From left: Jesse Taborada, John Pages, Meyrick Jacalan, Dr. Ron Eullaran and Roel Militar
The year was 1986 when my family and I moved from Bacolod to Cebu City. Back then, like any 14-year-old who had developed deep friendships with classmates and neighbors, I resented the decision
“Can I just stay in Bacolod?” I recall asking my parents. The answer, of course, was obvious. From the City of Friendship we transferred to this Queen City of the South. Looking back 22 years ago to that time—with no offense meant to Bacolod—it would be hard for any city to surpass what Cebu offers. In schooling, in business opportunities, in R & R, in malls to visit and night spots to party in and, lest I forget, in this favorite topic of these back pages…. Sports.
Take mountain-biking. Here in Cebu, if one craves to climb steep hills, descend on trail roads, trek across muddy terrain or traverse shallow streams—it’s all, as the cliche goes, right at our own backyard.
From where I live in Talamban, for example, a three-minute pedal away is the road beside Sunny Hills where it leads to a climb called Budlaan. That’s a fabulous dirt-road area to explore. Eight minutes away is the back of North General Hospital where, on two-wheels, one can circumnavigate northern Cebu, swing to Liloan or glide and emerge at the Ayala Heights in Sirao.
This is the beauty of nature. Of mountain-biking. Of Cebu.
The other RP cities? “I have friends who live in Manila and their passion is mountain-biking,” said Dr. Ron Eullaran, “but they have to travel two hours to find the same off-road trails and mountains that we can get to here in 10 minutes.”
Dr. Ronald Eullaran
“And worse,” Dr. Ron adds, “because they travel so far, they often spend the whole day out and return home late. My wife will kick me out if I do that often on Sundays!” Dr. Eullaran, one of Cebu’s top rheumatologists, is correct.
Bacolod? Bikers there often have to cruise dozens of kilometers to find hilly terrain that can rival our Brgys. Guba or Pulang-bato. loilo? The flat land that my birthplace is, biking fanatics have to take a boat ride to cross to Guimaras Island to spin their MTBs there.
Ours? In Cebu? It’s right at our “backyard.” This is the beauty of Cebu. Of our God-given landscape. Of our mountains.
Last Sunday, I experienced this firsthand. After 12 months of not having climbed the seat of my bike, I pedaled. At 5:30 a.m., I met my running partner Meyrick Jacalan at Petron in Talamban. On board his “Seven” bike (one of the most sought after—and yes, expensive bikes), Meyrick looked relaxed on an MTB. He should be: an avid biker, he’s pedaled for years and even organized races including the 2006 hit, “Sikad.”
Meyrick and Ron at Willy’s
Meyrick and I pedaled to JY Square. There, we met a band of men in colorful attire: red helmets, yellow bike frames, blue gloves, black Lycra shorts, gray socks, pink jerseys.
Dr. Ron Eullaran, one of my best friends from Rotary and who hadn’t biked since two years ago, was there. So was Jesse Taborada, my Hong Kong Marathon running-mate who brandished his Trek MTB. Roel Militar, a top educator at USJ-R and fellow runner/biker, joined us. So did Jun Qui and David Caparas.
At 6:30 a.m., off we climbed to Marco Polo Hotel. We switched our gears to the softest we could pedal and ascended slow. We biked side by side, in no hurry.
Past Marco Polo, we scaled more towering hills. Looking left, we saw the view of the city. We pedaled, talked, pedaled, until, 40 minutes later, we reached our destination: Willy’s. If you climb Busay, you know Willy’s. There’s no stop more popular (often attracting over 50 bikers) than this tiny eatery and shed located meters past Chateau de Busay. In Willy’s, we ate two hard-boiled eggs, drank Lift, Dr. Eullaran devoured a stick-full of “Banana-Q,” we joked, told stories, laughed and enjoyed the company of friends.
Meyrick, Ron and Jesse all set to leave Willy’s
By 8 a.m., we descended back to JY Square and, soon after, joined our wives and children at home for breakfast. No whole day out. No boring all-flat land. No need to take a boat to climb mountains. Here at home, it’s all at our “backyard.”
Ah, the beauty of Cebu.