When disaster strikes, you start seeing a person’s true mettle. When Typhoon Ondoy struck, I saw people from all walks and ways of life come together in their own ways to help those most severely affected.

I didn’t realize the extent of the damage all over the metro until I logged onto Plurk and found a lot of my online friends checking to make sure everyone they knew was safe. Some we couldn’t get in touch with, and I started to get worried. Despite comparisons with Hurricane Katrina in the US, Typhoon Ondoy (international name “Kestana”) dumped more than double Katrina’s amount of rainfall in 6 hours. It’s that bad.

I woke up the next morning to news about widespread flooding in Marikina, Pasig, and Cainta, among other places. Most of the people who go to my church, Victory Ortigas, come from those places. Instead of holding church services on Sunday, ministry workers and volunteers began rescue and relief operations that lasted round-the-clock starting early Sunday morning. I took on the night shift from 11pm to 8am and disseminated news about our aid efforts, solicited prayers for our rescue workers, and repacked goods for distribution to those in need.

Meanwhile, other friends of mine in the blogosphere got busy. Mike Villar (NOT the Senator, whose name is Manny) set up a website to gather donations for the Philippine National Red Cross through ChipIn/Paypal. The Philippines needs your help. If you’re overseas, please do see if you can contribute financially this way.

Everyone else (like thegreatest and dementia) has been posting, tweeting, plurking news they come across. In this instance, citizen journalism through microblogging and social networks trumped mainstream journalism sources, which resorted to reporting about the news on the microblogging platforms, like Twitter. People whose internet connections remained stable got their news about how to help out mostly from the tweets of people near relief centers. Some people who lived in the affected areas, like Provident Village, were able to upload photos and video of the aftermath.

Today is day three of our relief and rescue efforts. I don’t have work later because two of the gyms I teach at (Eastwood and Metro East) were affected by the flooding. I’m going to use my time instead to volunteer. I may not have much to donate, but my hands and feet are at disposal.

UPDATE: You can now donate directly to the Philippine National Red Cross using Paypal.

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Rain Rain Go Away

I’ve been down with a cold all week (probably from the exertion and exposure mountain-biking at La Mesa Dam), so I haven’t been able to run at all. But I was really looking forward to the New Balance Power Run tomorrow. I snapped up the last 5K race kit at Planet Sports Trinoma a few weeks ago and had the singlet laundered already so it would lose that “fresh-from-the-factory” scent. This whole week, I’d already laid out what I was planning to wear. Despite news that a typhoon would make landfall this weekend, I even vowed I would run in the rain, since the typhoon would be on its way out by Saturday evening.

What I was supposed to run in

Yes, I was going to run in short shorts.

That was before I woke up this morning to the sound of Typhoon Ondoy beating down on my roof. Since Metro Manila wasn’t supposed to be directly hit, nobody expected rain like we saw today. The horizon was white with it, the sky was dark with it, and it showed no signs of stopping.

My house stands on a little hill next to a creek. While normally the creek is a small quiet trickle, the torrential rain pumped up the volume until it became a raging river threatening to overflow its banks. Around our lot, the streets were already flowing with their own mini-streams.

I took this video from the second floor.

Thankfully, earlier in the day New Balance race organizers made an announcement postponing the race — to November, since all the succeeding weekends in Fort Bonifacio had already been booked. On the bright side, I would never have run in this kind of rain so it’s great that I’ll still get a chance to do the race instead of flushing the registration fee down the drain.

My next running event will be the Race for Life on October 10. Organized by the Real Life Foundation, it’s for the benefit of high school and college scholars from underprivileged families in Pasig. This is the second year it’s being held, but the first time I’ll be able to join it. There better not be any rain on that weekend — in fact, I’m gonna pray for just that!

For information on how to aid the flood-stricken, check out Manuel L. Quezon III’s post How to Help.

