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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..

June 14, 2015

TAKBO ALAY KAY SAN ANTONIO: A Community Coming Together

A fun run organized by a parish church  has always occupied a special place in our heart. It is indeed a very inspiring notion to see a community coming together for the singular purpose of hosting a fun run, which mind you, is no easy matter.  There are so many variables and logistical issues to deliberately consider and painstakingly manage.  Even highly-paid professional  race organizers would attest to such difficulties and the organizers of parish fun run are doing this for free.

Perhaps it is the highly arduous  nature of the task that is the reason why there are so few parish fun runs out there. At least, to our knowledge. In fact, prior to this month of June, the Bicolano Penguin has only been able to participate in one.  This is the Lakaw Dalagan Para Ki Ina by the Nuestra Senora del Rosario Parish Church in Bombon, Camarines Sur way back in October 2013.

Thus, it was with an enthusiastic state of mind  one May morning that I welcomed the message from my kabayan Tess Sagrit-Giron  about a fun run they were organizing in their parish of San Antonio de Padua in the heart of Paranaque City. Called "Takbo Alay Kay San Antonio", this was scheduled for June 12, a day before the feast day of one of the most loved and admired saints of the Roman Catholic Church.       

St. Anthony of Padua (also known as St. Anthony of Lisbon)   was born  Fernando Martin de Bulhoes in August 15, 1195 in Lisbon, Portugal.  His life gloriously ended in June 12, 1231 in Padua, Italy. He was canonized a saint by Pope Gregory IX on May 30, 1232, less than a year after his death. So simple and resounding was his teaching of the Catholic Faith, so that the most unlettered and innocent might understand it, that he was made a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XII in 1946.  

The San Antonio de Padua parish in Paranaque, which was canonically erected on May 14, 1970,   is both literally and figuratively close to our hearts.  It is less than 5 kilometers from our house and office in Paranaque. The  Ascension of Our Lord Parish where I serve as a lector, is part of the Vicariate  of San Antonio de Padua of the Diocese of Paranaque. Its current parish priest, Fr. Jeff Manlapig is an inspiring and dynamic  fixture in many of the seminars I have attended   at the Diocesan formation center. Also, by coincidence, the patron saint of my beloved hometown of Iriga City is San Antonio de Padua.  
Tess Giron with her fellow parish volunteers promoting the fun run to weekend runners at Manila Memorial Park a  couple weeks before the run. 
We did our part to help the organizers led by kabayan Tess to invite runners to the Takbo Alay Para Kay San Antonio.  I was fortunate that several fellow runners from First Balfour and our Ateneo de Naga HS Batch 1983 responded positively to the invite.  7 from FB and 2 from Batch 83 registered for the  10-km race.  

Come the early morning of June 12, we joined hundreds of participants at the starting line in front of the parish church. It was inspiring to witness  many parish volunteers busy at work for the purpose of staging the parish fun run whose proceeds were to fund  the parish formation program for its church workers. Leading these volunteers was kabayan Tess who has organized  this fun run 5 times already. It was also inspiring to see familiar faces from the Paranaque Running Circle among the participants. It was also very inspiring to see and hear Fr. Jeff lead the community  in praying for the success of the race and the safety of all runners. 
Runners assembling early for the Takbo Alay Kay San Antonio 

Group photo of  parish volunteers. Photo courtesy of Gracie Cabangon.

Air Force reservists getting instruction on their race marshal duties. 
The running studs of Paranaque Running Circle.

The parish priest Fr. Jeff leading the prayer.  
With not much delay, the runners were sent off.  First, the 10-km runners , then the 5-km runners and last the 3-km runners. 
Delsie, Rose, Alice, Iya, Lily, BP and Nikki.  FB runners all.
10-km runners waiting for the start.
The  First Balfour runners have one common objective in that race - to try and do a sub 1 hour for the 10-km race.  For all of us FB runners, it was an ambitious target. The day before, at the University of Makati oval grounds, our Coach Kaye Lopez  gave us pointers, particularly on dividing the 10-km distance into 4 parts.  For the 1st 2.5 kms, we should have a slow pace.  Then the pace will progress to a moderate pace by the next 2.5 kms.  At halfway, we should increase our pace to tempo.  The last 2.5 kms we should do our fast pace.  She also reminded us not to do long walk breaks for the 10-km distance. A simple strategy. But a key will be the execution. For added motivation, I mentioned to my fellow FB runners that we will be eating in a Korean restaurant if any one of us will be successful in the sub 1 hour target.

Sadly, not one of us among the FB runners was able to post a sub 1 hour time.  While we were successful in not having long walk breaks, we were not able to graduate from moderate to tempo pace at the halfway point.  A saving grace for us was that we indeed were on our fast pace come the last quadrant of the 10-km distance. 

The exhilarating and liberating feeling of running a 10-km race with no long walk breaks. Photo courtesy of Marivic Perez.
But then again, the sweet and eager smiles we showed at the finish line and group photos seem to tell us that there was victory even in defeat.  For one, we remained true to Coach Kaye' edict that we do not walk during the race. Another factor was that the Takbo Para Kay San Antonio was a good opportunity for us First Balfour runners to do some rapport building with residents of Paranaque, our host city for our FB office. In a nutshell, it was a firsthand experience for us to witness community relations and employee wellness in action.

The abundant smiles in our faces tell us that there was "victory in defeat."
The lady First Balfour runners are getting better.  

FB runners hamming it up with PRC runners. 
Happy to run.  What a blessing.
The Bicolano Penguin with fellow Bicolanos: Tess of Polangui;  Baby Florece-Yu of Nabua; and Jerome Lucena of Iriga City.  The three are  active in serving the parish.   

UST alumnae - Isabelle and Iya. 
Iya with village neighbors
Thank you indeed to the vibrant community of San Antonio de Padua Parish in Paranaque.  Even after the runners have crossed the finish line, the  organizers and volunteers were still busy pampering the fun run participants by providing free Milo and orange juices to handing out sandwiches.  Fr Jeff was all over the church patio  entertaining the runners and even was onstage helping out in the emcee task for the awarding and raffle.  This is one community coming together.  By their spirit of volunteerism, the priest and the parish church workers are living the words of their beloved patron saint - "Action speak louder than words; let your words teach and your actions speak."      
Volunteers distributing sandwiches.  I got two and they were all so delicious.  

Free Milo. 

Fr Jeff sharing in the emcee task.

Truly, life is good at 45 years for the San Antonio de Padua parish in Paranaque.




  1. Thank you so much for this very beautiful blog and for being part of our SAPP@45: Takbo Alay kay San Antonio. Also, thank you to MMGC youth who joined the fun run. It was really nice to see you again guys. Nakakataba po talaga ng puso. Until our next fun run. :)
    May God bless you more and more Sir Vic! Ü

  2. Thank you Marie Joy for your kind and generous words. It has been a pleasure for me and my fellow runners to join the Takbo Alay Kay San Antonio. We will surely be joining fun runs your parish get to organize.

  3. Thank you Marie Joy for your kind and generous words. It has been a pleasure for me and my fellow runners to join the Takbo Alay Kay San Antonio. We will surely be joining fun runs your parish get to organize.