Takbong Pangarap: Joy Rojas’ Big Dream to Run Across America

Last Saturday, I was privileged to hear and meet a Filipina whose “never say die” spirit is one that can spur and motivate many of us who think that whatever handicaps we may have are good enough excuses to back down from our dreams.

Not Joy Rojas!

Joy dreams of crossing the United States in 120 days — RUNNING!

Yes, she plans to run 5,000 kilometers from West to East at approximately 50 kms A DAY, for 100 days!

Takbong Pangarap

This dream appears daunting, especially when you find out she survived tuberculosis (TB) in 2001. But the spirit of this 43-year old freelance journalist flies high. Just a month short of finishing her treatment for TB, Joy completed a 42-km run in 4 hours and 11 minutes. Then in 2005, she became the first Filipina to run from Davao City to Pagudpod, Ilocos Norte in 46 days — a good 2,000-km course!


When Joy completed her Trans-Phiippines run in 2005, she did not just sit on her laurels. To her, the end of that dream was just the start of others. She asked herself where she would run if given the chance to equal or exceed that run and her thoughts brought her to the USA.

More than 200 people have already run across the United States. In fact, Cesar Guarin, a Filipino, did this in 1987. However, no Filipina has accomplished the same feat. In fact, NO SOUTHEAST ASIAN WOMAN has.


Joy will begin her run on May 11, her 44th birthday. The kick-off event will be at Eagle Rock, California, where there is a fairly large Filipino community. She will then continue through Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey towards New York City where she expects to cross the finish line at the Philippine Consulate on Fifth Avenue on September 8. Of her 120 days, 100 of them will be spent running while the 20 days are designated rest days in between.


(picture courtesy of Chuck Crisanto)

(picture courtesy of Chuck Crisanto)


At the Meet and Greet at Powerbooks Megamall, I met the other members of Joy’s team.

The first one I talked to was Mat Macabe, Joy’s trainer and running partner. Mat was supposed to do this run with Joy until he had to undergo an open heart surgery in 2008 for a congenital heart condition. Instead, he will bike alongside Joy during some parts of the run. Mat had many funny stories about his running experiences, including outrunning a desert fox and wrestling to the ground a Doberman which was trained to kill. He regaled us with stories about people they had met along their runs. When I asked him about his surgery, he gamely pulled up his shirt to reveal a scar that ran from throat to waist! Gosh!!!!

Next I got to chat with Chuck Crisanto, team manager of Takbong Pangarap. He’s a jolly fellow from Ateneo who is a long distance event record holder for the school. Chuck gave me some additional insights about their planned route, including getting Fil-Ams in the places they go through, to run with Joy part of the way as support for a countrywoman.

(L-R): Mat Macabe, a pulmonologist from TB Society, me, Joy Rojas, Chuck Crisanto

(L-R): Mat Macabe, a pulmonologist, me, Joy Rojas, Chuck Crisanto


Joy is training fervently for this run. She runs for 2 hours, 3-4 times a week, with at least 1 out-of-town run each month. Her diet consists of fish and vegetables. Adidas, one of the sponsors of this run, is providing her different types of attire for different weather conditions. When asked how many pairs of rubber shoes she was bringing, she said she would use 12 pairs which she plans to use in rotation. Wow!

Technology is playing a large part in this attempt too. The Philippine Online Chronicles has put up a channel specifically for Takbong Pangarap. Her every step will be chronicled through this special site and more plans are underway to maximize the access that technology will give to Joy’s supporters.

Joy has an online presence as well:

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/takbongpangarap

Plurk: http://www.plurk.com/takbongpangarap

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Takbong-Pangarap/67564894131

Email: takbongpangarap@thepoc.net

The beneficiaries of this run are the Social Services Division of the Philippine Heart Center and the Anti-TB Program of the Inner Wheel Club of Quezon City, District 378.

Sponsors to date include Adidas, Smart Communications, HSBC, Rustan’s/Shopwise, Sen. Pia Cayetano, Sony Ericsson Phils, Asiana Airlines, Asian Journal Publications, and the Manila Peninsula. SportsAde will provide Joy’s hydration needs.


Despite these sponsorships, the team said that they still need help to ensure that all logistics (including money for food, gasoline & lodgings) for Joy’s run can be provided for. There are several ways to help in your own way:

1. The POC website states that supporters can donate funds via Paypal/Western Union, being a 5k sponsor, and soon via SMS.

2. If you live in the United States and are along the route that Joy will pass, you can help Joy, Mat and Chuck achieve their goal by offering to host them as they pass through your area. Keep checking the POC.net site for details of the route.

3. Embed the Takbong Pangarap widget on your blogs to create awareness of her dream run.

4. For other forms of assistance, contact Chuck Crisanto at chuckcrisanto@yahoo.com or 0917-8983621.

Thanks also to friends Noemi and Dine of filipinaimages.com for hosting the event.


Ipanema Walks a Green Mile for Haribon

Last March 21, the boys and I headed out to the Fort Strip to join hundreds of people, young and old, to support Ipanema’s Walk a Green Mile for the benefit of Haribon Foundation.

Walk a Green Mile banner Haribon Foundation tent

Ever since the Ipanema launch of its GB Seeds Collection, I had made up my mind to join the walkathon. The cause was impetus enough. The exercise I would get out of it as well as the bonding with bloggers were the icing on the cake.

The boys at registration table

The boys at registration table

M1 & I with Patxi Elizalde of ELRO Corp. (Ipanema distributor)

M1 & I with Patxi Elizalde of ELRO Corp. (Ipanema distributor)

The walk started at a little past 5PM. The Uganda Band began playing Brazilian and African beats. At the starting line, confetti rained upon the participants and we all started the 1-mile hike around the Fort, basically walking to Boni High Street, going all around it, and making our way back to the starting point.

