Category Archives: Exercise

Should you wear a Face Mask while Exercising?

I wore a face mask while biking last Friday. At first, while warming-up and the pedaling was relaxed, it felt normal and good. No complaints. But after a few minutes and when the bike pointed upwards, my breathing turned heavy. It felt uncomfortable. As the trajectory of the climb turned skyward, I had difficulty breathing. My washable cloth mask felt like a suction. As I exhaled, it pushed outward; when I inhaled, it stuck to my mouth. 

Out-in, out-in. This is not good. I stopped. 

I don’t know about you but I can’t exercise with the face mask on. Walking, yes. Leisurely cycling on a flat asphalt, yes. But anything that involves the heart pumping over 121 beats per minute, no. 

Running with the mask on? I can’t imagine doing it. I’ve seen Chipi Borromeo running loops around Phase 8 in Maria Luisa Park and I’m amazed at how he’s able to keep his stride.

You’re panting and sweating and struggling to engulf oxygen; your lungs are expanding and compressing — on an unmasked 9-kph run. Now cover your nose and mouth and restrict the air flow into your lungs. I can’t do it.

Wearing a face mask while exercising may be a risky affair,” wrote Jahnavi Sarma in, “COVID-19: Wearing a face mask is important but avoid it while working out,” from “This is because, when you exercise, your lungs need more air. As a result, your heart pumps more blood, which is why your heart beat increases. But when you are wearing a mask, there is restriction in the flow of air to the lungs. This can make you feel light headed, breathless and tired. Your lungs may collapse if you really overdo it. You may also be in danger if you have any underlying health conditions like heart disease and hypertension.”

Here’s the point: Be careful. While there’s no denying that wearing of masks keeps you and those around you safe (and, I know, it’s mandatory everytime we go out), be careful when you wear one while exercising.

Listen to your body. With extreme workouts like sprints, 14K runs or high-intensity interval training (HIIT), for example, in case you feel lightheaded, stop. Sit down. Check the intensity of your effort and make sure it’s within the light-to-moderate range. Avoid symptoms like dizziness. Take your mask off and breathe normally. 

There was a 26-year-old runner from Wuhan, China who was hospitalized after complaining of chest pain after a 6K run. Doctors concluded that his lungs collapsed — possibly because of his mask that limited his ventilation and impaired his oxygen levels while running. 

To me, if you can exercise alone or be at a far distance from other people, this is best. Maybe there’s no need to wear that mask. Run at night or very early in the morning and in an area where there’s nobody around. Exercise in isolated or private areas. Workout at home.

Exercise? Yes and no 

My wife Jasmin and I were scheduled to run the London Marathon. 

It was set on April 26 — just 41 days from now. But yesterday, I received an email from the organizers: the Virgin Money London Marathon, one of the planet’s biggest events drawing over 40,000 runners, will be postponed to October 4, 2020.

Like the marathons in Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Barcelona and Boston —  like the NBA, PBA, and possibly the Tokyo Olympics — sports are put on hold.

Which led me, while scouring the internet, to ask these questions: Should we continue our individual sports and exercise? Is running good for us during this threatening state of the Covid-19?

The quick answer is Yes. Exercise boosts the body’s immune system to make us stronger and more resistant to infections. 

In the article, “How to boost your immune system to avoid colds and coronavirus,” Amy Fleming of The Guardian wrote:

To be immunologically fit, you need to be physically fit. ‘White blood cells can be quite sedentary,’ says Prof Arne Akbar, the president of the British Society for Immunology. ‘Exercise mobilises them by increasing your blood flow, so they can do their surveillance jobs and seek and destroy in other parts of the body.’” 

Exercise is good. But here’s a word of caution: “light to moderate exercise.”

Marathon training, like what Jasmin and I have been doing (25K to 28K runs on Sundays), is not light and moderate. It’s extreme.

Hard, continuous, long-effort exercise like marathons and ultra marathons can lower your resistance for 24 to 72 hours, and lead to increased colds and respiratory illnesses for a week or two,” wrote Amby Burfoot in the Women’s Running article, “This is Exactly How Running Impacts Your Immunity.”

