General Aguinaldo Trail: Hike & Survey (Part #3)

16 09 2014

General Aguinaldo Trail: Hike & Survey (Part #3)

I decided not to stay long in my “Base of Operations” in Salcedo, Ilocos Sur and instead, went directly to Cervantes, Ilocos Sur via the Bitalag-Bessang Pass-Cervantes Road aboard my private vehicle. There will be some more days to be scheduled for me to hike the first segment of the of the route, which is the Candon-Galimuyod-Salcedo- Gregorio del Pilar-Mt Tirad Pass-Quirino-Cervantes Route. This leg has a distance of 73 Kilometers.

I am surprised that the Bitalag-Cervantes Road is fully paved. On the day that I took my road survey, I was surprised that the PNP were stationed and visible in the Poblacion of Towns and Barangay Centers along the route. I had to briefly stop to talk to the uniformed men when I was already in the mountainous part of the route. I asked them why there is a lot of route security elements along the road. They answered me that they were tasked to secure the road up to Cervantes because a VIP and his entourage is going to pass the road and they will be there for the whole day.

Bitalag-Bessang Pass-Cervantes Road

Bitalag-Bessang Pass-Cervantes Road

As I reached the peak of the mountain range at the Battle of Bessang Pass Shrine, I could see a group of soldiers from the Philippine Army and took time to stop my vehicle, talk to them and to ask them about their unit’s headquarters and the reason why they are in the area for the task as route security. From the information I gathered, there is an on-going periodic Conference/Meeting among the Regional Directors of all the Government Offices in Region 1 and the meeting is happening in the Poblacion of Cervantes. I also found out that their Battalion Headquarters is located in one of the Barangays of Cervantes situated between the towns of Quirino and Cervantes.

The Battle Of Bessang Pass Shrine

The Battle Of Bessang Pass Shrine

The scenic view of the route from the peak of Bessang Pass and the view of the Cordillera mountains on the east are simply very beautiful and amazing as one would go down on a zigzag road towards the plains of Cervantes. One could see a lot of pine trees beside the road and the mountains seem to be undisturbed by illegal loggers and “charcoal making” industry. The same observation can be gleaned on the Ilocos Sur side of the mountain except for the additional residences/houses that I’ve seen to be added since the time I last passed the area almost 20 years ago. The distance from the Battle of Bessang Pass Shrine to Poblacion Cervantes is 18 Kilometers.

Church In The Poblacion Of Cervantes

Church In The Poblacion Of Cervantes

Once I reached the Poblacion of Cervantes, I could hardly see a Parking Space on the roads surrounding the Municipal Hall and Public Market. I was luckily to park my vehicle near a road that leads to the Church. I went for a walk towards the Municipal Hall and I could see that a Program and Public Meeting/Consultation was being held with all the Heads of the Government’s Regional Offices taking their turns to speak before the Crowd and answering the concerns of the different “leaders” and Barangay Representatives of the Locals. There was no point of trying to locate one of my friends on Facebook who happens to be the Municipal Secretary of Cervantes and for me to pay a courtesy cal to the Municipal Mayor. I was trying to drive through the Cordilleras and orient myself as fast as I could and there was no way for me to wait until the proceedings would end late in the afternoon.

The Only Incomplete Portion Of The Quirino-Cervantes Road

The Only Incomplete Portion Of The Quirino-Cervantes Road

Instead, I talked to two ladies who were selling fried bananas on the street and asked for directions in going to Quirino, Ilocos Sur and the the road that goes to Sagada-Bontoc, Mountain Province. On a crossroad/intersection being manned by 3 personnel of the PNP, I asked them about the directions to take in going to Mountain Province and they gave me a detailed description of the route and warned me on the “new” bridge that I need to cross towards the Cordilleras. Cervantes appears to be the Crossroad to travelers going to Ilocos Sur, Abra (via Qurino), Mountain Province and Benguet. It is the Gateway to the Cordilleras from the Ilocos Region/Northern Luzon Provinces.

Coming from one of the Ilocos Provinces, I would save at least 4 to 5 hours to reach Sagada, Bontoc, and the Banaue Rice Terraces, instead of passing the traditional Naguilian, La Union to Baguio and then to Halsema Highway to reach such places. I wonder on whose Presidential Administration that this road was finally paved and realized but it is concluded that such places in the mountains would be easily accessible to the lowlanders for progress and better economy.

Kilometer Post Towards Quirino (One Km From Poblacion Cervantes)

Kilometer Post Towards Quirino (One Km From Poblacion Cervantes)

Knowing that the General Aguinaldo Trail connects the towns of Quirino, formerly known as Angake/Angaki, and Cervantes, I went to the road that connects the two towns but after one kilometer from Cervantes, I stopped before a part of the road that needs to cross a stream of water on a river. After assessing the depth of the flowing water, which is too deep for my vehicle to cross, I decided to just take pictures of the place with the skyline of Mt Tirad as the background. I would see more of this route when I will actually hike the other side of the town of Gregorio del Pilar.

I went back to Cervantes and took the road that goes to Tadian, Mountain Province. The Poblacion of Cervantes is located on top of a hill and for one to leave the place, the road leaving the center of the town is a descending one until it flattens. After a few turns, I could see a long and newly-constructed bridge that connects the lower mountains to the higher ones over a wide banks of a river. I need to stop at the approach of the new bridge for a photo-ops.

