago). Since then, we've kept in touch. Cha and her siblings Din-Din, Bing-Bing and A-A (yes, we are a Filipino family who abides by Filipino naming rules: pick a sound and repeat twice; that sound will be your new nick name) were in town for a high school band reunion this weekend. This is how we were able to meet up with my long, lost family over some yummy dim sum. Unfortunately, their younger sibling Anjoo wasn't there, neither was their mom, my Auntie Gigi. Anjoo and Auntie were in LA taking care of the kids. We're hoping to have a bigger and more proper reunion sometime in the near future. Until then, here are some photos. Enjoy!

P.S. I just wanted to give Coach Rex and Coach Alex a big THANK YOU for reconnecting me with my family. It's been great catching up with them.

The Kids (sans Anjoo): Bing, Cha, Ian, A-A and Din.

This is me with my brother Gerry and cousin Bing.

The whole clan. Standing L-R are: A-A, Din, Liezel, Cha and me. Seated are: Bing, Andy, Ian, Uncle Jun, Auntie Lily, my mom, my niece Sonia Ann, and my brother Gerry.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Christmas Wishes and the next race

Lately I've been feeling a little down and decided to cope by planning my next race. After some searching online, I decided that my next race would be this:

Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon and 5K Run/Walk
Sunday, February 5, 2006 8:00 a.m.
Stow Lake & JFK Drive, GG Park
San Francisco , CA

Registration info can be found here. Early registration is only $35.

Like I said, I would do only half marathons at best. It's happening on Superbowl Sunday, so while the nation is obsessing over a football game I could care less about, I'll be taking it to the streets of San Francisco. I'm excited about this run, but am a bit nervous because it looks like I'll be running it alone. However, if any of you would like to join me and the masses, please let me know. I'm always looking for folks to train with (and who are willing to run at my slow-ass pace).

With that, I'm needing to get back into training. This is a good thing because in truth, Maui and Nike kinda scarred me. I think this is my redemption race. I'm not running for time, really. I just want to finish before the cones go up. I don't think that's a lot to ask. Again, any takers?

With this new goal in mind, I'm also needing new running shoes. It looks like I'll be needing some orthotics which run about $250 (but well with the investment because they protect my knees, last 3-5 years and are custom made for my big, flat feet). I'm also needing a new pair of running shoes which run about $130. Luckily, my sister is really good at organizing the family to contribute to my running fund in lieu of birthday and Christmas presents. I don't think she'll be able to collect the whole $380 I need, but she'll collect enough to help me out. I've also scheduled myself to work a lot this holiday season in order to come up with the rest of the funds. However, if any of you or your rich friends want to help fund my hopeful running career, feel free to contact me:).

Hmph. If you told me this time last year that I'd be running half marathons for leisure, I'd probably call you crazy... Now look who's the crazy one!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

pinchers and archers party at Zebulon

Last night was the big b-day bash for the November and December babies at Zebulon. Although I arrived late, I had a total blast! Here are pix from the event. Much thanks to Rex, Alex and Herb for organizing this fantastic gathering of folks. Also, much appreciation goes to the people at Zebulon for letting us use the place and for doing a great job at keeping guests hydrated. Finally, thanks to all the people that showed up. Hope you had a wonderful time. Enjoy the photos! (Note: I do have more pix and if you'd like me to send them off to you, please let me know.)

the family My family was nice enough to show love in the city. I'm here with my cousin Ferdie, cousin-in-law Andy, my cousin Liezel (I grew up on Guam with Ferdie and Liezel), my sister Tina (whose face is covered), and my niece Sonia Ann. Missing from the photo are my brother Gerry and his girlfriend Faye.

the housemates With Ana (my dear friend from high school and former college roomie. yes, she has stories... but so do I) and Jen (my current housemate).

the Runbu-divas Well, at least a few of us: with Kimmy, Alex, and Tina talking about DRA-MA over a sip (more like a gallon) of haterade and laughter.

the cake No birthday party would be complete without a cake for the twelve celebrants and a hundred or so of their guests.

the wish Twelve people blowing on one cake while a folks watch... interesting:)

the post-cake affair With Rex and Tina after wiping Ryan's cake off our faces. Who's random hand is that? (Note: You all missed the icing cleaning at the DJ stand - Herb, Alex, you two know what I'm talking about! Not so much sexy as it was funny!)

the crowd clears And congregates outside to coordinate rides to Lucky Chances for Filipino breakfast. Rod, Tina, Herb, Arlene and I take advantage to the now emptied room for this photo.

the loving couple I miss these two! Ladies and Gentlemen, the beautiful and fabulous Rod and Arlene.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

finding Bullet X

Hello all!

A special thank you goes to Coach Rex for sharing this info about Bullet X Marisigan. I'm inspired by the woman I run for:)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Halloween Pix

With all the baby talk (as we anticipate the arrival of Bean), I wanted to share some photos of my adorable nephew Ian Wong. FYI: the theme of the halloween costume was the Iansaurus-Rex hatching from the egg. Enjoy!

Iansaurus-Rex freshly hatched from the egg (a.k.a. Daddy Andy)

Iansaurus-Rex is going to get you. GRRRR!

An exhausted Iansaurus-Rex gets some rest after terrorizing the neighborhood for free candy.

Friday, October 28, 2005

more runbu-goddess pix

Thanks to Runbu-Goddess Cici for sharing her pix from the Nike Women's Half Marathon. Enjoy!

Monday, October 24, 2005

why run like a girl when you can runbutan like a goddess.

Like I said, yesterday was the Nike Women's Marathon/Half Marathon, which I ran with some other Runbu-goddesses. It's a great event and if any of you are ever interested in running, I highly recommend it. It's well organized (which is much more than I can say for Maui) and the goodies at the end are awesome. The finisher's medal is made by Tiffany & Co. Since I can't rely on anyone to have enough sense to actually get me a goodie from Tiffany & Co., I decided that my best chance of actually getting something from there would be to earn it myself. You also get a dri-fit finisher's shirt (which is perfect because real runners don't use cotton), a Jamba Juice card and green tea shots, luna bars, bananas, a massage (if you have the patience to wait for one) and some other goodies I'm blanking out on. The important one is of course, the necklace. Oh! and you get Ghirardelli chocolate (chocolate caramel, my favorite!) at one of the stops. Yummy!

I didn't train much for this run because I knew I was walking it (with CiCi and Angie who is eight months pregnant). Also, I haven't mentally recovered from Maui and have been avoiding training out of pure fear and damage. Ricky and Lovella also joined in and other Runbu-goddesses ran the course that day as well. In preparing for this half marathon, I realized how scarred I was by Maui because I kept having anxieties about conking out and not finishing. I also learned that I have absolutely no desire to run another full marathon. I've run two in my life (Maui and the trial for Maui) and that's all I need to know. Luckily, I didn't conk out. We all crossed (and we all got our necklaces:)

However, there were points during the course where I was secretly freaking out. Into the course, we kept falling farther and farther behind, which I was expecting because the theme of the day was: "It's not about the time. It's not about the distance. It's about making sure Angie gets to the finish safe and sound." However, when we were walking with Fiona (the sweeper) and watching the cones and barricades get picked up, I kept getting flashbacks from Maui. I thought to myself, "Here we go again. No cones, no music, no cheering section, no time clock, no finish line banner, no love." What made it worse was when we were at the Luna Bar/Cliff Shot stop, we were going through a box picking up Luna Bar samples (I can't take Cliff Shots because they make my blood sugars go way too high) and one of the volunteers tried to stop us from getting food by saying "No wait! This box belongs to someone!" (Apparently, the volunteers got to take home the leftovers, and called dibs on the goods before we made it to that stop.) Cici gave the volunteer a dirty look and told her that we're part of the race and that we needed food. The volunteer surrendered and we rummaged through someone's box. That episode irritated me and made me feel like this was Maui all over again.