In simple language: Yes, it’s good to sweat but don’t overdo it. The dictum “more (exercise) is better” is not to be applied these days when we want to be more immune to illnesses.

“Too much exercise volume and intensity turns the corner on what experts refer to as the J curve—and your risk of infection goes up,” added Ms. Burfoot.

“After a marathon, your immune state is close to that of an older, not particularly healthy individual,” warned exercise physiologist David Nieman. “And those are the ones getting really sick and sometimes even dying.”

So, what should we all do?

First, the basics, added Ms. Burfoot: washing of hands for 20 to 30 seconds several times a day; sneezing and coughing into the elbow (or best, using tissue paper); and avoid touching our face with our hands. 

Mr. Nieman added a few more tips in his article, “The compelling link between physical activity and the body’s defense system.” He said:

1) As you workout, run and exercise, make sure that you also get ample sleep and recovery. 2) Avoid overdoing your workouts. 3) Skip the gym. Exercise outdoors. 4) Monitor yourself for early signs of sickness or overtraining and stop or adjust. 

Be safe and continue working out, my friends.


New Year, New You

This Wednesday, we welcome not just a new year but a new decade. The “2010s” decade has passed and we unveil a brand-new 2020 to 2029 term.

What will this new 10-year era bring us? We can plan, dream and create “New Decade” Resolutions. But life has many turns and twists that we’ll never anticipate. 

My aspiration for all of you, dear readers?

For each one to embark on a pursuit of getting healthier and fitter. 

How? By making exercise a priority in your life. That’s why I’m excited for the 2020 Cebu Marathon participants. Over 1,200 will run the 42K and 1,600 the 21K (plus several hundred more for the 5K) this January 12, 2020.

To all runners in CCM: Did you know that you will be one of the first lucky people in the entire world to run a marathon this new decade? I did a quick Google search and there are only a handful of 42K runs in the first days of the new decade.

To my dear readers: This 2020 Decade, aim to run a marathon. Join an Ironman 70.3 race. Train for a Spartan race. Not interested in enlisting for an extreme-type of sport?

Pay for that full-year gym subscription. Purchase that treadmill that you’ve long-planned to acquire. Buy the most expensive sports-related equipment that you can’t afford. 

Remember: the more you spend on something, the more you will use it. 

Spend on sports and fitness.

Specialized Bikes (through AutoFocus Bike Center) has incredible deals of up to 60 percent off. Visit their Facebook page and order that road bike.

Aim to incorporate sweating into your daily routine. Like eating and showering and brushing teeth, target to brisk-walk or swim or play badminton each day. Climbing stairs to your 8th floor office building is a guaranteed way to increase your heart rate. 

Increase your heart rate. If you don’t have much time, go for a 15-minute sprint (or sprint to the top of your building stairs). Any way to force your heart rate to spike to 190 beats per minute (for a short period) is good.

Climb in the morning, climb down and up to do an errand; do the same climb for lunch and before you leave the office. Don’t take the elevator.

Walk to work. Run to work. Bike to work. 

As the author Jim Rohn once said, “Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” 


Alan Choachuy: Big winner after losing 92 lbs.

One of the most famous bodies in all of Cebu is that of Alan Choachuy, all of 217 lbs. If you think that’s heavy and obese, consider this: Three months ago, he weighed 309 lbs. But, after eight weeks inside “The Biggest Loser Pinoy Edition,” he lost 62 lbs. Then, after getting ousted from the camp, he arrived in Cebu even more determined: he lost another 30 lbs.

Alan lost 92 lbs. in 10 weeks. “My goal is to weigh 180 lbs.,” he proclaimed.

The Biggest Loser contest? “I joined for fun,” he said. “How often can a fat guy like me get an opportunity to get into reality TV that has a good purpose: To be healthy!”

During the auditions, Alan, who turned 40 last February, was one of the last to enlist, lining up “very late in the afternoon while others lined up at dawn.”