The New Aluling Bridge

The New Aluling Bridge

After crossing the bridge, the road starts the ascending route towards the Cordilleras. I observed that few vehicles are plying the route and I only see delivery trucks for groceries and was not able to see any other private vehicle along the route until I reached an intersection where the other road leads to the barangays of the Municipality of Tadian, Mt Province and further up to the Halsema Highway that leads towards the province of Benguet and the City of Baguio.

I stopped by an intersection, took some pictures and talked to the locals who happens to be waiting for a ride and the owner of the store near the intersection. The old women who own the store was not aware and ignorant about the history that unfolded in their place but the middle-aged man who was sitting as if he was waiting for a ride, would start talking to me by answering my questions about General Aguinaldo’s presence in the area at the turn of the century. He would recall the stories from his old grandparents and parents about the presence of Katipuneros who passed their area. He confirmed that the road that goes to Tadian, Mountain Province is the same route that goes to Bontoc in the early days, popularly known then as the “Spanish Trail”.

The First Critical Intersection From Cervantes To Bontoc, Mt Province

The First Critical Intersection From Cervantes To Bontoc, Mt Province

To Be Continued.





Official Results: 2nd ANTIQUE 100/50-Mile Endurance Run

9 09 2014

2nd ANTIQUE 100/50-Mile Endurance Run

September 5-7, 2014

Provincial Capitol, San Jose De Buenavista, Antique To Army Transient Facility (ATF), Barangay Caticlan, Malay, Aklan (Via Nabas, Aklan)

32 Hours

ANTIQUE 100-Mile Endurance Run

1. Lao Ogerio (Champion, Overall)———25:58:55 Hours

2. Patrick Earl Manulat (1st Runner-Up, Overall)——–26:51:37

3. Rex Gonzales (2nd Runner-Up, Overall)——–27:24:58

4. Dindo Diaz———-28:01:02

5. Rhoda Oporto (Champion, Female/Course Record)———28:22:56

6. Merbert Cabral——–28:32:50

7. Bong Dizon——–29:35:38

8. John Andrew Alcedo——–30:37:12

9. Dante Adorador——–30:40:50

10. Lyra Valles (1st Runner-Up, Female)——–31:12:56

11. Tess Leono (2nd Runner-Up, Female)——–31:29:23

12. Michael Dauz————31:29:24

19 Starters In Front of the Antique Provincial Capitol

19 Starters In Front of the Antique Provincial Capitol

Overall Champion Lao Ogerio

Overall Champion Lao Ogerio

Lady Champion Rhoda Oporto

Lady Champion Rhoda Oporto

————————————————————————————————————

ANTIQUE 50-Mile Endurance Run

15 Hours

1. Loradel Hanopol (Champion, Overall)——–13:46:10 Hours

Overall Champion Loradel Hanopol

Overall Champion Loradel Hanopol

Congratulations To All The Finishers!





General Aguinaldo Trail: Hike & Survey (Part #1)

8 09 2014

General Aguinaldo Trail: Hike & Survey (Part #1)

For four (4) days, I went for a hike and survey to the historic General Aguinaldo Trail from Candon, Ilocos Sur to Lamut, Ifugao which covers an estimated total of almost 300 kilometers of trails and paved roads.

After studying the available maps and sketch of the posted route of General Emilio Aguinaldo, I decided to start the survey and hike at the intersection of Candon Highway with the road going to the towns of Galimuyod, Salcedo and Gregorio Del Pilar. The road intersection is in front of the Candon South Central Elementary School.

In Front Of The Candon City Hall

In Front Of The Candon City Hall

Intersection Candon Highway & Galimuyod-Salcedo Road

Intersection Candon Highway & Galimuyod-Salcedo Road

Another Entry Point To The Candon-Salcedo Road

Another Entry Point To The Candon-Salcedo Road

I’ve been running on the road from the said intersection in Candon to the Poblacion of Salcedo when I was a Battalion Commander where my Headquarters was located at a high elevated portion of the town which is about one kilometer away from the Municipal Hall. The distance from the Highway Intersection is exactly measured as 12 kilometers to the Poblacion of Salcedo.

Candon City Is Famous For Its "Calamay"

Candon City Is Famous For Its “Calamay”

When I was the Battalion Commander of the 60th Infantry Battalion, I would hike up to the peak of Mt Tirad almost every month and I have measured it to about 24 kilometers from my Headquarters, one way. I had to pass and cross the Buaya River for fifteen (15) times before I would reach the intersection road to Gregorio Del Pilar and Sigay, Ilocos Sur. Bringing with me 15 Scout Rangers who are fast hikers would complete my weekend trips to Mt Tirad.

My first step in my survey for the General Aguinaldo Trail was for a courtesy call to the City Mayor of Candon City (Ilocos Sur). The travel from Manila to Candon City is about 5 to 6-hour easy driving in a private vehicle. There are also commercial buses that would pass the city that go to northern destinations like, Vigan, Laoag, or Bangued, Abra. Candon City has also hotels and pension inns located along the Highway and at the Commercial Center of the City. My purpose in paying a courtesy call to the City Mayor of Candon is for him to be aware that his city will be the starting point of the General Aguinaldo Trail. Unluckily, I was not able to catch the presence of the City Mayor in his office after his meeting with his City Council.