But still. We traveled on through the toughest part of the course which had some major hills and major drops. (I have to mention the handsome toffee-tanned man with salt-and-pepper hair that was running up the hill as we were running down it. He was older, totally fit and gliding through the hill like a surfer riding a wave on the North Shore. Such a delicious treat after being snubbed at the Luna Bar/Cliff Shot stop. DAMN!)

Seeing the cones go up and finding myself and my team at the very end of the line made me second guess my desire to run. Psychologically, I don't think I can take being last anymore... not with the amount of work that I put in to training. It's not that there's something wrong with being last. In fact, I can tell you from personal experience that there is more pride in being last because it means that you made it - even when everyone else would have given up, you crossed that finish line when everyone thought you would never pull through. Taking in the glory that comes from being first place is easy. Toughing it out to last place takes real courage.

For me, and at that point, I was feeling like training wasn't paying off and that maybe I just wasn't meant to be anything other than last place (this is in reference to Maui, not San Francisco). Sometimes I play Maui over and over in my head and I ask myself what I did and where the training went wrong. A month later I still don't have the answers. I figured that yesterday would be my last race and that I needed to find a new sport.

Obviously, these feelings weren't things I was going to share with folks at that moment. Besides, spirits were high, Angie was pulling through like a champ, Ricky was taking good care of her, and we were all having a great time chatting it up. Between the pope germs, hearing Fiona's triathalon adventures, and poking fun at Lovella's love connections, we were having a great time. It was also entertaining watching people react to Angie's belly. My favorite comment was, "Look at how pregnant that girl is!"

As we were approaching the Cliff House, we could see Alex, Rex and Herb in the distance carrying signs of love and support. Call it fate or good timing, but I really needed to see them at that point. Something about seeing the words "PINAY POWER" in the distance really energized me (and seeing Herb's version of Polynesian dancing just cracked me up!). I was really touched that people woke up, battled with the traffic and parking just to see us cross the finish. (I was also touched that Alex had blisters from cheering so much. But just so you know, my blisters are still bigger than yours:) I was suddenly reminded of why I run to begin with. It's not about the race, the time, or the distance. Runbutan running is about finishing as a team, under our own terms, regardless of whether the finish line is there or not. I remembered what I said the night after the Maui marathon - for Filipinos, for people of color, there is no finish line because the challenges we face never have an end. We don't have that luxury.

The final leg of the course was tough and although we all knew Angie was going to make it, we were still concerned and playing it extra safe. During the Golden Gate Park portion of the course, Alex, Rex and Herb joined in following through on the day's theme: "It's about making sure Angie gets to the finish safe and sound." Because it was late in the day, they re-routed people, so we took a slightly different course than earlier half marathoners. Luckily, they saved chocolate and water for us:)

Approaching the finish was everything I imagined a finish would be. Hundreds of people were lined up screaming and cheering. The banner was up and in bold orange colors, I could see the words "FINISH LINE." Below it was the time clock. As we stepped on the first sensor, the announcer declared our finish by reciting our names.

I crossed my first official finish line.

It was great seeing Angie cross and an honor to cross beside her. When I think about it, we were there for Angie, Ricky and little bean-bean because the Niervas were there for the team. From the Pixar incentive to the cooking in Maui, they really pulled through for our us, which is why they were followed by an entourage of support. Also, many of us are runbutans because we have a love and concern for future Runbu-runners (including bean-bean and Gani). It was a beautiful sight and I'm glad I did it.

I would like to give special recognition to other Runbu-goddesses who conquered yesterday's course including: Gail and Helen's sister Leina who ran the full marathon; and April, Celisse, Cici, Cheryl, Lea, Patrice, Tiffany and of course, Mama Angie who finished the half marathon. Additionally, a very special THANK YOU to those of you who came out and showed your love and support: Nerinna, Herb, Alex, Rex, Kimmy and Gani, Ryan, and all the other folks whose names I'm blanking out on. You all ROCK!

Finally, I had a great time at the Hukilau for our post-race meal, and I look forward to more gatherings where we get to discuss horiscopes, palm reading, and dental floss dates. I'll see you all at Zebulon on Wednesday!

While walking through Golden Gate Park, I told Alex that my goal is to run (actually run) a race and not see the cones go up. I also declared that I would be back next year to run the Nike Women's Half Marathon. I will finish in my own time, under my own terms. With crowds cheering, a time clock, and an actual finish line (that has no end).

Note: A very special thanks to Runbu-goddess nerinna for sharing her photos.

pope germs

Yesterday I walked the Nike Women's Half Marathon with Angie, Cici, Ricky, and Lovella. Although this was not an official Runbutan event, a group of Runbu-goddesses decided to participate in the event. After six hours of the conquering the course, we crossed the finish line with Mama Angie and Papa Ricky.

Of course, some stories have to be told so here it goes... While we were walking through the Sea Cliff (a fancy residential area), there weren't any bathrooms around. Angie found a port-o-pottie, opened the door and closed it right back up (ugh! there needs to be a better way to make port-o-potties). Luckily, a nice lady named Sue saw this from her home. She approached Angie and asked if she needed to use the bathroom, Angie said yes and Sue offered her home. I accompanied Angie to Sue's house (partly because I needed to use the bathroom and refuse to use a port-o-pottie, and partly because I wanted to "do my business" in a rich person's house - a desire Angie and I expressed in whispers). Of course, her house was beautiful. We walked up these stone steps and Angie noticed that they had model ships in their window.

Sue's husband finally answers the door and we enter a marble-covered vestibule where we had to wipe our feet... twice. As Angie described, the house looked like it came out of Architectural Digest - complete with fresh flowers, Persian rugs, regal furniture. I don't know what Angie's bathroom looked like, but the one I was in was attached to a bedroom. Again, everything was marble and antique. I tried to "finish" as fast as I could, but couldn't help but think, "I'm doing my business in the nicest bathroom I've ever been in."

When Angie came out of the bathroom, Sue said that she just remembered who the last person was that used the same bathroom Angie used. The bathroom was last used on Friday by the pope...

...the Armenian pope.

Apparently, Sue and her family had a gathering that Friday and the Armenian pope just happened to pop (and poop) on by. Sue said that since the pope used the bathroom, no one else used it. (That is, until Angie made her stop.) Sue then said that Angie and bean are now blessed.

As we were sharing the story with the group, we laughed because Angie is not only blessed... she now has pope germs on her butt:) (Angie, I think you should tell this to your local priest!)

Monday, October 17, 2005

9 B-days: A Celebration of Life, Love, & Community

Okay, so I'm celebrating the big 3-0 this year and am lucky enough to share a birthday bash with eight other people. Here are the details. Hope to see you there:)


9 B-days: A Celebration of Life, Love, & Community
Host: Rex de Guia, Alex de Guia, and Herb Digs
Location: Zebulon; 83 Natoma Street (cross 2nd St.), San Francisco, CA View Map
When: Saturday, November 12, 9:00pm
Phone: (415) 975-5705
This is a celebration for 9 wonderful individuals born in the month of November and December.

Have any of these 9 people touched your lives? Let us honor and celebrate them!

Ronnie Bautista (12/7)
Alex de Guia (12/4)
Rex de Guia (12/4)
Herb Felina (11/12)
Ryan Leano (12/3)
Rod Magbual (11/1)
Jeff Ponferrada (11/19)
Joanne Rondilla (12/10)
Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales (11/26)

Whether you know any of them as family, friend, student, teacher, mentor, mentee, running partner, just met them in passing, or would like to get to know one of the celebrants, then you've gotta come to this mega-birthday celebration. Yes. . . it's time to CELEBRATE LIFE, LOVE, and COMMUNITY. Let's all come together and dance the night away.

