Too Much For One Heart

A little girl  slowly removes the white  ribbon,  peaking through a small opening
of her box. Upon slightly seeing a stuff toy and a book inside,  she  immediately
closes it.  She lovingly re-ties the ribbon, making sure she ties it right.

A 5-year old boy removes the blue ribbon wrapped around a Zip Locked pack.
He’s disappointed that the pack did not open when he removed the ribbon;
turns it over and around and yet nothing.
We realize he didn’t know how to
open the zip lock.  And as we look around, the others were also dumbfounded.
We started helping them and showing them how to open and close the zip locked
plastic. And they oooh-ed and aaaaah-ed and laughed.  The 5-year old boy gingerly
pulled out one item after another, and his eyes shone in excitement and disbelief.
He says, “Wow! At may bag pa!” when he saw the folded knapsack, in utter disbelief
that this was all for him.

Another child refuses to open their box.  Waiting instead to open it at home and share
it with his brothers and sisters.


These are just some scenes from the first distribution of the Angelito’s Project of  Angel Brigade (AB) in Manila.

Tisha C. Bautista, managing director of Isdanco Foundation and founder of Angel Brigade, together with Marga Uy Baula, an AB volunteer shared  350 shoeboxes to  school children in Tondo, Manila.

Field of Dreams

The school is located in the rehabilitated area of Smokey Mountain, with a small placard sign that says Field of Dreams.

The school is made up of container vans stacked on top of each other, designed appropriately to be a real school.

Surrounded by the port area on one side and the Field of Dreams on the other, the PCF in its

School made up of Container Vans

newness and excited and passionate administrators, teachers, social workers, volunteers, and  sponsors (Coca-Cola, Sa Aklat Sisikat, & Angel Brigade to name a few) seems to be a beacon of hope amidst the obvious  needs  of the children.

The kids’ excitement upon seeing the LBC boxes in time for their Christmas Party was enough for us to get excited as well.

LBC Boxes

As we moved from one room to another, trying to get them excited by asking, “Alam niyo ba kung saan galing ang mga regalo na ito?”; we ourselves laughed when they answered, “Sa LBC!” “Kay Santa Claus”.  We happily explained that a child in their same age and gender lovingly prepared their box all the way from the United States of America.  Whether or not they understood the distance we meant or who the twin heart was who prepared their box, it mattered more to them that the boxes were bursting in the seams which meant that they themselves can give something to their brothers and sisters when they get home.

A gift of one child a thousand miles away has made at least 3 hearts a-flutter this Christmas.

This project would not have been possible without the sincere initiative of Ms. Susan Afan, who as early as September 2010 has been soliciting shoeboxes from SoCal.  Your initiative and your friends’ generosity have made so many children happy.  May you continue to be blessed with all that is good and holy. Other recipients of  the Angelitos  shoeboxes were: Kid Cancer Warriors  from CareWell,  Sacro Costato Mission in Montalban , QC Streetchildren,  children of  St. Michael Parish Taguig, Fr. Arnold Eramis.


I Wasn’t Prepared for the QCIM (Part 2)

I wasn’t prepared for…

…the video collage Carina prepared for me with the very appropriate Defying Gravity song from Glee but originally from the play Wicked. I know I did all those things in the video but I didn’t realize how many I did it to.  I forgot a lot of those already.  What I remember was the feeling of being able to help as a support or cheer crew and knowing that you have helped these runner friends.  It felt good then and it felt awesome watching it.


…the Facebook well-wishes that made my wall look like Christmas and New Year all at the same time.

…getting tonsillitis 3 days before the race hence Doc T prescribing a very strong antibiotic.

…not knowing what to wear on race day. Timmy kept asking what I was going to wear so he can find me when he goes back for me.  Hindi ko nga rin alam.  I know I needed to wear a white top and a white cap so the heat wont get to me so much.  But I didn’t like my white top.  If I wear my takbo shirt again, it meant I needed to wear my black top too with the red cap, which would be bad because of the heat and this is all I wear every time! Maiba ka naman!

I wore the black shorts, black top with the black takbo singlet and the red cap.

…PatCon saying good morning to me near the baggage counter and asking how my tonsillitis was. Sweet!

…Doc Roy braiding my hair at Jollibee.

…the calm I was feeling before and pretty much throughout the race.

…the perfect weather. The sun would shine just to smile at us and show us the beauty of the route – La Mesa Ecopark was gorgeous in the heat – UP was magnificent when you look up and see the outline of the leaves in the sun.  But Mr. Sun would hide behind some clouds when he got to be too bright, always at the perfect moments.