Candon Hotel Along The National Highway

Candon Hotel Along The National Highway

My next visit from Candon City was towards the town of Salcedo where I’ve stayed for almost seven months in 1995 and where I’ve established my Command Post while my Battalion was in charge of the provinces of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, and Abra in our efforts to solve the insurgency situation in the area.

I was surprised to be entertained as a special guest at the Resort of the Former Mayor of the town, who happens to be the Municipal Mayor when I was posted in the area. For the two days that I’ve stayed in the Candon-Galimuyod-Salcedo-Gregorio del Pilar area, the Resort became as my “Base of Operations”.

My Adventure's "Base Of Operations"

My Adventure’s “Base Of Operations”

On my second day, I went for a hike from Salcedo to the town of Gregorio Del Pilar, the trailhead of Mt Tirad. I was surprised to see that there is already a paved road on the side of a mountain that connects the two municipalities. However, the road does not completely avoided the crosssing of the Buaya River. I was surprised that I had to cross the river for two times only instead of 15 times!

Salcedo-Dregorio Del Pilar Road

Salcedo-Gregorio Del Pilar Road

A View of The Buaya River From The Road

A View of The Buaya River From The Road

Along the way, I had a chance to talk to the people whose houses were located beside the route and where little convenience stores are located. I will post a separate story on these encounters and conversations with the local people.

From the intersection of Gregorio del Pilar and Sigay towns and after crossing the river for two times, a paved road which is 6 kilometers in distance would lead me to the Poblacion of Gregorio Del Pilar. The paved road is covered with trees and thick vegetation as I could see the peak of Mt Tirad getting closer. I have observed that the trail that I’ve been using during my hikes to the town 19 years ago was still being used by the farmers who would walk from one barangay to another and before reaching the Poblacion of Gregorio del Pilar.

Forest Along The Route

Forest Along The Route

Clean Water On Creeks Along The Route

Clean Water On Creeks Along The Route

In less than two hours of hiking and jogging from the Intersection of Sigay and Gregorio del Pilar, I was able to reach the Poblacion of Gregorio del Pilar. The place seems to be congested with buildings and houses. There is a newly-constructed Municipal Hall, a separate Rural Health Office/Clinic One-Storey Building, and the Municipal Plaza is now covered with roof which could be transformed into a basketball court and Assembly Area. The old Municipall Hall is still there and being used as additional offices.

Intersection Road For Gregorio Del Pilar and Sigay

Intersection Road For Gregorio Del Pilar and Sigay

Road Intersection For Sigay & Gregorio Del Pilar

Road Intersection For Sigay & Gregorio Del Pilar

The Municipal Mayor is a lady but unfortunately, she was not in the area but her staff in her office were very kind, courteous, and accommodating. I was able to make a very quick rapport with her secretary and the administrator of the Municipal’s Facebook account. The young and energetic Municipal Tourism Officer, Macario Burgos, was able to brief me about the tourism developments in the town. All the needed information about Mt Tirad and the Municipality were provided by Mr Burgos. He even gave me additional information about the General Aguinaldo Trail.

In Front Of The New Municipal Hall of Gregorio Del Pilar, Ilocos Sur

In Front Of The New Municipal Hall of Gregorio Del Pilar, Ilocos Sur

Macario Burgos, Municipal Tourism Officer Of Gregorio Del Pilar

Macario Burgos, Municipal Tourism Officer Of Gregorio Del Pilar

There is only one eatery/restaurant in the Poblacion and Mr Burgos was kind enough to accompany me and joined me for lunch. At the eatery, I was able to talk to more locals who would drop by to have their lunch. The Municipality had progressed due to tourism and agriculture since the mid-90s.

After lunch, I decided not to proceed to the peak of Mt Tirad having known the place and distance from the Poblacion when I was assigned in the area. I’ve found out that the Municipal Tourism has a registration area at the Trailhead at Barangay Mabatano and every hiker has to pay an Environmental Protection Fee of P 20.00. In my future thru-hike along the General Aguinaldo Trail, I will have to be back to this place and renew my experience in reaching the peak of Mt Tirad.

Getting back to my “Base of Operations” in Salcedo was uneventful and my staff and I had an easy jog and hike for the distance of 12 kilometers. We had more time to appreciate the beauty of the scenery and take more pictures on the things that we saw along the way.

The following picture gallery will explain more about my hike from Salcedo to Gregorio Del Pilar and back.

WELCOME Arch @ Gregorio Del Pilar's Poblacion

WELCOME Arch @ Gregorio Del Pilar’s Poblacion

River Intersection, Lagoon, Hanging Bridge, Beautiful Mountain & Hills, & Green Scenery

River Intersection, Lagoon, Hanging Bridge, Beautiful Mountain & Hills, & Green Scenery

River Crossing #1

River Crossing #1

River Crossing For Motorcycles @ P20 Each

River Crossing For Motorcycles @ P20 Each

River Crossing #2

River Crossing #2

Vulcanizing Shop On The Trail?

