x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Filipinos run for money to help victims of the storm

Filipino Runners UAE will use the Dubai Marathon to raise money for victims of flooding in the Philippines.

Joel Bautista, 43, trains for his first time running the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon 2012 at Zabeel Park in Karama, Dubai. Bautista usually trains with a group of Filipino runners but was the only one to show up for the session the night of December 27, 2012.
Joel Bautista, 43, trains for his first time running the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon 2012 at Zabeel Park in Karama, Dubai. Bautista usually trains with a group of Filipino runners but was the only one to show up for the session the night of December 27, 2012.

DUBAI // For Euca Bolingot and his team, the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon next month will be about more than making it to the finish line.

The runners will use the January 27 event to raise money forchildren and their families displaced by Tropical Storm Washi, which swept across the southern Philippines on December 17.

About 70 runners in the Dubai Marathon and its auxiliary races will take part in the fund-raiser, which has the provisional title Takbo Para Kay Kabayan 2 (Run for my Countrymen).

"When you know it's for a good cause, you don't mind the fatigue at all," said Mr Bolingot, 29, an IT professional in Dubai who is the team captain.

Last year, 39 Filipino runners raised Dh31,000 for various causes and they hope to double the amount this time.

Mr Bolingot formed Filipino Runners UAE in July 2010 and club membership has grown from 40 to more than 150.

"When we organised the charity run during this year's Dubai Marathon, our plan was to make it an annual event," said Gary Elizaga, 31, an accountant in Dubai, the club's vice-president.

"We're not doing it only to compete but to help our countrymen here and in the Philippines."

He has been training for the marathon since August. "It feels good to train hard and push ourselves to run in the marathon," Mr Elizaga said. "All our efforts will eventually pay off when we cross the finish line."

The initial plan for next month's charity run was to funnel the proceeds to medical missions, migrant-rights education, and sponsorships for special needs children, among other things. Plans changed after the flooding.

Mr Bolingot is from Cagayan de Oro, one of the areas that was devastated by the storm.

"My family and relatives weren't badly affected but I learnt that two of my high school classmates died," he said.

More than 60,000 people who were displaced by Tropical Storm Washi are staying in government buildings and schools. Many will have to move into tents when schools reopen on Tuesday.

Next week, the runners will meet to finalise plans and seek pledges from individuals and companies. They intend to donate school supplies to underprivileged school pupils in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City.

Last night, the Filipino runners trained at Zabeel Park in the Karama district of Dubai.

Regular training sessions are scheduled on Sundays and Tuesdays at the park. The group also runs with Dubai Creek Striders on Fridays.

"Many are prepared for the run," said Mr Bolingot, who has run nine marathons or half marathons this year. "They are willing to share their talents and help reach our goal."

To pledge money or sponsor a runner, visit filipinorunnersuae.com.

rruiz@thenational.ae