…the patience and care of my pacers: Rod, McCoy & Marky. They went far and beyond the call of duty even when there was no duty to be called for to begin with.

McCoy was the most excited to pace me. He was the one who texted to GO GO GO when I said I wasn’t doing it na dapat. My Star Pacer-he paced me on my first 15km, my first 21km and he now was fulfilled his promise to pace me for my first 42km.  Mind you, this halimaw is runner in its truest sense.  He did a splendid job at T2N and he could have gunned for a good time for his first marathon—yes ladies and gents, QCIM was also his first marathon—but he opted to race at my pace, a pace he will do 100x better the next time he does it for himself.  And I will be there. J

Rod. My Rodalicious.  He was the one of PM’d me and encouraged me to still do it.  This guy has always been an inspiration to me.  BDM 102 and his tears of joy at the finish. Near in ages (I had to say it, Im sorry! lol), we have the same issues of hypertension and for whatever else reason, we took a liking to each other.  During the race, at every incline I’d walk, he’d hold my hand and short of pulling me, make sure I won’t fall behind in an uber walking pace.  Unfortunately, when he went ahead of us,  someone told him, he had to ride the ambulance already because he was the last runner.  When he said, no, I still have 3 runner friends back there.  They said, no, they already rode the ambulance.  Cut off na po. He seceded.  *sad*   It was unto his shoulders that I bawled at the finish.

Marky.  Ultramarathoner. I didn’t know Marky was going to pace me.  I knew he was running his first marathon too but to pace me was something that I did not know of.  But he was there, impatient with me but there (lol).  He was my pusher.  But no one can really push an exhausted runner. Sorry, Marky.  But you did awesome with me.  Thanks!

…the patience and care of my bike support: Ronald. Ultramarathoner. Ironman. When I ‘supported’ Ronald at BOTAK 100 years back, I did not know him. I did not know he was doing 100km while I did my 10km. My sister, Iris and I called him Yellow in the pictures because he was wearing a yellow top and that was all we knew of him. When he started his path to becoming an Ironman and was sputtering in the water as he didn’t know how to swim yet in November, I called it…I said, this guy will do awesome on his Ironman.  His swim will be fast.  I was there for his first Ironman and I couldn’t be happier to see him at the finish line.

Ronald was my bike support and whether he liked it or not, he knew he had to see me finish (lol). He was in pain seeing me walk – hahaha.  He even made a halo halo promise if I made it at 1pm. Sorry, no halo halo for me. Hahaha.  He became the official photographer, carrier of all water and hydration and he did such a wonderful job.  Best job he did that day?  He called Neville the organizer when the marshalls, ambulance, motorbiked cops, MMDA’s, were calling me to ride the ambulance already as it was already cut-off and we wouldn’t stop.  He called Neville and made the concession that we should be at UP by 11AM  (we were at Litex at this time).

Bestest job everyone of them  did?  They had the patience to literally be bored to tears as they waited for my 2nd, 3rd, 4th, whatever numbered wind I’d have at nag-kibit balikat na lang nang hindi siya dumating Hahaha. Thank you. Thank you.

…for the number of people who shouted their Go Marga! to and from Commonwealth Avenue.  I had to hug a couple of them and literally shout their names as I was so happy to see them, Gail in particular were we both got teary-eyed.  Unfortunately my pacers made me stop hugging people as it was unnecessary energy to spend when I should be spending it on running. Fine! (lol)

… Bong and Rej of Team Boring to go back for me with cold water and Gatorade and see me to the finish.  Awesome!  These were guys I didn’t know, really. But they walked with me.  Incidentally, they also just finished their first marathon in QCIM, and  going back for me made it another ultramarathon for them. Crazy people! J Marami pong Salamat.

…Timmy, Raf, Sid, Rico, Emil & Erick to be additional bike support. Emil and Erick rode with us to the finish, keeping Ronald company-hehe.  Rico was great as he went back and forth ,bringing  back cold drinks to us with Let’s Goya chocolate for me J .  Seeing Timmy, Raf and Sid was simply refreshing in that heat.

…2 marshalls relieving my pacers their pacer duties at the Eco Park as they encouraged me to run uphill instead of simply walking them.  Bounce lang. Kaya yan.

… the non-water station after La Mesa Ecopark to the finish. Buti na lang my bike support were there.

