Tuesday, 25 October 2011

My Mountain Home

Mainit is a village in Bontoc municipality in Mountain Province in the Cordillera region of the Philippines.
It is nestled deep in the mountains.

Mainit is about an hour's drive from Bontoc, or a three-hour hike...

These pictures were taken during a fire-plagued dry season in April 2010.
The scars from the  mountain fires blight the serene landscape.

The ricefields of Guina-ang with the hamlets of Dalican in the smoke-shrouded distance.

Fires have dried out the swiftly-rushing streams.

The ricefields are green but they are getting parched.

Why burn?

The ricefields of Chakkang amidst the desecrated steep mountainsides.

A pine grove holds sway.

How green was my valley?

Our mountains, our fields, our home. Let us protect them. From fires, from mines, from lies.

Blueberry shrubs thriving on the stonewalls of Tuvo ricefields.

The hotspring continues to give forth life.

How many times must the summers burn,
Before the springs run dry?

Save our village,our home. Stop the burning.

You young people, educate the old folks at home.

 For their sake, and the future.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Toowoomba half-marathon

Toowoomba half-marathon. 16 October 2011.
This run is for a good cause. The fees go to charity, good enough reason for me to get up early and drive one and one-half hours, to run a half-marathon. The start/finish line of the 30th Annual Toowoomba marathon event was at the USQ grounds. It was a bright sunny morning and ominously warming up to baking temps – in Baker Street.
I got to the race venue early enough. The marathon and ¾ marathon runs started at 0600h and already in full swing when I arrived. A coffee van serving hot drinks enticed me to a cappuccino.

After coffee, I had a little stretch before the start of the half-marathon at 0700h. Some of the marathoners blew past, on about a 40-45 minute first lap.
I don’t know how many entered the races but the finishers and results are listed in the TRR site as follows: Marathon 54, ¾ marathon 12, ½ marathon 89, 10 km run 77, for a total of 232.
There were runners there from South Pine Striders, Moreton Bay Road Runners, Gold Coast Runners Club, other clubs and from many other places around the world, including from the cool country of Mainit.
I can only describe what i went through in the half-marathon. Many other runners described their own races at the coolrunning forum. We started off at 0700h in the half-marathon and 10km runs. After just 2kms i could feel the humidity kick in. The route is all on street pavements or pathways. The choices are either the softer and less safe bitumen or the more shaded but harder concrete paths. Sometimes there is a bit of grass though usually uneven. Most runners alternated between the paths.
The race route comprised between one to four laps of a 10.55km loop incorporating the streets of Toowoomba. I got giddy in Darling Heights, where my sweat flowed like from a bucket. The flaming sun was stinging in Kearney Spring, and I went dry in the mouth in Toowoomba South.

The runners quickly spaced out into their places in the run. Four laps, three, two or one lap. This was the first race where I availed of fluids at all the drinks stops. Thankfully there were four water stations spaced at about 2.5kms. Even then the final few kilometres was a struggle. And instead of being wet with perspiration, I was actually quite dry from the heat and humidity.

From 0735h onward, runners trickled in to the finish line led by the 10km finishers followed by the top finishers in the other races. The 232 finishers would take about four hours, from the first place in the 10km to the last runner in the marathon, to cross the finish line. The race duration though is about 5.5hours from the start to the finish. After I finished, I saw an ambulance attending to a runner just a couple of hundred metres from the finish. I hope all's well with him/her.

Thanks to the Toowoomba Road Runners club for organising this event. And to all the club members, race officials, marshalls, volunteers and everyone else involved. Many of them would have been up and working on the event for much longer than the race duration. Great job all! Great event.
I would like to commend especially the lady volunteer at the water stall on corner of West and Stenner Streets who first of all directed me (before the face) to the registration tables, and then during the race kindly checked on me (I sat down for a couple of minutes to fix my foot pads and laces), and to see that I had sufficient water.

There is indeed a good future for the smaller, cheaper, friendlier provincial marathons in Australia, such as this event.

