Travel: A Whole Lotta Cherry Poppin’ in Davao


I love my recent trip to Davao City to bits for a lot of good reasons but having my cherry popped specifically on these three things: (a.) zipline (b.) having a photo taken with an albino python, and (c.) civet coffee – certainly takes the cake out of any fun activities I recall to have done in any of my past local travels. Except, perhaps, my intro to diving experience in Batangas and surfing in Zambales – as I don’t think these two will ever be taken out of my ‘awesome adventures’ file box.

Thank you WITHOUT LIMITS and OPERATION SMILE!

But first, thank you to our dear friend Ian Alacar of Without Limits and the people behind Operation Smile for sponsoring our trip to Davao! As you know, I was there along with Team Reebok, for The 500 Smile Fun Run (Davao Leg) – an initiative of Operation Smile in celebration of its 30th year in the Philippines. Through the race and other local and nationwide efforts, Operation Smile is hoping to create awareness and rally support from the private sector for its ongoing campaign of providing free reconstructive facial surgery to indigent Filipino children and young adults born with cleft lip and cleft palate deformity.

The race was held on the 27th of November so we had a bit of time to enjoy most of what Davao has to offer. If time and resources were on our side, we would have gunned for EVERYTHING, and not just some of the city’s offerings. The first thing I noticed when we landed at Davao International Airport was how beautiful the airport was! It’s clean and welcoming and, well, nothing like our old international airport in Manila. As we drove out of the airport and into the city proper, we also noticed that there is hardly garbage strewn out and scattered about in the streets and in plain sight of people – which is quite a common sight where we’re from. Later on, we would learn that they practice proper waste segregation and management in Davao and the Davaoenos really take it very seriously! Kinda makes me wonder why these things don’t work as well in Metro Manila.

So anyway, I don’t have much time so let me just quickly go through the three things Davao has successfully deflowered me on:

I am Super(wo)man!

1. Zipline. I have the greatest fear of heights. Take me five floors up and make me look down and I’d be all green in the face. That’s why bungee jumping, skywalking, parasailing, hot air balloon ride, etc, are never going to make it into my list of Things To Do Very Soon. I am terrified of heights and I’m NOT even contemplating doing something about. Until Kassy and the guys egged me on to try ziplining and before I knew it, I was doing the superman on my first zipline and sitting next. It was exhilarating! Of course I was shaking like a leaf when the guys were strapping the harness on and would shake more violently when I was given the instruction to lower myself and get ready to be released on the cable. I thought I was going to keep my eyes painfully shut the whole 600 meters of the first zipline but I manned-up and even managed a split-second look-down into the trees and water down below. Boy, was I brave!

You guys ever tried touching a python? They're very strong and cold to the touch. Kaya pala 'coldhearted snake'...

Five against one.

2. Touching and having my photo taken with an albino python. As much as I harbor fear of heights, I am equal parts terrified of reptiles  as well – snakes, especially! And so imagine how I was shrieking and cringing each time I would attempt to get close to the python for photo op. Even though the zoo attendant reassured us over and over again that it is quite a nice snake and that it’s used to having humans give it a good petting, I was still terrified! But after doing ziplining even with my fear of heights, I figured, what’s one more act of ‘valor’? haha.

If only they needed sip and smile models outside the zoo in Davao...

3. Civet coffee. Now I am far from a coffee connoisseur or of anything, actually, but I have heard of civet coffee (who hasn’t anyway) and have always been curious about its taste and aroma. And since I was on some kind of a roll in Davao with items 1 and 2, in addition to a wild  time spent at the Bazaar, I simply could not break the awesome pattern by letting civet coffee pass. So, ayun, tumikim ako. (So there, I succumbed and had a sip.) I took it pure, no sugar and cream (I assume that’s how it’s supposed to be taken, ya?), and my initial reaction was: ‘Well, ya, it’s totally different from the instant coffees and commercial staple I pick up from Starbucks or Coffee Bean.’ Now I hope I don’t offend coffee lovers and especially those who think the world of civet coffee by my paltry review – if you could call it that – because like I said, I really am far from being a decent food blogger/critique. It’s been one of my greatest frustrations, trust me, and it breaks my heart every single time because I can’t seem to get any better at it! *sob*

Kariton kids

So there you have it, my lovely Davao adventure in three stages of deflowering. As for the primary reason for our being there – The 500 Smile Run – I am pretty pleased to report that I took podium again by placing 3rd in the 16k female category!  It feels good to be back on the road and (the) podium finish certainly became the sweet, lavish layer of icing on the cake.

