Category Archives: Biking

Gotta Love Racing: Tour of Matabungkay and Adidas King of the Road back to back weekend

Tour Of Matabungkay Team Time Trial – Batangas, Oct 24 2009

There are some races which are fun, some which are painful, some which are tough and lonely, and then there is the Team Time Trial.  Which I ABSOLUTELY LOVE.  Maybe because I love time trialing per se. Or because I love when we all look so professional and slick in our matching cycling kits. And then there are my female teammates. Who Absolutely, Positively, ROCK. I just love being part of this relatively new all girls cycling team and am really proud of what we have done in so little time. We were the first women’s team to cross the line!

Special thanks to Doray for putting it all together the past few weeks, my work as captain was much easier on race day (all I had to do was keep shouting at them, and trust me after coaching for years this comes quite naturally to me by now).  Thanks to Rizzo Tangan, Bea Locsin, Tonichi Balaguer, and Mimi Lucas. Love you girls!

P.S. Fitness First Cycling Ladies Team is actually a combination of Fitness First, Polo Tri, and Sabak Tri ladies 🙂

P.P.S. Thanks Anthony Balaguer for letting me use your wonderful photos!!!



ADIDAS King Of The Road- Taguig and Makati, Oct 25 2009

Today was a great 21k training race, one that I did not expect to have the day after riding hard with my teammates in the Tour of Matabungkay… I was just glad to make it to the race venue before 5am. I drove home late from the race in Batangas the night before to make sure my sponsor would be happy! Sleep I need! I saw Lea Caringal organizing all of her Adidas athletes and after her trusty photog Nesty took some snapshots we hurried to the start line.  Soon enough we were surrounded by uber bright yellow singlets and then it was quite easy to stay alert. When the gun went off something inside me woke up as well and even though I had agreed to just run with Joey and Paolo (oops sorry guys) I mindlessly dashed madly with the crowd… something that surprised even myself as I am always scolding my students not to do this exact thing! Hahaha….

Anyhow it turned out to be a good race, I was happily dancing to the music at the aid stations and thanked the cheerleaders for holding up encouraging placards for the runners.  I also kept cheering for all the students I ran into. The food and drink were plentiful, which is always important.  I was running in 5th place for most of the race and was actually content to stay there til I noticed at the last turnaround that the two girls in front of me were not doing so well. I decided then that I could still afford to pick up my pace a little bit and that was enough to get me into 3rd place. Cool!  After the awarding I looked into my goodie bag and found out that I got a Globe Tattoo– way cool! 

That afternoon after a well-deserved nap I coached the SuperTriKids for their Bike and Run session.  What a great weekend!


Thanks Patricia and Paolo for the pics!!!


Filed under Adidas, Athletes, Biking, Events, Fitness First, Pinay In Action, Race Report, Running, Timex

7th Gabriel’s Symphony 12-Hour Multi-Sport Celebration in Memory of Gabriel

We couldn’t be more grateful with the success of this year’s Gabriel’s Symphony.  Our tagline has always been “Making Children’s Lives Better.”  And we definitely achieved that with this event in more ways than one–even the adults were happy!

Our usual events went by quickly, Fun Runs, SuperTrikids Aquathlon and Triathlon, Pinay In Action All Womens Tri, Corporate and Individual Relays….  and this year we had some new additions, including the CareWell Bikes For Hope wherein we raffled off a Giant OCR Bike, an IRONMAN Distance Relay, and Demonstrations in Swimming and Table Tennis by Visually Impaired Children (they were amazing, by the way!).

Maiqui Dayrit, who is always our top individual fundraiser, raised close to P280,000.00 for doing his annual Ironman Distance Triathlon! He is a rockstar. He did it in a time of 11:33 too!!!  Well within 12hours.

Thank you so much to all the participants who supported the cause.  You have really made a huge difference in a child’s life!!!

Thanks to Andie Lagman, Paolo Sauler, and Celda Santos for the pictures.

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Filed under Athletes, Biking, Challenged Athletes, Coaching and Training, Events, Friends, Pinay In Action, Race Report, Running, SuperKids, Swimming

Surviving Carrera Habagat: My first foray into the World of Multi-Day Adventure Racing

Picking out boatsSurviving Carrera Habagat: My first foray into the World of Multi-Day Adventure Racing

Ani Karina Sarabia de Leon


When Miguel Lopez (a.k.a. Ige) first broached the subject of forming a team for the Carrera Habagat, I didn’t even pause to blink and said yes to him right away. 