Toowoomba is a town I like visiting, and I've been visiting here in the last 21 years. This town is like Tabuk, on a plateau  in Kalinga, in my Cordillera homeland in the Philippines. I live in two worlds (the first and third :-)). Who says one can't live in the best of both? A university city, Toowoomba has developed into a regional centre for business and government services.
The city was in the news in January 2011 when a massive flash flood "Inland Tsunami" resulted in deaths and destruction in town, through the Lockyer Valley, and all the way to the east in Brisbane 125 kilometres away. Last year I came here for the flower carnival. I think that was the time of the 2010 ridge-to-ridge half-marathon, which I missed. I also skipped this year's R2R run, so for penance I came for this event, and to run Table Top Mountain.
On the way home I detoured off to Table Top Road to see Table Top Mountain. I was going to run (yeah?) up to the summit but from the roadend, it appeared to be in private property and offlimits. I did not have the time nor energy to find the access to the mountain, so I added another entry to my 2012 resolutions.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

The hunt for read October

October reading guide.
Tariq Ali. The Obama Syndrome (2002). The book details, in the author’s eyes, the downward spiral of the US President to just another "skilful and gifted machine politician”. Ali describes the “Obama Syndrome” as 'a kind of mass myopic idealism that can only be treated by a dose of political reality.'
Tariq Ali. Clash of Fundamentalisms (2010). This puts the events of 9/11 in the perspective of the history of Islam.
The Executioner's Song (1979)—Norman Mailer's novelization of the life and death of a murderer, won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
The armies of the night (1968) The book is an account of the anti-Vietnam War rally in Washington DC in October 1967. In his non-fiction ‘fiction’ Norman Mailer offers a third person account of himself along with self-descriptions such as a Novelist/Historian, anti-star/hero of the March on the Pentagon.
Another recent Dylan book, Bob Dylan: Like a Complete Unknown (2011) written by David Yaffe. It is neatly structured into four main sections dealing with the subject’s voice; his diversions into film; race and minstrelsy; and plagiarism.
The latest instalment of a four-decade devotion: “Bob Dylan by Greil Marcus, Writings 1968-2010” chronicles the artist’s highs and lows.
Australian History for Dummies. An informative history of the land down under – the land of boat people. Some do think that only those who arrive by plane, the favourite mode of travel for terrorists, may be welcomed in Australia.
A Short History of Nearly Everything. An exciting, informative journey into the world of science from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization. Bill Bryson explains the concepts and wonder of science, at the same time giving face to the major players in the world of scientific study.
Roddy Doyle. Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha the world of ten-year-old Paddy Clarke, growing up in north Dublin. From fun and adventure on the streets, boredom in the classroom to increasing isolation at home, "Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha" is the story of a boy who sees everything but understands little.
Roddy Doyle. The Deportees. All in all, it’s funny, accessible fiction that prescribes predictable moral actions towards immigrants through less predictable narratives.
The Wand in the Word : Conversations With Writers of Fantasy. Leonard S. Marcus’ engaging conversations with thirteen storytellers about their life and work, providing inspiring reading.
Steve Martini. Trader of Secrets.

Settling with Indigenous People. Australian regional agreements with its traditional owners. Includes chapters on agreements in Canada and New Zealand.
Indigenous Peoples’ Rights in Australia, Canada and New Zealand. In recent years the issue of indigenous rights, particularly in relation to land rights, sovereignty and 'justice' have been at the forefront of the political agenda and legal landscape in Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
Dan Olmsted & Mark Blaxill. The Age of Autism explores how mankind has unwittingly poisoned itself for half a millennium through the reckless use of one of earth's most toxic substances: mercury—and the tragic consequences
Geologica. The Origins of the Earth. An informative study of Earth’s physical features, landscapes, plants and animals. The origins of the Earth including plate tectonics are discussed.
John Lescroart. Damage.
Richard North Patterson. Eyes of a Child.

Nelson DeMille. The General’s Daughter
Lee Child. Worth Dying For
Michael Connelly. The Fifth Witness

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Listen to October in the springtime

Music CDs
The best of Leon Russell.
Sara Evans. Stronger.
Thea Gilmore. Songs from the gutter.
Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis. Here we go again. (with Norah Jones).

Billy Joel. Live at Shea Stadium.
U2. Rattle and hum.

Country Lovin’
Aretha Franklin. The Great American Songbook
Alan Jackson. 34 Number ones.
Pearl Jam. Vs.-Vitalogy
KD Lang and the siss boom bang.
Eric Clapton. Clapton.

Nils Lofgren. The Loner.
Marianne Faithfull. Easy Come easy go.
Patti Smith. Land.

The essential Highwaymen.
The best of Kris Kristofferson.
Neil Young. Le Noise.
Emmylou Harris. Five original albums.
Willie Nelson. American classic.
Enya. Watermark.

Best of Sessions at west 54th.
Leonard Cohen. Songs from the road
Eagles. Farewell tour
Bob Dylan. No Direction Home.