Sunday, November 24, 2019

Emmanuel "Doy" Comendador: Running from painful childhood

The Southeast Asian Games (SEA) Games, which the country will host for the first time in 14 years, will be held starting November 30 in multiple parts of the Philippines.

A Boholano duathlete Emmanuel “Doy” Comendador will compete in the SEA games.

Here's a backgrounder of Comendador courtesy of Rey Anthony Chiu, manager of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA)-Bohol:

Emmanuel “Doy” Comendador
As a young kid, he has dreamt of getting a new pair of shoes.

Poverty and an unstable childhood kept him from getting that.

Today, as Boholanos are clasping their palms praying for luck to a local swimming sensation making ripples in the Philippine swimming circles, another Boholano contribution to the national pool of athletes for the upcoming ASEAN Games, still runs with an old pair he bought at an ukay-ukay rummage.

Unknown to most, unlike most Philippine Team athletes who bask on national television, this Boholano from Cambangay Norte, San Miguel town remains humbly hidden from the cameras in the country.

But somewhere in Asian races, as he silently traverses the trails and roadways of Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, he gets occasional media attention, in his trail battered shoes even climbing a dais.

Shoes are secondary. Toning his muscles to get him to the podium is the motive and this can only be through painful training, dedication and discipline that has put a Tagbilaran swimmer into the same national team for the ASEAN Games.

Boholano duathlete Emmanuel “Doy” Comendador literally crawled his way through hard work, discipline, mental toughness and perseverance to be picked part of the Philippine Duathlon Team for the ASEAN Games to open next week.

The achievement, for Comendador, 31, was never walk in the park.

In fact to him, it was through biking, and running, and biking and running in a vicious training that would literally burn-out the mentally weak, that kept him focused: shoes, immaterial.

Born to a poor family and too weakened by the hardships of a child fending off his way to a future that has nothing to do with what he was born into, leaving a painful hungry childhood in Limasawa Island, Southern Leyte was Doy’s first long run.

His decision to swing to sports as a way of forgetting his past and building a strong resolve to mold a full-toned body from an emaciated spirit was his first plan to voluntarily escape his past.

That resolve pushed him to go past the edges of pain and sacrifice, let him inch his way to join a Leyte bike group. From then on, he cranked up more muscle straining and hurting revolutions in his pedals than almost everyone in his group.

“I had a painful past I wouldn’t want to talk about. What is more painful than that?” he timidly asked, when posed with what his most painful training regimen was like.

“All training is painful, because our coaches know how to squeeze out the best in us. Believe me, it is not easy and is far from painless, he said, severely sun-blasted face and bulging veins in his hand witness to the hard training showing even in the dimly lit café.

Sharing how he disregarded the weird looks of other athletes when they see his old sneakers, he said “I couldn’t buy one, so I have to use this old pair.”

Already a strong biker when he left Leyte, Doy decided to live with an aunt in San Miguel. Since then, he considered himself an adopted Boholano and has since used Bohol as his home address.

While in Bohol, he banked on his bike riding speed in Tagbilaran, knowing that there is far better chance here than in San Miguel.

But with very few bikers then in Tagbilaran, he decided to shift to running where there was prize money to sustain him.

Starting a cross training for running in 2014 in Bohol, Doy, who has logged long hours on a bike, became a sensation.

His long rides and improved spinning cadence on road bikes and off-road mountain bikes worked on his glutes, quadriceps and hamstring, while his calves gradually trimmed from running regimen.

Having worked on both disciplines, Doy became a fixture in Bohol runs, and occasionally on road races, capping on his podium finishes, while getting adopted into a legendary local bike group Paseo de Loon was his biggest break.

He asked his team if he could take up Marine Engineering at the local Philippine Maritime Institute (PMI) while representing the school in races. When the team was more than willing to support him, he run further and swung off to Paseo during his lean days where there are no races in school, Richard Acero, another athlete where Comendador homed in Tagbilaran volunteered the information.

Comendador said he felt like he was family with the Aceros, and it helped him immensely, adjusting his running shades as the café filled with light banter from patrons.

Comendador, who stepped into the café after completing a short afternoon bike spin, for the late afternoon interview, came in full bike gear: lime yellow Navy Standard Insurance jersey, a seemingly overused bike helmet and his favorite battered running shoes.

Sitting now with a girlfriend who also runs marathons, Doy said his break came in the eighth qualifying leg of the 37th National Milo Marathon eliminations in 2013 in Bohol.

Then a graduating Marine Engineering student at PMI, despite lack of training as he was busy preparing for the closing exercises, the phenomenal biker and amateur runner still bested 6,153 athletes and carved for himself a name winning the 21 K half marathon. This catapulted him into the National Finals.

