originally posted at: http://naturalhealth.ph/fitness/why-im-running-the-bataan-life-march-this-weekend/
I can’t exactly remember when I heard of Jovie “BaldRunner” Narcise’s Bataan Death March 102K ultramarathon but it got into my head that this is one race that I have to join and finish before I die. When I was a kid, I would listen to my elders talk about the horrors that happened during the original 1942 Bataan Death March that started at around dawn of April 9, 1942. My late grandfather and Lolo, Judge Jose Belviz was one of the survivors of the more than 75, 000 soldiers (according to Wikipedia it was 67,000 Filipinos, 1,000 Filipino-Chinese & 11,796 Americans)
Although Filipinos commemorate this event every Bataan Day (which happens every April 9), I don’t think a lot of Filipinos understand the importance of this day. Its significance is simple yet compelling for me – if my grandfather did not survive the Bataan Death March then I wouldn’t even be here. When I watch World War II movies and remember the heroism of the Filipinos and Americans who put their lives at risk during the war, I can’t help but think that a lot of the freedoms we now enjoy would probably out of reach – we’d probably be second class citizens in another nation’s colony if the WWII”s outcome went the other way. I read up that every year for the last 68 years that Americans would run full marathon in White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico to commemorate the Bataan Death March. Here, the Philippine Troop of the Boy Scouts of America re-enacts a portion of the route by marching 10 kilometers of the original route every two years.
This all changed 3 years ago however when BaldRunner inaugurated the first Bataan Death March 102 Kilometer march. I saw on Facebook that one of the support crew for the inaugural run in 2009, Joshua Suarez, was now running 102K for the Real LIFE Scholars. I think that was the first time also that started hearing about the Bataan LIFE March – because somebody was going to run this the BDM for Real LIFe , the juxtaposition of the words “Bataan” and “LIFE” just made sense. I would eventually run Joshua Suarez in one of our Pace Partners long runs and began to ask how an ultramarathon was run. One of things I learned was the discipline of running a constant, slow pace. I actually learned to run 8 minutes per kilometers because of Joshua and I the more I spoke with him, the more I was encouraged that I could actually run a 100 kilometer ultramarathon. I now had two reason to run the Bataan LIFE March – I would be able to honor the memory of my late grandfather who survived the original Bataan Deah March by raising funds for the Real LIFE Foundationscholars. These are high school and college scholars that come from underprivileged families and what better tribute to my late grandfather than to connect his heroism along with 68,000 other Filipino and American soldiers in the past to an investment in nation building. There are many things that we can do for nation building but I believe that investing in the education of the Filipino is something that is of long-lasting value and that something that can take on a life of its own very, very quickly. As we spoke more about it, my other Pace Partner running mates – Alden Meneses, Junn Besana and Ferdie Cabiling also joined the cause. We would later add two more causes to our Bataan LIFE March – we would run for Raissa Laurel who was a survivor of the Taft Ave. Bombing and for John Philip – who has a neurological condition that affects his motor skills and therefore can’t run – something that his father, Ferdie, can do very well.
Joshua Suarez raised 130,000 pesos last year for the Real LIFE Scholars when ran the BDM102K 2010 – as of the time of my writing, our ultramarathon team has already raised 42% of our collective 500,000 pesos goal which is about 210,000 pesos. We’ve already exceeded last year by 80,000 pesos and we just need a 58% or 290,000 pesos more! Ultramarathoning is slowly becoming an emerging sport in the Philippines and before you’d know it maybe 10 or even maybe 15 or 20 of our friends will be running with us next year and raising funds for the Real LIFE Scholars – but for now, we have to focus at the race and hand and the cause that we really believe in. If this is something that you can support or if you know any of your friends who have a heart to send underprivileged students to a high school and college education then please click on http://igivetolife.com/lifemarch and partner with us as we run for scholars.