How did he lose 62 lbs. in two months? “In the camp, I did cardio elliptical, stationary bike, running, boxing, spinning and strength training. But the most effective was the Metabolic workout by Coach Jim Saret; it’s a short intense workout that hits 70% of your max heart rate. Ex: the basic 10 jumping jacks, 10 squats, 10 push ups, 10 lunges but repeat as many as you can in 4 minutes and as fast as you can. Sounds simple but as you get to your second set you start to see stars. Haha! Increase number of minutes as you get stronger and faster or carry dumbbells etc.; it not only helps you lose weight, it helps you get fitter and stronger faster.”

When Alan left The Biggest Loser last July 25, he continued his fitness program. In fact, just last Monday morning, as I drove up to Ma. Luisa Park, I saw one man pedaling the mountain-bike. He was alone. He climbed the subdivision’s steepest part.

It was the ABS-CBN star. “That was a 1.5-hour bike ride,” he said. “I started at our house in Mandaue then went to Maria Luisa. I did three laps; it takes 10-12 minutes uphill to the main intersection then back downhill on the right side where a red Ferrari and yellow Porsche are parked. I chose Ma. Luisa because it’s a short but very steep uphill.” (On biking, years before he joined the TV show, Mr. Choachuy was popular among Cebuano bikers because of Big Al’s, a series of MTB events he sponsored from 2005 to 2007.)

With The Biggest Loser, Alan was highly-respected. “It was a great experience in the Camp, especially when I was treated like leader not only for the Blue team but for the entire group. Never in my life did I think that 16 people from different parts of the country would give me so much respect. And to think I am from Cebu.”

His motivation? “My wife, Caroline, and my kids, Carmichael, Carlisle, and Alana,” said Alan. “I want to grow old with my wife and don’t want to burden my children in the future because of my unhealthy lifestyle.”

He adds: “I also thank my dad, Alexander Choachuy Sr., where I learned my leadership characteristics. I have not thanked him enough and now I have chance to thank him and my Mom.”
On the quest for healthy living, Alan is not finished. When he e-mailed me his schedule, I thought it was Noy Jopson’s Camsur 70.3 Training Regimen.

Alan’s daily routine: Early mornings, he runs and bikes for up to 2.5 hours. In the afternoon, he’s at Fitness First for another 2.5-hours of strength-training, metabolic, and core exercises. “I work out between 3-5 hours a day,” he said. “My journey has not ended and have no plans to stop. Plan to run half-marathon in Sept. and maybe a full marathon in 2012. Also, planning on going back to triathlon, and soon, the Ironman; it’s easier to lose weight if you are preparing for an event.”

A full-time architect who, together with his associate, Archt. Peter Bordador (a Cebu Hall of Famer in football), works to change our perspective of homes and buildings, it was his own life outlook that was changed by The Biggest Loser.

“Not only am I healthy now but it gave me a new perspective in life. I learned that it is never too late to make a change… that before you change others, you should look yourself in the mirror.”

Hi, I’m John–and I’m an addict!

Each day, I sniff. I get a high. My nerves grow edgy, my body weakens and I feel low, low, low—if I don’t inhale this drug. It has permeated my system. I can’t get rid of it. My red blood cells have been infiltrated; my mind, brainwashed.

I am an addict. I choose to be. For years and hours and decades now, I’ve hidden it, exposed it, written about it, fantasized. Yes. This addiction I fantasize about. Each day. And, like any craving, it started small. When I was small. It grew. Like addictions do. It enveloped my anatomy. At first, I resisted, No!—but then, like all enslavements, it was too irresistible. The lure pulled me. And, the more I inhaled, the more sweat my body exhaled.

I am an addict. We are all addicts. Maniacs, we are, of something. Cigarettes. Coffee. Cars. Cocaine. Coke. Computers. Chocolates. Chatting. We are submissive to something. We crave. This is part of being human. This is normal. Addiction is normal. Yet, the sad reality is, most addictions are bad. They’re damaging and vicious. They suck us into a dark and deep hole that, unlike the Chilean heroes, we can’t climb out of. Most addictions are these. Drugs. Sex. Food. The habit of visiting Waterfront Hotel’s second floor to sit on a high stool and wave your P10,000 goodbye—that’s a habit. Bad.