With free travel and accommodations, he went to Manila and competed in his first Milo marathon performance, placing among the top finishers.

The following years, Comendador would win the 2014 and 2015 Milo Marathon qualifiers and placed top among national finalists.

This got the attention of national coaches who invited him to train with them.

Running under Philippine Navy in national races, Doy continued with zealous training and pious respect for the coaches which he never had the luxury in his races.

Running races while on training with the national team did not obtain for him the perks of a full-time athlete. He has to look for sponsors to help defray the costs while in Manila.

 Standard Insurance picked him to carry their banner in his race jerseys.

The sponsorship also allowed him to survive in Manila, although not well. Scrimping on a tight budget was nothing new to him. If for his dream, Comendador knew he had to persevere.

In 2015, at the Philippine Duathlon National Championships, Elite Men Category, he finished 5th and so was his finish in the 2016 National Duathlon Championships five months later.

Shifting to triathlon, Comendador competed in the 2016 Subic Bay NTT ASTC Triathlon Asian Cup and placed 11th but was the third Filipino to the top with John Chicano and Mark Hosana competing against a full roster of Asia’s elite triathletes.

By March of 2017, Doy took his first international podium at the 2017 Putrajaya ASTC Powerman Middle Distance Duathlon Asian Championships when he placed third against a Dutch and an Australian. Here, he also picked his first Asian championship honor.

Comendador placed fourth at the Putrajaya ASTC Powerman Middle Distance Duathlon Asian Championships in March of 2018.

This year, he competed again in the 2019 Putrajaya ASTC Powerman Middle Distance Duathlon Asian Championships for Elite Men and dropped in finish ranking to 8th but was among the three Asians in the top.
In fact, among those on the top were himself, and two more Filipinos, and an Iranian.

Now competing against Asians, the self-appointed Boholano athlete said he has seen a near perfect moment to strike a gold medal in the ASEAN Games. After all, he has proven to Asian duathletes that he is somebody they can be running after.

As a member of the Philippine Team now, Doy still wears old running shoes, which he said he bought at an ukay-ukay, while his competitors sport the newest models from the greatest brands.

Asked if this bothers him, he said he dreams of a new pair but his allowance would not allow him that.

“I tried the new Nike when a friend runner let me try it. It was comfortable as it was designed to fit a runner’s foot profile, but I just can not afford that, so I have to be realistic and run in my old pairs. As long as it does not give up on me, like I have never given up on my dream, there is still that huge chance I’d get a gold. Would that not be a bigger shoes to fill by other Filipino athletes after me?” he asked speaking in Cebuano.

Whether one talks about his old shoes and the resolve to bring honor to Bohol and the Philippines, this guy has just shred a tale worth commending.

That can happen, when the country would well be this guy’s comendador.

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Sunday, November 17, 2019

Bohol designers unite for 'Exodus' in December; Fr. Parilla's 'Hashtags for Young Seekers' released

•Bohol designers unite for 'Exodus' in December
•Fr. Parilla's 'Hashtags for Young Seekers' released

Scene: The municipality of Sierra Bullones was the first in the province to put up their Christmas decor- the tallest Santa Claus. It was displayed last September. However,  the Santa Claus was dismantled last weekend.

Scene:  After K-Pop star Sandara Park who spent her pre-birthday celebration in the province, Boholano boxer Nonito "Junjun" Donaire Jr  went home. He posted photos of his Bohol vacation in Instagram and Facebook. Junjun posted a video of him with his son Logan dancing at the Loboc River.  He captioned the video, "Showing my son Logan a native dance from my home island where I was born in Bohol, Philippines."

Scene: The homecoming of Pinoy Big Brother(PBB) Otso Ultimate Winner William "YamYam" Guc-ong at Inabanga Cultural and Creative Park yesterday, Nov. 16. PBB Otso finalist Fumiya Sankai accompanied YamYaman. Saturday's event was also the  INB Christmas Tree Lights-on Ceremony.

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Boholano priest releases new book: Hashtags for Young Seekers

Fr. Harold Anthony Parilla is the author
 of "Hashtags for Young Seekers" that seeks
to answer the important questions that young people ask.
Contributed Photo
Fr. Harold Anthony Parilla, the rector of Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in this city, launched his second book of homilies  "Hashtags for Young Seekers". 

The book is composed of 49 homilies organized into seven chapters.  All these homilies seek to answer the important questions that young people, its intended audience, fearlessly raise.

Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium,135 said that “The homily can actually be an intense and happy experience of the Spirit, a consoling encounter with God’s word, a constant source of renewal and growth.”

“We took the cue from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) which declared 2019 as the “Year of the Youth”, a segment of the preparation for the fifth centenary celebration of the arrival of Christianity in the country," Fr. Parilla said.