Of course, I was going to join as a complete beginner and had little idea on how demanding this undertaking would be.  We were talking about the toughest adventure race in the Philippines—it covers the largest area and takes the longest time to finish.  But I had always wanted to do it, and knowing my schedule, I may not have another opportunity to try it out, so I decided that it was now or never. 


Our team was to be composed of Ige, Paolo Defensor (a.k.a. Def), James Tagara and I.  I had known Ige and Paolo for a very long time, but this was the first time that I was going to meet James.  All three of them were members of the Ayala Mountaineers.  I wasn’t a mountaineer, and my only qualifications were these: I was an experienced triathlete and I had climbed a few mountains and I was exposed to the mountaineering scene because my sister was a prolific climber of UP Mountaineers fame.  I specifically warned them that outside my taxi cab driver-like knowledge of the maze that is Manila, I wouldn’t know how to plot a map in the wild and what to do with the bearings on my compass. On the other hand, I was willing and able to do extremely difficult challenges. Def and James were avid adventure racers but this was their first multi-day race too. Only Ige had joined it twice before.


We were all very hopeful and optimistic nonetheless, and thankfully we found very supportive partners in AVAYA Communications, The North Face, Ige’s own T1 active wear, Promax, Accelerade, and Endurox.  We also signed on Manny Torralba and Atoy Jamilla to be our official support crew—they were both veteran mountaineers and adventure racers.  I didn’t own a single piece of adventure racing gear, and I was so grateful to have Tricia Chiongbian, Thumbie Remigio, Rizzo Tangan, and my sister Sinag help me out.  Aside from this, Ai Eway from AVAYA and Toby Martin from AMCI also expressed their desire to assist us in any way they could. This certainly helped us firm up our resolve.  So we registered, bought the plane tickets, and headed to Surigao.


Traveling from Manila to Surigao City with 8 people, dozens of baggage and equipment plus 5 mountain bikes (Ai brought hers too) was no mean feat in itself. We flew into Butuan City and from there took a multicab, a bus, a jeep, and finally hopped onto our bikes for the last 5km towards the lodge.


The night before the race, the organizers gave us several maps of Surigao, Bucas Grande, and Siargao.  The names of certain towns and baranggays were erased and we were given basic directions on how to get to the checkpoints.  We had to get from Checkpoints (CPs) 1 to 25 in the proper sequence, and we could only see our support crew at three Logistics Points (LPs).  The boys, particularly James, stayed up late to plot out the course and everyone in the team packed the necessary gear.  Boy, and I thought readying triathlon equipment was tedious.

Day 1: Now what?


Seventeen teams were bold enough to join this year.  Our Team, T1-AVAYA, was the only team flying in all the way from Manila. We were instructed to bring our bikes, Personal Flotation Devices (or life vests), and trekking gear.  We would have to go through 7 Checkpoints before the first Logistics Point.  These were the coordinates and clues:


CP 1 N 09 32 31 E 125 50 20 Port of Hayanggabon
CP 2 N 09 35 52 E 125 54 47 Sohoton Tourist Center
CP 3 N 09 35 35 E 125 55 15 Inside a lagoon
CP 4 N 09 36 39 E 125 56 18 In a barangay
CP 5 N 09 37 28 E 125 55 13 Near a barangay
CP 6 N 09 39 06 E 125 55 17 Near a small pier
CP 7 / LP1 N 09 37 02 E 125 57 57 In a town


We were all quite good in biking, and we were actually swapping the lead with the Dumaguete Team for the first 76km leg, but unfortunately, James got a flat tire (our first of five!) and we watched helplessly as the other teams passed us.  The boys fixed it as I cheered them on, trying to keep our spirits up.  We got back on the muddy dirt road and we managed to arrive in 4th place at the Port of Hayanggabon.  We were still feeling quite jolly and energetic. 


The next thing we had to do was paddle for a couple of hours to the next few checkpoints.  James and I shared an outrigger and Def and Ige paired up in a bigger one because the smaller one seemed to be an awkward fit.  Admittedly, paddling was our weakest link as a team because we never really practiced it, but we agreed that we would be fine. 


