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.