running up and joyfully down…

Posted: September 22, 2008 in my trips 2008, running
Tags: , , ,

“Your friend is jogging. You are walking.”  The smiling woman points this out to me in a matter of fact tone as she walks towards me up a slight incline. She is wearing a dark purple shirt. A pink scarf covers her head.  Her face is lined  with age but her eyes are warm and bright.  And what I had at first thought was a sack of vegetables she was carrying turns out to be a child, perhaps a grandchild, she had strapped securely to her back using a thick white fabric.

“Opo,” I say respectfully in the vernacular with a smile.  “Yes. My friend likes to run.”

“She’s way ahead of you.” She points out. “You probably should start running if you want to catch up.”

I smile and then nod my head to signify my agreement.  And right before she disappears up the road she gifts me with another smile and an encouraging wave.

But I keep walking.

I had found myself in Barangay (community) of Madongo.  My friend and I were off for our Sunday morning run. It was an hour after sunrise. I had awakened to the sound of the church bells ringing. The plan was to run twelve kilometers, go six kilometers out and six back. We had no specific destination.  We just knew we needed to make it back in an hour and a half. We were leaving Sagada that day. We were headed home. We needed to catch the one bus that left that same morning.

Three roads converge at the center of the town of Sagada.  One road leads out towards Bontoc one way and towards the caves the other way. Where it goes from that point, I do not know. . Another splits off towards the Big falls and Besao (I know this because I saw this written on the sides of the rare Jeepneys that plied through this route). And the third one, well, it was right in the middle of town. It went up and up and up. We walked up that road in our search for a place to stay in on our first day.

On the one day we went running, we took the same road that brought us to the Big Falls the day before.  It seemed like a quiet route with tall pine trees providing good shade. Both of us didn’t quite realize how steep the climb up would be. But I like the challenge of running up hilly paths.

Our run up the mountain road went pretty smoothly. After about 30 minutes of running, Batgirl decided to up her tempo. I decided to slow mine down. I lost sight of her just before we hit the community of Madongo.

A low and subtle light illuminated the mountains and vales of Sagada as we slowly made our way up the road. Trees lined the narrow and winding path we were running on. On our right was a wall of dark carved out rockface. It was quiet. So quiet that our foot falls seemed to echo every time it hit the paved, cemented surface.

And then I hear the sound of children’s laughter. The road up is narrow and winding. As I turn the corner, I see a cluster of houses now lining the road. It is still very early in the morning. But already the community was abuzzed with activities. Children are playing a rough game of tag in the middle of the road. They run after each other and then start wrestling with whomever they catch.  A few meters down, a group of older men are huddled together in a semi circle.  As I pass the group, one of them shouts out a greeting. I smile and wish him a good morning. He points to the road ahead of me and says in the vernacular,”Your friend has jogged ahead of you.”  I smile my thanks and continue on. A woman then peeks out from inside a store, she then proceeds to tell me the same thing. Every time I meet someone on the road, I would get an update on my friend’s whereabouts. They had correctly assumed that we were together although we were now running some distance apart. They seemed to find our presence there amusing and subject for friendly chatter.

I keep walking and I see two girls wearing jogging pants coming towards me. At first I think that they are also on a morning run of their own. But one of them is was carrying a pitchfork. The other one is holding a machete. Whatever these two girls were up, It was bound to be more strenuous an activity than a simple morning run.

I walk some more and I spy a man’s legs wriggling from under a bus. Another man sitting beside him hands him a wrench. It’s a garage of sorts. A few other jeeps are parked in a haphazard manner by the road side.

The sun has now risen past the mountain tops. I’ve started scanning the road ahead looking for Batgirl. And I almost missed it. An amazing view of the green terraced valley below me. In the distance, mountain tops disappearing in indigo blue gossamer mist.

Life doesn’t stop when you get to Sagada. It doesn’t even slow down. It just goes at a different pace altogether.

There are roads meant for running. And then there are roads that seem to invite you to run a little slower, perhaps even walk or stand still for a few minutes by its side, and watch life as it parades by in vivid, picturesque, striking detail. A view that grounds you and reminds you that  unexpected joy is waiting to be found even in the simplest of journeys.

The bells have started ringing again. It is echoing through the mountains. Idle mist has disappeared from the mountain tops.  It is time to make my way back to town. It is time to head for home.  I pick up my pace once again, i turn around very slowly and take on the expansive view, and just like that, I was ready to head joyfully down the mountain.

  1. bards says:

    haha i should have explained to them the chocolate cupcake. tara sagada na ulit tayo!

  2. myironshoes says:

    Haha! As Duf would say… You never know what element of the enigma, no matter how miniscule can lead to the truth…

  3. prometheuscometh says:

    nice photos. great writing. and a beautiful watch! you have it all!

  4. myironshoes says:

    Prom, it all goes back to the beautiful watch, doesn’t it? 🙂 haha!
    Thanks. I needed to try and capture that run/the view/sagada somehow in words. The pictures I have in my camera simply don’t give the place justice. The words I’ve managed to write down don’t either. But it’s a start.

  5. prometheuscometh says:

    I would go back there as many times as I could. For a place where time stands still, you know it won’t stay the same for long before it is lost to us.

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