Cover of sliding $5 and up will benefit victims of the Earthquake in South Asia.

Doors open at 9:00 pm.

21 and over, Lots of parking in adjacent lots

On the 1s and 2s - DJs Rx (special birthday debut set), Herb Digs, and more to be announced.

Please feel free to bring as many folks as you'd like. The more the merrier.

Scorpios, Sagittarians, and the world of friends unite in positivity, hope, and love!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

not related to running

Okay, so I'm not just a runner. I'm a grad student too. After Hawai`i I had to go to our nation's capital for a conference and wanted to share some photos from that trip, so here it goes...

This was taken during my last night in DC. Mind you, this was very late at night after dinner and dancing, so I look a bit off. Okay. I look very off. Left to right are: me, Scott, Anesu, Edrik, Petra, Rudy and Genelle. Regardless, I had a blast. The people at the conference were so friendly and kind. It's nice to be in an academic space where people are supportive - not competitive and trying to size you up. It was refreshing and a great way to get back to my school life.

We tried to gather up all the Filipinos at the conference for a picture (because well, Filipinos like taking pictures together). Unfortunately, some folks were missing (Rudy, where were you?). So left to right we are: Ronaldo, Genelle, Steve, Pearlie, (UGH! Why am I blanking on her name?!), me and Rhacel. (Alex, I know what you're thinking and I'm thinking it too.) It was great being around good company. I can't wait for the conference next year.

Friday, October 14, 2005

the first eight miles

I know the marathon is over. However, as the cliche goes, the experience will stay in my mind forever. Last night I went to Zebulon for Ricky and Angie's surprise baby shower. It's been a few weeks since I've seen everyone. Although I know we needed the space, it was so great seeing everyone again. It's rough because we spent thirty weeks together (the equivalent of two straight semesters) and now we're lucky to see each other in passing. I realized how much I missed everyone last night. Also, if you are looking for a cool place to hang out in SF, Zebulon is definitely a great find. It's in the financial district and is walking distance from BART. Plus, there was plenty of parking.

Last night I realized that I never really wrote about the actual marathon. I talked about the beginning and the end, but never the middle. I guess it's because before I even did the marathon, I could only envision the start and the finish. I had no idea what the middle would be like. I still don't know how to describe the actual journey. However, I'll do my best starting now. Here is the first eight miles.

The wake-up call was early - about 2am. I had to make sure I got up because I had to eat and prep for the marathon (my ritual is long and exhausting and is detailed somewhere in another entry here). We had to be at the buses by 3:30 to get us to the start line in time for us to have a briefing. The bus ride was long, quiet and nerve-wracking. It didn't help that somewhere in the middle we hit a huge bump. As we got off the bus, I decided to use the port-o-potties while they were still semi-clean. That would be my last bathroom trip (because I am physically incapable of answering nature's call in nature's settings or in port-o-potties that are set out in the Maui heat).

The briefing was nice. Throughout the whole thing, I kept thinking, "This is it. This is our last team briefing." It was sad, but it was also exciting because all that training came down to that day. I couldn't believe that thirty weeks had passed by so fast. Everything was so serious that there was no room for my quirky dedication to our hopeful Filipino rockstar. Oh well, sometimes humor just isn't appropriate. While waiting, we took photos, stretched out... I tried my best to calm my nerves.

After waiting with the crowd, the race finally started. It was exciting because I had no idea what to expect. Bullet X fell behind, but for us, it was important to pace ourselves. For me, as long as I could see at least one other team, things were fine. The weather was decent, although even within the first hour, the sweat was pouring because that humidity was killer! I don't remember much except hoping the darkness would stay a little longer, seeing teams Tung Yee and Wahat not too far from us, and of course, the shared experience of the team bush:)

There were three locals we met - Diana, Mele and Sama (who switched off between his slippers and shoes in order to conquer the course). It was Mele's birthday. Although she didn't finish, she did make it to the half way mark in order to celebrate her 40th birthday. The terrible person in me noticed the non-running shoes, cotton socks and missing dryfit. They were very kind and told us that our teams were in great shape. I wasn't sure the two would make it, but they ended up finishing way before we did. See? Never underestimate how people conquer the course. Everyone has their own method to the madness.

I didn't realize how much the heat was killing me until we reached the first coach's stop at about 8 miles. I changed socks and realized that my shoulders were tight. I'm not sure why they felt that way. My form was solid and I got proper rest and hydration. Looking back, I feel like some unspeakable force, some spirit was following me and squeezing my back and shoulders, which made them hurt and hard to breathe. Cici and Angie were rubbing my back trying to loosen up some of the tension and even they noticed how tight the muscles were. I was also feeling a little off because my blood sugars were higher than usual (in the 160s).

So here I was trying to avoid my chronic blisters (which were fine at that point), loosen my shoulders which I think spirits were crunching, and battling the blood sugars. Up ahead was the most difficult part of the course: the rolling hills.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

too lazy

I've been gone for about two weeks for the marathon and conference. This week was the first full week I've had back in Cali and I am B-E-A-T. I really need to step up my training for the Nike women's half, but my body just won't cooperate. UGH! Thank God I'm walking!

Anyway, as promised, here are some photos. I'd write more, but I'm just too damn lazy! UGH! Enjoy!

Carbo Load: Coach Alex prepares the delicious food for the team. (Have you seen so much pasta in your life? Atkins fans would have died!)

Chef Coach Angie hard at work feeding the team.

Smile while you can. Before the race, Coach Angie joins Bullet X for one last photo. (Enjoy the goodness while it lasts because the course ends up killing us!)

The Infamous Team Bush. When nature called, the Runbutans answered in this bush.

The 18 mile drums. Right when I was ready to throw in the towel, we hit the 18 mile mark and were greeted by this group of drummers. They summoned the gods to give us the strength to make it to the end.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

words from Coach Rex

Friday, September 23, 2005; 9:45am

Dear Runbutans, MHF Board, and Community:

Thank you for the congratulations that have begun to fill my email. I love it. Although a couple of days late, I am writing to share with you the news of our victory in Maui. On September 18, 2005, thirty runners dawned the Runbutan red jerseys to represent the Manilatown Running Collective and our community in the 2005 Maui Marathon. Victory! Victory! Victory! Thirty runners set out for the 26.2 mile marathon and all thirty runners crossed the finish line.

September 18, 2005 will go down as one of the most historic days in the history of the Manilatown Running Collective. The 2005 Team were record setters. Here are the records that they established last Sunday:

a. Sept. 18, 2005 marked the largest number of Runbutans to cross the finish line on race day. THIRTY IN ONE DAY!

b. The 2005 Runbutan Team raised the largest amount ever raised by a single Runbutan Team. They are closing in on $40K (not including a match by the Banatao family). With the Banatao grant, Runbutans have raised over $100,000 in the last three years.

c. The 30 runners on marathon day made Sept. 18, 2005 the largest number of Runbutans to participate at a single marathon.

d. The Maui Marathon 2005, was the hottest most grueling marathon conditions faced by a Runbutan Team. With these hot and humid conditions, they showed the utmost courage, perseverance, and love.

e. The 2005 Runbu-squad was the largest number of Runbutans to complete at least one 20+mile training run. It was the most prepared team for marathon day in the history of the running collective.

f. The 2005 Runbu-coaching team was the largest and most successful coaches team to coach a team to victory. Kudos to Coach Alex, Coach Angie, Coach Cici, Coach Herb, Coach Patrick, and Coach Tiffany.

g. The Runbutan Coaches have a perfect record of 64 out of 64 success rate. 64 runners in the last three years have made it through the 30-week training program to race day, and all 64 who have participated in the marathons have finished. Yes! That is a 100% success rate. The streak continues thanks to all Runbutans over the course of the last 3 years!!! Go Runbutans.

h. The 2005 Marathon was the first time in the running collective's history that no one finished alone. I have never been more proud of a community of people than I was last Sunday. After a mild morning and after the steep hills of the Marathon course, the heat became dangerous and unbearable. The heat and humidity began to engulf the runners at the half marathon mark. If I were to draw an analogy of my experience of watching the team, I felt like the parent of a boxer (perhaps a Mango from Manilatown). As the heat swarmed the runners, I have never seen a group of runners take a beating from the elements as the 2005 runbu-squad endured. The heat was so bad that I would not have wished in on my worst enemy. Unfortunately, the team that I have grown to love over the last 30 weeks took a pummeling like I have never seen before. There were points on the course where like a parent watching their son or daugter getting pummeled in the boxing ring, I cried inside and wanted to toss in the white towel to end their pain.