Well, we spoke too soon.  To get to one of the checkpoints in Tinagong Dagat (Hidden Sea), we had to pass a tunnel-like cave. We were warned beforehand by the local fishermen that the current was strong inside, and at this point it was already night time.  Def, who was the tallest among us, had a hard time avoiding the stalactites because of the low ceiling.  James and I continued rowing a little ahead of them. After a few moments though, we looked back and they weren’t there.  We thought they were just mucking around.  It was dark already so James decided that while we were waiting he would put on his headlamp, so he opened his dry bag.  It was then that we heard the two of them calling out to us in panicked voices.  We headed back towards the cave and saw that they were trapped in one corner because of the strong current.  We didn’t know any better, and by the time we realized that we shouldn’t even go near them we got swept by the current too.  James and I were now in an even worse position than they were, and it was only a few seconds afterwards that our boat capsized underneath theirs.  It was complete chaos.  I realized that my mobile phone, which had been our emergency line, was swept away along with James’ stuff because he had left his pack open when we went back for our teammates.  I was pissed and lost my composure for the first time during the race.  We were in the middle of nowhere and couldn’t paddle out. Now what???


It cost us almost two hours but with some intervention from the locals we were able to get our boats back upright, sans two oars and some of James’ gear.  That left us with one small paddle for each outrigger, which of course slowed us down again.  But we went on, docked the boats, and scaled a treacherously jagged surface towards the next CP.  Once we where on higher ground, we got lost and went back and forth as we were debating on which direction to follow.  This wore us down and we found an empty basketball court wherein we decided to sleep for 30 minutes.  The boys found it easy to sleep whereas I had a very hard time because my shoes were wet and my socks were grimy, I was covered in mud, cut by rocks, bitten by giant mosquitoes—and frankly, I am still a girl who likes to be clean.  I know I signed up for it but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I would adjust to the hygiene issues as easily.  I probably slept for a total of 6 minutes.  The Mt. Everest Girls had advised me to bring a lot of socks in a zip lock plastic bag at all times and I was glad I listened to them. I changed my socks and left the filthy ones in the basketball court.  We trudged on through the night and at around 7am we made it to LP1.  I was happy to see Manny, Atoy, Ai and Toby.

Day 2: Dry Land, Water, Dry Land, Water.


CP 8 N 09 41 32 E 126 00 17 Near the coast
CP 9 N 09 43 56 E 126 02 37 In a baranggay
CP 10 / LP 2 N 09 45 26 E 126 03 10 In a town


Today we trekked and swam the whole day.  We were now ranked as the 7th team, and since the top contenders were hours ahead, we decided to change our game plan and just enjoy and finish the race. The main highlights of this section:  Bushwhacking and trailblazing amidst tall cogon, swimming from island to island in the dark with equipment in tow, getting horribly victimized by a bed of sea urchin and losing my trek shoes in the ocean.  We get to LP2 around midnight.


Day 3: The Bike Ride That Wouldn’t End + Time Space Warp at CP 19 + WAR!!!


CP 11 N 09 46 33 E 126 03 11 Near a community
CP 12 N 09 47 08 E 126 09 20 Near a market
CP 13 N 09 46 08 E 126 07 32 Near a coast
CP 14 N 09 49 15 E 126 03 12 Near an intersection
CP 15 N 09 57 32 E 126 00 20 Along the coast
CP 16 N 09 56 40 E 126 02 20 An inland baranggay
CP 17 N 10 03 32 E 126 03 10 In a beach
CP 18 N 10 01 12 E 126 04 28 Near the coast
CP 19 N 09 59 03 E 126 03 12 Near a baranggay
CP 20 N 09 56 42 E 126 06 07 Along a beautiful coast
CP 21/ LP 3 N 09 51 52 E 126 05 59 An old town


After napping and replenishing our packs with food and drinks, we pedaled stealthily into the blackness like some obscure renegade group on an important mission.  I was really anxious because my headlamp was damaged from being submerged underwater and I was very very new to mountain biking.  I could barely manage going through obstacles in broad daylight and now we had to navigate single track trails at a fast speed.  I knew I was taking numerous risks following my teammates blindly, but I had to trust in them—I really had no choice.  It was an unbelievably lengthy sixteen hours that I would be spending on the saddle, a personal record by far.  My butt was really hurting now, and my patience was running thin because we kept getting lost.  We had started biking just after midnight and at 4pm I was so glad we could chuck the mountain bikes away.  We climbed a wall and rappelled downwards, and this was by far the easiest and most fun part of the race for me.  It was almost a gift. 


