When Dr. Ronald Eullaran invited us to his hometown of Gen. Santos City last April, we said yes. Who can say no to one of the nicest and funniest (and best) doctors in Cebu?
With Dr. Ron and his wife Raycia (and their son, Ryane), our group included James and Jewel Co, their son, Alex, plus me and Jasmin. It was a three-day getaway loaded with plenty of eating (fresh tuna, steak at the Dole clubhouse, and the best-tasting crabs in Gusteau’s).
We also made sure to allocate most of the mornings to an activity we love best: biking. On our first day, we woke up before 5 a.m. and pedaled the western portion of Sarangani Bay. We biked for over 40 kms., a trek that included several uphill battles as we passed through Tambler and reached Maasim. Our wives (Raycia, Jewel and Jasmin) would not be outdone. They ran the streets of the city formerly known as Dadiangas.
Our hosts for that weekend were Dr. Ron’s mom — Mrs. Dhel Eullaran — and Ron’s sister, Atty. Elvie Albano. Her husband, a top lawyer and businessman, Josemar Albano, ran a 60K race that Sunday. As Josemar finished in Susan’s Beach in Maasim, we converged in the same area to congratulate the ultramarathoner (a week later, Josemar would run the Great Wall of China Marathon).
While on the bike, the view was stunning. The road snaked beside the water (Sarangani Bay) and there were few cars and trucks. Biking with us was Elvie’s son, Aries, who does triathlon; we ascended a few hills and stopped to smell the fresh air and to absorb the calm blue water that overlooked.
The following morning, we did the opposite route of Sarangani Bay. We started in Greenleaf Hotel and biked for over 60 kms. As we reached the town of Glan, we stopped at the high point of the Glan Monument and took a photo: James, Ron and me. All-sweating, all-smiling with Mount Matutum in our background and Sarangani Bay beneath us, it was a photo and an experience to cherish.
PACMAN. What else did we see in Gensan, which also happens to be the hometown of my editor, Mike Limpag? Plenty of buildings labeled “JMP.” Those are the initials of my wife but they’re not her buildings. They stand for Jinkee & Manny Pacquiao. They are plenty in number and they’re numbered: JMP 1, JMP 2… and you see them, large and small, everywhere. In the JMP 2 buiding, for example. there’s one shop that’s handled by the queen: Jinkee’s Fashion World.
Right beside the Greenleaf Hotel was the Pacman Wildcard Gym. I was unable to take a peek inside but was told that Pacman visits to train and box. It’s a fitness center that offers other types of workouts: dancing, stationary cycling, Zumba and yoga. The building where his gym was located? JMP Arcade.
We passed by the house of the Senator. Surrounded by high walls, it was a massive house and was near the home of Atty. Josemar and Elvie Albano, close friends of Manny.
One more structure that Pacquiao is building is a church. In an Inquirer story dated Nov. 27, 2014, Pacquiao was said to have appropriated P295 million to build the massive church. It sits on a five hectare property (that cost P95 million) and the cost of construction is reportedly P200 million. We did not get a chance to tour “The Word for Everyone” church but the two-story building is said to include, apart from the worship arena, a bible school, a bible study room and a pastor’s lounge.
“I owe to God everything that I have right now – wealth, health, fame, success, a dutiful and beautiful wife and my wonderful children,” said Sen. Pacquiao. “I have to give it back to Him. The amount is nothing compared to what God has done to my life.”