…at least 10 officers (marshall, cop bike, cop car, MMDA) telling us throughout Eco Park to UP that we should ride na the ambulance as it was already cut-off. They told us this a little before 10AM and through out.  I said cut-off was 11:30.  Marami na daw kaming naaabala sa daan.  Marami na daw nagagalit.  Kami na daw ang last.  These were said  in authoritative voices with people in uniform.  Kinda scary.  I had to tell 2 ambulances beside me, sorry po, pero tatapusin ko to. Hanggang mamaya pa po kayo.  1 said, sigurado kayong ayaw niyong sumakay? Another said, sige po ma’am, takbo lang kayo, experience din po ito para sa amin.

Mga marshalls, mahirap po ang 42km, lakarin or takbuhin man.  Pag nagyayaya po kayong isakay kami sa ambulansya, napakadali pong mag- Oo dahil kami po ay pagod na, mainit, masakit na ang katawan, at oo, nahihiya rin po kami sa mga taong naabala, pero kailangan po naming tapusin eh.  Hindi ko po ma-e-explain pero kailangan ko pong tapusin.  So, next time po, alam ko po na trabaho ninyong i-ascertain kung may maitutulong kayo, pero, mas mainam na maitulong niyo ay ang i-encourage kami.  If you don’t see any dire emergency, we’d appreciate it if you could just encourage us and let us be, but let it not be that the first words out of you mouths be, Sakay na po.

My pacers had a good laugh when we had a good number of hagads as we crossed over to the other side of Commonwealth – 3 ambulances  with wang wangs (sorry, PNoy), 6 motorbikes stopping traffic, 6 more motorbikes behind the ambulance.  Hirits of, Wow, Celebrity. Saan mo pa ma-e experience to na hinahawi ang traffic pa ra sayo? Daig mo pa si PNoy!

McCoy telling me, takbo ka naman, para makita ng mga bus at jeep na hindi ka naglalakad. Tumatakbo naman ako tuwing may audience amidst the pain on soles of my feet.  I am embarrassed by all of these but know that the hagads had no choice but to protect us.

…to trudge on even after the cut-off. But McCoy was telling me, ngayon pa tayo hihinto? Maski walang ng ambulance sa likuran natin, tuloy tayo.  To Finish lang kasi ang goal. Wala na yang time na yan (*sniff).

…for my pacers not telling me the time or give me my cell phone so I won’t be distracted. I couldn’t tell you which kilometre we were at what time.

…me whining at the last 3km at CP Garcia that the soles of my feet were hot and in pain na.  Rej said, o sige, tigil na tayo.  Ayan na ang taxi, parahin na natin.  Sabi ko, I will use all my energies left and push you onto the oncoming traffic!

…not knowing where the turn-around point was at CP Garcia because at this point, there were no markers already.  Buti na lang Rej and Bong has finished the course and knew exactly where it was.  McCoy became my turn-around point like  a game at Christmas with person to turn-around in.

…Ronald telling me sige, sakay ka na ng bus. Tapos pagdating sa Finish, kuha ka ng medal ha?  Hindi ito ang unang beses na nagbike support ako at mangyari to.

…a whole entourage of friends at the curb in the last 900 meters. Teary eyed me. McCoy saying, hindi po to ang finish.  Sa Philcoa pa. Aagawan kita ng eksena sa pag-iyak!  I see Pio running beside me.

…another set of friends waiting for me at the last 400meters. I see two beautiful banners.  I hear people clapping.  I can’t see anymore.  My eyes were blurry.  I felt Jinoe placing the finishers medal around my neck.

McCoy saying, hindi pa ito ang Finish .  Sa Philcoa pa. Ngayon pa ba tayo ma-DNF? (akala mo naman at this point may organizers pa who cared about us. lol) Sprint to the finish Marga. C’Mon!  I ran and I knew everyone of them were running behind me.

I ran even if there was no path to run in because of the bottleneck of jeeps, buses, cabs towards Jolibee.

I know that there was not going to be a Finish Line for me.

I know that I will not step on the timing chip mat.

I know I will not see the Time of my Finish on the clock.

But as I sprinted to that non-existent Finish Line,
I also know that I have finished 42KM in 9 hours.

To a much better Finish Line anybody can ask for –

Into the arms of my friends who waited for me.

Some may say that that was an embarrassing run.  That they could walk the same route and finish way before 9hrs.  And that when you run a marathon, you run it,  not walk it.

But this was a perfect run for me. This was My Perfect Marathon.  Perfect Weather. Perfect Route. Perfect Pacers.  Perfect Support.  Perfect Finish.