He added, "This book is our modest contribution to the challenging and exciting ministry of accompanying young people in their own journey of faith.”

Movie actress and book author Dimples Romana wrote the foreword of the book.

In praise for Fr. Parilla’s work, she said, “I read the reflections and immediately felt the Holy Spirit come upon me. What a beautiful testimony of God’s love. These reflections will tug at your heartstrings and make you rethink just how deep you can go when it comes to nurturing your faith. These stories have left me with a heart yearning for more and a spirit ready to give.”

In this new volume, Fr. Parilla targets young seekers. 

In 2017, Fr. Parilla’s authored "Hashtags for Seekers" was published by Creannovate Publishing. It was praised by several leaders, no less than His Excellency Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle who wrote the foreword of the book.
Cardinal Tagle said, “Reading through Harold’s reflections, I felt assured that I do not need to be embarrassed or fearful of my faults, misconceptions, wounds, pains, and doubts for God remains faithful and near to us. God knows we are pilgrims, God’s work in progress. That is why God walks with us, for alone we perish.  God’s hope for us knows no bounds. These are some themes in Harold’s book that warmed my heart, as I wish they would yours.”

Fr. Parilla was ordained to the priesthood in 2003, after he finished his theological studies at the Loyola School of Theology in Quezon City.

After some years of work at the local seminary and in the chancery of the Diocese of Tagbilaran, he left for Rome to obtain a licentiate degree in canon law at the Pontifical Gregorian University.

He also finished masteral degrees in pastoral ministry and educational management from two Jesuit universities in the Philippines.

He also facilitates at spiritual retreats for various groups.

Currently, he is rector of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Tagbilaran City.

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Bohol designers unite for Exodus fashion show for a cause

Fashion has been used for a lot of worthy causes. 

In Bohol, 12 designers unite for Suppor+'s fund-raising show ‘Exodus-Bohol Fashion Forward' on December 21.

Exodus will be more than just about fashionable clothes and gorgeous men and women. It will showcase courage on the catwalk and stories of survival.

Exodus, a year-ender fashion show for a cause
will feature the creations of 12 Boholano designers
 for the benefit of HIV/AIDS Positive Organization,
iSuppor+. Contributed Photo 
The year-ender fashion show will feature the creations of Bebie Tagoctoc, Aileen Sendrijas Pasagad, La'doi Aquino, Kim Villamor, Nikki Simporios, Rose Paul Silhouette,  Christian Bustrillos, Tracy Remolador Torres,  Ryan Sadudaquil, Christian Relator, EJ Relampagos and Charlow Arbasto.

The clash of art, expression and glamour will be on December 21, 8 p.m. at the Bohol Cultural Center in Tagbilaran City.

For inquiries,  contact BDC Secretariat (Ryan Sadudaquil) at 09101244637.

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Sunday, November 10, 2019

Barajan proves that not all heroes wear capes

The costume and the superhero have become
 inseparable for Seaman First PO3 Ralph Barajan of the Philippine
 Coast Guard in this 2013 photo. Contributed Photo
Many of us are familiar with the often-caped superheroes that star in blockbuster movies. While these “heroes” save lives and overcome villains, their story ends when the movie ends.

But for the 59 people aboard the MV Siargao Princess that sank off Sibonga, Cebu after it was battered by strong waves on Thursday morning (November 7) , a different kind of superhero exists. One that doesn’t wear a cape, but saving lives — in a behind-the-scenes but in an awesome way.

The hero is Seaman First P03 Seaman Ralph Barajan, a native of Barangay La Paz in Cortes town. He played a key role in saving many passengers and crew.

The weather was fair but it became horrendous an hour after they left Loon Port. The vessel was battered  by strong waves and  the forward portion of the ship began to sink, throwing the passengers into panic.

It was fortunate that there was Barajan, a trained Coast Guardsman, who was among the passengers of the vessel who was on his way to the substation in Southern Cebu. 

He let the Coast Guard in him overcome fear and placed the safety of his fellow passengers above that of his own. He was able to direct the passengers and crew when the ship began to sink.

“Gusto ko lang ma save tanan mao tong naningkamot ko nga mag uban-uban mi tanan.

Ako lang naa sa mind kay way mamatay sa ako atubangan (I wanted everyone to be saved that’s why I tried to bring us all closer. That no one would die),” Barajan told VRS.

He took the initiative to ensure all passengers and crew wore life vests and that they stayed close together before the rescue. 

Architect Ernie Gelbolingo could testify to the bravery of Barajan.