I am an addict. But this habit I covet is the same one plenty lust after: like those who visit Waterfront Hotel’s basement floor to sit on a high stool called the stationary bike, pay P10,000 for four months—that’s a habit. Good. I am addicted to anything that moves me. Literally. Pedaling. Cutting through the invisible air to traverse from the banner called START to another signage called FINISH—that’s my addiction. And I’m not alone. Thousands, too, are addicts.

Take this latest fanaticism. Every Sunday at dawn, while thousands used to party on Saturday nights and snore hours later, now everybody’s up and running. This stimulant everybody’s perspiring. It’s an addiction.

This obsession is good. It’s an addiction that should be made an addition: Husband invites wife to dance who invites best friend Carol to badminton who invites daughter Steph to taekwondo who invites classmate Rhea to triathlon who invites dad Mike to swim who invites officemate Paolo to triathlon. That’s addition. That’s addiction.

I am a maniac. And I love it. I feel weak when I can’t perform this obsession. Daily, I do it. Writing this piece? Prior to almost every story I type, before my mind can execute, my body needs to excrete liquid. It’s called sweat. And it’s this exercise of the body that flexes my brain to release “creative juices.” Addiction is a juice. It powers the body. From a lethargic, shoulders-drooping, fatigued state, I’m erect and raring to march—thanks to this fascination to perspire.

I am an addict. If I awaken at 3:20 in the morning and can’t go back to sleep, that’s because I didn’t get enough addiction. From sweating. For here’s what I’ve concluded: A good night’s sleep is achieved when I’m most tired—from heavy dosage of exertion during daytime. Formula for sweet dreams: exercise = better sleep.

I am an addict. I hope you, too, become one. Like breathing unconsciously or bathing each morning or digesting rice every breakfast, noon, and night—habits we perform by instinct—do include another type of good-habit to your daily repertoire. Sweat. Yes. Be addicted. Tell yourself, like I’ve brainwashed myself for decades, this: I am weak when I don’t run. Or bike. Or lift weights. Or dribble the basketball and shoot. Or badminton smash. Or tennis volley. Or grass-walk and par-putt in CCC. Do anything to weaken your body for 40 minutes daily—then you’ll be strengthened. But do it daily. Like an addict. For you’re no addict if you skip sessions and inhale only every Sunday, right? Inhale sports. Let’s all be addicts.

More ‘Injury Tips’ from Dr. Tony San Juan

First published last April 2009….


Doc Tony (2nd from right) with (from left) Ogie Laranas, Gabby Cruz and Gerry Malixi during the ‘La Salle Goes Bad!’ tournament

When I asked one of Cebu’s top sports medicine physicians what the best ways are to prevent injuries, his answers were four-fold: 1) Proper conditioning. 2) Using appropriate equipment. 3) Employing proper techniques and, 4) “Knowing your limits.”

Dr. Tony San Juan added that to lessen the likelihood of injury, one must stretch before/after exercise, make sure the shoes fit well (and they’re still in good shape; e.g. mileage of running shoes), and, he adds, “during participation in the sport make sure you employ the proper technique (think Milo BEST clinics for basketball as an example, Jungolf summer programs, martial arts instructional).”

Is cross-training advisable?

“Cross training as a sport (e.g.triathlon): As a sport, cross training is what you may consider the ultimate test of conditioning and endurance. Since it involves at least two different sport disciplines, of which preparations will entail a variety of exercises, you may consider this the sport that prepares pretty much the entire “mind and body”… the best.

“Cross training as an exercise regimen: As an exercise regimen, I am referring mainly to the use of the cross trainer machine/elliptical machine. I recommend the use of this machine because it gives you almost the same cardio work out compared to a treadmill—except that the use of the cross trainer machine is more gentle on the joints (knee, hip and back) because of what you may call the “low impact” nature of the machine. Your feet do not float in the air and impact a hard surface with the use of the machine.”

Which is better: Cardio workout or strength training?

