Posted in #runrio, 21.0975 kilometers, 21k, fun run, half-marathon, Pacer Duty, run for a cause, running event

Where “R” you? NatGeo Eath Day un 2018

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So, where is the “R?” According to NatGeo Run’s public announcement the “R” is with YOU and represents Recyling (sic), Reducing, and Reusing for a zero waste future. And they admitted they messed up. It’s a good witty reason though. But, the letter “R” is very important and without it, the activity some of us like to do would be called Unning not Running. Would you like to go out for an “Un?”

With the photo above and its caption pretty much explained the title of this article, let’s get it out of the way because this is the story of a girl (and it’s not about crying a river and drowning the whole world). Her name is Diane and she wanted to run her first half-marathon. Whilst browsing the internet, she stumbled upon my blog site which chronicles my running adventures and my first half-marathon run. She found me on facebook and I accepted the ‘friend request’ when I saw her profile photo is of her running (because I usually accept friend requests by runners even if I don’t know them personally). I received a personal message from her on February 9 asking me if I do coaching sessions. I said yes and she asked how much I charge for it. I told her that I don’t charge people who want to get into running and run with me, just snacks and drinks is enough. So we made a deal, food and drinks it is and since our chosen training grounds is SM Mall of Asia, she agreed to pay for my travel expenses and our sessions will be on Saturday mornings after my shift.

TRAINING DAY(s)

Our first meeting and training was set on February 17, unfortunately she was diagnosed with acute bronchitis and advised to rest for 3 to 5 days, so we rescheduled on February 24. Diane has a delicate immune system, according to her she had pneumonia twice in the past 5 years. She is very prone to tonsillitis which leads to bronchitis or asthma which lasts for a week or two. She takes a lot of medications like steroids and antibiotics and recently stopped smoking.

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February 24, first meet and training with Diane.

When I first met Diane she’s very cheerful and looked healthy for training. I planned to take it easy on her since it’s her first day of training and a slow 5k jog-walk then rest and another 5k will do. To my surprise, she was running a bit faster and longer than I expected and I scrapped the original plan and let the run go her way so I can assess her level. We ran 6.2 kilometers from SM By the Bay to CCP Complex and back before taking a break. Then we ran another 6.2 kilometers from SM By the Bay to Aseana City and back. The 2nd session is actually more than a minute faster than the first and based on my initial impression and assessment, she can run a half-marathon without problems and will likely finish it under 3 hours. She can run continuously at a steady pace and has the tendency to do random sprints when she’s fired up (which surprises me because I wasn’t expecting the sudden burst of speed).

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March 10. Second training session. 

Because I had a run on the first weekend of March, the next training session was scheduled on March 10. The week prior, she ran a 10k on a treadmill finishing it at 1 hour 4 minutes, which is faster than her personal best outdoor at 1 hour 7 minutes (Note that running on a treadmill and a controlled environment is different than outdoors with many factors that can slow you down). She also had right shoulder pain and cough and colds, but recovered before training day. We ran 10 kilometers continuously, she almost didn’t want to during the 6th kilometer, but she still pushed for it. That’s the reason why I admire her courage and motivation and impressed with her endurance. She also felt exhausted at the 9th kilometer, but still managed to finish a bit more than 10 kilometers at 1 hour and 11 minutes despite not being in her best fitness level.

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March 16. Third training session. Friday Night Run at BlueBay Walk.

I was scheduled to run a half-marathon on Sunday, Runrio Trilogy 2018 Leg 1 and found out that Diane is also running on the same event’s 10k category. So, I did not make a plan for a Saturday morning training session because it was the day before the event and told Diane to just rest and prepare for it. But, she still want to have a maintenance run before the event. The original plan was Thursday night, but I had an invitation to the ASICS Relay press conference on Wednesday morning and the lack of sleep before my graveyard shift at work affected the plan and we had to reschedule it on Friday night with at least one day of rest before Sunday. It was a slow and easy run covering 7.6 kilometers at 1 hour and 9 minutes. She performed well at Runrio Trilogy Leg 1, finishing her 10k run at 01:08:29 and with that I think she can finish a half-marathon under 2.5 hours if she can maintain a small drop in her pace. Our next training session was set on March 23, Friday night because I will attend Comiccon Asia on Saturday morning. Unfortunately, she got a Urinary Tract Infection days before and on Friday morning she confirmed the cancellation of our training to rest and recover. She was set to visit New Zealand on March 28 and I will spend the holy week with the family in Tarlac, so the next training session will be in April.

