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I am a Bicolano by birth and choice. By any standards, I am a slow runner but I like it that way. I look at running as a healthy and exciting way to make a difference. Together with my fellow runners from our family, school, office and the community, we use running to give back..

February 2, 2015

2015 CONDURA SKYWAY MARATHON: A Salute To Remember

Penguins graphicsThe Philippine national flag was the first one we saw as runners entered the Skyway to start the marathon.



We saluted as one and some instinctively touched the colors. I did. Then we saw the first of PNP troopers garbed in the now too familiar Special Action Force (SAF) camouflage fatigue. On both his hands was a picture of one of the Gallant 44. With respect and sorrow, we gave our snappiest salute. I could not hold back my tears and glancing to my side, it was easy for me  to deduce that I was not the only one emotional about the proceedings. Then the second trooper came into view, again holding a picture of another one of the gallant PNP-SAF heroes. The third, the fourth, the fifth, the sixth, the seventh,...the 40th, the 41st, the 42nd, the 43rd, and the 44th. Thru all this heroic number, all of us marathoners , with no visible exception, had our salute in place while continuing with our running cadence.  

So it happened that the 2015 edition of the Condura Skyway Marathon became an elemental  part of the whole Filipino nation's outpouring of genuine support and sincere respect  of the Gallant PNP-SAF 44. What happened on that early Sunday morning almost  a week after the Mamasapano infamy was a Salute to Remember.
Runners of all shapes, sizes, gender and color gave their snappy salute. 

Spot the penguin in a sea of salute.
Normally, a salute is a privileged gesture of respect and trust among soldiers. It is an expression that recognizes each other as a member of the profession of arms; that they have made a personal commitment of self-sacrifice to preserve our way of life. On that early Sunday morning of Feb.1, non-soldiers like many of us shared in that privilege. The effect was both chilling and empowering. 


The Concepcion brothers hard at work during the race
Our heartfelt thanks to the good people behind the Condura Skyway Marathon, particularly the Concepcion brothers - Ton and Patrick. They are people passionate about running. They are people cognizant of the important issues in our beloved country. And they act on these concerns.  The Condura Marathon has always had a target beneficiary -  mostly environmental advocacies like the Tubbataha Reef (2008), whale sharks of Donsol (2009), dolphins of Bohol  (2010 & 2011), and mangroves of Zamboanga de Sibugay (2012 & 2013).  Last year, they decided not to push thru with the 2014 edition in deference to the victims of the Typhoon Yolanda super calamity. For this year's edition of the Condura Skyway Marathon, the intended recipient of the funds raised from the marathon is the Hero Foundation which is a non-stock and non-profit organization started by the late President Cory Aquino in collaboration with her  Defense Secretary Renato De Villa in 1988. HERO stands for Help Educate and Rear Orphans. Today, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, through the AFP-Educational Benefit System Office (AFP-EBSO), rely on the HERO Foundation for supplemental financial support for the orphans of fallen soldiers. The support come in the form of stipends thar are directly given to the families to help them with the cost of books, uniform, meals, transportation, and sometimes, even their tuition fees. 

The choice of the HERO Foundation as beneficiary of the 2015 Condura Skyway Marathon was made many months before the fateful date of the Mamasapano treachery. Nobody could have foreseen such an infamous day. But the confluence of events would have it  that a week after the tragedy, one of the larger local marathons (5,000 finishers for the 42-km marathon and a total of 15,000+ runners for all distances) would be held and it would be helping  orphans of fallen soldiers, whose number had significantly jumped up. 

This altruism on the part of the Condura organizers was not lost on the eyes and ears of the military and police.   These protectors or "tagaligtas" of our nation responded in kind.  Aside from the 44 PNP troopers at the start of the marathon, there were also a lot of military personnel at the finish line enthusiastically handing to the runners the finisher medals.        

The penguin receiving the medal from an army man 

Sharing a salute with a professional soldier  
It is often written (by runners of course)  that running, particularly the long distance variety, is the greatest sports of all.  Simply because it is the most egalitarian of all sports - - - the fact that we runners are all like-minded, united and equal, regardless of skill or talent level, in our love of testing our limits by running a long way on the road or on the trail. The happenings at this year's Condura Skyway Marathon had me thinking that we can add our love of country and its protectors to the things that make us Pinoy runners like-minded. 


Many runners from all corners of the Philippine archipelago descended on the Condura Skyway Marathon.  BP with Romeo dela Cruz and father-son duo of   Gary and Janjo Castillo from Naga.


BP with fellow "Sungayan" Glie Santos and Au Reduta


BP with fellow Atenean Mhentz Manaog of Naga

BP with running buddies Mau Gines, Ric Lozano and Noel "Ghibz" Guevara

BP with Paul Aldaba of TK Davao 
BP with fellow ultra marathoner Carlito Buenaventura

The BP soldiering on towards the finish line 

Finally the finish line. Mission accomplished
Penguins graphics

P.S. 

Many of the photos are taken from the facebook pages of  Condura Skyway Marathon, Running Photographers, and Paul Aldaba. Salamat po. 
        

2 comments:

  1. This is a well-written and emotionally charged article, Vicboy. I am happy that I get to experience the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of running and paying homage to our unsung heroes --- the men of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Likewise, CSM 2015 will leave an indelible mark in me as I did my own little way of showing my abhorrence to the sad fate of the PNP SAF 44.

    I am personally hoping and praying that our silent protest via running will not come to naught.

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  2. Thank you WJ. It is part of the human character to stand up for something. Given this, we can say that we felt more human with this 2015 Condura Skyway Marathon.

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