Vulcanizing Shop On The Trail?

The Reason Why There Is A Vulcanizing Shop!

The Reason Why There Is A Vulcanizing Shop!

Hanging Bridges Along Salcedo-Gregorio Del Pilar Road

One Of The Hanging Bridges Along Salcedo-Gregorio Del Pilar Road

Afternoon Snacks Before Reaching My Base Of Operations

Afternoon Snacks Before Reaching Back To My Base Of Operations

Muddy Trail During The Rainy Season

Muddy Trail During The Rainy Season

To be continued.





Result: 4th Fort Magsaysay To Dingalan 65K Ultra Run

25 08 2014

4:00 AM August 24, 2014

Start: Division Headquarters, 7th Infantry Division, Philippine Army, Fort Magsaysay, Palayan City

Finish: Purok Tanguige, Barangay Aplaya, Dingalan, Aurora

Starting Line (Photo Courtesy Of Reese Rogel)

Starting Line (Photo Courtesy Of Reese Rogel)

1. Lao Ogerio (Champion, Overall, Men)—–7:22:55 hours

2. Kristian Mark Ison (1st Runner-Up, Overall, Men)—–7:27:19

3. Jay Pagcu (2nd Runner-Up, Overall, Men)—–7:28:59

4. Elmar Bob Tolete—–7:55:34

5. Alfred Delos Reyes—–8:22:16

6. Gilbert Catacutan—–8:39:19

7. Patricia Serios (Champion, Female)—–8:48:22

8. Cristopher Magdangal—–9:01:07

9. Sheila Rose Elasin (1st Runner-Up, Female)—–9:10:19

10. Daphne Codilla (2nd Runner-Up, Female)—–9:10:22

11. Loradel Hanopol (Female)—–9:10:30

12. Reylynne Dela Paz (Female)—–9:40:50

13. Madison Trinidad Jr—–9:48:21

14. Khris Caleon—–9:55:41

15. George Ged-Ang Jr—–10:01:24

16. Ronnel Go—–10:16:11

17. Kathleen Fresnido (Female)—–10:22:58

18. Randy Miranda—–10:22:59

19. Joel Salvia—–10:34:48

20. Amor Gabriel Jr—–10:39:36

21. Manny Ocampo—–10:40:28

22. Bong Anastacio—–10:40:30

23. Michael Sastrillo—–11:08:40

24. Reese Rogel (Female)—–11:16:22

25. Gerson Yuson—–11:16:35

26. Christian Aisporna—–11:24:14

27. Mark Anthony Belariso—–11:25:10

28. Edwin Cruz—–11:38:46

29. Jeronimo Ventura III—–11:55:20

30. Jinky Yray (Female)—–11:56:27

31. Reinier Tatlonghari—–12:13:23

32. Emma Libunao (Female)—–12:43:13

33. Rolando Ramirez Jr—–12:52:59

34. Cherry Rose Betonio (Female)—–13:35:04

35. Michiko Joaquin (Female)—–13:35:05

Overall Champion Lao Ogerio

Overall Champion Lao Ogerio

Female Champion Patricia Serios

Female Champion Patricia Serios

Congratulations To All The Finishers and Support Crew!

(Note: Pictures will be posted on Facebook) 

 





Gerald Tabios: First Pinoy (New) Badwater 135-Mile Race Finisher

8 08 2014

Benjamin Gaetos opened the floodgates for Pinoy Ultra Runners to shine in the prestigious Badwater 135 Ultra Marathon Race which is considered as the “toughest ultra running race in the world” today. As history would place in its proper perspective and understanding, Benjamin Gaetos is already considered as the FIRST and LAST Pinoy Ultra Runner who finished the ORIGINAL Badwater 135 Ultra which starts in Badwater, California (hence, the name Badwater in the title of the race), 280 feet below sea level up to Mt Whitney’s Portal at an elevation of 8,360 feet above sea level in 44:08:07 hours where the cut-off time is 48 hours.

With the latest restrictions and policy from the newly designated Superintendent of the Death Valley Park, the conduct of endurance sports activity is being prohibited and held in abeyance before a thorough study is being published to review on the safety of participants in such events being held in the said area. However, such restriction did not prevent the Race Organizer to conduct the annual event for the ultra runners but instead of starting and passing through the extreme hot environment of the Death Valley Park, the event was held at the adjacent Owens Valley which is equally challenging as the original route with the prevailing summer heat and more gain in elevation. The New Badwater 135 course covers three mountain pass ascents for a total of over 17,000 feet (5,800 meters) of cumulative vertical ascent and 12, 700 feet (4,450 meters) of cumulative descent.

In this year’s New Badwater 135 route, two Filipinos, Gerald Tabios and Tomas Zaide have been qualified and invited by the Race Organizers to join the event. But for me to be more focused on my story, this article will be devoted as a tribute to Gerald Tabios as the FIRST Pinoy Ultra Runner to have finished the New Badwater 135 Ultra Marathon Race.

