When I had my military schooling in the US Infantry School in Fort Benning, Georgia, taking up the Infantry Officer Advance Course during the Winter-Spring Course (November 1983 to May 1984), it was my first time to buy and taste this Ice Cream. And every time I would visit and buy grocery at the Post Commissary Store, I would buy one pack which would last me for my next visit to the store every two weeks.
Since then, every time I visit the United States for a vacation or run a marathon race or any running event, I always make the effort to buy one or two packs of this Ice Cream. It brings good memories during those 6-7 months stay in Fort Benning, Georgia.
I have yet to see this Ice Cream in our grocery stores in the Philippines. I hope I am wrong. If anybody knows where to buy this Ice Cream outside the United States, it would be a good news or information to share.
I was not asked by ANA if I am vaccinated or have tested negative on the Covid-19 Test before the flight while I was processed at the Departure Counter. This scenario is totally different from the time I travelled to the US in July 2021. I had to present my vaccination card, should be negative on the Covid-19 Test at least 72 hours before departure, bought a Covid-19 Insurance Policy to cover my medication expenses while abroad, and to register Online with the Immigration Office of California/USA about my trip. All of these were all gone and I guess, everything is coming back to normal just like those days before the Pandemic.
On my trip last July 2021, the first thing that I did was to have my Covid-19 vaccine a day after my arrival in Los Angeles, California. Even if I was vaccinated with Sinovac months earlier in the Philippines, my daughter advised me to have my Covid-19 shots in the US. So, I had my complete dose of the Pfizer vaccine at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Los Angeles. My Vaccine Card was updated and the staff removed my Sinovac Vaccine as my first Covid-19 vaccine. Pfizer is considered as my first Covid-19 vaccine after all.
I had my booster shots with Pfizer in the Philippines last May 2022 but my 2nd booster shot did not materialize until the time I scheduled my latest trip to the US. I have it planned last November or December but I simply forgot all about it.
Now that I am here again in the US, my daughter brought me to the same Medical Center for my Bivalent Booster Covid-19 Vaccine.
I gave my Covid-19 Vaccine Card to the Medical Staff and she updated my record/file for a few minutes. She asked me to choose the Vaccine Brands available and I asked her the Moderna Bivalent Booster Vaccine which happens to be the latest Covid-19 Vaccine to be produced so far.
I can say the injection is more painful on the Moderna as compared to Pfizer. It has been a week after the vaccine but I can still feel a bit of pain from my left shoulder. Actually, the plaster or medical tape that covers the injection part is still on my shoulder. However, I did not feel any after effects of anything on my body from the Moderna vaccine.
The medical staff who attended me was kind enough to update and issue me an updated vaccine card with all the vaccines I got starting with the Pfizer I got last July 2021 up to the present. All in all, it took me less than 20 minutes stay in the said Vaccination Room as I was the only one being attended to during that time.
My first day in Los Angeles was very fruitful and rewarding.
While browsing on the Facebook Page of Mayor Michael Keon after watching his Live Interview with Pinoy Athletics in the past few weeks, I found this particular post or story on the Mayor’s FB Page. This story answers the question why he resigned from the Project Gintong Alay.
My snappy salute to Mayor Michael Keon for his conviction for the good of the Philippine Sports during those days when the Project Gintong Alay was at its peak and success.
My last trip to the United States was in July 2021 and stayed there for almost two months. The Covid-19 Pandemic was still on its highest peak in terms of casualties but it was a fulfilling trip.
My last trip abroad before the Covid-19 Pandemic Lockdown was my participation in the Kota Kinabalu 105K Ultramarathon Race and our plane back to the Philippines was the last plane out of Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia and one of the few flights that I arrived when the Lockdown was implemented last March 2020.
My trip in the US in July 2021 has a lot of travel requirements but after almost two years, traveling abroad is back to normal. Of course, I am fully vaccinated with Covid-19 vaccines and boosted with Pfizer in the US and in the Philippines and had never been infected with the said disease.
With my trip in 2021, I took the Philippine Air Lines as my carrier as it was not allowed yet for transit passengers in other countries, thus, every passenger going abroad should take a direct flight and there was no other choice than to take the PAL flight. The fare was very expensive and there was no other way or choice. And on my arrival back to the Philippines, I have to take a 10-day Quarantine stay in an Authorized Hotel which added more expenses in my trip.
At present, the fare is a bit lower in ANA and the travel requirements like Covid-19 test before Departure; Covid-19 Travel Insurance; Vaccine Card; and restriction on Transit Flights are all gone! There is a semblance that the pre-Covid-19 days are back and the economy is slowly peaking up.