Yet, amidst the unrelenting heat and humidity, an unbelievable thing happened. The team grew closer in rank. Unlike other marathon teams and runners, the 2005 runbu-squad did not take the route of individualism and a mentality of "every man for himself". Instead, each runner vowed that no one would be left to run alone. The adversity brought them closer. The heat rallied them to dig deep to find the best person within. The pace groups ran as one. No one was left alone. And with the pain and agony, the team withstood the elements and fought back. I have never seen anything more beautiful as the sight of the Runbutan red shirts rolling down the road fighting back the most difficult conditions that I had ever witnessed.

In the most extreme circumstances and adversity, our team found its finest hours. With the adversity, our running collective recalled everything that they learned over the past 30 weeks of training and bonded together like I had never seen. When one runner needed help, the rest of the pace group was there. When a runner needed to step up to help lead, the leadership came. When the heat came to torture the group, the pace groups cooled each other by showing love and caring for one another. No one was ever alone. The team was one. The 2005 Runbu-squad pulled together and fought the elements together.

As I saw the team of runbutan-red rolling down the road at the 26th mile, I broke down in tears. The team took a beating from the heat, but fought back with the unity and ferocity of love that I will never ever forget. The triumph of this 2005 Runbutan Team is not just a marathon victory. Rather, it is the triumph of love and community over adversity. It was a demonstration of the power of the human spirit.

The courage that this team displayed will always be attached to my soul. I have never seen a group honor their families, their community, our struggle, and their ancestors as this team did. I am so honored and privileged to have witnessed their victory. I am so lucky to have coached this extraordinary group of people. They have taught me so much about life.

As our heroes return home, I hope that we take opportunities to hear their individual accounts of their victory. Heroes are not just those who commit unbelievably heroic acts. Heroes are not only those who are heroic but also return home to tell the community of their heroism so that these acts will live forever.

Congratulations to the 2005 Runbutan Team. Thank you for showing me beauty. Thank you for showing me how to be stronger. Thank you for showing me love. As I have been saying for the past 30 weeks, Keep running, and don't stop.

Final Thoughts of the 2005 Running Season

The 2005 Runbu-squad is a collective of 30 unbelievable stories. Here are some samples of some of the stories of some of our runners:

We have a runner whose grandmother passed away a week before marathon day. Instead of returning for her grandmothers funeral and with her family's blessing, she ran the marathon with her grandmothers name on her back celebrating the years of life her grandmother graced the earth. In the irony of life, she crossed the finished around the same time her grandmother was being laid to rest in the Philippines.

We had a runner who was a cancer survivor who crossed the finish and ran for an aunt who has category four cancer in the Philippines. She returned to the Philippines the day following the marathon.

We had new and expecting parants. One year old Isagani watched mommy and daddy finish the Maui Marathon. Coach Angie and Ricky Nierva are expecting their first child in November. They shared that they were pregnant mid-way through training. As new and expecting parents, they showed the team why our work in the present is relevant for our future.

We had several runners who recently graduated from college and are transitioning into a new marathon of life after higher education. Their strength and courage show that the next stage of their lives are bound to be full of triumphs and blessings. Our community is in good hands.

We are a running team of heavy hearts. In the last three years, members of our running team lost special people in our lives. As we triumphed to victory, these departed loved ones saw us through.
We had runners who were not Filipino, but like all people of integrity, we share a yearning for social justice and equity for oppressed people. In running for Manilatown, we represented communities that are invicible. Through our running we make the invisible visible. The Manilatown movement has always been an inter-generational and multi-ethnic coalition of people in search for justice. The Runbutans ran in solidarity of this historic past.

We had runners who are currently students. Juggling the grueling academic calendar, they reminded the more senior folks in the group their past and a greater hope for the future. In running together inter-generationally, we are stronger and more wise than we were 30 weeks ago.

We had runners currently in graduate school whose life's academic work will transform and make relevant issues that tell our community story. Through publishing and teaching, they teach us about ourselves.

We are a team of coaches who give selflessly. Last Sunday, the coaches coached, cooked, drove, supported, nursed, provided wake up calls, facilitated community gathering, cleaned, and most importantly demonstrated love.

This is just a brief synopsis of the lives of the heroes/sheroes that make up our team. The marathon that we ran is symbolic of the beautiful journey of life that we continue to travel. Together, we made history. Together, we made our community better. Together, we exemplified what it means to be unified, courageous, loving, and agents of change. I wish our families and our community could have seen the marathon through my eyes because I have never witness anything more dramatic, courageous, and beautiful. It is my hope that as the days go by that the runners tell their stories. It is my hope that just as they embodied and honored the Manilatown/I-Hotel struggle that we continue to build and become stronger.

I will cherish what I witnessed for all of my days. I am so enriched to have been touched by the Runbutans who I have run with in the past three years. As I continue to run and become touched by this growing my team, I become stronger and become more complete. Peace be our journey. "For our bayani (heroes), for the Manilatown/I-Hotel struggle, and for our community, we runbutan!"

Much love and respect,

Coach Rex getting some much-needed and well deserved rest.

Monday, September 26, 2005

the road after Kaanapali

I just got back from what feels like an eternity. Ten days away from home is a long time. I’m enjoying a few days here and will then be on my way to DC for a conference. Life normalizes after October 2nd.

On the plane back to Oakland, I proudly wore my Maui Marathon Finisher’s t-shirt. A woman sitting near me on the plane noticed and started talking to me. She ran Maui with Team-In-Training (this was her second Maui marathon). I told her who we were and she said she saw us at the marathon (the red is hard to miss amidst all that purple). She also noticed us during our training runs at Ocean Beach. In usual fashion, we compared marathon notes. I told her we were among the very last to finish. I also described how most of the tents were gone, so we couldn’t take advantages of the perks like the massages and Starbucks. (I know. I’ll get over the whole Starbucks thing… eventually.)

She was curious about our group and I told her how we run together and finish together. She said, “Oh, Team-In-Training isn’t like that. We eventually run by ourselves and cross by ourselves.” Although I failed to catch her name, I felt bad for her. Here she was, a totally fit, multi-marathon runner who probably made it in time for the perks. And here I was, out of shape (even though I do run), single marathon runner with absolutely no intention of running another one. I was also envious of her feet because I highly doubt her tootsies went through the hell mine went through with all the blistering and such. Anyway… I felt bad because she ran with a HUGE group but eventually crossed alone. To me, marathon running is a team sport. To cross the finish alone makes one the absolute loneliest number.

As I mentioned before, I’m still processing this whole thing. At this point, I have to say that as a runbutan, the victory did not end at the finish line. I don’t think I would have pulled through the recovery without the generous nature of my teammates. Although I didn’t get to know everyone, I cherish what we have all been bound to.