Route Of The New Badwater 135 Ultra Marathon

Route Of The New Badwater 135 Ultra Marathon

The First Peak For The Runners: Horseshoe Meadow At 9,000 Feet Above Sea Level (Photo Courtesy Of Michelle Barton)

The First Peak For The Runners: Horseshoe Meadows At 9,900 Feet Above Sea Level (Photo Courtesy Of Michelle Barton)

Intersection Of Heaven & Hell (Going To Panamint & Lone Pine)

Road Intersection To “Heaven & Hell” (Going To Cerro Gordo, Panamint  Springs & Back To Lone Pine And To The Finish Line @ Mt Whitney Portal)

I became aware of Gerald Tabios’ participation in the New Badwater 135 from a news story published in the On Line Edition of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Surprised that he has no account on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, I immediately browse his name at UltraSignUp and I was amazed with his ultra race portfolio/resume of his ultra finishes. He had finished a lot of 100-miler races in the Eastern part of the US, particularly in New York City and its suburbs and he placed  as a Champion in one of the 100K races in the area and a number of them where he finished in the top 3 podium finishes. Notable of these ultra running accomplishments were the following:

Champion in the 2014 Jack Bristol Lake Waramaug 100K Ultra Race held in New Preston, Connecticut with a time of 9:46:03 hours

2nd Overall Champion in the 2013 Three Days At The Fair Running Event (48 Hours Timed Event) in Augusta, Georgia where he was able to run a distance of 143 miles.

Consistent and 3-Time Finisher of The Great New York City Running Exposition 100-Mile Race with a best time of 21:22:34 hours.

Since his family migrated in New York, USA in 2001, he had his taste of his first Marathon Race finish at the New York City Marathon and since then, he had been a “streaker” of this most popular and the World’s Biggest Marathon Race for the past nine (9) years! Even if he considers himself as a slow marathon runner, he prides himself with an impressive Marathon Finish time of 3:31:32 hours at the Central Park Marathon in New York City. Aside from his numerous ultra events that are listed in the UltraSignUp Website, he had finished a total of 25 Marathon Races.

I was impressed with his ultra race results as his age as an ultra runner is still at his prime of 44 years old. Gerald is still starting as an ultra runner for the past 2 years but he has made already a great impression to his peers and to myself as a hardcore ultra runner. I have no doubt then that he will finish the New Badwater 135 even if he is not exposed to hotter environment (as compared to the East Coast’s climate) and he had never set his foot in the extreme heat and gusty winds within the desert mountains of California.

@Horseshoe Meadows Road

Gerald @ Horseshoe Meadows Road

As an old runner and firm believer of the Arthur Lydiard Way, I believe that there must be something in Gerald’s childhood that greatly contributed in his passion and craving for running events. He was born in Malaybalay City (Bukidnon) on September 12, 1969 but he did not have to walk on mountain trails in order to finish his elementary and high school education as the family house is only a “stone’s throw” to the schools. His interest in running started when he was in high school with his brothers, who happened to be running enthusiasts during the “running boom in the 80’s”, and they would tow him along in public parks and streets in their jogging practices. He could still remember when spending vacation in Manila that his brothers would bring him jogging around a big street block in Quezon City which happens to be where the ABS-CBN Compound is located along the Mother Ignacia Street.

Surprisingly, a local elite runner who hails from Malaybalay, Bukidnon, Ronilo Indapan became his running idol and inspiration. Ronilo Indapan had been a consistent MILO Marathon Finals Qualifier in the 1980’s and he was then the pride of Malaybalay in Long Distance Running as he was sent to Manila with “free trip and accommodation” to and from Manila to join the MILO Marathon Finals. He could be the father of one of my former elite runners who is now a soldier of the Philippine Army, got married to my Secretary/Staff and now living with two children.

Gerald @ Highway 136 Towards Panamint Springs

Gerald @ Highway 136 Towards Panamint Springs

With Ronilo Indapan, a local running hero in their place, as his role model and inspiration, and with his brothers’  interest in joining running events, he started to train and join the annual MILO 10K Runs in Cagayan De Oro City from 1994-1997; and progressed to a longer distance event by joining and finishing the The Tri-City International 25K Race in Cebu City in 1995 & 1996. He even mentioned that his brothers would buy him running tops/singlets and shorts made by BOTAK; and ADIDAS Jogging Pants and Sweaters!

Gerald was neither a high school nor a college athlete, he just simply love and have fun in running long distance events. He finished his college education with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering at the Xavier University Ateneo de Cagayan in Cagayan De Oro City.

Twelve years later after he migrated to the USA with lots of Marathon and Ultra Marathon Finishes and most specially when he finished as 2nd Overall Champion in the 2013 Three Days At The Fair 48-Hour Run, he decided to send a letter of request to the Race Organizer of Badwater 135 for him to be included in the List Of Qualified Participants in this year’s edition. And the rest is history.

