The Birth of a Wonderful Idea: Margeuries House of Goodies

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The goodies churned out by Margeuries House puts one in a festive mood.

by Rex Godinez Ortega

Jobless and pregnant. That was what Marie Grace Halibas—the woman behind Margeuries House of Goodies—was in 2006 when she arrived back in Iligan City.

She had been a restaurant manager in Abu Dhabi with a bright future ahead of her when the difficult work conditions forced her to give it all up—including her Filipino boyfriend there.

Left without a father for her unborn child or a means to support herself, Grace arrived home in deep thought.

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Suman sa Pandan

But the food trade graduate of the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT) didn’t think for long.  As  she was won’t to do in times of confusion and adversity, she  reverted to what she always loved doing—making pastries.

Kung wala ko lingaw, mag himo ko recipes [When I have nothing to do, I make recipes],” she said.

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Puto puti

Thus, after giving birth to her beautiful daughter, Margeuries, Grace went straight back to the kitchen.

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Kutsinta

At first, she started selling mango tarts, which she used to do when she was in Cebu City taking her second course at the Culinary School in the University of Cebu.  Then she moved on to supplying a major supermarket with her creations.

However, it was not after a friend of hers, Aileen Ann Acosta-Gerona, an anesthesiologist, made a casual suggestion that proved providential, and which charted the course for Margeuries House of Goodies.

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Lanka flavored palitaw.

“Aileen asked me to make kakanin (rice cakes) for  her birthday party,” she said. “And that I should place these in a bilao.”

The delicious bite-sized biko, cassava cakes, puto (with cheese), kutsinta, palitaw, espasol, and pichi2x Grace arranged inside the round shaped, semi-flat winnowing basket became an instant hit.

Just the sight of the colorful and bright native goodies neatly arranged inside the bilao sent the party guests into a festive mood. A single bite of the kakanin, kicked off the celebration in their mouths.

“I realized that people actually missed eating kakanin,” she said. “It was even a new experience for some!”

That was a surprising discovery indeed for Grace as the rice-based native delicacies are actually commonly taken as a snack in the Philippines.

“The ready availability of kakanin locally, however, is another thing,” she observed.

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A full bilao set contains biko, ube, maja, cassava cake, espasol, kutsinta, puto cheese, sapin-sapin, pichi-pichi. However, customers can specify what items they want their bilao of goodies to contain. The bilaos come in different diameters: 14″ (P650), 12″ (P350), 10″ (P300), 8″ (P250), and 5″ (P150).

From there, talk of Grace’s kakanin spread by word of mouth until customers started showing up at the family home, which sits along the national highway in Brgy. Sta. Filomena.  She even gets asked now to cater to parties of customers who want to provide an alternative dessert choice for guests.

Although Margeuries House of Goodies’ business is still moving at a moderate pace, it usually picks up on Christian holidays, and on Fridays as Maranao motorists on the way back to Marawi City, 30 kilometers away from Iligan, stop by to load up on kakanin.

“It is a favorite pasalubong [coming home present] of theirs,” Grace explained.

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Margeuries House of Goodies also caters to parties. The Kakanin Buffet goes for P2,000 (good for 200 persons) and P1,000 (good for 100 persons).

Today, the Halibas home’s façade is slowly undergoing a makeover that would transform it into a Kakanin Center of Iligan in the near future.

Things do seem to be looking up for Grace nowadays. A far cry from her homecoming in 2006 where she was jobless and six months pregnant.

But by an act of grace, a wonderful idea was born.

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Margeuries House of Goodies owner, Marie Grace Halibas, with daughter, Margeuries.

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For more information about the delicious kakanin from Margeuries House of Goodies, visit Margeuries House of Goodies or text/call the following numbers: 0906-381-5088 (Globe) and 0928-750-1682 (Smart).

All photos in this article by Margeuries House of Goodies. More photos below: 

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Bilao with ube palitaw on top.

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A P450-bilao consisting of half-layer sapin-sapin, 200g of espasol, 12 pieces biko, 12 pieces cassava cake, and 25 pieces palitaw.

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Durian pie. Margeuries House of Goodies also make other pies like, buko and pineapple pies.

