Salomon Trail Race, Mommy Cely - Bacolod City @ atbp.

In 1986, I was sent to Calatrava, Negros Occidental to undergo extensive training on how to culture Tiger Prawns. Back then it took a grueling 12-hour bus ride from Bacolod city.  I found myself in a packed bus (no seats available) and standing for 12 hours amid chickens, goats and containers of vinegar.  That's when I mastered the art of sleeping while standing up.  While in Calatrava, I stayed in a very homey hotel called Coco Grove Pension House managed by a sweet lady who I fondly call Mommy Cely.  

During my month long stay in Calatrava, Mommy Cely was like my foster Mother.  She took very good care of me just like a mother would but most of all, she made me smile especially on days when I felt home sick.  It's been 25 years since, but we still maintained contact with each other through letters and post cards and sending gifts through the mail.  Nowadays we have the convenience of texts and viber to keep in touch. Through the years, I have also gotten to know her daughter Maricel and granddaughter Nis, who both reside now in Europe.  Her granddaughter, I hear, is one of the best trail runners in Spain.  It just so happened that Nis also signed up for the SALOMON TRAIL Bacolod Leg and Maricel is currently in Bacolod visiting mommy Cely so this was a great opportunity for all of us to get together after so long. 

The race started at Bantug Lake Ranch at 6:15 am.  The weather was perfect with clear blue skies coupled with the cool clean provincial air.  I opted to only run the 12 km distance because I just wanted to simply enjoy the race with no pressure to finish fast BUT because of some confusion and misdirection, I ran 17.76 kms! 
This was also the same experience of some race participants.  At one point, I found myself having to keep up with a really fast lady runner for fear of getting lost. I don't think I would have found my way back to the finish line without her.  Despite the extra distance, I'm glad that the race terrain wasn't so tough; no climbing or steep ravines to deal with.  The view was beautiful with Kanlandog mountain just on the horizon, endless fields of sugarcane plantations, grand haciendas and flat dusty trails which was good for my legs. 
It was the perfect Trail Race to end the year. 

After the race, I went back to my hotel to freshen up and then took a cab ride to mommy Cely's home for one last quick visit before heading back to Manila. Upon my arrival, I was greeted by Christmas carolers and a delicious lunch prepared by mommy Cely.  After a hearty meal and cheerful conversation, I finally had to take my leave and head for the airport.  Saying goodbye brought tears to both our eyes. I gave mommy Cely a hug and whispered to her "I love you mom" as I walked out the door. 

My Bacolod trip was the perfect experience package: a homecoming of sorts, a Trail Race, a reunion with mommy Cely and Maricel  a sampling of the famous batchoy, chicken inasal and other delicacies and even a jeepney  ride around Bacolod.  As someone who often goes through life in a hurried pace, the quaint provincial atmosphere has somewhat tempered my soul into a rare calmness; a chance to take pause from a hectic world, a chance to recharge and re-focus on things that truly matter and more importantly, to learn to appreciate and experience the joy of life's simple pleasures most especially the strong bonds we keep that somehow seem to have defied time and distance.
Thank you Mommy Cely , Maricel, Nis and yaya Loraine. 
Salomon Trail Race - ( Mount Kalandod at the background )

  The Start  

 The Route 
 Finish Line na Pala :-)
12 km race ... Became 17.78 Kms ..... we got lost 
                                                      Race director - blair ejercito
                                                               The " Ruins "
Banago, Bacolod easy 14.40 Km before race day                 
                                                            Batchoy and Puto .. Yummy !
                                             The Pig eating Chicken Bacolod !
                                                   My home in the year 1986
                                                                       Mommy Cely
                                                             Mommy Cely and Maricel