After this, our team got a second wind even as we heard the news that the first team, Davao Eagles, had already finished.  We didn’t mind.  We were confident that we would be accomplishing the same thing in just a matter of hours. 


Alas, it was not to be, and my patience would have to be tested more in the succeeding checkpoints.  We ran around in circles in search for CP 19 and were again clueless on where to go next, even though, incredibly we had already passed it earlier in the day en route to another checkpoint.  We felt like we were stuck in a Time Space Warp and we were getting tired.  I was the first to snap.  I screamed my head off because I felt (wrongly) that the boys were largely responsible for the poor navigation.  I couldn’t understand why we couldn’t locate it, and I was extremely frustrated at having to do so many unnecessary kilometers.  We were running around like headless chicken and bickering like schoolchildren.  Fighting was quite unnatural for us as we all liked each other very much, and after a while, we laughed at ourselves and our strange predicament.  We loosened up a little bit and agreed to work more closely as a team from then on.  Not coincidentally, we found the infamous CP 19 shortly after that.   The CP 19 volunteers were kind enough to let us doze off for a few minutes in their tiny hut and even serenaded us with their guitar.  Their CP was worth looking for after all.  It was nearing dawn when we woke up and it was like a Death March towards the last LP.

Day 4: Breakdown: Peeling the Onion and Digging Way, Way Deep.


CP 22 N 09 51 40 E 126 00 52 Near an airport
CP 23 N 09 50 51 E 126 06 35 River mouth
CP 24 N 09 50 33 E 126 08 16 Facing the pacific coast
CP 25 N 09 48 28 E 126 09 52 Near a good surf spot





At LP3 we picked up our bikes again and even though my saddle sores were painfully fresh I had to add on to them again for one more day. I had never had that much friction on my sensitive parts before because as a road biker everything is just smooth sailing on asphalt and concrete.  I didn’t have that luxury now, and we were desperately under pressure to finish today because it was the last day to do so.  We were cutting it really close. I had had very little sleep (some by the side of the road, some on a concrete bench, some under a coconut tree) and was burning the last few strands of my candlestick.  I was near the breaking point.  The boys were nice enough to let me be but gently reminded me of our goals.  I could see that they were tired too.  I summoned all my mental strength and shut down the rest of my bodily functions which were irrelevant to riding a bike.  I felt like I was in a dream-like state but my body knew what to do because I had switched it to Automatic Bike Mode. 


We were nearing the end and I knew that we could make it soon.  But the Spirits of the Carrera Habagat Race had a few more ordeals set up for team T1-AVAYA.  Just when we thought we had arrived at CP 23 and had only 2 more CPs to go, we discover that in our rush we had missed CP 23 and were actually at CP 24.  We had to backtrack yet again.  I was incensed.  I could not imagine going back and forth another time.  My bike shoes had given way long ago and were just being kept intact with duct tape, and of course my underside was still hurting. In my mind I had done my last cycle leg for this race, but now we had to do two more as a result of our mistake.  It was too much.


It was never a question though.  We had to do it. I had to go back.  They couldn’t finish the race without me. And I couldn’t bear to let my teammates down. I was sobbing and yelling angrily at the same time.  “JUST FIND IT!!!! JUST F—–N FIND IT, OKAY!!!!!!!!!”  I had a sudden rush of adrenaline along with my outburst and pedaled like a madwoman, speaking loudly to myself for motivation.  Ige was telling me there was another team catching up with us.  I looked wildly at him and said, “Am I not here, and am I not trying the best that I can??? Just leave me alone!!!”  Oh dear.  This is what happens when you try to make a team player out of someone who has been competing in individual sports for most of her life. 


Finish Line!!!


FINISH     At a Beach Resort



We all got our acts together eventually since we understood that it was crunch time.  We found CP 23, went back to CP 24, and swam and ran to CP 25.  Surviving Carrera Habagat and finishing it the first time around is unforgettable, and my teammates and I soaked it all in.  We had gone through so much together the past four days and were the 8th team to come through.  We were blessed enough to see the beauty of this part of the Philippines in a way that no tourist ever could. This race revealed our character like nothing else ever could. I smiled at Ige, Def, and James, and silently thanked them.  They were excellent athletes and human beings and it was a privilege to have done this with them.  This race was by far the hardest one I have ever had to do in my whole life, and mind you, I have raced a lot.  But in my opinion, joining a race that isn’t challenging at all is just a waste of time, and in this respect, Carrera Habagat was time spent very well indeed.