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Love Hotels: Guide to the Amorous in Iligan

a233by: Rex Godinez Ortega

So, you’re out on a date with your mi amor. You try your best to project your inner Merovingian self, while she sits there, beautiful as Persephone, staring into your eyes until “the why and the reason are gone.”

At the point where all that matters is just the feeling, the two of you suddenly become… uhm, how should I put it, “sleepy”.

My oh, my…

Now where to go?

There are several places in Iligan City active couples such as yourself and your date can go to—to get that much needed “rest” even if for a short time only.

These places, which charge you within the vicinity of P300, are generically called love hotels.

Olive Motel -- Oil on Canvass. (Photo: irenajurek.blogspot.com)

Olive Motel — Oil on Canvass. (Photo: irenajurek.blogspot.com)

A love hotel is a place one can enter discreetly and have a choice of “rooms for a rest”  for periods of three or six hours or even 12 hours should you come during “Happy Hour,” which starts at 10 pm.

In Iligan, these love hotels tend to consist of a single building with connected rooms. Some even have garages attached to the rooms to better facilitate your… <ahem> entry.

Thus, if you are in search of a different “sleeping” experience this love month, do read on as Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.

"The Shower" by Klaas Koster. (Photo: pinterest.com)

“The Shower” by Klaas Koster. (Photo: pinterest.com)

CitiBest Inn. Located in an off the beaten track part of Ubaldo Laya Avenue, CitiBest is easy to miss as your eye might just dismiss its faded rainbow colored tall walls as, well, just walls.

This nondescript Inn sits along a dark stretch of road used by motorists as a shortcut from Kabulihan to the Iligan Medical Center area in Brgy. Pala-o.

The Inn’s garages are big enough to fit two cars with the door to your equally spacious room at the end of each. Inside, you would discover that the room’s floor area is not the only thing tiled, the walls are, too. (Every square inch of it!)

It has the standard bed (no habol included), a door-less toilet and bath with a glass window that offers  a good view of the shower from the bed, and a lounge with a small table and two chairs.

Park Sweet. Formerly Lovingly Pensionne House, this place is easier to find as its well-lighted façade is facing the national highway in the Gerona area of Brgy. Hinaplanon.

If you happen to be dining at Tatay’s Grill, you can just walk to Park Sweet as it is just beside the popular restaurant.

Park Sweet also offers rooms with garages if you don’t feel like leaving your vehicle out on the street. The rooms there are a little smaller than CitiBest’s, but they are nice and clean.

Chelina Beach Resort.  This beach resort is located on the outskirts of the city to the east in Brgy. Sta. Filomena. It is by the beach, thus, you need to get off the national highway once you spot the tall sign by the road.

The resort also offers rooms with garages. These large rooms are nicely interiored and well-furnished, albeit, now in need of some up keeping.

Motel Love by Jack Vettriano. (Photo: jackvettriano.com)

“Motel Love” by Jack Vettriano. (Photo: jackvettriano.com)

There are several more places in Iligan that can qualify to be called love hotels despite the different names they call themselves. However, you might find it awkward standing there before the counter when checking in.

To help you identify these places, just remember that the main distinguishing characteristics of love hotels are discreetness, choice of a short-time rest period, and the use of names that evoke love or employment of symbols, like hearts.  (Let’s not forget the neon lights, too!)

If you’re a couple having difficulties finding some privacy at home, you might want to consider love hotels as an alternative. Just bring your own sheets if you can’t trust these places enough.

For those single guys out on a date this Valentine’s Day, be good. If you can’t be good, well, make sure your girl is cool with the idea first before taking her there.

Be safe!

An anti-HIV painting at the U.N. (Photo: vectorblog.org)

An anti-HIV painting at the U.N. (Photo: vectorblog.org)

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Below are pictures of Iligan love hotels filched from the Internet. (Sorry. My hands were too busy to take pictures during visits.) 

Chelina Beach Resort

Chelina Beach Resort

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Park Suite

Park Sweet

Park Suite

Park Sweet

Park Suite

Park Sweet

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A Baby Named Friendly

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A child sleeping at an evacuation center. (Photo: newsinfo.inquirer.net)

by Rex Godinez Ortega

[Found another article of mine floating in the Internet. This came out in the PDI broadsheet back in Aug. 2008. It is about survivors of the MILF attack in Kolambugan town. I’ve lost the photos for this article.]

