The Curious Case of Pareng Tomas

Posted: August 27, 2014 in Running
Tags: , , , , ,

This is a repost on my article in Aktib.Ph, the g0-to-place for races in Cebu and the Visayas.

Who in the world is Pareng Tomas? Artista na? Igsoon ni Mang Tomas? Tomas is actually not a ‘he’, it’s a learning institution, a university. Residents, students and alumni of the Southern Leyte State University – Tomas Oppus campus don’t ask “Kumusta naman ang SLSU-TO?” We fondly say “kumusta naman si Pareng Tomas“?

It was last year when the school played with the concept of hosting a fun run. I thought they were joking or were losing their grips due to the high academic standard. I laughed at the idea because it was then a wrong idea at the wrong place and at the wrong time. Southern Leyte is no running province, the municipality of Tomas Oppus is perhaps a hundred years behind from becoming a fitness destination. Or perhaps, I laugh because I was terrified of making a race nobody will participate at. That scared me. And Yolanda happened.

We were not affected but I certainly came out of the shell to step up and help create some worthy running events in Tacloban through the Unity Runs. They were baptism by fire. So when the university sports council toyed once again in hosting a fun run this year, I grabbed it. There’s so much that can happen in one year: i became a marathoner, I became a TOES, I DNF, and I DNS. And to help make a fun run in the very place I work at, suss, piss of kick! I mean, piece of cake.

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Let it be clear that I did not organized the “Dagan Pareng Tomas”. I was only assisting the student body of the school (SSC) on how to make and organized a race. I’ve been in running long enough to know how to make a decent race. I’m more like in a consultancy service. It’s the SSC’s project, it’s their money, and it’s their net income/net loss. It’s also their job to execute my race design to perfection. Me? I’m just a volunteer and I paid my race bib.🙂 I’m only fulfilling my promise in CCM to spread Running in the province. And Dagan Pareng Tomas is the best shot I got in fulfilling it.

Comes race day, the incredible happened, people came and run. The 800 race slots for P50 I presented to the SSC (w/c is supposed to be a suntok-sa-buwan number) were sold out and 732 runners turned up on race day.The crowd was a lot bigger than I anticipated. Everyday said they enjoyed the event. The kids did really really well in organizing the event. I think it’s one of those races when nothing went wrong. I run in the 5k category and was seriously thinking of competing against my fellow TOES sir Gary and fellow SLSU co-worker sir Moding Abina but decided to just have fun when I managed to borrow a GoPro camera from a friend. Man I wanted to document this historical event, who knows it might just be the start of the running boom in Southern Leyte. I had a lot of fun running w/ a camera a-la-Boying Milan, hahaha.

Here’s a video coverage of the event:


There’s a zumba party after the race which every dug in including me. I really hate those mandatory zumba sessions on the gym. But that time everybody danced including the guests so I indulge myself. I think I fared well, barely.

So yeah, the event is a curious one. Expectations were low that most of the faculty and staffs of the school didn’t participate/replied to the communications because perhaps Fun Runs is a damn silly thing in this kind of place. But for the young people it meant everything, That day I saw in the eyes of those students the happiness running brings, that runner’s high and that overwhelming celebration of life despite doing something punishing to their bodies. The world is full of ironies and when you least expect something comes and change the way society views it. This time it’s running, the province is ready. And for sure, we started on a bright and loud note. Dagan Pareng Tomas!

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