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High blood

Hot for jogging

When I laid eyes on “High Blood” the first time it came out in this newspaper, I said to myself that once the writing bug bit and I had summoned sufficient chutzpah, I would submit a piece and try to hit print in the column.

That time has come, but what has this senior citizen who has lived a dull life and, admittedly, a life with nothing to show as accomplishments for his years on Planet Earth to write about? I have absolutely no bragging rights to fat bank accounts. It’s zilch, nada, zero, bokya in terms of life’s fineries, trophies and plaques. In fact, the small, dilapidated, 30-year-old bungalow in which my family and I live belongs to my martyr-wife. It came from her early-retirement bonanza from a multinational pharmaceutical company.

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With such an uninteresting past, I might as well write about the here and now, and on a topic I feel passionate about: Jogging.

I took up jogging some 22 years ago, in 1993, when I was a chain-smoking oldie nearing my golden years. Then puffing on two packs of cigarettes a day (three packs during my beer days, which were twice or thrice a week), on my first jogging day I quickly gasped and was forced to stop for breath even before I could finish one around-the-building round of Starmall Las Piñas. But since a few years back, 10 around-the-building rounds done at a metronomic “Gangnam-style” pace, stopping every two rounds only to hydrate, are a cinch for me—“yakang-yaka,” as they say (please pardon the immodesty!). As a healthy bonus, I was able to quit smoking, cold turkey.

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All my life I had been an introvert—until I took up jogging. I have since become a tad gregarious. From a reserved persona I have acquired bonhomie, and I talk to people more freely, mindless of what others may think or say about me. I surmise that this is the happy effect of endorphin hormones which are generated after each daily vigorous early-morning run. Or can it be the bunch of fellow joggers cum brisk walkers who are a joy to be with?

There’s Cipriano “Piring” Yamsuan, an octogenarian who had plied the streets of Sampaloc in Manila as a jeepney driver in his working life, whose favorite topic is, what else, but girls and more girls. There’s Augusto Oropesa, a nonagenarian and retiree from the marketing department of the Development Bank of the Philippines, who takes pride in being uncle to actress Elizabeth Oropesa. There’s Romy Julian, sexagenarian and veteran overseas Filipino worker, who had stopped his brisk walking after expensive stomach surgery. Last but not least, there’s Freddieboy Santos, cancer survivor and retired barangay politician whose children are in the staff of Barangay Pamplona Tres, where I live. He always assures me of due process in my dealings with the barangay though I don’t really have a need for it. Sagot daw niya ako. He’s got my back.

People like them from all walks of life really complete my day.

What keeps me continually hot for jogging are the fitness icons to whom I look up. There’s fit as a Fidel “Eddie” Ramos, ex-president, who, even in his 80s, always looks combat-ready to defend the republic from any macho putschist. There’s ex-senator Freddie Webb, septuagenarian, who can give any aspiring young player a run for his money in a one-on-one game of basketball. And there’s the all-time matinee idol Eddie Garcia, who, in his mid-80s, can take action roles anytime.

I guess what sets my wellness idols apart is that all of them jog.

Hopefully, my gall to write this piece will rouse my fellow seniors from their sedentary lives and take up jogging. There is nothing more I can say but this: On your feet, keep fit and run, Pinoy! I assure you that not like some herbal medicines, jogging has a therapeutic effect. But here’s a cautionary note: Please consult your doctors before taking it up. (I have a photograph of myself in a Pacquiao pose. If my words prove to be feckless, not unlike those on cigarette packs warning smokers of the fatal effects of smoking, I show my photograph to my fellow seniors—as well as the young who partake of fast food almost daily—to convince them of the beneficial effects of jogging. Some of my young friends call me “Pacqtatay,” and I love it!)

As an employee, I was a rolling stone who moved from one company to another. I was able to do this with the help of creatively written resumés and my being moderately good in stenotyping and basic accounting, which were then passports to immediate employment. As an individual, I think I am a winning loser, a “panalong talo” (a losing lawyer taunted and called me thus during a settlement of a labor case where I was the complainant), for what I have become as a person and not what I have not achieved in life, financially and prestige-wise.

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Lauro G. Novenario, who turns 69 in May, says: “[I have] two children who are both graduates of the University of the Philippines Diliman, unlike their father who graduated from the university of hard knocks. My wife, also of senior age, works in our parish church.”

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TAGS: eddie garcia, exercise, Fidel Ramos, Freddie Webb, friendships, jogging
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