After one of my easy runs a week ago, my mom handed me a small package as I entered our house in South Bay. She said our neighbor, Dr. Pena Catangui, dropped by and delivered said package. Excited, I vigorously peeled away at the bubble wrap to unearth a lovely piece of work. A red treasure for me! Actually, a red coaster. But for me it is a red memento of my Bataan Death March experience, where I survived the premier 102km ultra marathon in the country, last March 3-4, 2012 .
|With BDM Finisher’s Trophy and Medal|
But from whom did this red memento come from?
Curious, I texted Pena, a runner like myself, to inquire if it came from her. She texted back with the reply: "No. It came from Francia.”
Francia Manahan, now Mrs. Dihiansan, is a high school classmate of my sister Caroline. In 1983, when I was in 4th year high school at the Ateneo de Naga, she was a college senior in the same school. Francia helped me in a big way (she got me a date for our senior victory ball) and in the process, taught me a thing or two about being a gentleman.
Fast forward to 2010 and I saw her at the Ateneo de Naga Alumni Homecoming in Bicol. There I got to tell her stories of my burgeoning zest for running. Little did I know that I would be able to help unleash her passion for running as well. Perhaps returning a favor to her, albeit a couple of decades late, I got to teach her a thing or two about running.
|Francia (Bib No. 42568) at the Shamrock Shuffle 8K last March 25, 2012|
Now, we get to share emails and stories of our running adventures. Mine here in the Philippines and hers in the windy city of Chicago, one of the running meccas in America.
Receiving this red memento from a running kindred spirit is an enjoyable moment for me. I can’t help but think of the words of Samuel Johnson, an 18th Century lexicographer who is arguably the most distinguished man of letters in English history.
Johnson wrote, “Our brightest blazes of gladness are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks.”
Truly, this memento is a source of gladness for me, more so as it is unexpected.
Thank you, Francia. Dios mabalos.