KOLAMBUGAN, LANAO DEL NORTE—After a huge yawn and a little wave of her tiny hand, week-old Friendly Zusima dozed off on a mat as if nothing happened.

She was only two days old when Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels swooped down on their community in Lapayan in Kauswagan town. She survived because her mother, 32-year-old Rogelyn, still recovering from childbirth, ran as fast as she could to safety.

Baby Friendly is the sister of 2-year-old Love-love, who, together with her militiaman-father Francisco, 36, was killed by the rebels during the Aug. 18 rampage.

“I believe my husband was cradling her in his arms when they were shot. He was hit in the chest, while Love-love was hit in the head,” Rogelyn said.

The MILF attacks on civilians in Lanao del Norte may have brought the best among those who survived. But the healing of wounds, physical and psychological, is another thing.

Boy rebels

At Kolambugan Riverside National High School, where the evacuees are staying, two teenagers talked about their ordeal in the hands of MILF rebels whom they described as between 13 and 15 years old.

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Some of the rebels that attacked Kolambugan were as young as the boy depicted in this photo from malindangbuhilaman.wordpress.com.

“The rebels were as young as me,” Randel Sobrado, 17, said almost in a whisper while casting a glance at his bandaged right foot. A bullet had pierced through the wooden floor of their house and hit him.

Sobrado’s father was also wounded in the hand and shoulder, and is still in a hospital in Ozamiz City.

A few moments after the shooting, the young rebels kicked the door open and ordered Sobrado and the rest of his family: “Get out or be burned alive inside.”

After the family went outside, the rebels returned to the house and continued firing.

“They massacred the inside of the house including our clothes,” Randel said. “I [still] have one of those massacred shirts with me here [at the evacuation center]. Would you like me to show you,” he asked with childlike enthusiasm.

The Sobrados marched down to the highway to join other residents who were taken as hostages. Randel saw bodies along the way. “I didn’t have time to be afraid,” he said. “I just tended to my wounds.”

Rude awakening

His neighbor, William Sechico, 14, also had a rude awakening that morning when the rebels fired upon their house in Pantar town.

“The gunshots were so loud,” he recalled. “The house was filled with smoke.”

His father Florante, 40, and his cousin, Jaime, were killed. Jaime was hit in the head because he stood up during the firing, Sechico said.

“As to my father, I don’t really know what happened. I think he was stabbed because others who saw him said his bowels spilled out,” he said.

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Aftermath of the attack on Kolambugan town, Lanao del Norte. (Photo: zamboangasouthwall.blogspot.com)

Sechico, who was hit in the left arm, escaped with his mother and two young siblings by jumping out of their house and hiding at the back.

“I got hit because I failed to duck on time,” he said. “I knew I was hit because my arm suddenly felt numb.”

Unlike Sobrado, Sechico said he was afraid the whole time. “I could no longer understand what I was feeling then.”

For what the MILF rebels did, Sechico said he was angry. But he looked resigned to the fact that he could do nothing about it.

“I’ll just leave it to the military,” he said.

Body language

The two young survivors were interviewed by Saturnina Rodil of the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology’s Institute for Peace and Development in Mindanao. Their body language betrayed their true emotional state, she said.

This is a phot of children writing down their plea for war in Mindanao to end. (Photo: arkibongbayan.org.)

“If you observed closely their hands and fingers, they were twitching as they recounted the events,” Rodil said.

If it was a curse for Randel and William to be able to recall what happened, it could be a blessing in disguise for Baby Friendly.

She had wakened suddenly because of the noise. True to her name, she gave a friendly look and went back to sleep.

Her mother, Rogelyn, said: “I may be the most unlucky victim here.”

She is constantly confronted by the thought of what was going to happen to her and her new-born, and the rest of her children who survived: Ranelyn, 13, Jeffrey, 11, and Junrey, 7.

Despite her double tragedy, Rogelyn managed to smile as she gently touched Friendly’s forehead.

