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My life’s three Rs

Three words, all beginning with the letter R, define me as a person.

The first word is “Runner.” I have been running for the last 33 years. Since September 1987, I have joined various road races starting with 5k, then 10k, and 21k. In 1992, I fulfilled the dream of every runner — that of finishing a full marathon, 42k. I couldn’t forget my time: It took me five hours and 55 minutes to finish the race.

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And in my second run, after 19 years, I shaved off 40 minutes — 5:15. On my third marathon, seven years later, it took me 5:40.

Why do I run? Because I need to keep fit. Our bodies are made to move. We are designed to stretch, walk, run and do a lot more activities. However, most of us live sedentary lives—work at the office and take the car, taxi, bus, jeepney, or tricycle.

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Early in my running years, I bought an Argus inspirational poster, a picture of a lone runner on a highway with the words: “The race is not to the swift but to those who keep on running.”

We also formed a group at OMF Literature Inc. and called it “SAPAK” — Samahan ng Mga Patakbuhin. Two times a week, we would run at the University of Life after office. And we were not a bunch of “patakbuhin.” Two of our members have finished 42k.

My second R is “Reader.” Through the help of the Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship, I became a reader when I became a Christian in 1973 at UP Manila. The discipline of reading my Bible every morning in my quiet time helped me to become a more disciplined reader.

Over the years, I have become a full-pledged librokado — a person who gets his education from reading books. I invented this term after Totoy, our driver at OMF Literature, commented that in our department, Editorial and Publication, we like to read a lot. Every Monday, we would have one hour of staff development by reading and studying a book together. It would be either on writing, editing, designing, or spirituality. We took turns leading the reading hour.

“Kasi mga edukado kayong lahat. Mga college graduates kayo. Eh ako, hanggang high school lang,” Totoy commented. I told him, “You don’t need to have a college degree to be called an ‘edukado.’ Maraming mga Pilipino ang di nagtapos ng pag-aaral, ngunit kinikilala silang mga edukado, magagaling. Katulad ni Andres Bonifacio, Emilio Jacinto, at mga bayani natin na lumaban sa mga Español. Sila ay mga ‘librokado.’ Ang edukasyon nila ay galing sa mga librong kanilang binasa.”

I started to be a serious reader in 2000. From 2005 to 2011, my goal was to read at least two books a month. And by the grace of God, I was able to make it every single year.

During the last five years, my target was to finish at least three books a month or 36 books for the whole year. I have met my set goals year after year. I faithfully keep a list of all the books that I have read.

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Also, I would encourage you to read the whole Bible. Since 2006, I have been reading the Bible at least once a year. There were years when I read it two times a year, or three times a year. Why am I doing this? Well, for the simple reason that there will come a time when I won’t be able to read that much. My eyesight and my mind will have troubles. So I am making the most while I still can.

My third R is “Riter.” A graduate of AB Journalism at UP Diliman in 1976, I became the managing editor of the monthly pre-evangelistic magazine Sidestreets in 1981-1982, with Alliance Publishers Inc. Then in 1985, I became the publications manager of OMF Literature Inc. where I served for almost seven years.

In February 1986, I became the founding chairman of the Christian Writers’ Fellowship. It seeks to encourage writers to develop their Christian mind and sharpen their writing craft. This year, we celebrated our 35th year, with 50 participants in our Zoom meeting.

Since the late ‘70s, I have been keeping a journal. When I was a third year student, I would walk from Plaridel Hall (where the College of Mass Communication is) to the Gonzalez Hall (the main library; this is my favorite building). And on my way to the library, I would pass by the nearby College of Music on my left side. I would hear various musical instruments being played—piano, guitar, trumpet, drums, and other instruments. It was a cacophony of sounds, more like a joyful noise.

Music students were constantly practicing with their respective instruments in order to become good musicians. “If they have their regular practice, how about journalism students?” I asked myself. I realized that one way to practice one’s writing craft is by keeping a journal. And that is how I became passionate about journaling. I need to “practice” every day if I want to be a good writer.

Up to this day, after four decades, I am still keeping a journal.

So those are my three Rs — Runner, Reader, ‘Riter. What’s yours?

* * *

Jose Silvestre C. Gonzales, 65, has been living an active life physically and mentally.

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TAGS: High Blood, Jose Silvestre C. Gonzales, Reading, running, writing
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