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April 8. Fourth training session. Sunday morning.

I was scheduled to meet with someone to buy his Xbox 360 games on Sunday morning, so our fourth training session is on a Sunday morning. Diane never had a serious training run for more than 2 weeks since Runrio Trilogy Leg 1 and that made her slower than usual. It’s not her best form and she finished 6.7 kilometers at 52 minutes in the 1st session and 5.5 kilometers at 42 minutes in the 2nd session. I encouraged her to join Fire Run 2018 as her tune up run because an easy run on the 16k category is the ideal preparation so she can have a preview of what it feels like to go beyond 10 kilometers.

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April 10. A Tuesday evening run to prepare her for fire run 2018.

She offered me to join the run as well and I accepted it so I can assess her fitness at the time and she performed better and it didn’t surprise me this time.

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Finished her first 16k run at 1 hour and 47 minutes.

On April 20, Friday night, we had our last short run in Bluebay Walk in preparation for NatGeo Run on Sunday. It’s a 5 kilometer run, but she still closed it a bit faster than usual at 34 minutes. After that, I told her that sleep is very important and she should rest and relax until race day.

NATGEO Earth Day RUN 2018

April 22. NatGeo Earth Day Run 2018. Diane’s first half-marathon. This is it, the culmination of five training sessions and a tune up race. I know Diane can do this, I know she can finish strong. I woke up late again and almost missed the last trip of the commuter van from Calamba to Alabang (because there are no more buses from 10:30 pm onward). Still made it a couple of hours early to SM Mall of Asia and had time to walk around the activity area and prepare. I don’t think much of anything else other than to make sure that Diane finish her first 21k run. We met up 16 minutes before the 3:30 am gun start. She’s warmed up and ready. We positioned ourselves as close as we can to the starting line, but since there are thousands of runners, we’re a bit far from it, but ahead of the middle of the pack.

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Pre-race selfie for her first half-marathon.

The race started on time and it took us more than 2 minutes to cross the starting line. Diane is fired up, she was overtaking the crowd, swerving left and right, whilst I’m trying to keep up because I’m a very careful runner when it comes to crowded and cramped roads. I had my eyes locked on Diane and my other senses on the surroundings because I don’t want to lose sight of her especially when there’s too many runners all around you. Diane only slowed down to walk after 2 kilometers and started running again at a decent pace. It was a very hot and sweaty run especially in the first 3 kilometers and our water bottles deplete easily. Part of my strategy for this is to refill Diane’s water bottle when it’s near empty while she keeps going and I’ll catch up as fast as I can. We finally had some breathing room when we finally reached Roxas boulevard. She told me that she’s having some trouble with her pace because her mood is off and she feels a bit sleepy (lacking sleep due to the anticipation of the run earlier). She asked me to lead and she’ll follow my pace, I did, but there’s a time that she’s actually overtaking me because I was taking it easy on her. I like it when she’s giving effort and her pace is efficient enough, covering 10 kilometers at 1 hour and 12 minutes.

Some time between the 11th and 12th kilometer, we stopped because she had to take off her shoe when she felt something. And like a random encounter with a wild Pokemon appearing out of nowhere, a runner friend, John Paul Gentica spotted me. I know he was at the event and was near the front line of the starting area when he texted me (and I was suppose to give his long awaited Sungay 50k Ultramarathon trophy earlier). But, what I didn’t expect is us overtaking him in the first half of the race. I introduced him to Diane and he ran with us (I told him he can go ahead if he feels we’re slowing down because my priority is to pace with my runner and to make sure she finish this race). It’s good to have him with us because it pushed Diane to keep going and add more effort now that she has two pacers along for the ride (well, along for the run). The three of us are having a good chat while still moving at a decent pace. John Paul decided to go for a Sub 2.5 finish and he left us after kilometer 15. Diane is slowing down, so she asked that she run while listening to music. I agreed because music can help boost the pace and gave her the earphones.

