Why I’m giving my BDM102 2011 trophy

I am giving away my BDM102 2011 trophy. It’s not easy parting away with it, but I have my reasons and here is the story.

First of all, I do not hide that I have been having great difficulty at work. It has nothing to do with my colleagues nor with my boss. This much I want to make clear because the first thing that people think is that it is the boss. No, I can say without batting an eyelash that I can die for my boss because he is willing to fight for his people and his department, and he is willing to do the right thing no matter how difficult it is. My difficulties are more internal and intrapersonal. This led me to look for a life coach. I miss my father so much and it is hard to be an orphan. As such, sometimes I feel more lost than distracted as other people think that I am. But I am getting there, getting back into the groove of things. And I just love the office more and more as it continues to provide avenues for people to excel and learn from their mistakes. Wow. I don’t think that there’s a lot of offices out there that would give people this much a break.

But as I was engaging myself with my current life coach, I learned that this person was also seeking further training and post graduate studies. And in the course of being mentored by other clinical psychologists and psychiatrists, this person learned that one of the professors sponsored one BDM historical marker. He did this because his brother died during the World War II and was among the Americans who died during the infamous Bataan Death March. This professor is a visiting professor here in the Philippines and every year he comes here, he would make time to drop by Bagac, Bataan and the BDM kilometer marker 11k. This is the one he sponsored because it is at this kilometer marker that he learned his brother passed away. Just imagining the difficulty and thinking about it just now brings tears to my eyes. I’ve met a Filipino who is a direct descendant of the BDM. But this perspective is new to me, coming from a family member, a brother who survived the war while his brother did not. For him to drop by each year and visit Bataan in memory of his brother, it means that this event is very significant to him.

The Bataan Death March is very significant to this person, that when he found out about the BDM ultramarathon, he inquired through his student if there’s a way in which he can purchase the BDM trophy kilometer marker. He wanted to get one because he wanted to keep remembering his brother who died in the war. So my current life coach contacted me and asked me if I was willing to go for an ex-deal for the said trophy. After much thought, I said that I would just give it and no need for an ex-deal or even pay for it. As much as it is difficult for me to part ways with it, between the BDM 2010 and BDM2011, the BDM2010 was more significant for me. Besides, I don’t like the idea of accumulating stuff that will only gather dust in my small apartment. Call it logical, but it seemed to me that this professor had more at stake, and found more meaning with the BDM being directly affected by it.

Me? I only relived the road of Bataan, Tarlac and Pampanga by running it.

So at the end of the month, I will have the opportunity to meet this professor. I will give it to him personally. I know that this trophy means much more to him than it is to me. I also know that this is a symbol of peace and also a reminder to him of having his brother. Perhaps having the trophy would enable him to have a little piece of his brother back. For all he has are the memories. Death is a very difficult pain, the most painful if you ask me. And it seems that even at the twilight years of this man, it seems that he still can’t get over his own pain and loss. The fact that he keeps coming back to the place where he lost his brother is not just a sign of reminiscing. It is symbolic of self-validation and self-acceptance too. It reminds me of that final scene in the movie Saving Private Ryan. Private Ryan visiting the tomb of his team leader. It sounds funny and strange when a person talks to a dead person, to a tombstone. But I’ve done it whenever I get the chance to visit my father’s grave. In a sense, it is refreshing. And in some ways, it just makes me cry at times. And I believe these are the same things that this professor is going through each time he goes for a visit to Bataan. Because as much as we matter to the those who are living, sometimes we feel that we matter far more to the faithful departed. And so we look at them not as martyrs who died across the roads of Bataan Death March. We look up to them as heroes and immortalize them.

So here’s to Sir Jovie as well, for helping the Filipino running community remember that the Bataan Death March is part of our Filipino history. It is part of our psyche that reminds us that we should rise above our present circumstances. That freedom and life is meant to be fought and died for, with all our hearts and with all of we are because dying with purpose is like a seed that brings forth new life. It’s painfully true. Because as the Bible has mentioned, “there’s no greater love than this — that a man would lay down his life for a friend. [John 15:13]

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