Paul Walker, extreme sports fan

jiu-jitsu-portugal-paul-walkerWalker (center) with his MMA buddies

“My motto is, you have to get in a sport a day. Playing a little basketball, volleyball, going out surfing, skating, whatever it is. It’s the best way to live.”

Paul William Walker IV said those words. He was a race car driver. An actor of over two dozen films. He surfed. Weight-lifted. Was on the cover, with chiseled abs like Pacquiao’s, of Men’s Health magazine. He was the father to 15-year-old Meadow. And, like many of us, he loved and played sports.

Sadly, the world mourns his shocking death. To us Filipinos, his death is even more personal. Just moments before his life ended, he did charity work. He helped raise funds for the typhoon victims of Yolanda.

We all know Paul Walker as the blue-eyed star of the Fast and Furious series. But he has two other movies that our family particularly like: Eight Below and Into The Blue.

Based on a true story of an expedition group that left a pack of dogs in the polar base because of a heavy snow storm, Eight Below is an inspiring and moving film.

With Into The Blue, he starred alongside Jessica Alba in a sport that he loves most: surfing. He started in high school (California) and never stopped hitting the beach. “It keeps things grounded for me,” he said of surfing. “It’s where I came from, and it’s who I am. I sometimes struggle, because my job is like the antithesis of what surfing is all about. Surfing’s simple. It’s real.”

Next to car racing, the sport Paul Walker enjoyed most was mixed martial arts. He was a huge UFC fan. In an interview a few years back, he said, “I just thought, wow this is a really cool sport. This is something I’d like to do.”

He enrolled in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He had a brown belt under Ricardo “Franjinha” Miller in California.

Ronn Shiraki, who owns an MMA gym in Honolulu, recalls a time when Walker called him seven years ago wanting private lessons in Hawaii. The caller simply said he was “Paul” and Shiraki shrugged him off because he was busy with other clients. Weeks later, he found out the caller was Paul Walker. Of the man he’d become very good friends with later, Shiraki said of Walker: “If he wasn’t an actor, he’d probably be very, very good. He would probably be competing in the sport at a very high level.”

Of surfing and MMA, here’s a Men’s Health article entitled “How Paul Walker Got Those Abs.” Written by Daniel Duane, it’s dated Sept. 2005: “Nowadays, the only formal fitness training Walker does is martial arts, which strips unnecessary bulk off his frame while building his speed, balance, flexibility, and coordination. He starts every day with 2 hours of Brazilian jujitsu at a studio near his modest Santa Barbara home, then follows up with an hour of Muay Thai kickboxing. After that, it’s all about the water: ‘If there’s any surf, any fishing, I’ll whip out in the boat.’ That would be the fast rigid-inflatable that allows Walker to rip across to the Channel Islands and catch a few waves, maybe spear a calico bass for dinner, then have a buddy drive while he surfs the boat wake all the way home. And if he’s still itching for a good time after all that, he and some friends might do a few downhill skateboard runs on a quiet canyon road, or take his Nissan Skyline (0 to 60 in 5.2 seconds) to the racetrack.”

Walker also snow-boarded, counting his fall when he tore a tricep and shattered an elbow as one of his worst accidents. Still, he said, “That was not fun. That one hurt. But I’m not giving up extreme sports because I love the adrenaline rush.”

When asked if he was ever scared, he replied, “I’m not afraid of anything. That’s just the way I am. That’s the way my grandfather was. He used to race cars and he had the first 160-mile-per-hour Ford Falcon in the San Fernando valley. And my dad was a two-time Golden Gloves winner, and now he’s into downhill mountain biking and white water rafting. I guess you could say I come from a family of thrill seekers.”

He’ll be missed. And may his motto resonate with all of us: “Get in a sport a day… it’s the best way to live.”

Ramon Magsaysay Trek

Balamban Councilor Dave Karamihan, one of the wittiest and funniest men you’ll meet on this island, is once again at the helm of a noble project: the Paghandum ni Magsasay Annual Adventure Trek ’10. Held in commemoration of the 53rd death anniversary of Pres. Ramon Magsaysay, this annual climb runs from March 20 to 21 in Dave’s bailiwick called Balamban.

Paghandum ni Magsaysay Annual Adventure Trek ’10, 53rd Annual Commemoration of the Death of President Ramon Magsaysay, March 20-21, 2010, Mt. Manunggal, Barangay Magsaysay, Balamban, Cebu

The Annual Commemoration is actually on March 17.  A simple wreath laying rite will be held in the crash site at 9:00 in the morning.

On March 20,  Saturday, the weekend of festivities will kick off with the 5th Annual Paghandum ni Magsaysay (PNM) Adventure Race.  This is a climbathon open to professional runners, weekend warriors, and locals.  The race starts at the Welcome Arch of the Municipality of Balamban at the Transcentral Highway all the way to the crash site in Mt. Manunggal.  There is also a Women’s category.  The route is 17km (13Km for the Executive, Local, and Women categories) of partly concrete road, dirt road and mountain trails.

In the evening is the San Miguel Beer Night.  A concert by various bands will be held in the campsite.  Trekkers can have the chance to party with fellow mountaineers.  Food and beverage stalls are situated all around.