“We engage in a ‘CARDIO WORK OUT’ mainly to improve the function of the heart to the point that it could adjust to a certain level of exercise intensity/sport participation without compromising body function (passing out). As with any work out regimen, the efficiency of cardiac function increases or improves over a period of time and not overnight. For one to be able to enjoy the benefits of a good cardio work out, one should be able to sustain the regimen and commit to it (time).

“Strength training is mainly directed at improving muscle function and bulk (arms, thighs, chest, abdomen) while indirectly providing a ‘cardio work out.’ Strength training will give you the opportunity to perform optimally in certain sport disciplines as long as you develop the proper muscle groups.

“For optimal performance in sport activities with the least likelihood of getting injured, proper conditioning is necessary. Proper conditioning consists in a good balance between a good cardio work out and strength training.”

When injured, I’ve read so much about RICE. What is it?

“RICE – this is the first line of treatment for most (not all) acute injuries. Rest, Ice and Immobilization, Compression and Elevation is mainly directed at joint injuries, sprains, suspected fractures or contusions.
“One has to rest the injured extremity to prevent further injury and insult and to allow stabilization of the injury. Ice and Immobilization is applied to control swelling and lessen the pain which are the expected immediate consequences of the injury. Compression (wrapping the injured area with an elastic bandage) is applied to control swelling as well. Because our soft tissues (muscle, fat, skin) are soft and elastic, they will swell and expand as a result of the injury. If the swelling is uncontrolled, the pressure and fluid build up can be a source of pain and it can also compromise blood flow and nerve function to the area. Elevation is enforced to encourage drainage of the fluid/swelling from the area. Proper elevation requires that the injured extremity be elevated to a level that is higher than the heart.”

What cardio sports are least likely to injure?

“BIKING AND SWIMMING – mainly because of the low impact nature of the two disciplines.”

The perfect blend? Mix sports and coffee

Back in July of 2007, I started a habit. I drank. Not beer or Johnnie Walker or tequila or lambanog. I drank a brown-colored mix that’s available in carenderias and supermarkets, SM City and Ayala Center, our homes and offices. I started with San Mig Coffee. When I woke up in the morning, I tore open the blue sachet and poured the 3-in-1 on a steaming cup of water. I sipped. Next, I swallowed Nescafe Intense. It was, as it’s family name suggests, intense. I drank it two hours before running the Hong Kong 42K footrace. I drank it each morning at my Talamban home.

Today, I still drink. But thanks to Jourdan Polotan, who, to me, owns a doctorate in Coffeetology, I’ve learned to be more sophisticated. Mr. Polotan who? He happens to be the husband of Jingle, who’s the sister of Steve Benitez, who’s the owner of the outstanding Cebu brand named Bo’s Coffee.

Jourdan, who’s resided in Surabaya, Indonesia and traveled to Russia and Dubai and Italy and most of the corners of this round planet, taught me about this “French Press.” At first, given his all-muscle physique, I thought the “press” was his gym exercise: the leg press.

French Press, it turned out, was one excellent method of making coffee. And so, for the past 60 days since I’ve purchased that portable French Press gadget at Starbucks and a coffee grinding machine at Rustan’s, I’ve grounded various selections of beans.

When do I savor my coffee? Each morning, with no miss, at 6 a.m. What does one 8-oz cup do to my system? It stimulates my brain. From half-shut, my eyes amplify. From a funky state I transform into a punk. From being a wuss, I transpose into a revving Lamborghini. Coffee, as commonly said, “perks me up” and switches my just-awoken zombie skeleton into an Energizer bunny.

Which brings me to E: Exercise. And why, if you don’t drink cappuccino before you engage in sports or, worse, if you don’t involve yourself in any type of sweating, you should.

Needless to expound, Exercise is necessary for a robust and strapping figure. But here’s what I’ve uncovered is just as necessary prior to exercise: a brown cup. And this theory of drinking coffee before working-out is endorsed not just by me or Vice Governor candidate Glenn Soco, who owns the chain of cozy outlets named Coffee Dream, but by plenty of studies.

