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Compassion in a savage sport

/ 02:41 PM November 27, 2013

There was nothing more beautiful than watching our Pambansang Kamao redeem himself from two straight loses, rise up to become a comeback kid at 34 and silence critics who were ready to write off Manny Pacquaio’s boxing career.

It was vintage Manny Pacquiao – with his tiger look, furious hand speed, savvy footwork and head movement. All that was missing was the Pacman’s killer instinct that would have left Brandon “Bambam” Rios’ fast-talking mouth kissing the canvass with a knockout especially in rounds 11 and 12.

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Coach Freddie Roach would later reveal to reporters in a post-fight press conference that – “Manny did take it easy in the last round and I feel that he didn’t step on the gas pedal. I think he could’ve finished Rios but he told me there’s no sense in beating him up anymore, he beat him in every round. He said there was no sense in trying to hurt the guy.”

The Pacman himself admitted in the post-fight presser that he could have gone for a knockout in the final round but purposely did not.

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“On that last round, I knew it was the last round. I didn’t want to be careless so I backed off a little bit and gave him the chance to finish,” Pacquiao said. “I [did not do] that because I’m tired or anything, I think 1-12 rounds people are satisfied with my performance so why would I try to be careless like what happened in the last fight with [Juan Manuel] Marquez?” Pacquiao lost to Marquez in a 6th round knockout after Pacquiao miscalculated and opened himself up with just one second left in the round.

My viewing of last Sunday’s Pacman vs. Rios: Clash at the Cotai was made more special because I was watching it together with the evacuees from Leyte and Samar and the good people of Barangay Tinago, Cebu City led by their newly-elected Brgy. Capt, ultrarunner Joel Garganera.

In the midst of all the cheering from the evacuees, I couldn’t help but think about how ironic and wholly magnanimous of the Pacman to be in the business of beating his adversary to a pulp and yet show compassion to his opponent saying he wanted Rios to finish the 12 rounds standing.

“I [did] that because boxing is not about killing each other, it’s about entertaining people,” says the People’s Champ, who did more than just entertain his slugfest loving fans, but also lifted the spirits of a whole nation mired in grief and sorrow.

To me that’s not a sign of weakness. To me that’s true class. The mark of a true People’s Champ.

Cebu Marathon 2014 Training Diary: Half-full

Last September, I started training in earnest for the 2014 Cebu Marathon.

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The Cebu Marathon, which happens every second Sunday of January, right before the Sinulog, was to be my comeback run after almost two years of zero racing following my pregnancy and the subsequent birth of my daughter, Vera.

Then on October 15, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake rocked Cebu and Bohol. This happened just as I was starting to pile on the long runs. The subsequent aftershocks, to this day, keep me from running on the road for more than two hours, worried that a strong quake happens again with only my yaya and the baby left at home.

As if the earthquake was not enough, the monster that was Supertyphoon Yolanda happened on Nov. 8, 2013 and nothing felt the same again. Although my family and many of my friends were left unscathed, going out on the road for a long run and worrying about my mileage, to me, seemed frivolous in the midst of all the suffering and tragedy.

For weeks, I could only muster no more than 10K three times a week. All I really want to do is stay home, play with my baby and keep vigil over her while she sleeps to make sure she’s safe from harm.

But 10Ks three times weekly is no way to train for a marathon. As race day draws near, I can feel my Cebu Marathon finisher’s medal slipping farther and farther away from me as my mileage stay constant at 30K a week.

I have officially become what I dread the most – a slacker filled with sorry excuses.

How times have changed. I remember the days when I would run on weekend nights from Friday to Sunday inside the Cebu I.T. Park, not to eat, drink and be merry in its hip restaurants, but to run endless loops of back-to-back-to-back long runs that start at 10 in the evening and end at dawn the next day and still show up for work on Monday – bright and early. But, back then, I had no baby and an entire household to take care of and I thrived even as my refrigerator only held water, Gatorade and oatmeal.

Faced with this new reality, I am forced to put on hold for another year my Cebu Marathon dreams, and instead sign up for the 21K. Luckily, Cebu Marathon organizers will, for the first time since 2010, give out medals to finishers of the half marathon. Now I don’t feel so bad.

The regular registration for the 42K (P1,800) and 21K (P1,400) ends on Dec. 2. After that, registration fees get more expensive by another P400 a pop.

So, if you’re running next year’s Cebu Marathon on Jan. 12, 2014, there’s no more time for sitting on the fence, unless of course you’re willing to shell out more for an already expensive entry fee.

I am making peace with the idea of running only 21K instead of the centerpiece event. There will be longer runs in the future and building mileage can wait. Vera’s milestones on the other hand will happen only once and I need to be there when they do.

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