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.|
|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.|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|