“Australian researchers found that even a small quantity of caffeine allowed athletes to exercise almost a third longer,” said the August 2003 article from entitled, Coffee ‘boosts exercise stamina.’ “A single cup of coffee may be enough to trigger these beneficial effects. The Australian Institute of Sport team found that caffeine triggers the muscles to start using fat as an energy source rather than carbohydrate sugars. Caffeine has been used by many endurance athletes as a way of eking extra energy out of their body’s reserves during an event. The researchers tested its effects on cyclists, who were allowed to sip on flat cola or coffee as they pedaled. Those who did were able to keep going longer than those who stuck to water.”

Believe it now? There’s more. In fact, hundreds of studies have validated the positive effect of coffee on athletes.

According to the Univ. of Michigan Health System website, “it makes (people) feel more alert, gives them more energy, improves their mood, and makes them more productive. Athletes often use caffeine to help them perform better, both in routine workouts and in competition.”

To me, it keeps me motivated to pedal that Trek mountainbike, sprint that 5K run, swing that Babolat tennis racket.

I hope you drink coffee. Not just to sleep awake, slumped in Seattle’s Best’s sofa set for 104 lazy minutes, but to use coffee to energize your senses and convince your physical self to move.

Do sports. Sip caffeine. What a one-two combination. That’s why I love the French Press. It’s the perfect mix prior to a bench press.

Who doesn’t want to be as sexy as Angel Locsin?

Everybody except Simon Losiaboi or Posh Spice wants to lose weight. This is a fact. Like longing to be as voluptuous as Iza Calzado or pleading to stand beside (says my wife) Derek Ramsey, we all want to look trim, lean and svelte.

How to do it? Simple: Do sports. (Like running a marathon?) But the even simpler and more balanced formula: Eat less and sweat more. Lessen the calorie intake plus engage in badminton smashing or 28-lap swimming or dribbling full-court in basketball.

How else can we shed off extra poundage? Scouring through the internet late yesterday, I found Reader’s Digest ( and this eye-catching title: “Easy Ways To Lose Weight: 50+ Ideas.” To all wanting an Angel Locsin figure, here are (from that piece) a few of my favorite tips…

Hang a mirror opposite your seat at the table. One study found that eating in front of mirrors slashed the amount people ate by nearly one-third. Seems having to look yourself in the eye reflects back some of your own inner standards and goals, and reminds you of why you’re trying to lose weight in the first place.

Eat cereal for breakfast five days a week. Studies find that people who eat cereal for breakfast every day are significantly less likely to be obese and have diabetes than those who don’t.

Passionately kiss your partner 10 times a day. According to the 1991 Kinsey Institute New Report on Sex, a passionate kiss burns 6.4 calories per minute. Ten minutes a day of kissing equates to about 23,000 calories — or eight pounds — a year!

Brush your teeth after every meal, especially after dinner. That clean, minty freshness will serve as a cue to your body and brain that mealtime is over.

When you’re eating out with friends or family, dress up in your most flattering outfit. You’ll get loads of compliments, says Susie Galvez, author of Weight Loss Wisdom, which will be a great reminder to watch what you eat.

Spend 10 minutes a day walking up and down stairs. The Centers for Disease Control says that’s all it takes to help you shed as much as 10 pounds a year (assuming you don’t start eating more).

Switch to ordinary coffee. Fancy coffee drinks from trendy coffee joints often pack several hundred calories, thanks to whole milk, whipped cream, sugar, and sugary syrups.

Carry a palm-size notebook everywhere you go for one week. Write down every single morsel that enters your lips, even water. Studies have found that people who maintain food diaries wind up eating about 15 percent less food than those who don’t.

Eat slowly and calmly. Put your fork or spoon down between every bite. Sip water frequently. Your brain lags your stomach by about 20 minutes when it comes to satiety (fullness) signals. If you eat slowly enough, your brain will catch up to tell you that you are no longer in need of food.

Downsize your dinner plates. Studies find that the less food put in front of you, the less food you’ll eat.

Bring the color blue into your life more often. There’s a good reason you won’t see many fast-food restaurants decorated in blue: Believe it or not, the color blue functions as an appetite suppressant. So serve up dinner on blue plates, dress in blue while you eat, and cover your table with a blue tablecloth.

