I knew it was a philanthropic project, an opportune event to sweat out stress. I ended up being part of sports history and running around the world’s third largest shopping mall with an incessant smile on my face.
It was the Just One Day: Run for Free College on January 31st, which garnered more than 50,500 participants and broke records in Philippine sports history.
Part of the Kahit Isang Araw Lang or Just One Day advocacy by “Kuya” Daniel Razon, the race was for the benefit of the La Verdad Christian College scholars, who will be studying Mass Communication and Nursing entirely for free this school year. So even though athletics is not on the A list of my activities, I felt really happy giving a measly PHP 400 and getting my JOD shirt just for some of my fellowmen to get good, free education.
I entered the 3-km Fun Run, which was scheduled to start at 7 a.m. In great anticipation, I got there four hours early. I soon registered my name to confirm my participation and get my runner’s bib. Since sunlight was still hours away, I turned my small bag into a pillow and a portion of the parking lot into a bed, along with many others who decided to do what’s due when it’s dark — dream away.
The soft sunlight playing with my eyes and begging me to rise up, though poetic, is a lie. The sun — for the entire event — seemed sullen that day, giving way to an almost algid Sunday morning had it not been for the great multitude that were gathered. In short, it was the kind of weather fit for tens of thousands of runners to enjoy. I know I did.
When it was finally time for the race, I found myself in the midst of runners who didn’t seem like austere athletes, but more like a great big family joining a jovial activity in a reunion. Turns out, they kind of were.
They were members of the Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path), or more formally known as the Members Church of God International or MCGI. Kuya Daniel is the VP Minister of the congregation and his uncle, Bro. Eliseo Soriano, is the Presiding Minister. And they all are always together in great humanitarian undertakings like this. (Daily, they have medical missions at UNTV and are behind the free bus, train, jeepney and boat rides across the country. Talk about charity.)
When the race started, I didn’t see anybody run. Nobody could. We were so numerous that many minutes had to pass first before any of the people around me could have enough space to even brisk-walk. It was definitely not a Fun Run, but a Fun Walk. Seriously, fun.
While running, er, walking, groups of people would be heard kidding around throwing jokes like, “Hey, don’t run. The winner already texted me,” or be seen laughing together, and people you don’t know would always flash a sweet smile to you, which of course was duly returned. If there were participants who minded the hefty prize money for the first to finish, they didn’t come there. All I saw there, were people who were having a blast in something wholly wholesome as well as worthwhile.
I know the event was called “a run for free education”. But for me, it was more of “an educational run for free education.” Running with ADD has taught me an invaluable lesson — many people run, but not all have good enough reasons to. The ones who do, however, finish their race with a certain smile on their face.