ANA, a Japanese carrier, was recommended to me from a friend who had his experience flying in it few months ago. The story is very inspiring and I grabbed the opportunity to experience flying with the said carrier. I am glad I did it. My experience with my flight with ANA to Los Angeles, California was great! The inflight movies are A-okey and I was able to watch 2 movies for the whole flight. The meals and snacks are very nice and filling to my stomach. Their wine and fruit juices were soothing. And I did not know that there was a Free WiFi onboard! Hahaha! My best experience is having a Haagen-Dazs Ice Cream served after a Meal!
What I hate most in my International Flights is to see the Inflight Toilets to be scattered with used tissue papers or toilet papers on the floor. Whether it is a Korea Air or PAL flight, there are always passengers who just throw their used toilet papers on the floor or stuck on the lid/cover of the trash bin near the faucet/sink area. I really don’t understand why passengers could not dispose their trash or waste into the bins properly. However, in all the ANA toilets that I have used during the duration of my flight to Japan and then to the USA, the toilets are very, very clean! This is my first time to see a clean toilet every time I use them during a flight. Great! What a big change from the other international flights that I have experienced.
When I asked for a cup of hot coffee at the back of the plane while I was stretching from the stewardess, she immediately offered me one by grabbing the coffee pot from the array and rows of cabinets and put some in a paper cup and asked if I need sugar and cream with it. I said, I want my coffee black and she was smiling as she handed me the hot coffee! Wow! In most of my past flights, if I ask for coffee when I am standing near their serving starvation, stewardess would simply instruct me to get my coffee and cup from the rack and serve by myself. ANA and the Japanese stewardess are simply amazing and very helpful.
After passing through the Immigration (another post will be written about this), I was surprised again that two of their Flight Stewardess are in the Baggage Pick-up Carousel attending to all the passengers getting their Baggage, making sure 100% that are are getting your right baggage! Wow!
By the way, in the Check-In Counter at the Manila International Airport, the processing was very quick and fast! And the counter staff did not even ask for my carry-on luggage to be weighted on the weighing scale! I asked and requested for an aisle seat and I was given which was almost very near to the Business Class area. Sweet!
And here is the thing that some Filipino passengers with connecting flights to the US would complain about. ANA would strictly enforce and advise that passengers going or disembarking in Tokyo, Japan would leave the plane first before everybody else. I really don’t complain about this. If this is their policy, so be it. They give first priority to passengers going to Japan!
As for the boarding process and protocol on ANA flight, I have observed that boarding passengers are grouped from Group 1 to Group 5 and ones designation is printed and shown on the Passenger’s Boarding Pass. I am from Group 5 and our group was seated at the back most portion of the Boarding Area. I think Group 1 are for the First Class Passengers and Group 2 are for the Business Class Passengers. I came to realize why I was at Group 5 when I was seated already in my assigned seat. I think Group 3 passengers are for those who are seated at the Window Seats; Group 4 are for those who are seated at the Middle Seats; and Group 5 are for those seated at the Aisle Seats. Group 3,4,5 are in the Economy Class! See? It makes sense! The Japanese people are really organized and disciplined people. Their is no stress and chaos in boarding and settling yourself inside the plane. This is my first time to experience such kind of boarding in a plane since the time I started traveling by air.
I always travel in style and properly well dressed. As a Senior Citizen, I don’t want to be “profiled” as a “working class”. I want the other passengers to know that I am a constant traveler and from the TSA and Immigration personnel that I am a professional and decent traveler.
Traveling with an ANA Flight for the first time was a very memorable experience. I highly recommend this Japanese Carrier to everybody. You will not regret it! Thanks for reading! Bye for now!
In the past few days, I have read in my Facebook Newsfeed about a question being raised/posted by a Filipino who is based in the United States on what is the protocol to expect and follow once an arriving passenger gets into the Manila International’s Airport.
Through the experience related to me by a Filipino Tourists who was stranded in the United States for almost six months due to the pandemic brought about by the Covid-19 virus and through the experience of a friend (US Citizen) who arrived from the United States (also) due to an emergeny situation to attend to in the Philippines, the following are the steps/procedures to follow once a passenger arrives at the airport.
Tourists have to take a Covid-19 Rapid Test/Swab Test which is paid by the tourist once he/she arrives or exit from the airplane. The cost for each test is about US Dollars 95.00. One has to accomplish some form stating you Name and e-mail address or contact number where the Rapid Test Result will be sent once the result is available.