Rodil described the woman as a very strong person. “She has to hold it up. Others would have crumbled already. It’s Baby Friendly that keeps her focused.” (Rex Godinez Ortega)

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Taking Out Trash

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by: Rex Godinez Ortega

NOTHING ruins your mornings faster than the sight of tomato skins, egg shells, sliced lemoncitos, and fish bones scattered all over the garage.

No doubt, the neighbor’s cat has raided again the mini-Smokey Mountain we’ve been growing here at home. That pet dog just can’t seem to do its job.

Wait a minute. Isn’t that her under the car?

Puppiya! Let go of that diaper!”

Sheesh.

This sad state of affairs is the result of that garbage truck no longer entering our neighborhood.

Instead, it just passes once a week through the main road 50 meters away, where it waits on our street corner with the patience of someone suffering from diarrhea.

123rfdotcom

(Foto: 123rf.com)

Thus, as aesthetically unsound  as it may seem, we thought it strategic to station our garbage bins near the garage—for easy access to the gate. One just needs to be quick around here since taking out the trash involves chasing after garbage trucks.

Come Tuesdays, the time the garbage truck arrives for its long-awaited visit, the neighborhood erupts in a chaotic scene.

What follows is the sound of rustling slippers, gates banging open, and loud voices echoing the cry of “basura [garbage]” up and down our road.

I swear, it’s as if there was some calamity and that truck sitting out there was hauling relief goods.

I’m taken up by this excitement, too. I scream at give a little motivational word to the maid to hasten out the gate with our own bags of refuse.

Thankfully, she makes it just in time. It’s always a relief when she does.

I mean, those guys on the garbage truck, they wait for no one. Not even for that neighbor of mine who lives further down the road.

The poor thing.

Those garbage collectors just watched her dragging a week’s worth of garbage towards their direction. And with indifference, take off as the woman reaches the corner.

I cannot begin to describe the look on the woman’s face as she stood there, one huge garbage bag in each hand, staring at the rear end of the garbage truck as it faded into the distance.

The wave of emotions that washed over her face was quite a sight to behold. Disbelief, anger, resentment, frustration, shame, despair, grief. The works.

It became a little scary when the parade of expressions abruptly ended, and was replaced by this calm, icy stare.

If looks could kill, that garbage truck would have already run over a landmine. (Particularly the type designed for tanks.)

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Garbage collection in Iligan City needs improvement. This is from a place appropriately called Tambacan in Iligan. (Foto: Lovette Jam Prada Jacosalem)

Those guys on the garbage truck do stuff like that with impunity. With impunity, mind you. Perhaps it’s because no one is monitoring or supervising them? I don’t know.

Many times they would not even stop to pick up garbage bags placed on the side of the road by people who could see them approaching, and whom they could clearly see were anticipating their arrival.

Maybe the neighbors should have put up a sign that said: NOT ROADSIDE BOMB. [Come on, guys! There really was no need to actually speed up as you pass.]

In the rare occasion that garbage men would allow themselves to be flagged down , they can prove to be picky, too. They refuse to touch certain things like cut branches and leaves, and everything you do not put inside plastic bags or sacks.

Believe it or not, they just leave those things behind as well as a disbelieving you with your mouth wide open.

The only times I recall these garbage dudes actually showing some enthusiasm in collecting garbage is during Christmas. This is the time people prepare gifts to cheer up those guys who are not even given gloves by their employers!

Corner garden at home, and the lush growing things there. (Foto: Rex Ortega)

Corner garden at home, and the lush growing things there. (Foto: Rex Ortega)

However, getting into that yuletide spirit for their benefit quickly becomes a waste of time as these garbage collectors respond, instead, by displaying a sense of entitlement that owes a lot to the unspoken threat of them taking a long vacation from your area should you not give them their pinaskuhan (Christmas gifts).

And you won’t believe the grumblings you hear when they tell you that it was actually another garbage crew (one assigned to a different area in the city) that showed up in the neighborhood, and whom you played Santa to yesterday.

If you’re wondering what happens when the regular garbage dudes catch another crew collecting this “December garbage” in their territory, well, let’s just say they won’t engage in trash talk only to express their displeasure.

A friend of mine witnessed such a garbage war a couple of Decembers ago  in front of the house of his neighbor who happened to be a restaurant owner. The sight of it left him speechless.

Just like how it left that woman neighbor of mine.

