|Sisters in Sport||Apr 26, ’07 2:57 AM
Sisters in Sport
I run for hope, I run to feel, I run for the truth, for all that is real
I run for your mother, your sister, your wife
I run for you and me my friend
I run for Life.
-from “I Run For Life,” by Melissa Etheridge
I had a happy childhood. And when I think about it now, the greatest reason for this was my sister. Sinag is just a year and a half older than I am, and we did almost everything together. Being both hyperactive kids, we were really blessed with a huge playground—our compound housed three families, a furniture factory, two big abandoned rice fields, an ancient balete tree bigger than an apartment unit in girth, and plenty of caimito, santol, macopa, aratilis, bayabas, and mango trees….an impossibly idyllic setting considering we lived near the city. I’m pretty sure all that time we spent climbing trees, running around barefoot, chasing after dragonflies and each other gave us a solid foundation for our future interest in endurance sports. But she definitely went into all of them first—and I just copied what she did! That’s how attached I am to her.
A lot of siblings I know go through some sort of rivalry, intense or not—and I can honestly say that, Sinag, being the truly truly kind-hearted person that she is, never really set up this kind of environment for me. Yes, it does take two to tango, but I still maintain that it was she who set the tone in our relationship, being the older one (although at this stage in our lives I sometimes feel like I am the ate, haha).
Today I still enjoy that female bond—and much more. Being in sports has certainly given me a whole new extended family of remarkable women—all of whom I consider sisters. Up to this day I am simply amazed at how strong, intelligent, and diverse they all are, and I consider myself extremely lucky at having the opportunity to be with them. Each woman’s story is different, but all as richly textured and as interesting as one can imagine.
At races we may compete with each other, and sometimes personalities do tend to collide, but these are inconsequential albeit necessary rites. At the end of the day we know we are united in that which is all part of us and that which we all experience—what it is like in this country to be women in a supposedly male dominated field, and in how we believe with great passion that we are capable of breaking down all social barriers.
Not too long ago I went to Misamis Oriental and Bukidnon for Senator Pia Cayetano’s Bike For Hope, wherein 500 cyclists participated. In line with the 100km bike ride, Pia also conducted seminars on breastfeeding and violence against women. I facilitated two Pinay In Action running clinics for 700 high school girls—with the help of fellow Team David’s Salon member Mona Valdes, Asian and National champions of Duathlon and Triathlon respectively, Ryan Mendoza and George Vilog, and the rest of Pia’s very able staff of women. We also visited a group of women entrepreneurs who showed us a thing or two about affordable and accessible alternative medicine and homemade products—I admired them so much because even though they obviously came from humble backgrounds and continue to face numerous challenges, their dignity and gentle spirit is evident.
Whether we intentionally meant for it to happen or not, the theme of our whole trip turned out to be women empowerment. More often than not, when organizing certain activities, the personalities of the proponents will really shine through, and that is exactly what happened. Just the day after all our obligations were finished, Pia, Mona, and I, led the group to a record-breaking ascent of 2hours and 27minutes of the third highest peak in the country. It was a cleanup and ceremonial marking of the boundaries of the Mt. Kitanglad Protected Area in Bukidnon. The lumads guiding us were amazed at how fast we, who were women, actually climbed it. The three of us (who were just chattering happily up the peak) just shrugged it off matter-of-factly and concluded that any of our other regular female cycling and triathlon training buddies would have been able to do the same thing anyway. If you have to know, we even went bellydancing that evening, and the next morning did some yoga, ran for an hour, went ziplining and whitewater rafting, and swam in the evening. Our tired hosts, progressive politicians Tagoloan Mayor Yevgeny “Bambi” Emano and Congressman Nereus “Neric” Acosta just shook their heads and thought we were crazy. We kidded them that they could finally rest when we flew back to Manila.
It is with great confidence that I say this sort of well-balanced (productive and fun at the same time!) endeavor was possible only because we were women athletes. No one else would be as energetic and as highly motivated.
I trust my sisters in sport—I will always be there for them, because I know that they are there for me too.
There are countless awesome girls in our business, but these are the ones who are special to me, and I would like to honor them: Popo, Pia, Mona, Kaye, Sandra, Ria, Bing, Marita, Maritess, Nancy, Amale, Rizzo, Doray, LC, Mimi, Kim, Sally, Cherry, Taleng, Oona, Waya, Lala, and of course, my inspiration, my sister Sinag.