THE author climbs the easy stairs of Life Trail. PHOTOGRAPHS BY FRANCINE M. MARQUEZ FOR THE DAILY TRIBUNE
The goal was to do a 12-kilometer run from Pasig to Antipolo for practice and for meditation. While most gyms remained closed but quarantine rules have eased up, running outdoors as I’ve always done before the pandemic was a weekend thing to look forward to.
With health protocols still requiring social distancing, running a relatively long distance really allows me to stay away from people while keeping myself company, with my own thoughts, along the uphill route of Sumulong Highway.
As an insulin-dependent diabetic, I found running as a great therapy especially during this COVID-19 crisis, when confinement hardly allows people to do any physically active pursuit.
Weekend fun runs are still not happening. But as the novelist and marathoner Haruki Marukami said, “Being active everyday makes it easier to hear that inner voice.”
Even just one day a week of exercise as a routine would be very helpful in keeping body and mind strong.
POSTERS with inspirational quotes are scattered around the forest park.
The run was a breeze. Wide sidewalks provided safety. Not surprisingly, one or two runners on the road were garbed in tops that said “Finisher” from some major running event. Their slim bodies had belt bags and vests with bottles of fluids or energy bars.
There was camaraderie as runners passing each other would cheerfully say, “Go runner, go!”
The highway had a zone for motorbikes and bicycles. Oftentimes, riders would encourage the terra-bound as well. On that particular Sunday last week, the road seemed to welcome groups of joy-riding motorbikers on their way to Antipolo’s roadside eats while enjoying the expansive view of Metro Manila below.
LOVERS admiring the natural scenery at Cloud 9.
Still, the rest of the motorbikes ridden mostly by couples continued to growl all the way to a popular hangout: Cloud 9 Hotel Resort, which happened to be the 12-kilometer mark of my run.
Originally a family-type place, Cloud 9 had visitors composed of various barkada and lovers who were probably out for a “gimmick” after enduring months of strict quarantine rules.
The parking space was full of bikes side by side. People, although wearing masks and face shields, walked alongside each other with hardly any space between them.
The hotel itself was closed and only the hanging bridge was open. This was where everyone gravitated to, which led to long lines of people waiting for their turn.
THE hanging bridge is one of its popular features.
No one seemed to notice, or were interested in an area of the property called “Life Trail,” a forest park with a placard that said it’s “not for picnics but for meditation.” And so there you go — that itself was the stinger in a sea of Sunday thrill seekers.
But for this runner, it was a good place to cool down (before taking a bus ride home) and to breathe in the midst of full-grown trees and signages that had inspirational quotes. The Life Trail had a narrow concrete path that flowed around the trees and ended with easy steps towards the hotel building.
Chirping birds provided the restful ambient sound as one went through the quotes from philosophers, world leaders and even anonymous ones.
A nice warm bowl of beef mami is the perfect ender after burning off calories from the hike.
“Distance doesn’t separate people, silence does,” said Jeff Hood.
“We can only appreciate the miracle of a sunrise if we have awaited in the darkness.”
“That man is richest when pleasures are cheapest,” said Henry David Thoreau. So true, I surmised as the happy accident of stumbling into Cloud 9 became the weekend’s highlight after the weekday’s dailiness of quarantine living.
The quick stay at Cloud 9’s Life Trail proved to be energizing and an inspiration for more runs and possibly, new travels to come.
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