Traveling to Manila, Philippines to participate a 5km running event isn’t for everyone. Moving around the world teaches me many things. Having travelled to more than 40 countries, tourist attractions and doing all those touristy stuff aren’t appealing to me anymore. Manila was never in my travel plan so I think of incorporating running in the travel plan to make it more exciting.
Why run through the ho-hum streets of Singapore when we can race through stunning scenery in a far-flung locale? It’s always more exciting and distracting to run a race in a city we aren’t familiar with and especially one we’ve never explored. Thrill seekers like us like traveling to unknown place, not knowing anyone, the surroundings, the language, the culture. That’s the real adrenaline rush. I like the challenge. That sense of achievement that can only come from surmounting obstacles and realizing goals is what makes me feel alive. Doing with my family makes the travel even more exhilarating and the joys of going off the beaten path! Don’t just be a tourist but instead to see the culture through the eyes of the people who lives there. Go to restaurants where the locals hang out. Talk to the local people. Greet each difference you encounter with an open and curious mind.
Key takeaways in 3 days
Day 1: Friday, 25 April 2014
MRT from Kamuning Station to Taft Avenue. Train fare per person 14 Pesos (equivalent USD0.31).
Jeepney from Taft Avenue to Mall of Asia (8 Pesos = USD0.18)
Shop till we dropped at Mall of Asia, one of the largest shopping malls in the world. We spent PHP7800 at Uniqlo within 30 minutes.
Jollibee, the Filipino fast-food chain was popular when it first opened in Singapore – I heard that people queued for 2 hours. Eat fast food done the Filipino way, we tried Jollibee in Philippines.
Back to hotel, we receive Run Tahanan race packs.
Dinner at a buffet restaurant, Filipino cuisine
In a nutshell: Staying at not so touristy Quezon City gives us a feeling of living like a local. It’s not difficult to travel around. Public transport system such as MRT and LRT is user-friendly. People are friendly, accommodating, always willing to lend a helping hand. They speak English. This city is not as dangerous as what the media portrayed.
Day 2: Saturday, 26 April 2014
Without any planning, we tried figure out the way just by asking one question, “How to go to the Taal Volcano?”. I lost count on the number of times I said it. Miraculously, we arrive at Taal Volcano simply by asking that one question, from hotel, taxi, bus, jeepney, tricycle, boat. We are pretty good with navigation. The only mode of transport we missed is horse riding up to Taal Volcano. It’s too expensive, PHP850 per person. Walking up the volcano in one hour under scorching sun is extremely hot 3km/hour uphill on dusty trek with zero shade and another same distance downhill. And on the way down, a tired poor horse fell down the slope with a female tourist on its back. Several times, I slide down the slope so I won’t get injured. My family members are fit enough to complete the tough journey. My tough guys! Dominique asked whether there is any certificate of accomplishment. The hardship up and down Taal Volcano and the sense of achievement is an unforgettable experience. Taal Volcano is the second most active volcano in the Philippines with 33 historical eruptions.
A jeepney is the basic mode of transport for the masses. The first jeepneys were modified army jeeps left behind by the American forces after WWII. They have been accustomed with Filipino touches like chrome horses, coloured headlights. Jeepneys follow a set route though this can suddenly change due to traffic condition. Routes are clearly written on the side of the jeepney, Drivers are not inclined to depart until they have got a full load of passengers.
The jeepney driver is a amazing multi-tasker. He receives, computes for the actual fare and returns the change, taking a mental note of passengers who just boarded, who have not yet paid their fares, who goes down where and at the same time looking for potential passengers along the way. He does this while the jeep is running, stopping only to pick up passengers or to allow other to get off.
The vehicle that takes 20 passengers was at one time carrying 24 passengers with 2 clinging at the back and a makeshift stall onboard. Our seats are behind the driver and see all the activities that are going on. The fare collection method is based on honor system. Money is hand over to a total stranger who will pass on your money to another passenger who is also a complete stranger until it reaches the driver. I’ve never seen such fare collection system in any country but it works wonderfully in Philippines.
Day 3: Sunday, 27 April 2014
Run Tahanan 2014 is a fundraising campaign of PCWorx for the benefit of Gawad Kalinga. Other than being a fun run, the proceeds of this project support the construction of 5 houses in GK Bulaklakan, Brgy. Holy Spirit, Quezon City.
Participating in Run Tahanan is the highlight and main reason why we’re in Manila. My husband and I forego the half marathon of NTUC Income 350 in Singapore for Run Tahanan. We think it’s worth it. After all, how many opportunities to run with our 3 sons?
We arrived Quezon Memorial Circle at 4:05am although 5km run flag off time was 5:30am. Ms Joyce Catalan, the organizer of the event came to meet us. Besides us, Kenyan runner Willy Tanui is another foreign runner.
My youngest son, 6 years old Clement finishes 5km at 39m49s. Clement is the youngest runner and the only child in the 5k category. Most competitive running events in Singapore are not open to children. 5km is probably an endurance run for Clement.
About Run Tahanan
With this, the weekend holiday in Philippines ends with a positive note. My second run abroad and still counting.