The advent of sporting events for a cause comes as a refreshing welcome to our social calendars. In the recent years, weekends have been peppered with runs, tournaments, and adventure races that would benefit development projects. It’s a win-win deal: people get to have fun and worthy projects are empowered.
Last Nov. 26, I had the treat of witnessing Globe Adventure Taal for Clean Water, a Kayak-Bike-Run Relay Race at Pusod Taal Lake Conservation Center, Mataas Na Kahoy, Batangas. The event was held to raise funds to ensure the water quality of Taal Volcano Protected Landscape.
As early as 5:30 a.m., participants came decked in their sporting gear, all excited to take on their respective events for the race. Members of the community proudly served their culinary specialties to all the guests. I was happily enjoying my first meal of the day when I overheard Atty. Ipat Luna of Pusod Philippines call for a volunteer paddler. Groggily, I mumbled, “ako, gusto ko magkayak” in between a bite of suman and a sip of salabat. As fate would have it, my friend seated beside me heard then shouted my name. Next thing I knew, a life vest was being handed to me and I was stepping into a kayak with Vice Gov. Mark Leviste.
And so nine kayaks set out to begin. While other teams must have been strategizing their game plan, my brain automatically did a rundown of questions. I was about to paddle 16 kilometers with a complete stranger. What do we talk about? What if I turn the kayak over accidentally? What if I don’t feel like finishing? 16 kilometers! What have I gotten myself into?
The force of the wind and unsettling crashes of the waves proved to be a more difficult feat than getting a conversation going. We were advised that the entire route should take us around 2 and a half hours to finish. After what seemed like eternity, we were still surrounded by the vastness of water and the finish line was nowhere in sight. Quoting my partner, it was beginning to resemble a scene from the show Man vs. Nature.
To finish, finish.
One rescue boat approached us after the other. “Vice gov, sakay na po kayo? Malayo pa po.” Discouraged, I was half-wishing my partner would already give up but when he shook his head to say we’ll keep on, I was thankful as well. I have always been curious how it feels like to be a race finisher. Only one way to find out: keep going because you can even when you think you can’t.
So we went on to paddle our hearts out and entertained ourselves with a healthy discourse on a wide range of topics: from Playboy bunnies to the Reproductive Health Bill, visions of ice cold beer to raising sin taxes, tragic fish kills to the lunch we’ll have once we finish. Somewhere between the beginning and the end, nature found a way to silence us both with an overwhelming sense humility and gratitude for the experience we were in and for the greater cause that we were privileged to be a part of.
4 hours and 14 minutes later, we came in 4th place for the kayak leg. We were told that because of the current and the wind, we kayaked 9 km more than what was intended by the racecourse.
Work in progress
Now that the games are done, the bigger challenge continues. The Taal Volcano Protected Landscape Management Plan will be implemented through joint efforts of stakeholders. With the help of corporate partner Globe Telecom, Pusod will also be taking on a groundbreaking e-governance project that will push for common longer-term goals of ecological stability. With the help individual partners—Filipino citizens like you and me—we can all do our bit to to save Taal Lake. For more information, visit www.pusod.org.