Team T1 AVAYA boys speak up!


1. Describe the race in three words:

Ige: Wild! Intense! Solid!

Def: Solid at palaban (and a challenge)



2. What was the hardest part of the race for you?

Ige: The navigation part at night where you’re tired, sleepy, hungry and your minds playing tricks on you.

Def: You always have wet socks, so blisters will be hell. They multiply and grow bigger everyday – and still lots of trekking and running to go.  Locating the CPs accurately. Not hard, but a major hassle was bumping my right leg into a colony of sea urchins!

James: Blistering and chafing. Plus catching up with my teammates.


3. Any memorable moments?

Ige: Hmm…each part of the race was memorable but my fave would be the super race pace mountain bike leg on the last day going to the last CP.  We were there BUT not quite…yet!!!

Def: Where do I begin??? Swimming at 10:30pm for hours to get to another island; our huge bangka being sucked underwater in a dark stalactite cave; eating 5 star style; trekking while sleeping or sleeping while trekking; and of course our motto: ‘how bad do you want it???’ There’s

more but I’ll save for when we go partying! haha!

James: The inter-island swims. I would never do that except if my life depended on it.


4. Tips for aspiring Habagat joiners?

Ige: Training should be a lifestyle and always enjoy the journey as much as the destination. Choose your teammates well and physically and mentally prepare much much more than you would expect.  Learn to give and take for the sake of the team. This is definitely not just one of your ordinary urban races that you see in reality TV.  

Def:Train hard, and keep fit all year round. Pick good teammates. During the race, keep an open heart and an open mind. Never say die! And it can be done =)

James: Train, train, train to be confident on what you’ve never done before.


5. Say something about each of your teammates.

Ige: Ani- Newly baptized multi day adventure racer!  Solid foundation, definitely an asset to teammates and a threat to opponents in future adventure races to come. James- Silent James, dependable and soft spoken.  Will rise to the occasion if needed. Paolo- The Erik Dekker of the team!  Hardworker and never say die attitude!  The perfect energizer beast on multi day races.  

Def: James – silent but deadly; the man you want to consult when you’re lost haha! Ani – she knows how to dig very very deep; nice to have that woman’s care amidst the tough adventure. Ige – high spirited; fighter; wouldn’t do it without him – he gets my jokes!

James: Miguel- Strongest in the team, overall. Always composed. Always had that extra energy if needed from him.  Ani- Has the heart of a real champion. Will step up to lead the team at any given point, without hesitation. Paolo- Always charged. Loud talker. Keeps us on our toes. Always know where the food is.


6. Would you do it again?

Ige: Where do I sign up?

Def: Heck yeah! Can I have the same team?


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The Flip Side of the Coin: A Tale of Two Wheels

The Flip Side of the Coin: A Tale of Two Wheels  Aug 6, ’07 11:14 AM
for everyone

The Flip Side of the Coin: A Tale of Two Wheels


It was one of those days.  You know, when you just have sooo much to do, are swamped with deadlines, barraged by phone calls, plagued with pending matters.  And then you end up being too overwhelmed to accomplish anything.  Aarrghh.  Just as I was staring blankly at my computer, my good friend and training companion sent me an SMS, at 9pm, to be exact.  The message read: “Hey, you wanna go mountain biking early tomorrow?” I read it one more time just to be certain.  After which I blinked, and without knowing the details, replied, “Sure!”


The thing is, we weren’t even mountain bikers, nor did we own mountain bikes.  We knew how to bike, yes, but we were roadies.  For the sake of those who can’t distinguish one from the other, roadies only cycle on paved road (asphalt and cement), and mountain bikers ride on all sorts of rough terrain.  Huge difference. In terms of bike frame type, wheels, the presence/ non-presence of shocks, apparel choices (earth-toned versus screamingly vibrant jerseys) among other things.


But I had great trust in my friend and knew that she could pull this one off and that we would be able to borrow two complete sets of gear and equipment just in time for that group trail ride.  So there I was, up at 4am, having resolved to ditch work the night before, with just about two and a half hours of zzz’s.  Such are my decision-making skills sometimes—not exemplary, really.