When we finally reached CCP Complex and the last 3 kilometers of the race, I was surprised when Diane asked me to lead her to a 2.5 hour finish. When I checked my GPS watch the time was around 2 hours and 15 minutes, which means we have to finish 3 kilometers in 15 minutes or less. But, from what I’ve seen in Diane’s condition at that time and knowing that she never ran 5 minutes per kilometer before, it’s too risky, like dangerous to your health kind of risky. And I don’t want to be put in a scenario of a boxing coach who will throw the white towel when he sees his boxer is in critical danger. And unlike Rocky Balboa in Rocky 4, I will seriously throw the damn towel. So, I told her to just relax, we can finish this under 3 hours and even under 2:45, and that would be better than to get seriously injured or DNF (Did Not Finish). In the last 2 kilometers she started to feel pain on her shins (shin splints) and a moment later on the thighs. That is what I’m worried about and that is why I told her to go easy, walk if she has to. Jog-walk is what we did in the last kilometer and it’s very safe and effective. In the last 300 meters she started running again, she saw and waved at her father and family. She smiled and the sight of her loved ones gave her a second wind. Her father even ran behind her while recording her finishing run towards the finish line. I boosted my pace to run by her side, but there are runners that we had to overtake and I’m not exactly sure, but I think we stepped on the finish line side by side but with some runners in-between us.

She did it. She finished the race at 2 hours 41 minutes and 51 seconds (for her Personal Record, her chip time is 02:39:22), rank 1,198 (don’t know how many 21k runners this year, but in 2015 there are more than 6,000 runner in the 21k category).

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Post race selfie for her first half marathon. Congratulations, Diane. Achievement Unlocked!
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John Paul didn’t make it to Sub 2.5 this time. He was just a few seconds ahead of us at 02:41:18, rank 1,174 but his chip time is 02:40:37. He had a head start in crossing the starting line, but Diane ran a bit faster throughout the race that’s why her chip time is faster (02:39:22). Mine is 02:41:46 chip time, 02:39:17, and rank 1,194.
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Diane grabbing the right tag line. This tag line is a good and bad idea. Good if runners take it home for display in their medal and trophy gallery, bad if they grabbed one and left it on the road. That’s another case of Earth Day Run littering. 
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With my runner friends.

 

As per my expectations, she finished under 2:45 and it’s just her first half-marathon and she’s not even in her best health and fitness level. Compare that to my first half-marathon which I finished at 02:51:31, she’s faster and has a lot of potential and definitely big improvement if she continues to run and train harder. I hope she does because she has the heart and will of a long distance runner. It will also be good for her health and immune system because running strengthens our immune system (in my case, I never had bronchitis or broncho-pneumonia for 7 years now since I started running). Based on my overall assessment from training day 1 to NatGeo Run, her biggest strengths are her perseverance and endurance even with current health conditions preventing her from reaching full potential. She is fit for to run more half-marathons and with more training and in good health she can definitely finish a half-marathon under 2.5 hours safely. She can definitely finish a full marathon and with time and more experience she can run and do well in ultramarathons.

For me, it’s mission accomplished as a pacer and running buddy. I’ve ran with first timers before, but this is the first full time job (from training to race day) and I’m very glad that everything turned out great. Thanks to Diane for the experience and the opportunity to join this year’s NatGeo Run.

As for this running event, it’s good that they managed to enforce the “no cups” policy for the environment successfully. I only encountered one or two stations that couldn’t keep up with the supply for the runners, but I didn’t experience any major problems with hydration. The bring your own water bottle policy should be enforced in other running events as well. The lack of cold sponges is understandable to avoid littering of sponges on the race route, but they should’ve thought of something to help cool the runners especially since it’s a summer time running event (the fire truck spraying water is okay, but there’s not enough water supply and it’s too much waste of water. why not something like a tub or huge pail of ice cold water that runners can splash their face with or dunk their face towels with?). The medal distribution is a mess, it’s a high volume run, thousands of runners on the route, it’s okay if medal claiming is in a booth inside the activity area. The queue near the finish line is taking too long and taking up too much space and it’s the reason why some runners can’t cross the finish line immediately. And the biggest issue is with the medals and finisher shirts. As seen in the top photo, why is the letter “R” missing in the word Finisher? who in quality control was dumb enough to miss this? why was this not noticed early in production? do they not know how to spell finisher? At least the 10k medal has the complete word, but another problem based on what I’ve read in the comments section of the FB page is that they ran out of 10k medals. And why do the finisher shirts don’t have 21k Finisher printed on them? there’s a lot of space on the back of the shirt. It’s not a big issue for me, but too bad for those who chose this event as their first half-marathon (like Diane).  Since my bad experience from the my first NatGeo Run, I have no intentions to join any more this event and the only reason I joined this year is for Diane. I give props for the “no cups” policy, but I hope that next year’s run will be better (for the good of those who plan to join their first Earth Day Run or those who made this event their yearly tradition run).

