‘Run to Save Lives’ | Inquirer Opinion

‘Run to Save Lives’

/ 11:25 PM February 03, 2013

On Sunday, Feb. 10, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) will be staging a fun run in key cities around the country. In Metro Manila, there will be two venues: one beginning at the CCP Complex in Pasay City and ending in the Quirino Grandstand in Manila; the other starting at the Elliptical Road at the Quezon Memorial Circle continuing down Commonwealth Avenue and back to the Memorial Circle.

“Million Volunteer Run 2 or MVR 2—Run to Save Lives” is one of the primary initiatives of the Red Cross for 2013. It aims to strengthen a network of volunteers down to the barangay level and create awareness of PRC’s critical humanitarian services. The organizers, among them Red Cross Governor Mabini “EQ” Pablo, hope to attract 1 million runners to make the event the biggest of its kind in the history of the nation. The man behind the scenes is PRC Chair Dick Gordon, who incidentally is running again for the Senate in May. I didn’t want to inject politics into this column but what the heck! We need guys like Gordon in the Senate. For all his idiosyncrasies his heart is in the right place and, compared to some of the characters who are running, I’ll take “Flash Gordon” anytime.


Back to MVR 2. The first PRC fun run two years ago drew 500,000 runners. This year the target is 1 million. The PRC, with over 100 chapters all over the country, is the most respected humanitarian organization in the Philippines. It has a long and distinguished history in the service of our people. It aims to have 44 trained volunteers in each barangay, one team leader and 43 members who will serve as the first line of defense in times of disaster and emergencies.

Let us support our Red Cross. MVR 2 takes place on Sunday, Feb. 10. You don’t have to run; walking is just as good; wear a red shirt. Gun start is 5:30 a.m. By the way, the organization used to be known as the Philippine National Red Cross. This was changed in 2009 to Philippine Red Cross to indicate that it is not a government agency but a private institution.


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After more than 20 years of chasing the little white ball on the golf course, I finally “shot my age.” In the company of PMA classmates Generals Romy David, Mel Goyena and Boy Paiso, I scored a 78 (eight over par) at the Philippine Navy Golf Course in Fort Bonifacio. What a great feeling to start the New Year!

Shooting one’s age is not as rare as a “hole-in-one.” But nevertheless it serves as a milestone for many golfers. Old age, senior citizenship, longevity, endurance and the like have nothing to do with it. One morning you wake up and you can’t do anything wrong. The next day, you can’t do anything right. No doubt about golf. It is a humbling sport. Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, you hit into a bunker, a water hazard, or you go out of bounds. But you keep on playing because it’s a great way to keep in touch with friends and to get some exercise for aging bones and minds. Have you heard of any golfer suffering from Alzheimer’s?

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My thanks to Karen Alparce Villanueva, external affairs director of Merck Sharpe & Dome (MSD) Corp. for the

“Merck Manual of Health & Aging”—a comprehensive guide to the changes and challenges of aging. MSD and PhilHealth have entered into a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) to address pneumonia, the fifth leading cause of death in the country, claiming more than 32,000 lives each year. Under this arrangement, PhilHealth members and dependents may avail of pneumococcal vaccines at only P600 inclusive of doctor’s fees at accredited Vaccine Access Points (VAPs). VAPs are quite numerous all over the country. Please contact Karen at 09178427094 for particulars.

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In September 2009, Tropical Storm “Ondoy” barged into our home without any kind of advance notice. During previous typhoons, we experienced some water inside the house but with Ondoy, in less than 30 minutes, the living room became a swimming pool of murky waters. My mini library of books, family albums and documents went under water and many were lost in the flooding.

By some miracle, a few of the books were saved. They were located on a higher shelf. Among them was Stanley Karnow’s “In Our Image—America’s Empire in the Philippines,” which won for the author a Pulitzer Prize. It is interesting to know what Karnow wrote about Filipinos. In his preface, he said, “Most of the people I initially met spoke Americanized English and many had been educated in the United States or in American schools. They knew far more about the United States than I knew about the Philippines as if they were some kind of lost American tribe that had somehow become detached from the US mainland and floated across the Pacific.” He acknowledged the assistance of the following Filipinos: Carmen Guerrero Nakpil, F. Sionil Jose, Virginia Benitez Licuanan, and Sixto Roxas.

Some Filipinos yearn for US statehood. Perhaps there is some truth to the idea of our being a “lost American tribe.” We got darker as we floated across the Pacific. The Spaniards took over and after 300 years of Catholicism, we got reunited with our American brethren who decided to remake us “in their image”—Hollywood, basketball, democracy (one man, one vote).

After all the brainwashing we have undergone, we will need to start all over if we are to discover our own true selves. As Karnow puts it succinctly: “…Americans and Filipinos implicitly understood that however lopsided, thorny, and at times frustrating their ‘special relationship’ might be, it reflected a century of shared experience. Dewey, Taft, MacArthur, Edward Lansdale, Ronald Reagan, Aguinaldo, Quezon, Magsaysay, the Marcoses, and the Aquinos had marched together through history along with millions of other Americans and Filipinos, and their common past had ordained both their present and future.”

Last week, Karnow passed away in his sleep. He was 87.

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