Running coach Rio dela Cruz, whose afro ’do has become the iconic image of the local running community, makes a stand against cigarettes and alcohol in the 6-km running event “Sin Tax Run 2012: Pinoy Runners Unite to Demand A Vote for Health, A Vote for Sin Tax Reform” on Dec. 16 at the SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City.
Low entry fee
Dela Cruz’s earnest desire for Filipinos to stop smoking or not pick up the habit at all is apparent in the event’s exceedingly low registration fee of P16. For P16, Dela Cruz assured that runners will still get the same quality experience Run Rio is known for. There will be ambulances, marshals, a water station at 2 km and at the finish line, and local police officers of Pasay will be around to ensure safety.
There will, however, be no singlets and loot bags. For P16, each runner gets a running kit with the basic timing chip and bib number. A Run Rio visor will be given away to finishers.
Run Rio, the race-organizer company owned by Dela Cruz, will not earn from this event, which will be giving away more than P200,000 in prizes. The event is open only to the first 5,000 runners who register.
Prizes are, for Filipinos, male and female, P50,000, P30,000 and P15,000 for first, second and third placers, respectively; and P20,000, P10,000 and P5,000 for the first-, second-, and third-place foreigners, male and female.
“This is my way of giving back to the running community. I want to promote a healthy lifestyle through running. Smoking and running is not a good combination. We want people to get addicted to running, not cigarettes,” said athlete, race organizer and director Dela Cruz in Tagalog.
“Sin Tax Run 2012” does not have any sponsor, he said, because he doesn’t want people to use the event for something other than what it is: a race that promotes health by seeking higher sin taxes, and a race that encourages runners to carry water bottles collected at water stations all the way to the finish line.
Dela Cruz also wants to raise awareness for the environment. The litter of paper and plastic cups and water bottles during and after the race has earned criticisms from non-runners and runners alike. He said it’s about time runners be mindful of the environment as well.
Dec. 16, continued Dela Cruz, is a symbolic date. It has been 16 years, he said, since the sin tax has been in place. Since then, nothing has changed. The tobacco industry is still underpaying excise taxes, peddling cigarettes so cheap that even poor children can afford them. The P16 registration fee, in fact, is so much cheaper than a pack of locally manufactured cigarettes, which can go as high as more than P40.
Dela Cruz used to run barefoot in grade school because his family couldn’t afford to buy him shoes, and when they finally did many years later, got him a pair of Chuck Taylors instead. Peer pressure, says the star athlete, made him try smoking.
Fortunately for him, he didn’t like it, and never picked up a cigarette again. He also doesn’t drink, and in the few times he does, two bottles of beer are all it takes to knock him down.
“Running is not fun the first time, especially with no training. It will be a painful experience even. But with proper training and preparation, the enjoyment and sense of achievement are unexplainable. You will want to do it again and again,” assured Dela Cruz.