"Kon di pa niya, di mi maluwas. Siya maoy nagpakalma sa mga pasahero, siya maoy nag-instruct ug nag-guide sa mga pasahero kanus-a mangambak, pag-abot sa dagat, siya maoy nagpahiluna sa mga bata ug tiguwang sa life raft,"  Gelbolingo told reporters.

Daphne Marielle Tudtud,15, also thanked Barajan's bravery.

"Magpasalamat gyud mi ni Kuya kay walay daotang nahitabo namo," said Marielle.

Maria Encarnacion Arellano, 65, who spent the two long hours with her sick husband Eduardo floating in the sea, said it was a miracle. She said Barajan calmed down the passengers.

Presence of mind, training and bravery helped
the Coast Guardsman Ralph Barajan to save passengers
 from the MV Siargao Princess that sank off the shore
 of Sibong town, Cebu on November 7, 2019.
Photo from Ralph Barajan FB 
Lieutenant Junior Grade Michael Encina, spokesperson of Philippine Coast Guard (PCG)-Central Visayas, praised Barajan as his leadership skills as a Coast Guard was essential to keep the passengers and crew alive during the maritime accident.

Everyone called him a hero.

However, Barajan shrugged off hero title for doing his duty.  He is just happy to be called dedicated and dependable.

Not all superheros wear capes. Ang uban taga La Paz, Cortes!

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Sunday, November 3, 2019

Memories are forever

My "visita cementerio" this year was limited to Tagbilaran cemeteries. I, sighed, failed to visit some great cemeteries in Guindulman, Calape, Loon and Anda.

I am not morbid but I always make it sure that every Kalag-Kalag I practice my "visita cementerio. " To this I have three reasons: (1) To give me spiritual theme that we have left to live a life united to G-d's merciful love, (2) to know more of our cemeteries, and (3) to know the people who passed away.

I just contented myself visiting first the Dampas Catholic Cemetery where it  houses the remains of the dean of Boholano journalists lawyer Zoilo Dejaresco and wife Rosario, Miguel Parras, Bernardino Inting, Asuncion Mira, Alberto Cainglet, Lucio Guy Lim,  Dr. Margarito Lim, Zenaida Darunday, Uly Dolojol, among other respected Boholanos who went ahead of us.

Victoria Memorial Park (ViMPark), laid out in 1975, houses notable people like Doña Basing, Obdulio and Juana Caturza Sr., Antonio Ong Guat, Carolina Alvarez, Erico Aumentado, Prisco and Socorro Tallo, Nelson Rio Sr., Will and Cristeta Tirol, and many others.

An interesting trivia about Victoria Memorial Park is via Aurelio "Ondoy Kalag" Gahit, whose name is synonymous to ViMPark.

He has spent most of his life at ViMPark that he, well, perfectly memorize all the names and locations of your loved ones.

He is also famous for his “graveside etiquette” to behave during a graveside service with the same attitude of respect and courtesy.

Ondoy said people might think a cemetery would make us feel sadder because it is a very stark reminder of the reality of our loss. But for him, although sadness is pronounced, a cemetery is a reminder for closure and healing.
There is no dull moment with Ondoy. He has lots of stories---love and ghostly stories.

He said he could not forget a man who spent over 10 years holding vigil at his wife’s grave every day, arriving when the cemetery opened and heading home when it closed.

He said he was touched of the man's loyalty and undying love.

Being more comfortable living with the dead, he recalled one horrific incident in 1993.

A mantiyanak (a woman who died in labor), who stirred the neighborhood appeared to him. Many people were said to have heard her singing lullabies to her baby, causing hair-raising chills and making them tremble in fear.

He saw the mantiyanak seemingly asking for help.

“She appeared to me,” he said.

He went to see a Catholic priest and he was told to pray at the grave of the person. After praying, the ghostly apparitions stopped.

Just this Friday, November 1, I spent the night at the Victoria Memorial Park to visit the graves of my sister, aunts, uncles and relatives.

As I watched each grave sites, I realized life has meaning and purpose. And some day it will end.

The cemetery will remind us of that. But it will also give us clarity and focus to use in charting the path ahead.

When I went home, I played (I never get tired playing and replaying) one of my favorite songs "Dust in the Wind," especially in this season when we are overwhelmed by intimations of mortality.

Listen closely and be humbled by the song’s message:

Dust in the Wind
by Kansas
I close my eyes, only for a moment
And the moment’s gone
All my dreams pass before my eyes, a curiosity
Dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind
Same old song, just a drop of water
In an endless sea
All we do crumbles to the ground
Though we refuse to see
Dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind
Now, don’t hang on, nothing lasts forever
But the earth and sky
It slips away, and all your money
Won’t another minute buy
Dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind
Dust in the wind
Everything is dust in the wind    

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