To my defense, in my experience, behind every crazy plan lies an equally inspired and wonderful opportunity to have fun, and this simple formula of mine may not be risk-free, but 99% of the time, it works out, and I end up having a blast.  And it was tricky at first, what with me tensing up on the brakes and falling, and my friend squealing when we passed a slippery path and each time we had to go over complex single track trails.  By the end of the ride though, even if we were both definitely still amateurs, we got the hang of it and I honestly couldn’t believe that I had waited that long to get on that mountain bike trail. It was like learning to ride again for the very first time—I felt like a kid.  Rolling through yellow green cornfields and red earth under the clear blue sky drastically changes ones’ state of mind, and mine was a far cry from the frazzled shape it was in just a few hours back.


A typical roadie group ride for me nowadays is more of the controlled kind—we have our set speeds, cadence, and routes.  We time everything, we are aware of our caloric and fluid intake, our wattage, our heart rates, and when we are done all is nice and neat and mud-free.  Nothing wrong with that, and the truth is, I can’t deny that I do love speed, I love riding in the peloton (a big group of cyclists), and I love the sound of carbon wheels zipping by smoothly.  That is who I am, and part of what makes me happy, and I wouldn’t know what to do if someone stole my road bike from me (oh, hello, someone actually did, but I digress).


For once, however, it was so refreshing to see how “the other side” does it.  Yup, you read it right—a lot of you may not be aware of it, but mountain bikers and road bikers come from two different cultures, and in a lot of cases do not even like each other.  For example, I’m the type of cyclist who normally says hi to other riders, but (and am not proud of this) if a fellow on a mountain bike passes by, I do tend to ignore him and if I don’t, I am not as enthusiastic in my greeting.  And it’s not only me, that’s just how everyone else behaves.  Why? I don’t know.  


Maybe it comes from not knowing enough about the other.  To everyone else who isn’t really into cycling, it seems like a cyclist is a cyclist is a cyclist.  Right? Am afraid not. People judge one another.  Because of hairstyle, skin color, fashion sense, and other petty things—in our case, it’s the choice of ride.  It really does sound strange and inappropriate, written clearly like that.  Your wheels define your personality type, and therefore you are automatically boxed into a certain category. 


I think all this is but an extremely minute sample of how we earth-dwellers should learn to co-exist and respect one another.  If BMX bikers, mountain bikers, and road bikers, can learn to share their love of two wheels together, they can learn to play together.  In the recent ESPY Awards, the Peace Players International, whose advocacy is to eliminate the warring Protestants and Catholics in the UK, stated that if people can learn to play together, they can learn to live together.  And they use sports activities as a vehicle to encourage the two sides to interact.  It appears to be very simplistic, but on a grander scale, applied to states, nations, and continents, you can see that it does have its place in paving the way for reconciliation.


As for me and my friend, we’re just gonna hop on our rides, let our hair fly freely, hang with our new-found bike buddies, and keep exploring new terrain.  Because so far, we like the view on the other side too.  Peace, man.


*Thanks to Anthony and Tony of Kanin Club in Paseo de Sta. Rosa, Poch, and their very accommodating mountain biking group for taking Pia and I in so readily.

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This is My Reality

  This is my Reality Apr 26, ’07 3:01 AM
for everyone

This is My Reality


Pinoy Big Brother.  American Idol. Amazing Race.  The Apprentice.  Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock somewhere, chances are you have seen an episode or can even recite the names of the cast members of these shows.  No question about it, from the moment Mark Burnett gave us the first season of Survivor, reality TV has taken us by storm and our viewing perspective will never be the same again.


Just recently, I had my own brush with it as a “hair model” in David’s Salon’s upcoming show, The Final Cut.  Twelve aspiring hair specialists housed together with the winner receiving a huge cash incentive and a trip to one of the most prestigious hair shows in Europe.  Sort of like The Apprentice and PBB with a Queer Eye flavor rolled into one. 


As members of Team David’s All Women’s Multi Sport Team, I along with two other teammates were asked to volunteer as guests for one of the episodes.  David Charlton designed the obstacles himself, and being a multi sport athlete too, he thought it would be a good idea to get the stylists out of their physical and psychological comfort zones by making them join boot camps, row boats, zipline, climb, run, etc., aside from the presumed activities of cutting, coloring, and styling hair. 