Vicky wearing Reebok Easytone top, Zigtech shorts, and RealFlex Optima.

The 500 Smile Run(ners)

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Because I’m Fit and Flexible Like That


These days, I am — wait, am I allowed to be crass and wee bit disgusting here? *lip biting* — shitting bricks and boulders, figuratively that is, because of work deadlines and our upcoming MAJOR MAJOR event in Malaysia, 15 days from now to be exact. Though we have everything pretty much under control (do we, really? *big grin*), it’s still somewhat stressful dealing with little irritants that crop up at the last minute. But hey, we’re one tough cookie and it’ll take a lot more than the small things to get us completely off-track. Yes naman.

Oh so, anyway, given the crazy-ass work schedule that we keep these days (and I don’t see the trend easing up a bit until after June, maybe) I have become more obsessed with getting fit. Almost to the point of running myself down to the ground. I officially wrapped-up INSANITY last Friday buuuuut instead of taking a week off to recover from the madness, I sprinted my way to a podium finish at the Fuego Sunset Run the day after (Saturday last week) and immediately embarked on INSANITY Round 2 just this Monday – posting incredible results in my Fit Test!

Insanity Round 1, Day 58

                                        Round 1         Round 2

Date                               5-Mar               9-May

Move                            Fit Test 1          Fit Test 1

Switch Kicks              70                      136

Power Jacks              25                      60

Power Knees             80                      95

Power Jumps            10                      60

Globe Jumps                9                      13

Suicide Jumps          10                     20

Push-Up Jacks          15                     40

Low Plank Oblique  30                    74

To say that I am mighty pleased with the results of my workout is putting it mildly. I AM STOKED!  But now, I’m starting to get bored again so the offer to take basic diving lessons could not have come at a better time. Yes, my sweethearts, I AM GOING DIVING!  Never mind that I don’t know how to swim. Which, by the way, is giving me the chills but I’m sure I will be just fine. The diving instructor is there, as well as, a handful of other students. And if something does happen – knock on wood! – I’m sure one of them would jump right in and save me. Right? Please say yes. YES!

So, diving it is.

But, running is still my thing and thanks to Reebok and its all-out support to the Team, I am kept right on track with the sport. I have been logging PRs and even managed to snag a podium finish here and there and these little achievements admittedly do incredible things to my health and general well-being.

Here are two photos taken by Estan Cabigas at the Fuego Sunset Run. I just look totally legit as a runner, don’t I?

I Run, therefore, I'm A Runner. Teehee.

Reaching high but keeping feet planted firmly on the ground.

Yes, I run on swimsuit too.

Run like the wind...

Now that's a HAPPY RUN!

But this one takes the cake out of any other happy runs. Ang saya lang, oh!

FUEGO Sunset Run 2011 and Estan Cabigas


It’s raining wildly outside as I type this blog entry; and there’s still the burning sensation on my tongue, courtesy of the hot soup I had nearly an hour ago at Nasi Lemak. I take full responsibility for the scalded tongue because, as usual, I did not think before taking a sip. For the bazillionth time, I had murdered my taste bud. But no, neither rain nor burnt tongue will dampen my edified spirits because yesterday – yesterday, was one darn fine day and let me tell you why.

But first, have you met Purple Pippa?

Purple Pippa

This gorgeous Zig Glam pair is the youngest of the Reebok brood I keep safe and nurtured right at home. She came just weeks after Bruno and Basia arrived separately and the three of them practically took over my athletic life, much to the consternation of my other running pairs. I just don’t have the heart to give up Zara my Zoot and Blu my Wave Rider because they were both given to me as a gift.  I could not have chosen a better way to break-in Purple Pippa than this weekend because she looked absolutely stunning out there!

Vicky FTW!

TEAM REEBOK Pilipinas at the Fuego Sunset Run

I won first place in yesterday’s FUEGO Sunset Run held at Club Punta Fuego in Batangas! This hot little munchkin has lorded over a handful of 5k female runner hopefuls and crossed the finish line in 30 minutes. But wait, before you all scoff at my little achievement, allow me to state for the record that it wasn’t just your regular flat surface run. It was an evil cardiac hills run at 4:30 in the afternoon with the Fuego heat beating down on us! And for someone who’s not quite used to running hills, I would be the first one to admit that it is not at all easy. Sure I have had my share of trail runs – MH All-Terrain Race in 2009 in Sta. Elena featuring Phoenix who is now back in the grave, never to resurrect again; Merell Adventure Trail Run 2010 at the La Mesa Dam where a bunch of us trail runners got lost and so we ended up just photowalk-ing; and my all-time favorite 50k PAU Mt. Pinatubo Trail Challenge where I trailed behind the sensational Camilla Brooks – but I certainly don’t do this type of run on a regular basis.