As you may know, I’ve had a blister problem since we hit the 20 mile training. From there, even short runs have been unkind to my feet. After the marathon, I went to bed in agony nursing my monster-sized blisters. I couldn’t walk that day and the ones that followed. Like I already said, the coaches were great. They called to check up on Tzel and I. When they found out we hadn’t eaten yet (it was after 9pm and we came back from the marathon at about 4pm), Alex and Cici came to our room and gave us pizza, leg cream and salonpas to nurse our aching bodies, and made sure we were hydrating properly.

Coach Cici playing with her new ukelele.

The following night was the victory party. Although painful, I made the short journey to be with my fellow runbutans. (I’ll share more about that night in another entry.) I always knew that this team was unique, but hearing about everyone’s journey shed new light for me. Each person was battling something during the run and each person had a unique story to tell. It was great to know that although we had so much and so little in common, we were all comfortable enough to share.

On the plane ride back to the bay area last night, I was reflecting on this whole experience. One thing that came to mind is that I am incredible lucky to have the friends that I have – both new and old. For me, I realized how beautiful and kind everyone is - especially after the race when I was in my recovery state. The small, simple and yet meaningful things that people shared and people did for me were immeasurable.

On the walk back to the condo after the victory party, I was in terrible pain. I had to take off my slippers and walk barefoot on raw feet on the pavement. It was fine until we crossed the driveway, which had small pebbles that I kept stepping on. Camille and Diana were with me and in my breaking point of agony, I sat down on the pavement in tears telling myself how much I hated my feet. Immediately, Diana made her way to the room to carry the things we were bringing back while Camille sat next to me in silence, consoling me in my moments of weakness and pain. When Diana came back, I got back up on my feet to go to the room. She kindly walked in front of me sweeping away the small pebbles so that I could walk on a clear path to the room.

The lovely ladies of D107: Camille, me (the adopted child), Diana, Tina and Maria.

The following day I was set to leave Maui for Honolulu to meet up with my best friend. Again, everyone was kind and friendly. The ladies of D107 provided a place for me to stay, while Ronnie and Jose returned the pots and pans to the front desk for me because I couldn’t walk the walk. Also, a good chunk of the team was at the airport at the same time as I was. With the help of Tina and Maria, I made it to the airport with good company and laughs as we drove my the infamous “team bush.” My luggage was extra heavy and having to wheel that stuff in with bad feet was quite a chore. Coach Herb was kind enough to take over and turn in my luggages o’ goodies.

Tired and sweaty, I was secretly dreading the walk to the terminal. Again, the runbutans came to my rescue and requested a wheelchair for me. Faith was kind enough to wheel me in (as I was nervously thinking, how in the world is this tiny thing going to wheel in my monstrous body through the gates?). In truth, I had fun simulating a roller coaster through the terminals. I’ll never look at that airport the same again. The team stuck around with me as I went through security and made sure I made it to the gate.

Again, as fate would have it, Coach Patrick was on the same flight as me to Honolulu. He took care of me during the last leg of the flight by wheeling me to the plane and carrying my things. In Honolulu, he went on to haul our luggage to the waiting area (as I sat on my lazy injured ass). His sister picked us up from the airport and they took me to have my first official Leonard’s malasadas before taking me to my hotel. Patrick also went the distance by taking me and my best friend Caroline out to dinner the next evening and then spent a day with us around the island on Thursday. We ended the evening by watching a UH women’s volleyball game (something I’ve always wanted to do since I was a little kid). He even called to check up on me and my feet before he headed back to the bay area on Saturday. Yea for caring coaches:)

Coach Patrick lounging at the airport before heading out to Honolulu.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m fiercely independent in nature. It’s from my dad. I’m not used to needing so much help and am even worse at asking for it. It was wonderful being taken care of, but deep down inside I was totally embarrassed and felt like such a weakling. My first night in Honolulu, I sat in my hotel room alone and started crying because so many people were there to witness me at such a terrible low. But even at my lowest point, they managed to carry me and take care of me. They answered my moments of need before I could muster up the courage to ask (they probably knew I wouldn't be able to ask). I see now that this is why in three years, the runbutans have a 100% finish rate.

The team really stuck it out with me by making light of everything. When I was getting wheeled all over the place, Celisse and others kept telling me to be proud because I have battle scars to show my accomplishment. Faith had a ball speeding down the aisles of the terminal. Alex shared is butter mochi, Cici played her ukelele, and Herb kept cracking dirty jokes! After a dismal post-marathon, Tina was her positive and wonderful self. When we parted ways with the folks going back to the bay area, Patrick was actually happy to wheel me in to our terminal because it meant we would get first dibs on our seats. I couldn’t help but be happy on the outside because I was surrounded by nothing but love. That is the beauty of this team. Our unconditional love for each other didn’t end at the finish line. Instead, it carried us beyond that and continues to do so.

Coach Herb demonstrating one of his dirty jokes. (Insert laughter here.)

This is why I felt bad for the Team-In-Training woman. Although she probably crossed with good time and will go far in her running career, she will never have the honor or luxury of being a runbutan. The finish line was her end point. For the runbutans, the finish was just the beginning.

P.S. The day I arrived in Honolulu, I watched the finale of Rockstar INXS. Unfortunately, MiG Ayesa lost. Oh well, it’s not about the finish, it’s about the distance. With that, I’m sure MiG will go far.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

A letter to the coaches

It's a few days after the marathon. Apologies for taking so long to post. I didn't realize how long it would take to process the whole journey. Also, as usual, I got major blisters on my feet. This time they were on the balls of my feet which made recovery a little different. Let's just say that these damn blisters were so big that the nurse in the medical tent (yes, I had to go straight to the medical tent after crossing the finish) had a blast announcing how big and disgusting my blisters were while I was sitting there in pain and defeat. Enough about the lack of professionalism in the medical tent.

I'm writing this entry for the coaches. It's a little winded, but I promise that there's a point to it all. So here it goes...…

In 2000 while I was watching the Olympics, I witnessed the US Men's Volleyball team's disappointing finish. I'm a volleyball fan and one of the standouts on that team was Mike Lambert, a Stanford alum whose career I've been following since he was a Cardinal (boo! hiss!). I remember Lambert's first game as a freshman and thought the Cardinals wasted a perfectly good scholarship on a tall, lanky Hawai`i island boy who couldn't hit the ball over the net to save his life. Here he was, playing in his second Olympic games. In 1996, the US Men's Volleyball team didn't do well either. In 2000, hopes were high and Lambert was supposed to lead the way for the team.

In their final game, they lost and didn't even make it to the medal rounds. In fact, I don't think they even won a single match. It was the most disappointing loss for the team since they medaled in 1984, 1988, and 1992. Meaning, their losing teams were also the teams that Lambert (and some others) were on. I've seen Lambert lose before, but this time around he looked completely defeated. It was like someone totally sucked the life out of him. I felt bad.

The next day I was surfing the net and ran into a letter that announcer Paul Sunderland wrote to Lambert. In the background was a picture of Lambert looking defeated and beat down. In the letter, Sunderland wrote about what it means to be a champion and what it means to win. If I recall correctly, Sunderland wrote that the true sign of a champion has nothing to do with what he wins. Rather, it has more to do with how he loses and the lessons learned when face to face with defeat. He went on to say that he has had the pleasure of watching Lambert's development on and off the court and that he has become a world-class athlete. Losing a series of games does not change the champion you really are.

Team Bullet X Marisigan: Tzel and me.