After the Rapid/Swab Test, tourist has to arrange for his Hotel Accommodation at the Airport where he will be transported immediately. Car or Taxi Services are available in the airport to provide the necessary transportation to your Hotel of choice. Hotel Accommodation and Taxi Service are not FREE for tourists.
Tourist is advised to stay inside his Hotel room until the result of the Rapid Test/Swab test is sent to the passenger. Usually, the test result will be released and sent to the passenger in a few hours through the e-mail address stated in the Form filled-up during the Test.
If the Test is Negative, you can already the leave the Hotel and proceed to your final destination. If your final destination is within Metro Manila, you can take the Taxi services available at the Hotel. If you are Positive, you can have the option to stay longer in the Hotel or take some advise from authorities of the Department of Health on what are your available options to be able to observe and strictly implement the 14-day Quarantine Period for you.
If you are an OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) returning to the Philippines, the Rapid/Swab Test is FREE at the Airpot. After the Swab test is done, the OFW will then be transported to a government-designated accommodation facility/Hotel for them for FREE. Just the same with the tourist, they will wait for the release of the result of the Covid-19 Test. If the test is negative, they can leave the Hotel and proceed to their Final Destination. If found positive, contact the Department of Health for further steps for your immediate 14-day Quarantine Period to a Government designated facility or have the option to stay in your residence and follow the 14-day Quarantine protocol.
Just in case, the tourist has a connecting flight from Manila to another destination in Visayas or Mindanao, he/she should have made made the travel arrangements during the time when his/her ticket was purchased for Manila. If not, this travel connection should be made once he/she arrives at the Manila International Airport. A Travel Pass from the Philippine National Police (PNP) is a requirement for this trip. (Note: There is a PNP Desk at the Airport where to ask for information and request for this Travel Pass)
The Travel Pass will facilitate a coordination with the Local Government authorities in your final destination for your trip from the Local City Airport to your final place of destination. You will be asked to strictly adhere to the 14-day Quarantine Period in your Final Destination.
Always observe the wearing of face mask, face shield, no talking in enclosed space, washing of hands with soap and/or alcohol (after touching or holding anything not in your possession) and social distancing (of at least, one meter apart)
For further information, please click the links below:
Nobody can deny the fact that the Bataan Death March (BDM) Ultramarathon Races started the rise of ultramarathon runners and races; to include Ultra Race Directors and Organizers, in the Philippines way back in 2009-2010. This is the story of its creation from me as the Race Organizer and Race Director. If there is a tagline that best describes about me, I guess, it could be that “I am the Father of the BDM Ultramarathon Races”, a running event that commemorates the Original Bataan Death March in the Philippines!
This is my story…….
Thank you for watching. Please subscribe to my You Tube Channel for more stories on Ultramarathon Events in the Philippines and other Ultramarathon-related topics.
A day after Gilbert Gray finished the 2020 Last Annual Vol State 500K Road Run, I asked him to answer two questions only: (1) How much is the Registration Fee?, and (2) Being a “screwed” (without any support Crew/vehicle) runner, how did he manage his “logistics” along the route?
BR: How much is the Registration Fee?
Gilbert: The Registration Fee for the event is $506.31 and the Registration Period usually starts on August 1 through UltraSignUp website.
BR: How did you manage your “logistics” during your run since you were a “screwed” runner?
Gilbert: I carried with me a Credit Card and Debit Card which I used for my daily expenses on food and water/liquid intake. My Average Cost/Expenses per day was between $20 to $30, depending on how much food I was eating during the day, whether I would prefer a dine-in or take-out for my food. Aside from my Credit & Debit Cards, I had with me a total of $40 in $1.00 Bills for Soda/Vending Machines (which are very accessible during late nights or when the stores were not open). The $1 bills were useful in Laundromats/Laundry Shops where I would wash & dry my clothes/socks every two days of running/walking to get rid of the salt from sweat. I had also in my backpack extra snacks as back-up for my nutrition. I was able to cut down my expenses since I did not stay in hotels. This is my advise to those who are planning to join this race, the top 3 most important things to consider are: Proper Hydration; Proper Nutrition; and Good condition of your Feet throughout the race.
Those were the only questions that I have asked from Gilbert Gray which could give me and my readers a good assessment on how much can a runner would need to support his participation in this event. Maybe, on my next interview with Gilbert, I would ask him the “perks or loot” that go with the Registration Fee.
I will update you on this next time. Thanks for reading.