One of the things that Louigie, the stylist assigned to me was instructed to do was cycle a pedicab with myself as passenger.  Judging from his physique, he was obviously not accustomed to working out (understatement), and pedaling uphill with the added weight of an extra person proved to be a difficult task (understatement # 2).  He couldn’t even handle his bike well enough to maneuver properly, and we literally crashed into the ditch four times.  I was scared as hell.  I had just recovered from an injury which took four long months to heal and I definitely didn’t want to get sidelined again—especially not this way!  It didn’t do my nerves any good that Louigie kept screaming throughout the ordeal, crying out things like, “But I’m not an athlete, I’m a beautician!!!” or “I’m not a man…I’m a gay (sic)!!!”  Oh dear Lord.


I assessed the situation and determined that it was time to for me to gain some control.  The very instant he exclaimed again, “Im not an athlete!!!”  I snapped back at him, “WELL YOU ARE TODAY, DA__IT!!!  I egged him on and things decidedly became more manageable afterwards and he calmed down a bit. Maybe the fact that I held a tight grip on the handle bars, went down the pedicab, and pushed helped too…hey, can’t help but still be competitive, my stylist has gotta win you know!


In the end, he was finally able to seize the bull by the horns (or in this case, comb and scissors) and rise to the challenge.  He overcame his fears—geez, at least one of us did—and was able to go very far into the game.  Of course I can’t tell you if he won, but I can tell you that he did very well and I am very proud of him.


Sometimes it takes moments like these for me to fully appreciate that what I do without much thought will appear awfully daunting to a lot of people.  But what is not plainly clear to most is that I do either swim, bike, or run training everyday only because I choose to.  And chances are, if they made their minds up to do the same thing, they will get better at it too. 


People like watching reality shows because they provide the illusion of ordinary people instantly transformed into something extraordinary.  And they secretly wish that they can be as lucky as the winner too.  People like Louigie aren’t “lucky.”  He is a very skilled and serious hair expert (otherwise my bob would’ve looked like a mop, but I like my cut, thank you very much).  He didn’t learn to become one overnight. 


All of us have our own special goals, ambitions, and seemingly impossible aspirations.  Are you going to sit down and wait for a genie to appear or will you take the crucial steps to achieve them?  Your show.

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Sisters in Sport


Sisters in Sport   Apr 26, ’07 2:57 AM
for everyone

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.

Girls RULE

The Original Team David's Salon


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).


My sister Sinag and her daughter Raya

My sister Sinag and her daughter Raya

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.

pinaytri brunch june 16, 2006 022

Pinay Triathletes Brunch 2006

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.

Asian Du Dec 2005 Small

Asian Duathlon Championships 2005




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.


With Mona and Pia atop Mt. Kitanglad

With Mona and Pia atop Mt. Kitanglad

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. 


Sandra and I at SEA Games

Sandra and I at SEA Games

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. 


Oona's Bday Aug 2008

Oona's Bday Aug 2008

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.

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Interbike Dreaming: Action and Fitness Goes To Vegas

Vegas Interbike Apr 25, ’07 5:57 AM
for everyone



Interbike Dreaming: Action and Fitness Goes To Vegas


Day 1: September 24, 2006

Fellow Vellum Sponsored Athlete Arland Macasieb and I get flown into the Casino Capital of the World.  Groggy from taking the earliest flight from the East Coast but immediately get energized upon catching a glimpse of the vast desert landscape from the plane.


House with Vellum Cycles CEO Chris Aldeguer and Design and Marketing Associates Michael Flores and Frank Gatdula and their families.  Spent the rest of the afternoon in the garage setting up the 8 bikes we were going to put on display at the show.  Feeling proud to be part of a successful Pinoy Bike Company.


Day 2: Working It at the Outdoor Demo

Our partners from Rotor, makers of the highly intriguing crankset and chain rings, ask for our help in setting up and running their booth at the Outdoor Demo.  The first two days of Interbike Week are held outside before the main event, which is the Indoor Expo.  It is set up in a way wherein people can basically try all the bikes/ bike accouterments they want for free.  For example: you can go to the Cervelo booth and grab a Soloist Carbon, ride it for three hours, and it’s all good.  Being a roadie with dreams of owning a mountain bike I borrowed a Gary Fisher and set out on a trail ride in the wilderness after staying at the Rotor booth for the majority of the day. My turn to play!  I remember that I need to write an article and take some pics for Andy.