This story comes to mind because I saw that look of defeat again. Only it was in the face of Coach Rex. On Sunday, the runbutans completed a grueling course and were met at the finish line with no Starbucks Frappuccino, no time clock, no finish line banner, no complimentary massages. Instead, we were met with delays in the medical tent, grumpy workers and volunteers who wanted to go home and were upset we took so damn long to finish, and again, no Starbucks Frappuccino. I was too busy nursing my poor feet that I didn'’t really notice. All that mattered to me was that I finished, survived and completed with the 29 other people on the team.

The next day I went to get a massage with Ricky and Angie. Coach Rex was nice enough to drive us to and from the spa. From the get-go I could tell he was upset about the whole thing. He looked like the Lambert I remember sitting on the floor, head buried in his hands, totally defeated. Like Sunderland, I would like to extend a message to Coach Rex and the rest of the fantastic runbutan coaching team...…

As a member of the runbutan team, I can honestly say that I joined not knowing I would complete the thirty weeks of training. Crossing the finish line was in some ways uneventful. For me, it was uneventful because I couldn't take a picture of the finish line for my thank you cards. Other than that, not having all the frills waiting for me was no big deal. (With the exception of the Starbucks thing - I'm still not over that.) I think Coach Rex felt defeated because for the past thirty weeks, he led the coaches and the runners throughout this process. He was the grand daddy of it all. And like a father, to see any of your children uncared for or not receive any love at the finish has to hurt. Rex was hurting for all thirty of us even when we didn't realize there was any pain to be felt. Rex felt it even before we had a chance to absorb any of it.

Coach Rex videotaping during the victory party.

My message to the coaches is this: there are not enough thank yous in the world to pay you back for the time, dedication and love you all put in to the team. For most of us, this was our first marathon and your guidance throughout this process is what brought the runbutans to the finish. You helped me accomplish something that I never thought would be possible. You helped me test my body, mind and spirit beyond its limits and let me know that anything, including obtaining a Ph.D. is within reach. The night after the marathon, being surrounded by the team also reminded me that we didn't run for the sake of running. We ran because running symbolized different parts of our personal lives and the future of our people. To start together, run together and finish together was a sign of our dedication to ourselves, the people around us and the history that is behind and ahead of us. None of this would have happened without the coaching team. During the marathon, every coach's stop was inspiration to go further and further. Seeing you brought life back into our aching bodies and tired legs. It was your mana and your love that helped us cross the finish line - whatever that finish line was to each of us.

A time clock, a finish banner and even a Starbucks Frappuccino are not signs of a successful finish. No team in that race trained harder or showed the strength and tenacity that we did. For elite athletes, finishing a marathon in two to three hours is easy. Sticking it out with thirty other people through the thick of the Maui heat for over nine hours is something that even the world's best athletes could never do. But the runbutans did it with grace and heart. It is a rite that very few people could claim.

Although I'm sure watching the runbutans take a beating was no easy task, just know that pain is temporary. IT bands will bounce back, blisters will heal, and bodies will be re-hydrated. Coaches, there is no need to bear the burden of the team'’s pains because the victory that you led each and every one of us is so much greater. Salamat and Mahalo for the journey and the many roads that lie ahead.

The 2005 Runbutans.

P.S. In the end, Lambert ended up playing beach volleyball with the legendary Karch Kiraly. Sometimes defeat leads us to legends.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

in the dark of night

I've been obsessed with the show Rockstar: INXS these past few weeks and this Tuesday they finally announce their winner. I'm keeping fingers crossed for Mig Ayesa:) Hence, this should explain the title of this blog. It's a line from their song "By My Side." During tomorrow's run, I'm going to secretly dedicate my run to Mig in hopes that he wins. Filipinos really need their rocker and hopefully by this time next week he'll be the one.

Also, I'm writing you from Maui. In the dark of night. Hours away from the marathon and the start line. We're lounging in the dark of night by the pool to eat our last meal (semi) together. I can't believe we're here and that we've come so far. By this time tomorrow I'll be done with my ice bath and lounging in the room, eating something meaty and beefy, recovering, and looking forward to my 85 minute over-priced massage.

At this point, I can only picture the start and the finish. I'm not sure what's going to happen in the middle. All I know is I came all this way to run and complete this race. Fingers crossed and prayers made, I hope to cross that finish. (Besides, I really want that finishers t-shirt and all the cool complimentary stuff you get like... small samples of Xango mangosteen drink!) I've done all I can do and just hope that lady fate is kind and carries me to the finish. Since we arrived on Thursday, I've been averaging about 4-6 liters of water to keep me hydrated. In the bay area I was averaging about 4 liters. I think I'm good on hydration.

The dark of night in Maui is beautiful. It's midnight black. The sky is clear. The moon is full. Luckily, the heavens have been listening because the weather is not as hot as I was anticipating. There's 40% chance of rain which means that if that does happen, I won't conk out so quickly.

The team is in high spirits and although they're all here, a part of them is missing them. But that's just me. Thinking ahead. The usual pessimist.

But I'm off. To eat my burger and pack my things. I'm off to run this race. Fingers crossed. Prayers made.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

totally freaking out!

The coaches warned us about the butterflies kicking in before marathon day. However, I didn't think they would come so soon.

I leave for Maui in about ten hours and am doing minor last minute touches on the packing. As far as I can tell, it's going well. However, I've suddenly become nervous about this whole thing. My best friend told me to just relax. I'm trying.

I have been trying to take it easy during this taper period. The blisters have all healed and I visited the nice people at Foot Solutions in Fremont. It looks like the blistering is from my orthotic. They're old and don't fit my feet anymore. They're actually forcing my arches to go a little too high and that's what's causing the blistering. They gave me a replacement set which I think fits a lot better. When I'm ready and can afford it, I'm going to have to get custom ones made because my feet are really bad. I'm hoping the rest I've been taking pays off on Sunday.

I'm freaking out and off to pack!

Sunday, September 04, 2005

the rules of dating (over Mexican food)

Yesterday I went to the run, but didn't run. Instead, I took a nice walk with Cici and Celisse while the team ran. Afterwards, we went to La Pinata in Alameda for lunch.

Getting to know the team has been a little difficult because the team is so big. With over 30 runners and coaches, it's hard to keep up with and get to know everyone. So this lunch with about nine people was nice. Over piping hot Mexican food, we got into the age-old discussion of dating. If I'm not mistaken, everyone at the table was currently single, so having a group of 20-30 somethings bitching about dating is always a fun thing. I was glad that my failed dating life was the norm as opposed to the exception. (As great as the conversation was, I still didn't get my question answered: Why are men such complicated creatures?!)

As we were all sharing and getting to know each other, a part of me became sad. The marathon is about two weeks away. The team has been training together for six months now and after the marathon, it will all be over. No more training Saturdays, no more bitching about injuries, not more post-run pigging out. I'm finding that the last few weeks of training are crucial, not just because of the marathon preparation and the injuries we have to nurse, but because we have to treasure each other's company. This is why I'm totally bummed about missing the last run next week (I have to work in order to pay for the trip).

In my pace group, there's just me and Tzel. After the marathon, she's moving to the Philippines for a year. Running with her has been so much fun because considering the amount of hours we spend on the long runs, we always manage to keep conversation going. Tzel amazes me because she's had to battle so much at such a young age. Despite that, she manages to keep her spirits high and is unwilling to compromise who she is in order to accomplish what she wants. Very few people are this gutsy. I'm going to miss the inspiration. I'm also going to miss the silly, girlie conversations with Coach Angie, Coach Cici and Tina. Of course, there's Rickey's sarcastic’ comments, Mark's chanting in his bright red tights, Coach Herb's Pinoy-esque jokes and funny dancing... these are just a few things that come to mind when I think about the group. I don't have to worry about missing Coach Alex and Coach Rex because I always see them and know where to find them.