Don’t eat with a large group. A study published in the Journal of Physiological Behavior found that we tend to eat more when we eat with other people, most likely because we spend more time at the table.

Serve your dinner restaurant style (food on the plates) rather than family style (food served in bowls and on platters on the table). When your plate is empty, you’re finished; there’s no reaching for seconds.

Get up and walk around the office or your home for five minutes at least every two hours. Stuck at a desk all day? A brisk five-minute walk every two hours will parlay into an extra 20-minute walk by the end of the day.

Clean your closet of the “fat” clothes. Once you’ve reached your target weight, throw out or give away every piece of clothing that doesn’t fit.

Read more here.

In Hong Kong, it’s my favorite spot

HONG KONG—The one place I visit the most here is not Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui or the Harbour City-Ocean Centre mall or Victoria Peak up the mountains. It’s not a ride aboard the iconic Star Ferry or a stroll along Granville Road. It’s not even inside shops like H & M or Esprit or Uniqlo or Giordano. The one site I frequent almost daily?

Victoria Park. I love Victoria Park! Almost each early morning here, I jog about half a kilometer from my hotel in Wan Chai and visit the ground that’s filled with hundreds of Hong Kongers.

Covering an area of 19 hectares, Victoria Park is the largest park in the Hong Kong Island. It’s situated in Causeway Bay and has been a Hong Kong fixture—though not as centrally-located as its New York City counterpart, the Central Park—for a long time. Built in honor or Queen Victoria, it’s been opened, 24 hours daily, to the Hong Kong public for the past 52 years. Continue reading In Hong Kong, it’s my favorite spot

To my Best Friend: Happy Birthday!

First published in October 24, 2006, here’s a tribute to my best friend…

I don’t do this. Usually, I don’t yield space to send birthday greetings to friends. But this one’s special. This person is different. Someone I’ve known for many Septembers, opened my ears and listened to talk, someone whom I’ve heard sing—and what a voice, ranging from as high as Mariah Carey’s glass-breaking pitch to as deep as Aretha Franklin’s—and someone, with my wife’s consent, I’ve had the pleasure to spend almost an hour with each day.

Happy birthday, iPod! Yes, without the world noticing, it was five years ago yesterday—October 23, 2001—when Steve Jobs carried his baby on the palm of his hands and announced: “With iPod, listening to music will never be the same again.” Steve Jobs, what a proud dad you are today. While the walkman was “cool,” the CD “revolutionary,” and the turntable “all-vinyl,” the iPod is defined by more than one word: “It’s one of the most successful consumer electronics products—ever.” Continue reading To my Best Friend: Happy Birthday!

Lift weights! Seven reasons why we should

Two weeks ago I bought myself a Christmas present: a bench press set with barbell and weights from JB Sports. With the dumbbells that I previously kept, I hung a full-size mirror on the cement wall, installed a portable speaker for the iPod Nano and created for myself a mini-gym at home.

Strength-training. Is it essential in sports? To musclemen like LeBron or Manny P. or Nadal—we know that weight-lifting has elevated their status to the top-most echelon of sports. But, to you and me, ordinary folks, is lifting weights important? To our fitness? Continue reading Lift weights! Seven reasons why we should

This 2009, if Barack Obama can… Yes We Can

Among all the superlatives that people attach beside the name of the incoming US President—“the first among 44,” “the new JFK,” “the savior of U.S.A. after the debacle named W.”—there is one more attribute that fits best on these back pages: “Exercise-in-Chief.”

Yes. Because while staring at Barack Obama’s scrawny look on CNN might give you the impression that, underneath that cover, he’s fragile and feeble—think again. He’s not.

Superman? Is he? Is there an “S” hidden underneath that dark suit? Ha-ha. It’s New Year’s Day—not April Fool’s Day—so I won’t lie to you in saying that he’s Will Smith-muscular. Continue reading This 2009, if Barack Obama can… Yes We Can

Since you ate all fish, my advice: Be a fish!