I know I am not a marathoner in the athletic sort of way.  I will not break records.  I have no delusions of grandeur  about this.  I do have, though, my whole being put into a personal challenge, that I thought impossible, that I now have conquered.  The banner  said it all: Nothing is impossible.  The impossible just takes longer. (This made me laugh and cry at how apropo it was at that exact moment)

I know my place in the Running Community.  I am the lower bar you set your times against—and this is not a bad thing.  If Doc Pinx is our high bar (she finished 4:24 in SG) and Julie Hotlegs is our middle bar (she finished 5:19 in LV), I am the lower bar.

I love being that bar. If I  finish a marathon and people are inspired to say , ‘if Marga can do it, I can do it too,’ then my work here is done.

The other good thing about being the lower bar?  I have no way to go but up. *smiles*

I Wasn’t Prepared for the QCIM (Part 1)

I wasn’t prepared for

…my first marathon

Sure, I started training first week in April with the last full marathon race in sight for 2010.  It was a choice of QCIM and SCIM.  I would have wanted to do it in SG and share the race with my sister. But the thought of the intense humidity I experienced when I did 21km last year, made me opt to do it in QC.  Home turf and all that, right?

I was doing well in my training.  I needed the extra months to lose weight, hence the early start. I was at the ULTRA Mondays and Fridays.  It was a steady dose that escalates, of 2km warm up, dynamic/static stretching, drills, a choice of interval training, hill training, stairs training; 2km cool down, core exercises and stretching again.

Wednesdays were reserved for BHS, mostly for tempo runs.  These 3 days were with Coach John.  Then I do my long runs every Sunday—doing the Commonwealth route from Batasan to UP and back and at one point, La Mesa Eco Park.

This was also when I didn’t see much of my runner friends, which I thought to be very Ironic.

My training  was a rain or storm type of thing from April to August.  Everyone will be out of the ULTRA oval when it started raining and I would still be at it because running in the rain was the best thing ever!

September onwards was when I would renege on my training days because of a hodgepodge of reasons – work, tired, traffic, rain, hot, lazy, etc. which were all the lamest of lames, I know.  I didn’t know this was also the start of an emotional sadness that I didn’t know could happen to me, but it did and I wasn’t prepared for it as well.

So my 4-day running, with 1 day strength training and 1 day swimming-week turned into 2 day running, 1 day swim, to 1 day run, to 0-run in a week.  My long runs would stop at the 10th km or the 12th, or the 16th km.  It could never progress past that (when I stopped at 26km in August. ) and I was getting scared. Really scared.  I wasn’t in pain. I wasn’t. My brain would just shut off from running and I’d walk.  I tried running with  a group-the UP group that went to Tiendesitas and did 21km.  I think I did 10km there. I tried joining Carina & Raff and do the Galloway method at BHS and even that I failed in.

Tiendesitas Group Run

The eureka moment that I can run began when someone told me that running is primarily  a race in the mind. And arrogant me thought, if I conceive it in thought, I can do it.  I can run.  This was what I was banking on in every race I joined. If you’re reading this and  know me at all, you know my gorgeous body is not made like an athlete.  I already know it would take a lot of mind power to trudge on carrying a me.  So you can imagine my fear when my brain shuts off and decides to stop running, decides it can’t carry me.

Two weeks before the race, I decided a do a make or break run in UP.  It was a Tuesday and I told myself, if I can do 21km as my last long run, then I will run the race.  If not, then I won’t.  I did 8.8km, a strong 8.8km, but I stopped yet again.  Take note, I was not feeling any pain. My lungs were ok naman, my heart was ok too.  My legs and knees were fine. No physical hindrance to stop.  And yet I did.  I went to my car and changed and waited for a friend to finish running. The sadness that enveloped me was in a new level that I’ve ever experienced.  I texted a couple of people and essentially said I wasn’t gonna run on December 5.  The moment I texted it, I cried. This is not new to anyone that I’m a crybaby.  What was new was that I actually threw up. I thought it was just the feeling of light headedness from doing a strong 8.8km.  Then I realize it was my emotional reaction manifested physically. Oh dear God, help.

Wednesday morning in the office someone FB PM’d me and encouraged me to still do it even without a 32km long run.  I got excited yet again (it’s not difficult to get me excited as you can see) with the thought of my first marathon.  What if I don’t finish within the cut-off?  So what? A cut-off is simply an organizer’s cut-off, not a testament to a runner’s endurance.  What if I hit the wall early in the race that I pretty much walk the entire length of the race? You won’t be the first to do it.

What if I embarrass my friends, my pacers for finishing last yet again? (I’ll leave you to answer this question after you finish reading this)

Calling all that is good and holy, I prayed.

I will run it.  As unprepared as I was, I will run it.

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