Although I am frantically preparing for the marathon, I know the more important thing, and the thing that will count in the long run, is remembering these moments with everyone. I'll forget the mileage, the routes we took, the injuries I had to nurse. But the things I will remember are the conversations we had, the silly comments that were made, and all the funny dancing.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

special thanks!

Hello all!

I just wanted to say hello and send out a special thanks to all of you who have supported me throughout this journey. As of today, with your generous donations, I have reached my goal of raising $3000 for the Manilatown Heritage Foundation (insert a standing ovation here and take a bow). In the beginning, I wasn't sure I could reach it, but you all have been so gracious about donating to this wonderful cause.

As our training is winding down, the team's fundraising seems to be at full speed. Although I have reached my goal, please don't let that stop you from sending in your donation (especially if you haven't turned one in yet). The team's goal is to raise $50,000 and right now we're at a little under $30,000. The grand opening of the I-Hotel last Friday truly inspired me and I hope that it inspires more people to donate to this great cause - whether it be time, money, or prayers, every bit helps.

Again, maraming salamat and I'm looking forward to running the Maui marathon with you in spirit!

runbutan survey

Runbu Nickname: Joy, Jo, Jo-jo, "My GSI"
Age: Older than most on the team (29 and still going).
Pace Group: Bullet X Marisigan
Hometown: Dededo, Guam
School: James Logan H.S., UC Santa Barbara, UC Berkeley
Occupation: Graduate Student, Freelance make-up artist/skincare specialist
Favorite Running Location: Crissy Field, the Pier, wherever it's flat.
Favorite Sports Drink: Water with Nuun electrolyte tablets. Endurox Recovery drink.
Favorite Sports Bar/Gel: Can't have them. But I do like soy pretzels and gummies for snacks on the runs.
Running Shoe: Motion Control. Saucony Grid Stabil (but I'm in the market for a new brand).
Running Store Where Bought: Transport in Berkeley.

Why Do You Runbutan? For the health and survival of our community. For the preservation of our history. To encourage future runbu-runners.

Note To Your Supporters/Donors. Thank you for your generosity and support for such a great cause. We wouldn't have made it to the finish without you.

To Whom Do You Dedicate Your Running? To my father who had arthritis and couldn't walk without crutches. To my brother who is recovering from knee surgery. To the people whose memory we run in. To future generations whose world I hope is so much better than ours.

Other Hobbies: Health wise? I spin and weight train at the gym. I also practice a self defense art called krav maga. For leisure, I read, write, and love photography. I'm big on the arts stuff such as good concerts and theater (even though
my budget doesn't allow for much of this). I also make jewelry (if time permits) and other various crafts.

Favorite after-run spot: The nearest burger joint or Hawaiian BBQ place with good company, of course. If it's a LONG run, my bathtub filled with ice.

Running Testimonials: I joined the group because I hated to run and had never run more than three miles at a time. In truth, I still hate running. However, I do it to maintain my health. Filipinos and other people of color are plagued by various chronic diseases such as diabetes and I'm no exception (I have type 2 diabetes). I feel that keeping healthy is the most important thing we can do for our communities. We have to live and survive in order to lead the revolution, right? Besides, I'd like to be around to watch our communities continue to rise.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

those we honor

Lately I've been curious about the four people who the runbutan teams are named after. While doing a little searching, I found the following images on the Manilatown website:

Wahat Tampao. He was the secretary-treasurer of the International Hotel Tenants Association. As you can tell, he was an energetic man with a passion for his activism.

Tung Yee. On the Manilatown website, Bill Sorro wrote this about him:

Mr. Tung Yee
Whose smile breathed new life into the old I-Hotel
New meaning, essence of home
Old man, Proud Chinaman
Tung Yee who stood tall in the face of greed and corruption
The little ones of Portsmouth Square sing in your honor.
Their voices undulating like the xiao carried on the Chinatown winds,
following as the Gaurat, a song of praise in your name
Tung Yee, Proud man, Proud Chinaman

Although I didn't manage to download an image of Vicky Manalo, I did find her picture here . Of course, she's the one in the middle. Currently, she lives in Southern California.

Still no sign of Bullet X Marisigan...

Saturday, August 27, 2005

headline news

Check out the article about the I-Hotel grand opening. Enjoy!

p.s. If you're thinking what I'm thinking, yes, I noticed the absence too. This is what happens when people are too afraid to be Filipino specific. Although I understand the politics, I do not forgive the silence.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Manilatown comes home

Today I went to the grand opening of the new International Hotel Senior Housing. It's been a few years since I have visited the corner of Kearny and Jackson. The last time I was there was a few years ago when friends from UCSB were in town and we all decided to have dinner in Chinatown. At the time, we wanted to visit the site because the new I-Hotel was under construction and it was refreshing to see that what was left of Manilatown was more than just a hole in the ground.

Since it had been a while I wasn't quite sure how to get to the site from the Montgomery Street station. After receiving what I knew were bad directions to Chinatown, I decided to take a leap of fate and told myself to just walk in whatever direction I thought felt right. Within a few moments I reached Kearny Street and went from there. It didn't take too long to find the Hotel. The KRON news van and the congregation of beautiful brown people were enough to let me know that I made it to my destination.

The new International Hotel Senior Housing.

I was amazed at the amount of people that were there. The grand opening went from 1-5pm. The major festivities started at 1pm (the ribbon cutting, speeches by alleged dignitaries, etc.). Since I got there at about 3pm, I figured the crowd would have died down. I was wrong. The crowd was in full swing. People were pouring in to celebrate a magnificent victory in the longstanding struggle for affordable housing. There were so many generations of people there to be part of this historical event.

As I was walking up the sidewalk into the hotel, I was ambushed by a strange inexplicable energy. It was like something that had been dead for a long time had suddenly emerged and was screaming out loud. When I entered the main area, the first thing I saw was the legacy wall. Right then, it hit me. For the past six months, I've been trying to figure out the various reasons for running this marathon. All this time I thought it was because I was trying to prove something to myself. Now I know that there is so much more to the 26.2 miles in Maui that have absolutely nothing to do with running. I was here, standing at the crossroad between a silenced past and a present that was trying to be heard. At that moment, I realized that I am now a part of that present that is trying to be heard - as a runner, a scholar, an educator, an auntie, a daughter....

The legacy wall. The bricks you see are the remains of the original I-Hotel. The glass in front of the bricks features a list of donors. Bridging the past and the present, this part of the building also features an art exhibit of the I-Hotel struggle.

As I was looking at the photos of the old-timers who were forcibly evicted from the original I-Hotel, I saw reflections of my own father who would have been 78 years old. I don't think my father knew about the I-Hotel, and unfortunately, he didn't live long enough to see what kind of woman his youngest daughter turned out to be. Like my father and these old timers in the photos, I hope that past generations are looking at us from above with some sense of pride. I hope they know that we have not forgotten them and we are trying to break the silences of their pains, struggles, hopes and dreams.

Like most people, I always wonder why my life has taken on such a strange series of paths. I was never supposed to be a graduate student. In fact, I was supposed to be an engineer just like my father. But sometimes a daughter has to disappoint in order to stand on her own two feet. My life is not necessarily filled with wise choices. However, it is filled with choices that I do not regret. I can only hope that the man they call Fernando understands.

On the roof of the new I-Hotel. It has a lounge area for people to enjoy breathtaking views of the city.

