About Me

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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..

March 10, 2015

TAKBO PARA KAY JUANA: Masaya Sa Sariaya.

In the early dawn  on the courtyard of a church , a priest was blessing with holy water the assembled group of more than a hundred runners, mostly women,  as they await the start of an all important advocacy run in their community. Such was the sight that greeted the Bicolano Penguin and his fellow Row5Runners as we arrived in the Barrio of Castanas in the Municipality of Sariaya of the Province of Quezon as twilight started on that  morning hour of March 7. 

A priest blessing the assembled runners before the start.
It was a rare and inspiring scene for us. Rare in that we, in all our years of running, have not seen a holy water blessing to start a fun run in any of the fun runs here in Metro Manila. Inspiring in that the Sariaya townsfolk, young and old, were gathered together to support the advocacy of the Takbo Para Kay Juana which is a fund raising effort for the construction of the Sariaya Crisis and Intervention Training Center. It is not easy to wake up early, especially on a Saturday, but many  came, all in a cheerful mood.  The fact that the town's mayor and his wife, Boyet and Wena Masilang  were out there too was a big boost.  Leadership by example is indeed powerful.
Hundreds of runners gather for this advocacy run.   

The row5runners with Mayor Boyet Masilang, Wena Masilang and Judy Marcelo.   

The hard working Wena joining emcees Marion Saligay and Jennalyn Mercado. 
With the presence of the holy water and a lot of positive energy  abounding in that fun run, it is no wonder then that everything right happened for the Bicolano Penguin and running buddies Ernie Badong and Orly Jacob in the Takbo Para Kay Juana. All I can say is that it is fun to run in Sariaya. Simply put, masaya sa Sariaya.   We have a lot to thank our facebook friend Gudelia "Judy" Marcelo for inviting us.  
Before ...

...and after the race, Takbo Para Kay Juana was thumbs up for us. 
Let me count the ways:

1.  The route of the Takbo Para Kay Maria was along the Quezon Eco-Tourism Road.  This is a concrete bypass road that runs parallel to the coast which hosts the seaside resorts that Sariaya is becoming known for.  Being near the sea, the air was fresh and not polluted like the ones we have here in Metro Manila.  Moreover, there was hardly any vehicular traffic during the early morning hours which allowed the runners to occupy the road without fear of being hit or honked on by oncoming motor vehicles. We were kings and queens of the road in Sariaya.   Left and right on that road, we had a view of provincial scenes (rice planting and harvesting)  reminiscent of the masterpiece paintings of Amorsolo.   

2.  At Php 200 and with a running singlet included in the registration fee, Takbo Para Kay Maria proved to be democratically-prized as to allow as much participation from the people of the community.  
The Bicolano Penguin and the fun-loving runners of Sariaya having the Quezon Eco-Tourism Road to ourselves. 

Ernie is the first to finish among the row5runners in the 10km race. He ranked 4th overall.

Orly nearing the finish line. 

The penguin finishing with a smile.
With Sariaya Mayor Boyet Masilang who ran the 5kms.  

With the second place female runner in the 10km race.  

Smiles get sweeter after the run
Group dancing while waiting for the rest of the runners to finish. 

Judy and her sister joining the row5runners in an arm-raising exercise.
3.  Takbo Para Kay Juana was a rewarding run for us row5runnin.  My fellow 83nean Ernie bagged his first ever podium finish.  With a time of 50 minutes, he was the fourth overall to cross the finish line in the 10km race and had the privilege of joining the Top 5 Male finishers on stage.  It was a treat for us to hear the name of Ernie called out by the lovely emcee Jenna Mercado and  see him go up the stage and receive the medal from the wife of the Mayor.  The Bicolano Penguin also had the honor of going up the podium to receive a certificate of appreciation given to the row5runnin group. 

It was a treat for us to see... 

...Ernie go up the stage and ...

...receive his medal.

Ernie with the other Top 5 Male  finishers of the 10km race. A soon-to-be Golden boy among the young ones. 

The Top 5 Female finishers of the 10km race.  

The Bicolano Penguin receiving a... 

...Certificate of Appreciation from the Organizers. 

Row5Runners enjoying the award. This is cherished. 

With the No. 1 and No. 5 female finishers.  

4.  The post-race was even more rewarding.  After the race and the awarding of medals to the podium finishers, the row5runners were treated ever more to the warm and exuberant hospitality that Philippine provinces are famously known for.  First, Mayora Wena invited us to join her to a food gathering organized by one of her leaders in the barrio.  Here we had a hearty breakfast amid affable conversations among neighbors. Then Judy and Jenna gave us a tour of the historical landmarks in downtown Sariaya from the centuries old Church of St. Francis of Assisi to several heritage mansions to one of the more elegant monuments for Dr. Jose Rizal we have seen. Given the rich historic past of Sariaya, the town is home to a lot of  mansions and structures that are a veritable feast to the eyes.  A handful of the mansions have even been recognized by heritage houses by the National Historical Institute. And to top our morning. we were treated to a visit to Ada's Garden Spa in the outskirts of downtown Sariaya where we got to partake of the refreshing Salay tea (lemongrass) and a rejuvenating massage. Last in our itinerary was a bit of shopping for pasalubong goodies at a favorite neighborhood bakery called Cadiz.

First we visited was the Dr. Jose Rizal Monument.  At the background is the Municipal Hall of Sariaya.   

From whatever angle, the monument is...

...aesthetically pleasing to the eyes. 
It feels good to be a tourist in this town.
The Church of St. Francis of Assisi.
With its impressive altar...
...and cool patio, one is inspired to pray.
The Church was built in 1748.  Old but still very much standing.
In 2007, by decree of the Bishop of Lucena, the Church was declared  as the Diocesan Shrine of the Mahal na Senor, Santo Cristo de Burgos.
The entrance to Ada's Garden Spa Resort
Our charming tour guides Judy and Jenna with the spa resort owner Susan Caballes
Shopping for pasalubong at Cadiz Bakery in downtown Sariaya.

It is true indeed that the warm hospitality still lives in our countryside. It is very much alive in a pleasant town such as Sariaya.  Thanks to our passion for running, we are blessed to have experienced the  hospitality and beauty of this town. Thank you very much  to Judy, Jenna, Ada, Wena and their fellow Sariayahins. We felt very much welcome.  A priceless experience. 
After the race, it was our chance to show our appreciation by sharing a couple of row5runnin shirts to our dynamic host, Wena.  

She likes the yellow.
Thank you to our fellow row5runner Judy for the priceless experience
Already the row5runners are looking forward to the next fun run in Sariaya this summer month of May. Sadyang masaya dito.  Kaya, halika na at arya  tayo sa Sariaya.



  1. awww, such a lovely kwento! the heart overfloweth with this inspired depiction of our beloved Sariaya. Maraming-maraming salamat po! Dios mabalos.

  2. Thank you sir for that wonderful story! It makes us really proud to be Sariayahin! :-)

  3. Thank you Judy for your overflowing words. hahaha.....We are happy writing about good stuff. To be thanked for our writing is a big bonus.

  4. Hi Marion. You and your fellow Sariayahins are blessed to have a lovelyand historic town. I am happy to note that you take great pride in Sariaya. Having people who are proud of their town bodes well for the progress of the community.