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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..

September 18, 2018

1st SFX HALF MARATHON: Community Coming Together for a Parish

For many, the attraction of running in a fun run in the provinces are twofold.  Firstly, the beautiful sights and sounds that nature has blessed our provinces can be experienced up close on foot. Secondly, always uplifting to witness a community coming together for a running event for the benefit of a local cause.  

Such is the appeal of the 1st St. Francis Xavier (SFX) Half Marathon scheduled for Sep 30, 2018 in the beautiful town of Abuyog.

 A 1st-class municipality, Abuyog is the largest town in the island of Leyte in terms of land area.  Legend has it that the town got its name when Spanish sailors came ashore in an early settlement in the mouth of the river (now known as Abuyog River), there were swarm of bees all over the shore.  The Spaniards asked the natives, "Como se llama el pueblo?", not knowing the Spaniards asked for the town's name, the natives answered"Buyog."  Repeating after the natives, the sailors muttered, "Ah! Buyog."  True to its busy-bee provenance, Abuyog is home to many an industrious people.  

One such group of hard working citizens of Abuyog is the running group called BFR which is an acronym for 'Bees Friend Runners."  It is from the BFR that I first learned of the 1st  SFX half marathon. First encountered some members of the BFR when they ran their first full marathon at the 2nd Baybay City Marathon earlier this year. Admiring their walang iwanan attitude in running,  we have been friends on social media since then.
BFR runners at the finish line of an OYM event in Cebu. 

I had a chance to interview Jeannette Valida, the president of BFR on the 1st SFX half marathon. Here is our Q&A.

Bicolano Penguin (BP):  Who are the organizers of of the 1st SFX half marathon?

Jeannette:  It is organized by the BFR  together with the St. Francis Xavier Parish and the Local Government of Abuyog, Leyte. 
Courtesy call on Abuyog Mayor Lemuel Traya after getting a permit for the 1st SFX Half Marathon.  From L-R:  Nerissa Ngo, Chamel Fretzie Melo, Jeannette Valida, Mayor Lemy, Erik Barcelo, Janeth Taburada and Rjelyn Romulo.  

BP:  Is this a fund-raising activity? If yes, who or what is the beneficiary?

Jeanette:  Yes, the 1st SGX half marathon is a fund raising.  The beneficiary of the said activity is the St. Francis Xavier Parish for the construction of the formation center of the parish. 
Formation Center of the St. Francis Xavier parish under construction.  

BP:  When is the deadline for registration? Is there an onsite registration?

Jeannette: The deadline of the registration is on Sep 20.  We encourage a pre-registration, however onsite registration maybe accepted but the race kits like the singlet maybe given depending on its availability, but those onsite registrants who will not receive a singlet on the race day will definitely be given on the later dates. 
Race singlet of the 1st SFX Half Marathon
Finisher shirt for the 21km race. 

BP:  How many runners do you expect to join? 

Jeannette:  We expect 500 people will join us for the said cause. 

BP:  What is the cut off time for the 21kms?

Jeannette: We encourage those who join to run on their own pace and have fun.  However, for the 21kms we set the cut off time to 4 hours.

BP:  Are there cash prizes for the winners?

Jeannette:  Yes, there are cash prizes to be given and said cash prizes are sponsored by some benevolent and civic minded people in our town.      
Finisher medals for the various race distances.  

So there you have it. A virtual tete-a-tete with the President of BFR. The sincerity and sensibility of her answers are quite reflective of BFR's initiative to help a parish community named after the hard-working  Jesuit missionary known as the "Apostle to the East."

Like bees, the BFR officers and members have been busy organizing the running  community in Abuyog and surrounding towns to come together to help the St. Francs Xavier parish.  With such an altruistic intent, no doubt the 1st SFX Half Marathon come Sept 30 will be a sweet experience for all. 

Dare I say, sweet as honey in Bee Town Abuyog.     

Photo credits:  Jeannette Valida and Chamel Fretzie Melo         


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