In truth, I was not prepared for the amount of emotion that was running through me as I visited a site that has meant so much to so many generations. One thing that struck me was seeing a photograph of Wahat Tampao, a former resident and outspoken leader of the struggle. I clearly remember his face from Curtis Choy's film Fall of the I-Hotel, but as a college freshman, I had no idea who he was. Currently, the runbutans have four different teams, all named after an important person in Filipino American History. (Also, we're called the runbutans after the tropical fruit rambutan because early Filipino American sports leagues used to name themselves after tropical fruit from the homeland e.g. the mangoes.) The great thing is that the people we honor are not necessarily big-named heroes. Rather, they are the everyday people who make up the intricate details of the fabric of Filipino American history. The four teams are: Vicky Manalo, Wahat Tampao (the first team I ran with), Bullet X Marisigan (my current team) and Tung Yee.

Sadly, I don't know who everyone is. The people we honor are not in history books. They are everyday people who were brave enough to make an indent in history. Mostly, their legacies live in the hearts and minds of the people who were lucky enough to know them or hear about them. My teammate Tzel actually knew Bullet X, a fireball who was mostly known in activist circles in San Francisco. I wish I knew more about the woman whose legacy I honor each time my flat feet hits the pavement. All I do know is that she passed away a few years ago in a sudden car accident. Although I don't know much about Bullet X, I'm glad to know I run in honor of such a phenomenal woman.

If any of you know who these people are, please share their stories here. The most visible one is obviously Vicky Manalo because a park was recently named after her. For those of you who don't know about Vicky, she was a gold medal Olympic diver who had to use her mother's maiden name because she had to hide her Filipino-ness in order to compete. See? That silenced past and a present that is trying to be heard for future generations seems to be the re-occurring theme in Fil-Am history. This kind of pain is why I sit in front of the computer screen filled with tears. It's pride and rage meeting all at once.

Needless to say, the corner of Kearny and Jackson was filled with various degrees of emotion. Although no one has officially moved in yet, seeing the units and imagining the new I-Hotel community was so exciting. This grand opening is long overdue, and we should all be proud to be part of something so special.

There were a lot of senior citizens there experiencing the space, hoping that they would be lucky enough to have a mailbox in the main lobby. Some of the people looking at the units with me were already making plans for what the rooms would look like with their own belongings. Although I don't know specifics, I do know that assignments have not been granted yet. Amidst the chattering, I could hear hope and preparation for disappointment. The lottery list is long and although 104 units is a lot, it's not nearly enough to satisfy the demand for low income senior housing. This brought me back to reality. Although a wonderful victory, the struggle goes on.

A view of the city from one of the corner units.

I was able to take a self-guided tour of the building. The view from the rooftop is amazing. There's a comfy lounge area with benches and tables for residents to spend their days and nights over looking the city. As I was taking pictures of what residents of the new hotel would see everyday, I couldn't believe how much of Manilatown was obliterated. Can you believe that about ten blocks of what is now the financial district used to be a thriving Filipino community? It absolutely blows my mind.

The units are also very nice. There are 104 studio and one-bedroom units total. Each unit has its own bathroom, storage spaces and kitchen. I have to mention this because apparently, the original I-Hotel had communal bathrooms. To the handful of surviving residents who get to live in the new space, this should be a real treat:)

Of course, the location is fantastic. It's in the heart of Chinatown, a block away from the Financial District, and public transportation is nearby. That way, they have access to so much and it's easy for families to visit. I'm sure someone is city hall is bitching and moaning about all the high rent they cannot charge for such prime real estate. I'm also sure we all know what to say to those selfish jerks!

I stayed at the event for about an hour and a half. I went alone and there was only so much I could take. My head was spinning and I really couldn't wait to sort out my thoughts about the day. Also, I had plans with near and dear friends in Berkeley. All in all, it was a beautiful day that marked an awe-inspiring rebirth of something great.

Nikko the hockey player. Brendan the charmer.

The two beautiful children above are my nephews. I don't have kids and don't plan on having them anytime soon. Right now, renting my nephews is just fine because at the end of the day, I get to keep my sanity:) Nikko is an amazing hockey player who will be one of the first (and few) islanders to grace the sport with his coconutty presence. I predict that he is going to one day make islanders all over the world walk a little taller and hold their heads up a little higher (he already makes me do this). Brendan is cute, charming, incredibly funny and full of personality (just like his godmother). Although he hasn't figured out what his aspirations are just yet (except to be the greatest yu-gi-oh player ever lived), he at least knows where his talents lie. The world awaits him and I get front row tickets.

There are now millions of reasons why I run. For me, looking at the faces of these two amazing kids echoes the motto of the Manilatown Running Collective: "For our bayani (heroes), for our community, and for Manilatown and the I-Hotel, we runbutan."

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Conquering the big 26.2 miles

As I write this, I am sitting up in bed, feet elevated and in complete pain. All this time I thought I had the whole blister thing figured out… nope. My left foot has a blister half the size of my cell phone and my right foot has a blister that is as big as a silver dollar. The right side started to bleed tonight and I had to “perform surgery” and cut some of the skin open in order for the blister to breathe. I know… too much information. However, I’m sitting here in agony and just need to let it out, okay? I hate blisters and am dreading the actual marathon in Maui because the idea of spending half my time in Hawai`i bedridden waiting for blisters to heal just isn’t appealing to me. I’m at a total loss because I have NO IDEA what to do to make them stop. Ugh! Calgon, take me away.

Blisters aside, I’m coming off a pretty decent weekend. Saturday was our trial marathon. I completed the 26.2 mile course in exactly eight hours. Don’t ask me how. I just did it. Unfortunately, I lost my teammate Tzel at mile 17 because her knee gave out. I ran the rest of the way with Coach Alex. I have to thank these two because without their company, the eight hour run would have been totally agonizing.

I want to say that at some point I wanted to give up, to throw in the towel. But to do so would be a big fat lie. I came that morning, thinking I would finish and I did. Slowly, but surely, I crossed the 26.2 mile mark. I wanted to cry at the end of it all, but the tears weren’t there. I wanted to be happy and ecstatic, but those feelings weren’t there either. In truth, the only thing going through my mind was, “This is the last marathon I am ever going to run!” Diana videotaped me saying that and the coaches said, “We have it on film so that after your third or fourth marathon, we have something to look back on.” Fat chance. If there’s one thing I know about me, it’s that when I declare something, I pretty much hold on to it. So again, I declare that this is the last marathon I ever plan on running. From here on out, I will do half marathons at best. The blisters are just a little too much for me. I am happy that my only injury is the blistering. Right now, everything except the sore feet is in perfect health. Even my knees are good.

Before each run we send out dedications. Who are the people and what are the things we are running for on that day? I usually send out a quiet dedication to help me think about who and what I’m running for. Last Saturday was the first time I shared my dedication. I dedicated that run to my brother, who was preparing for surgery. For those of you who have read my donation letter, you know that he’s having a tough time with knee injuries. This past Monday he had surgery on his left knee. His recovery seems to be okay right now. When I sent out my dedication, Coach Rex said, “I’m sure your brother will join our team next year.” When all is well, I think Gerry running a marathon is totally doable. It’s just a matter of him believing he can do it. Maybe this is why I wasn’t so emotional when I finished the run. Instead of it being about me, I felt like I had to complete the run to ensure that my brother’s surgery would be fine. For some reason, when you run for someone or something other than yourself, you take it as if failure is not a choice. You just do it. Maybe I finished hoping it would tell me that Maui would be fine and that every other chaotic thing in my life would be okay. Maybe it was that one thing I had to complete to remind me that we all have obstacles in our lives, but when push comes to shove, we can break through those challenges.

Okay… enough cheese.

On a lighter note, the International Hotel will have its grand opening THIS FRIDAY. The info is posted below. I hope to see some of you there for this historical occasion!

August 26
International Hotel Manilatown Center
Grand Opening Celebration
3rd floor community space
848 Kearny Street @ Jackson
San Francisco CA

For more information or call
415-777-1130. A project of the Manilatown Heritage Foundation