How wonderful it is to finally have a long weekend! If there was one thing I loved about the previous administration, it was holiday economics. By moving holidays to the closest Monday, we could all have more long weekends and plan short vacations around the country.
Was this good for local tourism? I’m sure it was, from the local airlines to the gasoline companies to the myriad resorts to even the smallest souvenir shops in the provinces, that all got some sort of trickle-down effect from local tourism.
Of course, employers could complain about another five or six days of holiday pay—but isn’t that all good for their employees, anyway? Isn’t the extra pay and time off contributing to worker satisfaction?
Maybe the newly appointed Secretary of Tourism will make our President rethink holiday economics. We don’t have to pretend that everything about the past was bad, because certainly there were good things that happened over the last decade.
Our country has over 7,000 islands and there are so many more beautiful beaches that we still want to discover. And we all need long weekends to do this!
For the past two weekends, I’ve been in Bicolandia. First, I was in Camsur for the Cobra Ironman 70.3, and then in Misibis Bay Beach Resort off Legaspi City.
The Ironman just keeps getting bigger and better. My family team, Timex Team Valdes, was back, sartorially spectacular in Timex race suits. Hubby Dennis finally ditched his swim Speedos for a one-piece Epic racer, brother Robin did his bike in a matching bike suit, and, of course, I had my flaming red tutu skirt for the run.
Gemma Pagsibigan, Timex marketing head, also gave us matching Timex watches at their sendoff for the hundred-strong athletes sponsored by the brand. It’s incredible how well Timex has supported local sports.
As usual, Camsur Gov. Lray Villafuerte pulled out all the stops for his thousands of athletes and visitors, from the dancers upon arrival at the airport to every last detail, such as the goodbye memento upon our departure. Gov. Lray has worked hard to give Ironman Philippines and Camsur a distinctive aura.
Fred Uytengsu, head of Ironman organizer Sunrise Events, was equally effusive about the event. After all, it was all so well run, that Fred finally got to finish the race! Fred also led a strong Polo Tri team, many of whom topped their age groups. I’m told that in his spare time, Fred also runs Alaska Milk.
The atmosphere was exciting and powerful, with all the participants moving around with bikes and gear. One of the big draws of Camsur is the wakeboard park, and it was filled with athletes and friends trying out the exciting sport.
I avoided that, heading instead to the official Ironman shop, where I could harvest the logo items from T-shirts to K-Swiss shoes, Oakley sunglasses and Timex watches. Retail therapy is my idea of pre-race conditioning.
Race day had so many compelling stories. Serious finishers were vying for 30 slots to the prestigious Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. Among them was my cousin, Amanda Carpo, who topped her age group to qualify. Benjamin Rana, a native of Camsur, won a slot, and Gov. Lray was immediately there to sponsor his trip to the promised land of triathletes.
My run was more enjoyable than last year. With a slight drizzle cooling down the “rice-cooker” course, I was even able to chat with Sen. Pia Cayetano as we passed hundreds of school kids cheering everyone on.
Sen. Pia is a truly remarkable athlete, placing third in her age group. She invited me to the ninth staging of “Gabriel’s Symphony,” a 12-hour, multi-sport celebration in memory of her son Gabriel, on Sept. 3 at Alabang Country Club.
The main thrust of her foundation is to make a difference in the lives of children with special needs. These include children with cleft lips and palates, and those who are visually and hearing-impaired. Check gabrielsymphony.com for details.
I’m sure I’ll see Sen. Pia at upcoming running events like the Camsur Marathon on Sept. 25 and the Chevrolet-New Balance Power Run 2011 on Nov. 6. The latter race, at The Fort, celebrates Chevy’s 100th anniversary, partnered with New Balance. Register at www.newbalance.com.ph and www.chevrolet.com.ph.
The Chevrolet-New Balance Power Run is handled by Event King and Runrio, with distances at 5K, 10K and 25K.
Another super triathlete was Agnes Tinsay, who placed third in her age group. Nining is a high-school friend of Dennis from Bacolod, and they chatted merrily in Ilonggo as she recounted her training for her first 70.3.
Luxurious Misibis Bay
Indeed, hard training deserves harder relaxation. So the following week, I flew to Legaspi City to enjoy the luxurious Misibis Bay Resort on Cagraray Island (www.misibisbay.com; tel. 6618888).
Misibis’ Apple Lina invited me, and no was not an option, as the other resort guests included boxing champ Manny Pacquiao and his lovely wife Jinkee. It was relaxing to see the world champ enjoy the 5-ha resort’s tropical sanctuary and its private, pristine beach.
Misibis Bay has been tagged as Bicol’s most prestigious destination and Asia’s luxury island playground. In fact, Team Pacquiao did a lot of playing—around the pool, with the Segway, driving ATVs and scuba diving.
My spacious beachfront villa was next to the Pacman’s. My good friend Emily Wong and daughter Gabby had the perfect photo-op to show off when they head back to the States.
Of course, the resort can’t guarantee that Pacman will be there for future guests, but he is now buying a house on the island, so the chances are high that he will wallop Mayweather soon and then retire in Misibis Bay. As for me, I just made sure I got the champ to autograph several authentic Nike Pacman items.
I will auction off these original autographed items for charity at the upcoming Red Cross Ball this Oct. 16. I also just checked and that Sunday is definitely not a long weekend. So you know, there are also times when I’m happy that we don’t have long weekends.
Follow Tessa on Twitter @tessavaldes, or e-mail her at [email protected]