That entire walk took about 40 minutes and everyone made it back happy to have contributed to a worthy cause.

Several blogger friends were spotted and of course, we had the usual blogger photo ops. Click, click, click….

with Melyn & Jon Limjap

with Melyn & Jon Limjap

Met up with Liezl (right) & her friends

Met up with Liezl (right) & her friends

The camwhoring bloggers

The camwhoring bloggers

Karla & Sha

Karla & Sha

A pair of GB sandals personally signed by Gisele Bundchen was raffled off and no other than Melyn Limjap, a blogger, came away with the prize.

The lucky blogger!

The lucky blogger!

Celebrities were around too to grace the occasion. Here are some snaps of them:

All in all, it was an event we enjoyed a lot because I had time to bond with my boys who were attending a semi-blogger event for the first time. The instant dinner we had after the walkathon allowed them to meet some of my blogger friends.

Ipanema Launches its GB Seeds Collection

Last Feb. 19 (Thursday), Ipanema launched its GB Seeds Collection of fashion-savvy flip flops. Gisele Bundchen, a famous Brazilian fashion icon and dubbed by Forbes Magazine as “The World’s Top-Earning Model”, is the inspiration behind this line of flip flops.

C2 and I were lucky to be part of the well-organized event held at Le  Souffle at the Fort.


Ipanema has been around for a while but this new line of flip flops has some great features:

* all the soles have a forest-inspired print

* the straps have a metal spiral button gracing the front sandal strap symbolizing “the seed of life” (this reminds the wearer to do his part and share in the campaign towards a lush Philippines by helping to spread the word)

* made in Brazil, we were told by Mr. Francisco Patxi Elizalde, Managing Director of ELRO Commercial and Industrial Corporation (exclusive distributors of Ipanema) that these flip flops are made entirely of recycled plastic. 

C2 and I sat at a table with other blogger mommies and friends: Dine, Maki, Cookie, Wenchie, Aiza, and Julie. And later, we bumped into others like Annalyn, Aileen, Lace, Mica and Cess. Spotted at the event too were other male blogger friends: Fritz, Azrael, Eric, Jay, Dante, Jayvee, WinstonMarkku, etc.


My mommy blogger friends and C2

My mommy blogger friends and C2


With Lace, Dine and Jay

With Lace, Dine and Jay


The tables were simple but tastefully arranged. A unique touch was the incorporation of the flip flops into the decor.

ipanema0016-medres     ipanema0043-medres

The food served us was a full-blown feast — from appetizers to main dishes to several dessert selections. Le Souffle’s menu was definitely something to relish.

After the sumptuous feast, we were treated to a dance performance by members of the Philippine Ballet Theatre who were all wearing the Ipanema flip flops. 

I sat entranced during the entire show. First, the fact that it was a dance presentation appealed to me because I was, once upon a time, a ballet student on toeshoes. But what really caught me by surprise was the fact that the dancers wore flip flops that looked very pliable, soft and almost like ballet sandals. When the dancers pointed their toes, the soles folded easily for a great en pointe. They twirled, leapt, sashayed across the catwalk in them. We learned that these were the same sandals they wore during their rehearsals.

See how the flip-flop follows when she does her en pointe? Whew!!!

See how the flip flop follows when she does her en pointe? Whew!!!

Ballet shoes get the most punishing workout so if their Ipanema flip flops survived without breaking a strap or worse, getting the soles split in the middle, that definitely spells DURABILITY. I’m a convert!


Francisco Patxi Elizalde with the Philippine Ballet Theater

ELRO Managing Director Francisco Patxi Elizalde with the Philippine Ballet Theatre

Here is a video of one of their dances:


The organizers also raffled off bags that were designed with gardening tools but lo and behold! Inside each of those bags was — a pair of Ipanema GB Seeds flip flops! AND I WON ONE! A second pair for the night…Here are pics of the 2 pairs I took home.

  ipanema-gb-seeds-new-thong-fem-brown_bronze  ipanema-gb-seeds-thong-strap-ad-brown_bronze

The advocacy of ELRO Commercial and Industrial Corporation to contribute to environmental consciousness does not end here. In partnership with the Haribon Foundation, the environment conservation organization, they are organizing a Walkathon to benefit the Philippine rainforests. The walkathon, called Walk the Green Mile, is slated for March 21, 2009, with the assembly point in front of Le Souffle, The Fort, Taguig.

You can help Haribon with its “ROAD to 2020″ (Rainforestation Organizations and ADvocates) campaign to plant and grow native trees in 1 million hectares of our local rainforests until year 2020. Purchasing a pair of Ipanema flip-flops allows you not only to join the walkathon but part of the proceeds from your purchase will go to Haribon’s program.

Here are the details of the walkathon:

Date: March 21, 2009

Time: registration starts 3pm; walkathon starts 5pm

Assembly point: parking lot near Le Souffle, The Fort, Taguig (The Fort Strip, beside Embassy)

What awaits participants on this day:

* The first 30 persons to finish the walkathon get a free pair of Ipanema GB Seeds flip-flops of their choice

* The first 300 people to join and register on March 21 get a limited Ipanema Gisele Bundchen baller ID

* The first 100 people to register at the venue get a limited Walk the Green Mile shirt

* 10% off on Ipanema GB Seeds slippers at the Ipanema booth

* Up to 3 pairs of Ipanema GB Seeds flip flops signed by Gisele will be raffled off to participants who buy during the event

If you are interested in joining the walkathon, get in touch with Ms. Maricel Mabalot of ELRO Corporation at 753-3647 to 48 local 103 or email cel.mabalot@elrocom.com.

Many, many thanks to m2comms people (Shyla and Cecille, among others) for such a wonderful event (and cause) and of course, to Aileen who initiated the invite.