Rest & Recover y For Gerald During The Race

Rest & Recovery For Gerald During The Race

However, his toughness as a 100-Miler and Ultra Podium Finisher is not enough for him to secure an easy race and finish at Badwater 135. With a 48-hour cut-off time to run a distance of 135 miles with extreme heat, gusty winds and additional gain in elevation as compared with the original Badwater route, the presence and time-clock precision of pacing and assistance from his Support Crew is equally half of the effort for an ultra runner to finish this brutal ultra running event. Gerald was ably assisted by the following members of his Support Crew dubbed as the “Team Tabios”—-his wife Donna; Kat Bermudez, a Registered Nurse in New York City; and his brother Glen Tabios, a UP Diliman Professor and Civil Engineering Chairman who flew all the way from Manila. It was unfortunate that friends and relatives of Gerald in New York City came up with a nice Uniform for everybody in the team with the word BADWATER printed on them and they could not wear them during the race as it violates one of the Rules and Regulations of the Race—the word “BADWATER” is a registered trademark of the Race Organizer and nobody is allowed to use it in any form by any of the participants. Violation of any rules or regulations of the event would mean an outright Disqualification from the race.

Brother Glen, Imported From The Philippines, Had Unlimited Water Spray & Cheers To Gerald

Brother Glen, Imported From The Philippines, Had Unlimited Water Spray & Cheers To Gerald

Practically, Gerald and the members of the Team Tabios are “first-timers” in the desert environment of California. Based from the FB Status of Kat Bermudez who happens to be the an ultra runner and wife of a PMA Graduate and former comrade-officer in the Philippine Army, the Team landed in San Francisco coming from New York City. Kat was always complaining about the lack of Parking Spaces in the Windy and By The Sea City of San Francisco! It was too late to suggest to her that the team should have landed in Los Angeles! However, during the event, I never heard Kat from complaining about where to park the Team’s Support Vehicle along the desert of California! It was Kat’s regular FB Status Feeds that gave much information and pictures of Gerald’s “real-time” situation during the race as she later became the Official Pacer of Gerald; Donna, due to her observation on how the elite runners are being supported in Gerald’s past ultra races, she became the overall “conductor of a symphony orchestra” for all the Support Team members to be “playing the same tune” so to speak, and bring Gerald to the finish line strong, safe, and without any injury. Glen, Donna, and Kat did a splendid job as their Principal Runner, Gerald did not have any bouts of cramping, GI issues of “throwing up” of ingested food; dizziness and hallucinations; chafing; blisters; or dehydration. Gerald followed his pace, ate and drank his nutrition and did not mind the pace of the other runners. With patience and determination, Gerald finished the 2014 Badwater 135-Mile Ultra Marathon Race in 44:40:40 hours ranking as #69 out of 97 starters.

Ultra Runner Kat Bermudez As The Pacer Of Gerald

Ultra Runner Kat Bermudez As The Pacer Of Gerald

I was expecting Gerald to relate to me a little “drama” if he ever encountered some nasty feelings or pain in any parts of his body or doubts in his mind about the challenges he has to face or had any complaints about the hot weather, gusty winds in the desert and those additional gains in elevation of the new route. He said that he did not have any “drama” or “issues” with his body and the environment during the race. It speaks well of his good training/preparation and firm resolve to finish the race.  If you closely observe his running attire and shoes, he did not change them except when he removed his gaiters and changed his wet socks. Would you believe that he used a New Balance 860 V3 shoes which he bought On Sale at Marshall’s for the price of $49.00 and with cotton socks from GAP? I wonder if Gerald has a bloodline to my own tribe which is the Ilocano!

Knowing that he had already recovered from this brutal course, I asked him about his training in preparation for this event. He humbly said that for the past year leading to the event, he was logging 40-50 miles a week where most of his weekday runs were his daily 6-mile runs from his home/apartment in Queens to this work in Manhattan, New York City. On weekends, he starts very early in the morning for his long runs but he makes sure to be back before mid-day and spend most of the remaining time of the day with his wife and kids, a boy and a girl (11 and 7 years old). He proudly said that he works as a Private Family Driver in Manhattan, New York City but remotely managing a small business that he owns in the Philippines. His humility would not show that his family, specially his father, grew up in a family of politicians and entrepreneur in their province.

Team TABIOS: Brother Glen; Wife Donna, & Ultra Runner Friend Kat

Team TABIOS: Brother Glen; Wife Donna, & Ultra Runner Friend Kat

Not even money or financial requirements for the event would hinder Gerald’s passion to the sports of ultra running. Gerald’s and his wife’s savings amounting to $3,000 financed his dream to finish the event and it covered for the Registration Fee for the Race ($1,050); RT Ticket for Gerald & Wife ($850); Support Vehicle/Van Rental ($600); Hotel Accommodation in Lone Pine, California For 5 Days ($550); and Food & Miscellaneous Needs ($400). His brother Glen and friend Kat shouldered their own RT plane tickets from Manila and New York City, respectively. Gerald’s relatives and friends residing in Los Angeles, California had also supported the team by lending those much-needed ice cooler/chest for his nutrition/hydration and cold towel/water spray.

Gerald was able to raise the amount of $1,200 for his charity through the US Fund for UNICEF which will ultimately be used in the rehabilitation/rebuiding of the damage structures brought about by Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in Leyte and Samar. Gerald is a simple and humble guy with strong legs and a big heart!

When I asked him,  “What will be your next adventure in ultra running?” He answered, ” Sir, I hope to run a distance of 180 miles in the next year’s edition of the Three Days At The Fair in May 2015 in Augusta, New Jersey and be able to improve my 143-mile record this year.”

