By Emmanuel Mongaya
Rain soaked the grounds outside the house in Carmen Village, Talisay City before the sun appeared this morning. The wet surroundings somehow dampened my mood until I heard screaming from the South Coastal Road four subdivision blocks away.
Excited shrieks and disorganized chants signaled that Ironman 70.3 PH athletes had finally reached Talisay City all the way. They are pedaling from and back to Mactan island three cities northeast from where I stood. Over 2,000 athletes had earlier swam 1.9 kilometers in open sea off the coast of Punta Engaño, ran 21 kilometers in Lapu-Lapu City, and negotiating a 90 kilometer bike run at that moment.
A short walk and some ten minutes later, I saw the long line of uniformed female students with their nun mentors. It explained the loud cheering I earlier heard. The screams increased a few decibels higher when celebrities Allan Pineda popularly known as the rapper Apl.d.Ap of Black Eyed Peas and the Sen. Pia Cayetano passed by.
The crowd certainly knew who is Apl, but Pia? When I asked a group chanting “Pia-Pia-Pia” if they were cheering for the senator, they said no, “artista.” I insisted that the one who passed by was Pia Cayetano, the senator. They answered, “chicks lagi siya.” Ok, perhaps a senator evokes the image of Miriam in their minds.
But sorry guys and gals. I was slow in shooting pictures using my cell phone. Perhaps, I ought to buy that professional looking camera that caught my attention while window-shopping the other day. Or maybe, I just needed practice.
Nevertheless, I never thought that Talisay folks would come out by the hundreds and watch Ironman. Well, there were other celebrity athletes aside from Apl.d.Ap and Pia. I overheard a uniformed high school girl excitedly telling her companions something about Pinoy movie stars Piolo and Mateo.
While I saw several fellow spectators taking photos using their Ipads and cell phones, I don’t know if they were also twitting and posting pictures in Instagram. Aside from waiting for celebrity athletes biking by, Globe Telecom’s Twitter and Instagram promotion for Ironman gave me another form of activity during the two hours that I spent leisurely walking and watching from the corner at Uldog Street to San Isidro.
Come to think of it. With over 2,000 athletes from all over the world participating, giving ordinary spectators a reason to Twit and post pictures made us happy ambassadors for Philippine tourism. Ironman is more fun in the Philippines. (This is a modified version of Mongaya’s column in Sun.Star Cebu posted also today)