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Kicking Up My Heels

“Funny that a pair of really nice shoes make us feel good in our heads — at the extreme opposite end of our bodies.” — Levende Waters, poet

“Two things you can never have too many of: good friends, and good shoes.” — Anonymous

If you’re a woman, you will probably agree with me that a good pair of shoes can be your best friend. Shoes will never make you feel fat, or stupid, or useless, and that’s probably why Manolo Blahnik makes a killing every season.

Since I can’t afford Manolos (sorry, now Nelly the rapper is screaming “Manolos, Manolos!” in my head) but still can’t resist a good pair of heels, I found myself browsing Virtual Mae. I initially placed an order for a different style last Tuesday, but just as I made the deposit, store owner Mae Sergio was informed that all the stock in that particular style had been bought up by a prominent brand based in L.A. (Wow! Means I have L.A. style, eh?)

Instead, Mae offered me a list of styles that she had on hand in my size, to be delivered the day after I paid the balance. She also waived the standard shipping fee, even though I had already figured that into my budget. So, instead of me getting my shoes in two weeks (the time it takes for the shoes to ship from manufacturer to Mae here in the Philippines), I got them today!

shoes shoes

shoes shoes
unboxing my new shoes

Liz of Project Vanity and I had discussed this shoe purchase and we were both hoping that the shoes would fit. Buying shoes sight unseen is a gamble (even more so than buying clothes online). There’s a big discrepancy between European, Asian, and US sizing, and even when I buy shoes in person, sizing can be off by up to one size. Well, the gamble paid off; the shoes fit perfectly! And the platform heel is angled so comfortably that I haven’t felt the need to take them off since I put them on. I’m still wearing them as I write this post, and will be taking ’em out for a spin in the mall later.

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Guesting on “Weekend Warriors: Splash Island”

Hey everyone, my second guesting on “Weekend Warriors” is now up on We went to Splash Island, yo! Go watch Weekend Warriors: Splash Island and check out my pink bikini LOL.

As a little bonus treat, I have some exclusive footage of our slide down the Rio Montañosa.

The launch party was also featured in the September 2009 issue of FHM. This is the only time I’ll ever appear in that magazine. Ü


At least my name appears in the caption.

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Wedding Daze

I must be of the age when people around me start to get married. And when I say “people around me” I mean my closest friends, relatives, and even my only sister — my younger sister, at that! Now, while there may be some inevitable considerations, like whether my sister needs to pay me a dowry for getting married ahead of me, the one question I will have to face in the upcoming months is: What will I wear?

(And you thought I was going to say “Why not me?” More on that later.)

You see, it was simpler in my early days of attending weddings. I have a stockpile of old gowns and dresses, and if all else failed I could always raid my mom’s closet. I have a gown from [X] I bought on sale in December 2007, and I’ve worn it to two weddings and a debutante’s ball. The trick to reusing gowns is never to use them when the same people are in attendance.

Pink Gown, Rachel's Wedding, 2008
Pink Gown, Ela's 18th Birthday, 2008
Pink Gown, Jerdy's Wedding, 2009

Two Weddings and a Debut

However, the time’s come when I can’t just use any old dress. I will be a bridesmaid in December and a maid of honor in April. What that means is I’ve got to have gowns made specifically to match the rest of the entourage.

Enter my friend, up-and-coming designer Ryan Madamba. We’re part of the same small group at church, and this year he’s taken a step of faith by resigning from his lucrative (yet soul-draining) job at a call center to pursue design full-time. And what a time; three of the women in our group are getting married within the next year (my sister included), and all have retained Ryan’s services. He’s also got clients from referrals, and his hands are getting more full by the week.

At Ryan's Office

Ryan’s Office

We were at Ryan’s swanky new digs that serve as his office and home. Naturally conversation turned to his designs. For kicks, I tried out one of Ryan’s earlier creations, which he had made for a cousin.

Ryan's Pink Dress

It’s pink, but it ain’t mine.

Because it was made-to-order, the dress didn’t fit my own curves. However, I do like the workmanship and attention to detail, and Ryan knows his stuff. We’ll be talking this week about the gowns he’s doing for me as bridesmaid and maid of honor.