The garbage truck was long gone by now, but the woman continued to stand there on the street corner—like a zombie holding black plastic bags with barbecue sticks sticking out the sides and bottom.

She was so numbed by the incident, she didn’t even notice the garbage bags’ putrid juices oozing out of the holes… and now dripping onto her feet.

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UnFollow

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by: Rex Godinez Ortega

AM I too funny to unfriend?

Whatever the reason was that I survived the annual FaceBook spring cleaning of my “friends”, I can only say: Happy New Year!

I can’t promise they won’t regret it, though, as I do tend to like to live “dangerously”.

In fact, I’ve always been less forgiving in my own Facebook Trimming campaigns in the past.

Indeed. Those were the days when I could care less.

Too much Facebragging—unfriend; Too annoying—unfriend; Not a Liker, eh?—unfriend; Who, you?—unfriend

I was the judge, jury, and executioner for those on trial for unfriendable offenses.

Broadcasting stupidity—unfriend; Atrocious grammar—unfriend; Drama Queen—unfriend; Another album of selfies?? (By golly!)—unfriend.

Click! Click! Click! I was clicking my way to Hermitbook at the rate I was going.

Thus, before I knew it, I was down to only a handful of “friends”.

Ok. Forty. Just 40 Facebook friends.

The immediate benefits to having such a small number of Facebook friends is that you only see updates from friends you really care to hear from.

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(Foto: themetapicture.com)

This translates to a less cluttered newsfeed. (And my, does that truly make for better reading!)

The bonus for me was that you no longer have to contend with the endless flow of posts from those serial selfie-takers.

Ugh! Some of them should be told the truth, pronto!

I recall someone leaving a comment on a “friend’s” 10th selfie post for the day screaming: “Sakto na! [That’s enough!]”

That had me in stitches.

Anyway, aside from the benefits to be had, unfriending exercises actually also serve to jog our memories about who our real friends were.

I realized then that there were several other reasons that make friends grow apart aside from distance.

What some “friends” post on Facebook is a good indicator—no, reminder—of why we stopped talking to them in the first place or why we didn’t hang out with them in real life.

What I failed to realize, however, was how “friends” would react to being unfriended on Facebook.

Now, I get the cold shoulder or lukewarm greetings every time I bump into someone I unfriended, like that former high school classmate of mine.

I guess it didn’t help that we had a little reunion at the wake for the father of another former classmate just a week before I unfriended her.

I had thought that it was pointless to keep “friends” that one had absolutely zero interaction with on Facebook—even though you were friends in real life.

I even got a “hurt letter” from another friend, saying it left her questioning our friendship.

Well, I had also thought that hiding one’s posts from my newsfeed meant the person didn’t want me to know what was going on with his or her life.

What’s the point of trying to “connect with your friends online” then?

What’s painfully clear now is that people view the act of unfriending as rude. Some, as shown, take it badly.

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(Foto: mashable.com)

When I mentioned the first incident to my regular friends, they were aghast. They agreed with my reasons, but, nonetheless, I was adjudged the impolite one. (Imagine that.)

They obviously drew the line on deleting someone you actually knew in real life from your Facebook friends list.

It seemed from our conversation, too, that I was ignorant of the other options to unfriending that was available to one on Facebook.

Ahh, yes, there’s the “Hide” button. Funny how it seems so well-hidden. And it doesn’t seem to do the job properly.

However, what I consider a discovery is the “Following/Follow” button. (Hey, isn’t that where “Subscribe” used to be?)

It functions like the “Hide All” button; and effectively removes from your newsfeed the updates and posts of “friends” whom you would otherwise be tempted to delete.

It’s a relatively new addition on Facebook, I understand, and it has become my new best friend these days.

(Hurray for using clearer language this time, Facebook!)

This new Facebook button allows you to unfollow someone without them knowing about it. Or the way I see it: unfriend someone without actually unfriending them.

So, since it’s January, and you are no doubt about to embark on another clean-up drive of your friends list, spare yourself some drama.

Hit Unfollow. (Rex Godinez Ortega)

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The Betamax Experience

beta1by: Rex Godinez Ortega

[I get incredibly nostalgic every time I see a Betamax tape or player. It just transports me back to the early 90’s when I was still in high school. This article was originally written for my high school classmates, and posted at ids93.com.] 