Post-race posterity shot

TEAM REEBOK Pilipinas with PEP SQUAD Events and Race Marshals

At gun start, I made a mad dash for it like everyone else but nearly met an accident when confronted by the sharp downhill which started just a few feet from the starting line. It was almost like that time  I first attempted to do mountain biking at San Mateo, Rizal, flew off from my bike, and landed hard on the pebbled dirt road, sustaining a number of injuries.

TEAM REEBOK

At the Starting Line

I still carry the scars from that accident to this day. Like that deep downhill slope of San Mateo, this one in Punta Fuego has got me foot-braking in an attempt to slow down (the) momentum which could potentially send me sprawling on the ground again, in a bloody heap. Thank God, this time, none of the sort happened. I was in full control of my legs and wobbly knees (hey, they’re almost 32 years old, so cut them some slack, will you?!) and though I slowed down considerably after that – which gave this other girl the opening to overtake me, at least for a few meters, before I would snatch back my lead and continue to keep the girls at bay all the way through the finish line.

The heat was pretty intense that, for a while there, I got worried Purple Pippa would sustain permanent injuries herself! I could feel the heat literally creeping up the soles of Pippa, all the way through my legs, and up my thighs and it was debilitating! But the second the FINISH LINE materialized before my eyes, the pain and heat seemed to have vanished and I was like Oh yeah, baby! Who’s your Mommy?Errr, that doesn’t exactly have a nice ring to it, ya? Nowhere near ‘Who’s your Daddy?!‘ so I guess I better quit it.

Nognog Runner on a rampage!

Great race performance by Team Reebok!

We stayed until the awarding ceremonies and got our fill of delicious buffet dinner. Beer was overflowing, too, much to the boys’ delight. Meanwhile, I got a medal and a gift check from Reebok (what are the odds of that happening, huh?!?) which I’m planning to use to get me another one of the Cirque de Soleil top I so adore! See that blue top I wore to the race? That’s the Cirque de Soleil apparel and it also comes in pink – which I’m claiming using the GC I won. I also won a GC worth Php1,000 from Milk & Co. during the raffle.

TEAM REEBOK at the Awarding Ceremonies

All in all, it was a great race and Pep Squad did a good job of organizing it! Thank you, too, Reebok Philippines and my team mates at Team Reebok Pilipinas for the wonderful opportunity and, yes, the warm friendship and solidarity. Here’s to greater success in future races and other events. WE JUST ROCK, don’t we?

Oh, by the way, prior to the sunset race, we spent some time at the Terrazas de Punta Fuego – mostly to enjoy the food, glorious sun, and the nice beach. And since we have TEAM REEBOK’s de facto photographer Estan Cabigas with us, expect some great photos of our pre-race beach-combing, the actual race, and the awarding ceremonies. Below are some of the photos we took by the beach. These are not by Estan, so you will have to excuse the poor quality. Estan’s are definitely waaaaaaaaaay better, so watch out for it!

Before the clothes came off...:p

Team Reebok hours before the sunset race

No, that definitely isn't spray-tan. Au naturelle, baby.

The Succulent Runner with the Titanium Runner

Beep Beep, Vicky, and TR

Purple druhmuh. Bow.

🙂

Caution: VERY dangerous curves ahead.

In which we traded our running gear for sunscreen. Yay.

POST SCRIPT:

  • Congratulations to Pinoy Pride MANNY PACQUAIO for yet another momentous victory in the international boxing arena! Ikaw na!
  • Congratulations, too, FERNANDO ALONSO aka The Greatest Love of My Life for a strong P3 finish in yesterday’s F1 Turkish Grand Prix. Oh you should’ve seen the silly grin that refused to leave my face the whole time I was watching the post-race press conference! Kilig kung kilig ito! Round 4 done and over with – 15 more to go and things have started to look real good for my favorite Spaniard.
  • Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there! Yes, that includes you, my dear absentee mother.
***
Finally, as promised,  here are four photos taken by ESTAN CABIGAS. Gorgeous, ‘innit?

Estan Cabigas Photography.

Estan Cabigas Photography

By Estan Cabigas

Vicky Ras by Estan Cabigas