And then, I asked him again, “What keeps you on “going and going” like that Energizer Bunny in the TV Ads?” He replied, “Running is the simplest sports that I know which has only ONE RULE—Do not stop running until you cross the Finish Line!”

But jokingly he added, “It is your fault, Sir BR! When I started regularly reading your blog three years ago, it transformed me to be a “crazy runner” like you!”

We both laughed and I raised my hand and I gave him a snappy salute!

Well done and Congratulations, Gerald! You made our country proud among the toughest and strongest runners in the world!

Carry On, Warrior!

"Do not stop running until you cross the finish line."

“Do not stop running until you cross the finish line.”

(Note: Photos of Gerald Were Shared Through The Courtesy of Donna Tabios)

 

 





Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)

1 08 2014

The Pacific Crest Trail is commonly known by its abbreviation, PCT and it is often designated as the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. The trail system is located on the Western Portion of the contiguous USA Mainland and it passes through the States of California, Oregon, and Washington. The trail covers a distance of 2,663 miles or 4,286 kilometers from South to North or vice-versa. It is one of the three most popular trail systems in the United States, the other two of which are the Appalachian Trail and Continental Divide Trail.

History on the creation of the trail states that the first proposal for the trail system connecting the States of California, Oregon, and Washington was made in 1926 which could be an exchange of mails and correspondence among early explorers in the area. The actual exploration started sometime in 1930 but there are no available evidence or journal to support this fact. However, in 1932, an oil magnate and explorer, Clinton C Clarke, started promoting the creation of the trail system as evidenced from his correspondence with John Muir and other explorer-environmentalist-outdoorsmen during those time.

Pacific Crest Trail Route

Pacific Crest Trail Route

In 1935, Clinton C Clarke organized and spearheaded the conduct of the first meeting among his friends and associates who believe in his vision and objectives. Thus, The Pacific Crest Trail System Conference was formed with the objective to formally establish the route/connect “all the dots”/establish a route map and to lobby or create awareness for the federal government of its existence and to protect the trail system. The Conference consisted of Clarke, the Boy Scouts of America, YMCA, John Muir, Ansel Adams (famous photographer-environmentalist), and other environmentalists. From 1935-1938, YMCA and the Boy Scouts of America did a splendid job of organizing a yearly “Boy Scout Relay” along the trail route where each of the team carried a Log/Journal. The objectives of the “Boy Scout Relays” were to provide an actual ground/activity to practice the skills of scouting; create awareness on the activities of the Boy Scouts; and as a proof that the trail concept of Clinton Clarke is doable. The dedication, passion and commitment of Clinton C Clarke to the Conference and its accomplishments earned him the title of “The Father Of The Pacific Crest Trail”.

In 1939, a year after, the Pacific Crest Trail system appeared on a federal government map for the first time. With the signing of the National Trails System Act by President Lyndon B Johnson in 1968, PCT was designated as one of the National Scenic Trails and protected by the federal government. The Pacific Crest Trail Conference became incorporated in 1977 and later merged with the Pacific Crest Trail Club in 1987.

The Pacific Crest Trail Conference changed its name as the Pacific Crest Trail Association which is the establishment that supervises, manages, and administers the Pacific Crest Trail. So, if you have plans of conducting a “thru-hiking” or “section hiking” along the PCT, it is best to visit their website for you to be guided in terms of permit, maps, schedules, and other details/announcements on the PCT. You can go to: www.pcta.org.

One Of The Trail Markings @ PCT

One Of The Trail Markings @ PCT

I became aware of the existence of the Pacific Crest Trail for the first time when I recon the route of the San Diego 100-Mile Endurance Run two years ago as some  portions of the first half of the ultra trail would course pass through the actual PCT. As I conquer and “peak bagged” some mountains in the San Gabriel Mountains and mountainous parts of Los Angeles area for the past 2 years, I’ve been seeing the PCT trail markings. However, I came through a published article about the exploits of Scott Williamson who was considered as the first “thru hiker” who did a “yo-yo” hike (South-North-South) on the PCT in a year and it gave me the resolve to read more about the people who were successful in their “thru-hikes” along the PCT!

This interest on the PCT led me to read more stories and journal about the hikers at the PCTA Website, most specially on the blogs of those “thru-hikers” who are on the route and at the same time blogging about their activities/experiences and pictorials on the trail. At this time, I have three (3) published books which I’ve been reading for the past weeks. I am not saying that I am already an expert on the details of the Pacific Crest Trail but it is worth knowing the experiences of those who successfully finished their “thru-hikes”.

In One Of My Trail Running @ PCT

In One Of My Trail Running @ PCT

It brings me back to a surprise conversation encounter with the Former President Ferdinand E Marcos during one of his annual Holy Week stay in soon-to-be Malacanang of the North at Paoay Lake, Ilocos Norte in 1979 with the then Commander of the Presidential Security Command (PSC) and Director-General of the National Intelligence and Security Authority (NISA), General Fabian C. Ver. In my recollection, the brief conversation went this way:

General Ver: Sir, this is Lt Narcise, our NISA Station Commander in Ilocos Norte.

President Marcos: Lieutenant, from where are you?

Me: I am a native of Laoag City, Sir!

President Marcos: How is the CPP/NPA situation here?