It’s a Monday morning and you know what that means—another Jim Basilia Jr. recap of last weekend’s movie. On the agenda: The latest Charlie Sheen movie–Navy Seals.

For the next couple of hours it’s Charlie Sheen this, Charlie Sheen that, gwapo kaayo this, gwapo kaayo that… until his tongue slips, and he blurts out: “gwapo kaayo si Charlie Shee—“ (say what??)

beta5<laughter>

<more laughter>

Ahh… those were the good old days when seeing a movie over the weekend got you so excited you could hardly wait to see your classmates the next week.

Watching movies then meant a family trip to Iligan’s video stores like, Po Video, Flash Video, or Tron Video to borrow Betamax tapes.

Can you still remember how you felt as you stood there with dad or mom waiting for the video store clerk to finish rewinding all the tapes?

If you’re unlucky enough not to have seen the latest flicks, you could just feel yourself being nudged out as the gathered circle of friends tightened: with everyone nodding their heads in confirmation, and taking turns recounting the minutest of details.

beta2After the storytelling, it was time for tape swapping: “Overnight lang kay ma-overdue unya.”

But it’s not just Betamax tapes of the latest movies being swapped around on campus then.

There was also the secret exchange of triple X tapes (c’mon, fess up) that you hurriedly took home with you to watch before mom and dad got back from work.

Unfortunately for you, Iligan Light and Power f*cks up again and that for-adults-only video cassette is now stuck inside the Betamax player (panic! panic!)

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When your parents return, as do the electricity, the cassette tape that represented all your sinful desires is automatically and smoothly ejected by that now traitorous machine.

Keeping your cool, you think of a brilliant plan: Blame the classmate. (This was about the time Merrill discovered his problem-solving skills were excellent.)

(If you think this is just fiction, go ask Allen.)

The Betamax brings back a lot of memories. Just the sight of one takes you back to high school, and to childhood, definitely.

It may have been big and bulky, but it was the best thing to have at home, especially when your classmates came calling.

(Pass the Pee-Wee, please.)

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One Odd Look at Barefoot Running

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Barefoot runner Bobby Timonera says that thick callouses (kubal) result from prolonged steady pressure on the foot from a constricting footwear, and not from running barefoot. (Photo: Bobby Timonera)

by: Rex Godinez Ortega

ILIGAN CITY–THE barefoot child crossed the lanai, and as he took his first couple of steps onto the cement floor of the garage, there was a shriek.

“Yuri! Slippers!!”

The child is sent scurrying back to fetch his slippers. He knows all too well he couldn’t go out and play barefoot.

“Do you want to get worms?!” the mother would ask, exasperation clear in her voice.

This stubbornness of putting on footwear by the child, well, she could only shake her head at it… and so would the people reading this who have encountered the same resistance from their children.

However, do adults stop to consider the fact that there could be something that they are missing from this?

According to Mr. Robert “Bobby” Timonera, a legendary Iligan photographer and coffee brewer, and now barefoot running enthusiast, the feet are as sensitive as the hands.

“There are many wonderful sensations to be experienced through the feet,” he said. “You don’t know what you are missing!”

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Running with barefeet. (Photo: Junjei Lagapa)

Feeling the world through one’s feet does seem to be a forgotten human ability these days as the members of this species have encased their feet in shoes—or in Bobby’s words, “in a coffin”.

Ipatilaw pud na imo tiil og yuta [Give your feet the chance to taste the ground],” he exhorts.

This man, whose love for running was born only recently (June 2012), ditched his running shoes eight months later after reading Chris McDougall’s book, “Born to Run” about the famed Mexican Tarahumara Indians who ran barefoot.

Ever since that “life changing” literary encounter, Bobby has been enjoying the texture, and yes, “taste” of a host of surfaces that any biped could run on.

Thus, be that the hard concrete or asphalt highways baking in the sun or the wet, mushy muddy trails or the unpaved road with sharp rocks outside his home, Bobby runs on them all.

He seems to relish the delicious sensations of barefoot running so much that now he would even quip: “Running a marathon with shoes, where’s the fun in that?”

