ML and LG: Ready…. Set…. Go…. HK!

John, Leszl and Mendel

At 11 a.m. yesterday in my office, I met two athletes. Skinny and long-legged, they can sprint after a cheetah. Ask them to visit the Cebu City Sports Center and they’ll zoom round and round, circling the track oval with nary a sweat, not losing breath.

ML is Mendel Lopez. Only 23, Mendel has amassed a pile of trophies, medals, citations and, yes, worn-out running shoes that will tower taller than the Ayala Center Christmas tree of last December.

“I won gold in the 1500 meters yesterday,” he told me a day after dominating the regional PRISAA. “Same with the 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 relays. We won gold.”

Gold, you see, is Mendel’s favorite color. And rarely has he joined an event in Cebu and not—at the end of the finish line—hung a round metal around his neck that’s not shining gold.

Honeymoon in Hong Kong

Ten years ago last December 27, Jasmin and I exchanged vows at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral then boarded a flight 48 hours after to stay for five nights in this city labeled as one of Asia’s most enthralling.

In Hong Kong, we rode a mini-train to the top of Victoria Peak. We dined on Peking Duck, strolled along Nathan Road, boarded the Star Ferry and, by nightfall, sat mesmerized at the display of lights across the harbor. We squeezed inside the MRT, disembarked in the shopping district of Mongkok and stood dazed at the dizzying walking pace of our Chinese neighbors. We took a train to watch horse-racing at the far-flung Sha Tin Race Track and even entered the Hong Kong Convention Center and nearly saw, in person, Jackie Chan!

5-K Run? The 21-K Half-Marathon? Go For It!

If you own a pair of running shoes, can lift one leg in front of the other and move from Point A to Z; if you love to sweat and know that while your heart is pumping 155 beats per 60 seconds then you’re getting healthier; and, best of all, if you want to join in a Sinulog activity this busy weekend—then I suggest you join me and hundreds of others this Saturday. The Sto. Niño procession? No, that’s on Saturday afternoon. The Sinulog Grand Parade? That’s on Sunday.

At 6 a.m. this Saturday—just two days from now—it’s a sports event that’s touted as one of Cebu’s biggest running spectacles this 2008: The Mizuno-Shell Sinulog Half-Marathon.

Organized by the Cebu Executive Runners Club (CERC) and ASAP (Advertising Services And Promotions), the Sinulog Half-Marathon offers two options for all: a 5-K Run and the 21-K Half-Marathon. The start and finish will be at the Asiatown I.T. Park and participants are asked to be there by 5:30 a.m.

The Mizuno-Shell Sinulog Half-Marathon

The biggest day of the biggest week of the biggest time of the year is near. On Jan. 20—next Sunday—Cebu will be swarmed with Sto. Niño devotees, foreigners, San Miguel beer, fireworks, Y101 helicopter rides, street-dancing, SM and Ayala midnight-shopping, face painting and, yes, running.

Running? Yes, no misprint there; amidst all the revelry arrives one of the biggest running events in 2008: the Mizuno-Shell Sinulog Half-Marathon. And you should join it! Why? Why join a run? Why the 21-K half-marathon? Why Cebu? And why during the Sinulog? Here’s why…

Running alongside Chris Aldeguer

Last Sunday, we ran. Starting at 5:30 a.m., we jogged a few circles inside Cempark then headed for the Asiatown I.T. Park where, at that early hour, dozens stretched, trotted and biked. Next, we scooted along Juan Luna Ave. then entered the Cebu Business Park and weaved ourselves around the Ayala Center and Marriot Hotel. A few more turns until we scrambled back to finish in Banilad.

My watch? It read 8:15. Nearly three hours had passed and, yes, sweat still dripped off our shorts as our legs continued to push forward. Then, just 100 meters before we finished the 28-km. trek, Chris Aldeguer blurted the question, “Don’t you ask yourself sometimes why you’re doing this?”

At the Aldeguer home, Chris is the most athletic

ALA is The Father. You know him. Everyone knows him. Mention the words “boxing” and “godfather” and “Cebu” in the same line and you receive one reply: Antonio Lopez Aldeguer.

ALA has three children—all boys. The eldest is Jay. You know Jay. If you read this paper’s Business Section or visit the Ayala or SM malls and gaze at the Sinulog colors of Islands Souvenirs, then you know the creative genius behind the Aldeguer Group of Companies. That’s Jay. Next, there’s Michael. And this ‘007, nobody’s been more visible than Michael. If you recall the World Cup of Boxing, it was Michael in gelled hair and dark black suit who climbed the ring as manager of Boom-Boom and AJ. The eloquent speaker and new face of the ALA Boxing Gym? That’s Michael.

ALA’s youngest son? His name is Christopher Myles.

31st Milo Marathon

Last Sunday morning, my alarm rang at 5:20 in the morning. From our hotel room in Manila, I took a peek outside and saw that the cement roads were wet and the skies were dark and rain was about to fall. I went back to sleep. By 7 a.m., I arose back and wore my running shoes then headed for Rizal Park to run 12 kms. Just a few hours earlier, on the same spot, the 31st Milo Marathon commenced. There were several categories: 42-K, 10-K, 5-K, and 3-K. Thousands of men and women ran. Here are some photos…

Doctors Peter and Yong

Yesterday (Friday, November 9), our Sun.Star Cebu sports editor Mike Limpag penned an excellent article about the recent New York City Marathon run of doctors Yong Larrazabal (below photo, right) and Peter Mancao. Below is the article, “After New York, doctors eye Boston marathon.”

FOR MOST people, spending thousands of pesos and traveling halfway round the world evokes images of a relaxing vacation—not that of waking up early in the morning to wait in line in the cold mist for five hours just to get the chance to run 42 kilometers for four or five more hours.

In New York, two doctors make Cebu proud

(From left) Dr. Yong Larrazabal, Donna Larrazabal, Sophia Mancao, Dr. Peter Mancao


Those were the exact two words first uttered by Dr. Peter Mancao when I called him in New York yesterday at 7:40 p.m. (NYC time)—just four hours after he had finished running last Sunday’s 42.195-km. race called the ING New York City Marathon.

Then, he laughed. “Never again?” I checked if he was serious. “Dili na ko mo usab,” he answered. “Sakto na to!” Then again, he laughed. Joking or not, this he added in all seriousness: “It was an unbelievable experience. Painful, very painful… but really, really worth it. It was also very humbling. But the crowd, grabe… murag Sinulog!”