Me: There is not much of activity except for sightings along the Ilocos Norte-Cagayan boundary, Sir. They don’ t have any mass base or reported training camps in the province, Sir.

President Marcos: Try to locate the “Guerrilla Trail Route” that goes from North to South in the province all the way from Pagudpud to Pangasinan. I am sure the insurgents are using that route in their movements.

Me: Yes, Sir!

End of Conversation

In the late-80s when the CPP/NPA established their mass base and training camps/s in the eastern mountainous parts in the province, they used this trail system in their movements from Cagayan and Kalinga-Apayao to the province of Ilocos Norte and back. The information about the presence of this “Guerrilla Trail Route” in Ilocos Norte was shared to the Scout Rangers of the Philippine Army in their Test Mission Operations which eventually led to the crushing and destruction of the CPP/NPA Provincial Committee and its armed personnel/component. With this debacle on the part of the insurgents, Ilocos Norte was never been attempted as a “refuge” or training base for them.

In 1995 when I was a Battalion Commander of the 60th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army where my area of operations would cover the province of Ilocos Norte, I deployed a platoon of soldiers to monitor the movements at the said trail system. In a few weeks, it resulted to a bloody armed encounter with the insurgents that cause to the death of three (4) insurgents and capture of numerous firearms and subversive documents. This armed encounter with the insurgents was recorded as the last armed fighting in the province up to the present. In a few months, the province was cleared and I was ordered to transfer my Battalion to the Province of Abra.

At present, it is my plan to revisit the Guerrilla Trail System in Ilocos Norte and formally establish a route map to be shared to everybody. I envision a trail system that would start at the northernmost part of Luzon in the province of Ilocos Norte to the its southernmost tip of the province of Sorsogon. It will be a daunting task and a grand undertaking for me to accomplish with the support of my ultra running friends and my former/active comrades in the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.

Initially, I will call this trail system as the “Luzon Ridge Trail” (LRT). The history and establishment of the famous and popular Pacific Crest Trail Association will be the template of this undertaking. The activities on the exploration of this “Luzon Ridge Trail” will be one of the topics of this blog in the days, weeks and months to come. The exploration will start this month in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte.

However, there is also a plan to start another trail system in Sta. Ana, Cagayan where the route will pass along the Sierra Madre Mountain Range all the way to the southern tip of the province Sorsogon. I might temporarily call this route as the “Pacific Coast Trail”.

This a dream, a plan, and an undertaking that is worth dying for. I can only envision that this undertaking will benefit the whole country.

Wish me luck!

Map Of Luzon, Philippines

Map Of Luzon, Philippines





4th Fort Magsaysay To Dingalan 65K Ultra Run

31 07 2014

This is the Fourth Edition of this classic PAU Ultra Road Race which starts in front of the Headquarters of the 7th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army inside Fort Magsaysay, Palayan City (Nueva Ecija).

For the past 3 years/editions, the distance was 60 kilometers. However, for this year we will try to add more distance to the event so that the race will finish in one of the available spaces/areas along the coast of Dingalan, Aurora and the Pacific Ocean. Finishers/Runners and their Support Crew will have a chance to dip their tired bodies on the shore/Pacific Ocean. Hopefully, we will be able to complete the distance of 65 Kilometers. Foods will be served to all the Finishers.

Starting Area: Headquarters of the 7th Infantry Division, PA

Starting Area: Headquarters of the 7th Infantry Division, PA

The race will start at 4:00 AM of August 24, 2014, Sunday, whether there will be only 10 runners. The cut-off time will be 12 hours. Podium Finishers (Top Three For Men & Ladies) will receive individual trophies. All Finishers will receive a Finisher’s T-Shirt; Finisher’s Medal; and a Certificate. Assembly Time and Processing of Runners will start at 3:00 AM on Race Day.

I encourage that all participants should review the rules and regulations of the past editions of this event. Such rules and regulations will be applied to all Road Races being organized by the Bald Runner’s Events/PAU Races. Support Vehicle is not mandatory. Runners who will be on “self-support” mode will be able to take advantage of convenience stores along the route.

Fort Magsaysay-Laur Highway

Fort Magsaysay-Laur Highway

If you are new in our races, you have to review the past posts in this blog. If you have any concern or clarification about the conduct or details of the event, you can post a status or comment on the Facebook Event Page of this Ultra Event.

The registration fee is One Thousand Eight Hundred Pesos (P 1,800) per runner. A runner can register by depositing the amount of money to the Bank of the Philippine Island Savings Account #0296-0673-22 in favor of Jovenal Narcise. Please send a photocopy of the Deposit Slip at e-mail address: jovie75@hotmail.com immediately and bring the said Deposit Slip at the Starting Area on Race Day. The Deposit Slip will be used to redeem your Race Packet. Registration is now open and it will end on August 22, 2014, Friday.

This road race is highly recommended to those ultra runners who will have their first taste and experience towards the 2015 Bataan Death March 102K Ultra Marathon Race (BDM 102).

Good luck and see you at the starting line!

Laur To Gabaldon: To The Mountains

Laur To Gabaldon: To The Mountains

Finisher/s and their Support Crew/Team

Finisher/s and their Support Crew/Team

 








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