Hopefully by next year we’ll be talking about my wedding gown, because I caught the bouquet at a wedding I attended on Saturday. Ü

Noelle, catcher of the bridal bouquet

Now, all I need is the groom.

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GMA7 “Tatakbo Ka Ba” Run

Back in high school I was a vice-presidential candidate for the student council. It was miting de avance day and we’d gone off to the nearby park to practice our speeches during the lunch break. We ended late and had to race back to school a few minutes before the bell rang. As we ran, I quipped, “So this is running for election!”

Thirteen years later, I found myself joining a race held to campaign for clean and honest national elections. I don’t really know why, as I have turned apolitical and cynical about the country’s politicians (with few exceptions). I think I must agree with Bald Runner, who just wanted to run fast.

Tatakbo Ka Ba: Is this a political rally?
When I got to the venue at Fort Bonifacio, I realized this was not just another race. This was also a media event where celebrities from the sponsoring network (as well as politicians) would turn up, and this meant there were people in attendance just to see a famous person. Americans call them “rubberneckers”; Pinoys call them “mga usisero“. Whatever you call them, they filled up the venue to overflowing. It would have looked like a political rally had we not been wearing running attire.

I was at the assembly point by 5:15am, thinking that the gun would sound at 5:30am. Unfortunately for me, I had drunk about a liter of water, and my bladder was rapidly filling. By 6:00am I needed to pee badly, but couldn’t leave my position near the starting line as it would mean that when I came back from the portalet, I’d have to take a position at the back of the line — behind a few thousand runners and walkers. At least I’d only be running 5 kilometers, I reasoned. I could hold it.

Big mistake. As soon as the gun fired at 6:30am and all 5K and 10K runners set out simultaneously, I found my brain divided on whether I should keep running the course, or take a little detour into some bushes and tall weeds to relieve myself.

It didn’t help that a large part of the 5K route was held on a two-lane winding road where there was barely enough room to pass slow runners. It got even worse as I made my way back past the halfway u-turn. Runners who were still on their first half crowded into my lane to get to the water station and I had to slow down to a walk to avoid nasty collisions. Then I had to scream at people to get back on their side of the road because I didn’t want to fall into the ditch at the edge of my lane.

I had hit my wall; it was a lonely run and I really felt it was me against the world. Then a guy in a yellow iamninoy singlet began to pace beside me, and for the next half-kilometer I didn’t feel so alone. He ran past me at the 4K mark.

Finally, I found my second wind, enough to make a final push for the finish line. As I picked up my pace, I spotted Mr. iamninoy walking, out of breath. I ran up to him, clapped my hands and said, “Come on! Come on!” I saw determination flash in his eyes as he started running again, waving his arms in the air.

The final bend before the finish line was crowded by bystanders, photographers, and a TV crew on a platform. I was sprinting. I blew a kiss at the guy trying to hand me a Vitwater and grinned at the TV camera. People were clapping, not just for me but for all the other runners. So, this must be what Heaven would be like, I thought, dizzy with adrenaline and euphoric at not having to pee in the bushes. LOL!

After I collected my giveaways, made a trip to the portalet, and gone back to my car to collect my camera, Mr. iamninoy and I crossed paths again. We slapped palms, and he said, “Good run.” I replied, “Good job.”

I waited for my friend Liz to finish her 10K, and as we took photos at the finish line, I found the banner, and about a dozen people standing behind it for photos. I’m a member of the online community, so I didn’t want to miss this chance to be in the “class picture.” It surprised me that a few of them recognized me from my blog.

Tatakbo Ka Ba: 5k and 10k

Liz and me

I should order a singlet

Tatakbo Ka Ba: Class Pic

Class Picture!

Although I didn’t have the best run (I wanted to beat 25 minutes, but I took more than 26 minutes), I enjoyed the sense of community, of knowing we were all in it together.

I should pick my races more carefully next time, though. I wish the politicians had run either a 5K or a 10K rather than that silly sub-100meter Unity Walk. Then they might actually have gained some respect from the runners who had turned out for the race. As it turned out, the network used the large turnout to hype their popularity, and the politicians got publicity I don’t think they deserved.

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