with Ani de Leon, a top woman triathlete in the country
biking beside the lady senator
distance covered - Davao-Tagum via Sto. Tomas, and back
Yesterday, I cancelled my Trinity class so that I can join Senator Pia Cayetano's Bike for Hope. I woke up early to break my fast (I had been fasting for 24 hours the previous day) and then proceeded to the assembly area which was 6 km away from the monastery. By 6:30 am, I was asked to lead the pre-departure prayer and then we were on our way to Tagum. There were around 300 bikers who joined. Among them was George Vilog - the national triathlon champion who is also Pia's coach - and Ani de Leon - the top woman triathlete in the Philippines.
We went through the city and then took the national highway. As we neared Panabo, a plane swooped down and released aerial spray on the banana plants just beside the road. The toxic shower did not only hit the banana plantation but also the bikers who were passing by. What a welcome! And to think that we were biking for a healthy lifestyle and for the environment. We had to douse our faces and skin with water during our stop in front of the Panabo City hall. I remember the slogan of the MAAS (Mamayang Ayaw sa Aerial Spray) - WE ARE NOT PESTS! (The Davao City Council had passed an ordinance banning aerial spray due to the harm it causes on the health of the people but sadly the Court of Appeals had ruled in favor of the Banana plantatio owners.)
After some refreshments we continued our journey. We turned left upon reaching Carmen and went through Sto. Tomas, Capalong and Asuncion. In Sto. Tomas, I was asked to bike beside the senator and we had a wonderful conversion while biking. I had difficulty keeping up with her pace - she is such a strong and fast cyclist.
We reached the finish line in Tagum provincial capitol before noon after biking for over 100 km. It took us less than 4 hours and 30 minutes to cover the distance. After lunch, I immediately went ahead and biked back to Davao. Some also did the same, while most just rode on the support vehicle and trucks. Pia had to rush to the airport to catch the 2:30 pm flight to Manila. I arrived in the monastery at 3:30 pm. My cyclo-computer read: 162.3 km in 7 hrs and 40 minutes. If I add the 6 km going to the starting line, this means that I covered 168.3 km. What an enjoyable day, except for the toxic shower.
Pia is an epitome of the modern Filipina - Pinay in Action. A lawyer, senator, mother, triathlete (cyclist, runner, swimmer), she has recently taken up boxing. She has many advocacies - healthy & fit living, the environment, breast-feeding, anti-violence against women, medical help for children with disabilities, etc. She is not just the most fit senator, she is the most fit government official in the country. I hope that there will be more Filipina like her - a combination of beauty, brains, physical fitness, public service, social concern, motherhood, etc.