Gilbert Gray finishes the 2020 Last Annual Vol State 500K Race (LAVS 500) last week in 7 days, 19 hours, 40 minutes and 57 seconds which started on July 9, 2020 in Dorena Landing, Missouri, USA and with the Finish Line located in Castle Rock, Georgia. He finished this race without any support crew and he registered for this race as Uncrewed or popularly known as “Screwed” runner. This is his second time to finish this race as a “screwed” runner where he improved his finish time by one day, from 204: 48+hours (or 8 days & 12 hours) in the 2015 Vol State Edition. In this year’s edition, out of the 66 runners who started the race, 49 runners finished the race and 17 runners declared as DNF.
The Last Annual Vol State 500K Road Run (LAVS 500K) is one of the road ultra races which is organized and directed by Lazarus Lake of Barkley Marathons, held during the summer months of July every year. One month before this race, another Ultra Race called The Last Annual Heart Of The South 500K Road Race (HOTS 500), was also held which is also organized and directed by Lazarus Lake. These road races usually traverse the State of Tennessee, USA from the western boundary with Missouri, USA or Arkansas, USA to the Northwest part of Georgia, USA. These two ultra races were held despite the Covid-19 situation in the USA. These two races had an identical number of starters which was 66 runners.
The LAVS 500K and HOTS 500K has a cut-off time of 10 days to finish where every runner has to inform the Race Director/Organizer on his/her location every 12 hours through SMS. Each runner does not carry any “tracker” along the way and there are support crew of the other runners who would update the location of the runners by posting pictures and videos on the Facebook Group Page of the event, this is to include the so-called “angels” along the route of the race. These “angels” are the ones that give voluntary aid or help to the runners in terms of allowing them to rest and eat in their front yard or in government/state facilities like Fire Stations and Parks.
Gilbert Gray, a Retired Airman in the US Air Force, lives in Maryland, USA and he is married to a Filipina Lady with two daughters. He now works with a US Airline Company. At 58 years old, he had finished a number of Ultra Races to include being the Overall Champion in one of the Ultra Races in Europe. He is a two-time BDM GrandSlam Awardee; Finisher of the Prestigious Western States 100-Mile Endurance Race; and a yearly Finisher of the JFK 50-Mile Race. You can see the Ultra Races that he finished here.
Although he comes regularly to the Philippines with his wife for a visit, the last time that we saw each other was in the 2014 edition of the Bryce 100-Mile Endurance Race in Bryce Canyon, Utah, USA, together with Paul Encarnacion, a Filipino Ultrarunner who also lives in Maryland, USA and multi-awarded 100-mile finisher. During his training for the 2013 edition of the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Race (WS100), he visited California to recon the route of the WS100 and then a day later, he joined me and other Pinoy Runners in the LA area in the 2013 edition of the Bandit 50K Ultra Trail Run where we finished at the same time.
Gilbert will always be a good friend of the local ultrarunners in the Philippines, most specially with the PAU runners. He is very kind, very helpful, and very simple and silent about his ultrarunning accomplishments. I just hope I would be able to meet him again in the future.
In our local races, PAU had also conducted its first 500K+ road race last June 2019 with the First Edition of the Manila To Pagudpud 580K Ultramarathon Race which had a cut-off time of 135 hours or 5 days and 15 hours. This race is officially considered as the longest road race in the country now. The result of this event could be seen here.
Two weeks ago, I have created a Facebook Group where interested persons or runners can join a virtual run/race which covers the distance of the Philippines’ Maharlika Highway’s 3,517 kilometers from Laoag City (Ilocos Norte, northern province of Luzon) down to the southern Mindanao City of Zamboanga. However, runners have the option to run in the reverse direction, from the Southern tip of the Highway up to the Northern City of Laoag. There is no required limit of distance or mileage that each runner can cover in a single day but I put up a Challenge that any runner can finish it in one year or in 365 days. As such, a runner should be able to run at least, 10 kilometers or 6.2 miles per day. For the slower or recreational runners, they have the option to finish the distance in 2 years or 730 days, with an average daily mileage of 5 kilometers or 3.1 miles a day.
To make the event more interesting, this event is FREE and anybody in the Social Media can join the said event by simply joining the Facebook Group Page that I have created. At this time, there are now 144 active members. Additionally, I have created an Event’s Club on Strava where anybody can post their Strava Data on the said Club and for their runs to be posted and each runner is ranked among the members of the Club. There are now more than 160 Strava Members who are part of this event.
I have only one objective in creating this virtual event—I just want people to be motivated to run each day during this present time as we deal with the Covid-19 situation that is happening worldwide.
You must be logged in to post a comment.