"Maestro" is a name several running buddies call me.
This was started by fellow 83nean Bob and pretty soon classmates of mine who I have engaged into running the past 3 years followed suit. I am flattered especially that my recruits have grown beyond what I imparted with them on running and in fact, many have bested me in terms of speed and distance.
Nonetheless, I am sure all my classmates at the Ateneo de Naga High School Batch of 1983 will agree with me that the original maestro in fact is a Jesuit priest by the name of Fr. Manny Flores.
Back in the early 1980s, he was a Lasallite turned Jesuit who was our teacher in Religion in the classroom. More than that, he was a karate practitioner and part of his conditioning regimen was long distance running. Impressionable teenagers we were at that time, many of us were influenced by Fr. Norman’s emphasis on having an active exercise lifestyle. And he was not parsimonious in teaching us about running. Foremost among his apprentices in our batch was Bert Ferro who defeated many upper classmen in winning a long distance running event in our school intramurals.
Fast forward to present day, I had the chance to run with Fr. Manny. This was just last Friday night, September 6, when I ran at the Ateneo de Manila while waiting for my son. There was Fr. Manny Flores running, too! I quickly re-introduced myself and we ended up running together for almost an hour around the Loyola Heights campus. It was a fruitful run for me as I got to swap stories with our original maestro.
|With Fr. Manny, September 6|
|Ernie, Fr. Manny, BP and Fards taken 2 years ago (Photo courtesy of Ernie)|
Fr. Manny shared that he is now 60 years old. He is connected with the Loyola School of Theology and San Jose Seminary. He continues to run on a regular basis. He is also into mountain trekking. He has climbed the highest mountain in the Philippines, Mt. Apo, a couple of times already. He has climbed as well the highest mountain in Luzon, Mt. Pulag. But for him, climbing Mayon Volcano was more difficult. Badder than the legendary Mt. Halcon in Mindoro. He suggested that perhaps several of us in Batch 83 can organize a trek to Mt. Pulag. He said that he can join this adventure. He promised the view is breath-taking. He said it should be soon while we are all still young.
But most of our chat centered on what else but running. He talked about his experience of running a full marathon in Bicol in the early 80s. He felt that the organizer of that marathon, the Naga branch of the Lions Club, did not know what they were doing. For one, start time was posted at 6am but they were only trucked to the starting area in Nabua from Naga at 7am. To make matters worse, the actual start had to wait for the mayor of Nabua to arrive and do his speech. Part of politics protocol in the provinces. As a result, they began the marathon at 8am. The sun was shining already its splendid glory. There were no water stations and the runners had to fend for themselves. In Fr. Manny’s case, he did not bring any spare cash so he ran the whole 42 kms without water (No Gatorade yet broadly available in the Philippines at that time). He got dehydrated as evidenced by the reddish color of his urine. Despite this setback, he still managed to finish in less than 4 hours. Talk about old school running.
He spoke about a speed training he does when running around the Ateneo campus. When he is nearing the slight uphill portion leading to the Church of Gesu, he goes for a sprint.
Fr. Manny shared that it is while running that he gets to have many inspiring ideas. He thinks that this is because it is while running that the brains gets to have abundant oxygenation. A few medical journals point out that running is the most natural way to increase body-oxygen levels.
Hearing this, I could not help but smile for I clearly agree with our original maestro.
Words from the wise.