One of the members of the Team Bald Runner-Professional Group had asked me why is it that the Philippines does not have an international marathon race which could be at par with the Standard Chartered Bank-sponsored ASEAN city’s marathon races like Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Hongkong, Mumbai, Hanoi, Taipeh/Taiwan and other cities around us which are considered as international marathon events?
I answered him that there was a Manila International Marathon during the late 70s and early 80s which was sponsored by the Philippine Air Lines (PAL). I could just surmised that marathon races and running events with international flavor then were supported by the government during the administration of former President Ferdinand Marcos. It was during these times when the government’s sports bodies were held and administered by a single person who was under the direct supervision of the President. It was the time when Michael Keon was the President of the Philippine Olympic Committee, and at the same time the Chairman and Project Director of Project Gintong Alay (the forerunner of the Philippine Sports Commission), and also the President of the Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association, the sports federation for athletics. A single person holding three sports bodies, a long-distance runner and national athlete and a nephew of the President made the difference at that time. At present, these sports bodies are being held by three different persons whom I think could not even run or jog at least one kilometer. These people are fond of asking sports reporters to “run” after them for sports media realeases with the “envelope” that goes with such pronouncements.
The one who asked me about the Manila International Marathon was surprised when I informed him that the Awarding Ceremonies and Dinner Parties for the Manila International Marathons were held at the Malacanang Palace with no less than the President as the Guest of Honor and Host. Moreso, the prize money for the winners ranged to hundreds of pesos at that time plus the appearance money for the world’s marathon elite athletes.
It was expected that sports and marathon races in the country with the attendance of international elite runners waned after the EDSA Revolution in 1986 because everything that the former administration had done for the improvement of our sports were immediately changed. However, later during the administration of former President Fidel Ramos, the Pasig River Heritage Marathon was born but it did not have any attendance from international elite athletes. And due to the abolition of the Clean and Green Foundation that manages the Pasig River Marathon, the conduct of the race was not sure of being conducted. However, this yearly marathon is hoped to be revived later part of this year. But the problem is, it will remain as an ordinary local marathon race in the country without any effort of making it as an international running event.
The Subic International Marathon which was held last January 2008 was attended by Kenyan/African runners which gave a flavor of being an international marathon event but it fell short of its aim of being sustained as an annual international marathon event.
So, is there a way we can come up with a Manila Internationa Marathon Race? This is a challenge to those politicians, government sports bodies, and corporate executives who are active in sports like running. Maybe we can ask for those “Presidentiables” who can not even run at least one kilometer but they could easily run for the position of the President of the Republic without any sweat. Maybe, we can ask the Department of Tourism to promote such event as part of sports tourism in the country. Or maybe, ask PAGCOR/PCSO to fund such event. Or maybe, come up with a “pressure” group to ask the President to appropriate a budget from her VAT collections or from the President’s P 300-billion stimulus fund or from her Priority Development Assistance Fund (Please refer in today’s newspapers). But with my personal experience with these people, I am sure they don’t care about this “International Marathon” thing. My best bet is to wait for CONDURA and the Concepcion Family to come up with an international marathon event, maybe, by next year!
Let me ask this last question…Why do we need to go abroad to run a Marathon Race if we can conduct an international marathon race here in the country? Is it for the “bragging rights” or you just want to spend your hard-earned money or want/need something to write in your running blog or you need something to write about in Society Pages in our daily newspapers or is it for the experience so that you could learn something on how race directors and organizers do to promote a world-class marathon event? Maybe, as a start, we can pool our respective registration fees, travel and accommodation expenses to an international marathon abroad as a “seed” money for planning purposes. Let the first volunteer come forward and leave a comment in this post.
I have the following recommended title for our future Manila International Marathon. Choose which one do you prefer….
Standard Chartered Bank Manila International Marathon?
Banco De Oro Manila International Marathon?
Bank of the Philippine Islands Manila International Marathon?
Globe Manila International Marathon?
Smart Manila International Marathon?
PLDT Manila International Marathon?
Cebu Pacific Manila International Marathon?
PAL Manila International Marathon?
Zest Air Manila International Marathon?
Figaro’s Manila International Marathon?
SM Manila International Marathon?
“Wowowee” Manila International Marathon?
Manny Pacquiao’s Manila International Marathon?
ABS-CBN/TFC Manila International Marathon?
Jollibee Manila International Marathon?
San Miguel Beer Manila International Marathon?
Vicky Belo’s Manila International Marathon?
“Witwoteryuno” Manila International Marathon?
CONDURA Manila International Marathon?
Gawad Kalinga Manila International Marathon?
MMDA’s Manila International Marathon?
Toyota’s Manila International Marathon?
Honda’s Manila International Marathon?
Mini-Stop’s Manila International Marathon?
Ford’s Manila International Marathon?
BENCH Manila International Marathon?
Guys, the challenge to come up with a Manila International Marathon, which will ultimately become our Country’s Pride, is in your hands. I’ve done my part to promote and conduct the 1st Bataan Death March 102K Ultramarathon Race and I did it with the support of “82 new brave warriors” of Bataan, those “angels wearing running shoes” and “supporters” who remain to be silent and don’t want to be identified. And this will be a yearly event to commemorate our heroes.
“There is Unity in Sports”
When I joined the 2008 San Francisco Marathon last August, the EMCEE during the race’s awarding ceremony announced that the marathon event was able to raise Five Million Dollars ($ 5M) for the past five years to support the different “causes” and benefits that the City of San Francisco had been actively supporting. Now, you do your own mathematics!