Day 3: Hangover Ride

Even though our main objective for the week was work, we couldn’t resist joining one of the side events: The Hangover Ride.  Aptly named since most of the cyclists participating were pissed drunk the night before.  It’s a friendly, pedal-at-your-own-pace kind of thing, where you can start with some pros and finish with the most leisurely of bikers, and the wonderful thing is, day 1 rule still applies and you can grab the bike of your dreams and get to use it for this ride.  But of course we were loyal to our sponsors and paraded the Vellum bikes and spoke about it to the other cyclists—best way to promote it is to use it, right!  The Gu (energy gel brand) people were cool and had colorful purple jerseys and I ended up riding with them and maybe sampling a new flavor or two. 
Today the rest of the Vellum Sponsored athletes and teams from around the US like Areté and EMC² fly in and we all finally get to meet each other.  Judging from these guys’ legs, combined power output in the room soars up to the thousands. In the evening we host a dinner for the CarboTech people, the big-time Carbon company from Taiwan who manufactures our bikes, along with other brands like Pinarello, Bianchi, etc.


Day 4: Cycling Fan + Indoor Bike Expo = Kid in a Giant Amusement Park

Ah, the day I will not forget anytime soon:  Let’s just call it The Day Peter Reid Hung Out at the Vellum Booth to Chat. No, wait—we could call it The Day I saw Eddy Merckx. Or The Day I Partied with Mario Cipollini, and George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Phil Ligget, Frankie Andreu Joe Friel, Bob Babbit….and so on.  Yes, starsucker, that’s me.  SO WHAT.  Like I told my friend, hey, I don’t get all worked up when I see actors, but super athletes? I adore them. I respect what they have accomplished and how hard they worked to achieve it. 


Backtrack to this morning: Team Vellum headed out early towards the direction of the Strip for the Sands Expo by the Venetian, where the whole bike extravaganza was taking place. As I walk in the HUMONGOUS trade center, I immediately go GAGA. It may have been only one of the few times in my life that I was overwhelmed and did not know what to do and where to go first.  After a while I realize I have indeed reached Bike Heaven. Oh Dear Lord, I do not know exactly what I have done to deserve to be in this place but I Thank You! 


We are determined to make a splash in the New Products Section, and our booth is an instant hit with the expo participants.  Just an hour into the show, Arland and Chris spot Ironman World Champion Peter Reid strolling casually by us and they shout frantically at me—“Ani get the camera!!!”  One look and I knew what they meant and what I had to do.  We ended up entertaining him enough for him to hang out for twenty minutes or so.  We like Peter.


The rest of the day was a joyous blur, and ended with a blast at the rooftop of the Rio Hotel.  Philippine Cycling icon Jazy Garcia and wife Mylene generously handed us their extra tickets to the Sinclair party where we saw the Lion King Mario and basically anyone who was anyone.  Shared a drink with Phil Ligget and he said he has fond memories of the Philippines from commentating in the Marlboro Tour twice.  We like Phil. We WORSHIP Mario. VIVA LAS VEGAS.


Day 5: The Strip

Our boss gives us a free pass for the morning and we go on a free swag expedition. I taste all the energy bars I can taste and by lunch time I cannot eat anymore. We run to the Reynolds booth because we hear that they are giving away stems. Other booths don’t think their products are attractive enough and place scantily-clad-hot-bodied athletes on bike trainers. I believe the passers-by ended up sweating more than they did though.


We walk a bit outside on the famous Strip and have lunch at Wolfgang Puck’s Spago at the Forum.  We are pretty much tired from gallivanting the whole week and finish off the night watching the Cirque de Soleil show, “O,” at the Bellagio.


Day 6: Time To Bring Out The Booze

I didn’t think it would be possible, but by the last day of the show I was so used to seeing the cycling stars and all the bike booty that I was content to just sit still and relax.  All over the expo you could see that everyone felt the same way, and instead of scrounging over to the Powerbar Station for bars and gels people were lining up for the free beer.  It was a very productive week for the crew and the bosses were quite pleased.  I made one last round to collect freebies then we finally packed up and headed home. 


As I sat in the plane, I looked over the Strip and smiled to myself.  It’s official: Interbike Rules.

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