On March 21, Sunday, the 7th Annual PNM Mountain Bike Challenge commences from Poblacion in Balamban with the finish line, likewise at the campsite in Mt. Manunggal.

The campsite has comfort room facilities and is fully secured by the local PNP.  An ambulance and medic team is on standby 24/7.

Balamban dumptrucks will be picking up trekkers as early as 5Am in JY square in Cebu City.  There will also be a pickup point in Balamban for local trekkers.  These same dumptrucks will be ferrying trekkers on Sunday back to Cebu City and Balamban.

Paghandum ni Magsasay Annual Adventure Trek ‘09
53rd Death Anniversary of President Ramon Magsaysay Sr.

The aim of this event is to showcase the beauty and the eco-tourism potential of Mt. Manunggal and its environs.  Before, it was just the hardcore mountaineers who can get to this place and set up camp.  Over the years, an access road has been laid out and comfort room facilities added, more and more weekend warriors or families who just want to go on a picnic have started trickling in.

Through all these events that are lined up for the commemoration of the death of a beloved president year in and out, we may be able to put Manunggal in the map of must see destinations for foreign and local tourists alike in Cebu.  This could help out in both ways:  more economic activity in the area, and more consciousness on environmental issues for locals as they would tend to take care of their resources more to keep tourists coming in.

Nobody really knows how this adventure trek started.  Some say, it was the mountaineers who like spending their March 17 weekends atop Mt. Manunggal and integrate themselves with the locals.  Some say it was the University of San Jose Recoletos volunteers who started some outreach programs (they even constructed a chapel near the monument) —and continues to do so— since several years ago.

One thing definite is, this all started with a mountain, which happened to embrace a great man in his death.  It is ironic, that with Magsaysay’s death, a new life is born.  A new life for the constituents of Barangay Gaas and Manunggal.

That is our goal and our promise.

Tonio Aboitiz asks: Swim 6.4 kms.


Mention the name “Marathon” and what definition comes to mind? Long-distance road-running that stretches as far as 42 kms., right? Right. Well, there’s another type of marathon that you probably haven’t heard of. This time, it’s not on the asphalted road—but on this vast God-given resource that occupies 71 percent of the earth’s surface: Water.

“Open sea marathon” is its name and, in our country of 7,107 islands, it’s the only event that exists—and it’s right here in Cebu.

Jose Antonio Aboitiz, a member of Cebu’s most respected business family, started this project last year. The 2nd Olango Challenge, it’s called, and yes, at first thought, it’s an intimidating mission: to swim, amidst the open waters along Mactan, the distance of 6,400 meters.

Whitewater Rafting: 12 tips to enjoy the trek

Summer of two years ago, Jasmin, Jana and I hopped to Cagayan de Oro and rode the one sport where you paddle, swim, walk under a cave, brave the turbulent waters and, after five hot and wet hours, emerge all-smiling. It was an excursion to remember; an adventure to thrill your memories. Here are 12 suggestions for those planning the CDO junket….

From left: Ronnie Medalle, John Pages, Jingle Polotan, Jana Pages, Santi Medalle, Jasmin Pages, Jourdan Polotan and Stephanie Medalle

1. Relax. When you first board the red inflatable raft and stare ahead at the winding river littered with boulders and strong current, you feel intimidated. You’re anxious. Jittery. In my case, bringing along my eight-year-old daughter was a risk. Is the ride safe? For children? Yes. Choosing, the Level 1 (beginner’s) rapids, the family enjoyed. Again, the word to remember: Relax.

White-Water Rafting in CDO

Here’s a good choice for a summer vacation…..

For four hours with friends and family, it’s the perfect way to bond. If you want your mind nervous and your heart pumping 170 beats per 60 seconds, traverse through its winding, rough waters. Searching for an experience this April and May that you won’t forget in 25 years? Hop on that inflatable raft, paddle, and ride this roller-coaster that’s named the most popular tourist attraction in Cagayan De Oro City.

White-Water Rafting, it’s called and, among our 7,107 islands, the best spot to try this adventure is in CDO. From Cebu, you take the 8 p.m. boat, close your eyes and, when you awake at 5 a.m., you’ve docked. Or, with Cebu Pacific offering P88 flights, that’s an even quicker way to land in one of Mindanao’s most progressive cities.

Trekking the historical mountain named Manunggal

On March 16, 1957, the 3rd President of the Republic of the Philippines—Ramon Magsaysay—arrived in Cebu for speaking engagements at three schools: USC, SWU and UV. Later that evening, he attended a party hosted by Cebu City Mayor Sergio Osmeña, Jr.

By 1 a.m. and in the blackness of the Cebu night, Pres. Magsaysay boarded a Douglas C-47 plane named “Mt. Pinatubo” at the Lahug Airport. An estimated 40 minutes later, as the plane hovered near the mountains of Balamban, the aircraft—carrying our president and 25 others—met a tragic accident on the slopes of Mt. Manunggal.

This Saturday, March 14, 2009—or 52 years to that fateful week—an event in Balamban to commemorate his death—and his life—will be realized. “Paghandum ni Magsasay Annual Adventure Trek ’09,” it’s named, and spearheading the project is Balamban Councilor Dave Karamihan.