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Bobby running the Dumaguete Adventure Marathon barefoot in November 2013. (Photo from: Irma Pal )

Barefoot running could be fun as Bobby has found out, but would his testimony on bare feet sensations be enough to make people think differently about the subject of germs?

The argument of worms and bacteria entering the exposed feet is dismissed by Bobby. In fact, he dismisses it like one would do a stupid question.

“Unless you have cuts on your feet, then that’s the time you worry about microbes going inside,” he said.

And if Bobby says that with apparent strength of conviction, the gentle reminder that he is married to Miriam Roxas-Timonera might help explain things. Miriam is not only a medical doctor, but is a very sought-after cardiologist in Iligan.

If Miriam is confident worms and bacteria are not conducting their own fun run in her husband’s bloodstream at the moment, then that alone should allay fears of barefoot running being dirty.

And when the conversation invariably touches on foot hygiene, Bobby is quick to challenge anyone to a foot smelling contest.

“The inside of a shoe is perfect for incubating bacteria as it is dark, hot, and damp,” he points out. “Besides, the hot sun sanitizes the road.”

However, the lack of sun also hides perils on the road, like fine broken glass. Since fun runs and marathons tend to kick off very early mornings when it is still dark, Bobby has found himself getting a tetanus shot one time.

That experience only slowed him a bit, and had the effect of hastening the further development of  his eyesight.

“That’s what the eyes are for—to always be on the lookout,” he said.

There is no arguing that point. Even regular runners need to watch the road for sharp objects and obstacles.

The moment a runner takes his eyes off the road, injury becomes a very real possibility as Bobby had the misfortune of finding out at another fun run.

“I got distracted by the cheering crowd,” he revealed. “As I waved at them, I stubbed my big toe on a rock!”

Ouch! That must have been painful.

Even the act of watching someone running barefoot alone elicits pained reactions from spectators. It is only natural for them to think unpadded ground impact on hard surfaces and rocky terrain is painful.

Bobby, though, does not fault people for that. He understands that they do not know that it is all about technique.

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Odd looks and light-hearted jokes from amused folks not familiar with barefoot running are common at barefoot runs. (Photo: Junjei Lagapa)

“Barefoot running employs the mid-foot landing technique,” he explains. “Unlike regular running, we do not strike the ground using the heel of the foot.”

The claim of barefoot running is that landing on the balls of the feet first before the rest (heel and toes) follow is the better way to run.

It is a difficult technique to learn (one needs to unlearn conventional heel landing first), not to mention painful, too, Bobby admits.

Quoting Ken Bob Saxton, the acknowledged father of barefoot running, Bobby says for those interested to try barefoot running, they should “start learning to run barefoot on surface with sharp stones, so that when you master the difficult terrain, everything else will be dessert.”

“Just start really slow,” Bobby adds.

However, in the event one finds going barefoot immediately to be too much too soon, then Bobby recommends the use of very thin-soled sandals he calls, Huaraches.

Huaraches only have 4mm of sole padding and 1mm of leather. They are the next best thing to barefoot running as they help teach those interested in barefoot running to become a mid-foot striker, while still offering some protection.

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Changing the running world one odd look at a time! (Photo: Circle Productions, Inc.)

Bobby even finds himself resorting to them on very rare occasions when negotiating the toughest and sharpest of all terrains.

Most of the time, however, Bobby finds no need for the Huaraches. He has since moved on to 42-kilometer marathons and even logged 5 hours and 8 minutes for the last one he participated in while barefoot.

For the uninitiated, that time is actually very good. Most running hobbyists make that same distance in 6 hours.

(That is food for thought for those who think barefoot running makes one slower.)

So, in the event one sees a barefoot runner passing by, give him some credit; instead of calling out after him with jokes, like “Hey, man. What happened to your shoes?”

Bobby playfully hollers back at these jokers by the road with statements, like–

“I got robbed!” or

“I woke up late; I forgot to put them on!”

Barefoot running is such a novelty here that Bobby says he has learned to prepare ready answers for the amused folks he passes by.

He says barefoot runners have to accept the fact that people are still not used to seeing joggers or marathoners running barefoot.

“We should not let it bother us,” Bobby says, “We are changing the running world one odd look at a time.” (Rex Godinez Ortega)

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