I arrived in the island paradise of Boracay last summer, not on a vacation and pleasure but to work. It had never occurred to me that I’d ever set foot in the island but fate started to played its trick on me when the Boracay assignment given to my colleague suddenly collapsed at the last-minute. I was brought in to fill in the void, just when I started to feel madly in love with Cebu. After a few shakes and pressures from my boss I accepted the offer, not that I have much choice.
I could swear I almost ran away from the assignment like my colleague did. What am I supposed to their in Boracay? I don’t even know a single soul out there. And I have everything around here in Cebu; friends, family, opportunities and beautiful women. But my spirit craves for adventure. And I thought, that’s the Boracay dude, the land of bikinis and beach volleyball and it summer for goodness sake!
I can still recall the very first thing I did after I arrived was plunged in to the infamous beach. Oh never mind the stressful land trip and my unpacked baggage – those can certainly wait later. My first impression is Boracay was that it is indeed a beautiful place, a perfect escape route from the cities. The roads are narrow, long winding pavements and seas of uphill journeys. But nothing could ever prepare me for the majestic white sand beach which boasts a staggering 5 kilometres of crystal clear seas and powdery white sands. Tourists can’t help but hail Boracay as a paradise, but to me I just found my sacred running haven.
Six months before my Boracay assignment something life-changing happened – I was diagnosed of certain degree of madness caused by the running bug found in the streets of Cebu City. I became a runner. Running knows no place and boundaries, you are never safe from the epidemic whether you’re young or old, rich or poor, man or woman. Once you got the disease there is no turning back. And I brought it along with me even in paradise.
Boracay’s long winding road is perfect for distance running. Its hills, lakes and even the remote forest are perfect for terrain running. And most importantly, Boracay’s white sand front beach is perfect for barefoot running. As a runner it is my intention to explore every path the island could offer.
But as a writer it’s my dream to write something about Boracay that’s never been written or told. What else about Boracay that’s never been written anyway?
And God answered in a dream, “Conquer it.”
Fortunately Boracay is only a tiny bone-shaped island with an area of 10 square kilometres, so I don’t have to transform myself into hard-core marathoner or a Forrest Gump to navigate its entirety. Unfortunately it isn’t that easy, I am still new to running when I got in the island and my longest fun run I finished is a 5k in a laughable 31-minute campaign. The distance involved in conquering the entire island on foot should be at least 15 kilometres – if it’s a straight course. But if we count the zigzags and curves it could go all up to 21k, a half-marathon.
Unfortunately, again, my job gets in the way to prepare myself for the task. I work for twelve hours a day, six times a week, including holidays. There are only 24 hours a day deduct twelve hours for work, eight hours for sleep and what is left is my personal life. Now the trick is where do I find the time to run since I also draw, read books, update my blog, play beach volleyball, write for publications etc. I’m a busy man. Wait, I haven’t included the time for cooking meals, washing laundries, cleaning the room and grabbing a date. My solution was to skip launch breaks so I can have two hours of afternoon break, but that is when I’m doing day shift. During graveyard duties, I’d rather sleep on free time.
I recently resigned from my job because the government agency I was applying for two long years have finally called before Christmas. I can never let go of the opportunity to work for public service. It’s also serves as my one-way ticket back to Cebu. But I simply cannot leave the island without completing my task.
In dark days, I almost abandoned all hope of conquering the island on foot. The course is too long, and I’m so unprepared for such distance. But the beauty of the island is simply impossible to resist. I have to complete the course. But to achieve this goal I have to find the real strength within. I know I will put my body to the limits because the training would involve a great deal of pain and sacrifice.
For three weeks after I left my job, I stayed in Boracay to study the local art scene, do the things I didn’t have the time try out before and most importantly life I trained to run for real and with a purpose. With huge dose of faith from above and courage from sheer stubbornness, I put on my training shoes and head out for the road.
It was inevitable… I have to conquer Boracay by foot and soon. Will I ever get to go home with the glory as the King of Boracay?