ILOILO—Each Holy Week for the past three years, I’ve stayed at my wife’s uncle’s beach house in Oton, a town 20 minutes away from Iloilo City. Last year, I wrote an article in Sun.Star Cebu about a sport I exercised here each morning. Here’s a revised version of that piece…

Here in the rest house, right on the front lawn, sits a temptress. She’s dressed in all-blue, is sexy, and winks at me to jump on her. Her name? Swimming Pool. Ahhh… Is there any other four-letter word that best describes this lady in blue?

Continue reading Since you ate all fish, my advice: Be a fish!

Why I Love…


I never used to drink one of the world’s most popular drinks. Every time I step inside Bo’s Coffee or walk beside a Coffee Dream kiosk—with no offense meant to Steve Benitez and Glenn Soco, my good friends who own our two most popular and home-grown coffee shops—I stare at the menu, pause for three seconds, and signal to order the same hot drink each time. Not cappuccino. Not cafe latte. Not a shot of espresso. But, yes, as corny as it sounds, a glass of hot tea. Continue reading Why I Love…

Gift Suggestions For Christmas

If you’re still in search of gifts to hand out this Monday night, search no more: Buy the gift of exercise. No, no, no. You can’t burn calories for your mom, spouse or best friend—but you can buy a gift that’ll make him or her sweat. Here are some suggestions…

Treadmill. Ever since 12 months ago when I started running and running—my mileage up to 65 kms. per week now—the best purchase I’ve made is a treadmill. Our family started with a P25,000 machine. It was good. For six months. Then the rubber padding contracted a disease: It wouldn’t turn well. And so a few months ago, considering four in our family use the machine, we bought a P70,000 Kettler unit from JB Sports in SM. Today, if there’s rain outside or I want to sprint at 12 noon—which I would never do on the asphalt road—I jump on the treadmill. Simply put, it’s the best exercise equipment we’ve purchased.

Continue reading Gift Suggestions For Christmas

Ho! Ho! Hold it!

“Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we shall…. diet!”

Haven’t you noticed? Santa Claus singing this tune every single Christmas for hundreds of centuries now to no avail? And for good reason…

Think of that mouth-watering La Marea warm-brownie cup. Or the turtle pie only Coffee Bean perfects. Or Homebakers’ merceditas and Leona’s Chocolate Surprise. Feast your taste buds on Victoria pineapple ham, Marca Piña queso de bola, fruit cake, Dondi Joseph’s red wines…

But wait, ho-ho-hold it! Before gorging any further, did you know that U.S. studies have concluded that the average weight gain during Christmas is seven pounds! Yup. Seven pounds of excess baggage. And we’re going to pay for it. Funny how we spend 11 months flicking that shuttlecock, pushing that barbell, or rolling down those tenpin orbs—only to lose it all in three weeks! Continue reading Ho! Ho! Hold it!

15 Ways To Keep Your Brain In Shape

My good friend Bobby Villareal sent these 15 tips a few days ago. They’re a must-read…

1. Just stop. Take 20-30 minutes out of your day to think about nothing. But don’t sleep – you’ve got to meditate. Sit still, reduce sensory input, and try to focus your mind on something like a calm scene or a color (to begin with thinking about something rather than trying to think of ‘nothing’ is easier). A study at the University of Kentucky revealed that subjects who took a late-afternoon test after meditating for 30 minutes had better scores than those who napped for the same time. Continue reading 15 Ways To Keep Your Brain In Shape

Spending P24,490 for a Happy New You!

I made a mistake. A few months ago, I wrote a column in Sun.Star Cebu entitled, “Spending P24,490 for a Happy New You!” It was new year and, I explained, what better gift to get yourself than a treadmill. Yes. That’s right. A treadmill. And a very inexpensive treadmill that costs less than P25,000. Aren’t treadmills supposed to cost much, much more? you ask. Yes.

Now, guess what? A week after the story below was published, our treadmill broke. It wouldn’t run. Tried to have it fixed but… no more. Hehehe. The lesson? Be careful what you write… Anyhow, here’s the piece below. And be careful buying that inexpensive item… Continue reading Spending P24,490 for a Happy New You!