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Contents of the loot bag.
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Simplistic medal design and the letter R in the word Finisher is missing. I like the Finisher Shirt’s fabric, but what’s the reason for the absence of 21k Finisher at the back? There are some runners who had it printed at the activity area. I wonder if it was free.

 

Posted in 10 kilometers, 10k, 15 kilometers, 5k, 5km, fun run, obstacle run, Press Conference, run for a cause, running event

Running Soon: PCCI Cares Run for a Cause 2018

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PRESS RELEASE

PCCI gives back to the community with its 3rd Run for a Cause

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) through its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) will hold another significant run for its members and the public. Dubbed as “PCCI Cares: 3rd Run for a Cause,” this third consecutive running event will happen on May 13, 2018 at McKinley Hill West in Taguig City. This year’s run is made as special as it coincides with the celebration of Mother’s Day.

The events aims to continue helping the community in different cause-oriented projects. Last year, PCCI helped the victims of Marawi siege. Other than giving back to the community, it intends to foster family camaraderie by providing fun obstacles for the whole family. The organization believes that through this run, they can spark and rekindle close family ties to participating members and public. Likewise, this run further promotes health and wellness in the business sector.

Sine the run coincides with the annual celebration of Mother’s Day, there will be an exciting surprise for mothers participating in then event. PCCI will also give tribute to mothers, who despite the struggles of motherhood, have maintained their confidence and composure in balancing work and family life.

This noteworthy run will feature three running categories – 5, 10, and 15-kilometer run with fun inflatables along the route. To join, you can visit http://www.gooranha.com and register. Interested participants can also sign-up at selected Chris Sports Branches. Registration fees are as follows: 5k – P650.00, 10k – P750.00, and 15k – P850.00. Participants of the race will receive singlet, race bib, finisher’s medal as well as freebies from our generous sponsors.

A special prize will also be given to the most number of participants coming from a member company of PCCI or from a running group. They will receive a cash prize worth P20,000.00.

For more details, please contact PCCI secretariat at (02)-846-8196 and look for Ms. Arlou Lovendino or Mr. Levin Prudent. You may also contact Ms. Nikka Ramos of Aldenver Marketing, Inc. at 0927-8484533. For updates and other important announcements regarding the run, please follow our facebook page: PCCI Run For A Cause and Aldenver Events.

 

Scenes for the Press Conference: 

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The Powers That Be of PCCI with Nikka Ramos of Aldenver Events.
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The 15k route map (subject to change)
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Inflatable obstacles.
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actual inflatable obstacle. Photo from Aldenver Events facebook page.
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Inflatable balls! (does that sound right?). Photo from ALdenver Events facebook page.
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The Race Mechanics. obstacles are optional for non-competitive runners and mandatory for the competitive ones. 
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The official singlet.
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PCCI Board members, Aldenver events, and the media. Photo from Ms. Nikka Ramos facebook.

 

REGISTRATION INFO:

Fees:
5
K – Php 650
10K – Php 750
15K – Php 850

In-store registration:

Chris Sports branches:

– Uptown BGC
– Glorietta
– Market Market
– SM BF Parañaque
– SM North Edsa

Online registration:

www.goorahna.com

Posted in 16 kilometers, 16k, fun run, run for a cause, running, running event

Fired Up, Fired Down! (Fire Run 2018)

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You don’t literally run on fire, but in summer time does make you feel on fire.

Pinoy Aspiring Runners’ Fire Run is the first of their Takbo PARa sa Kalikasan series of running events all of which are nature or elemental-themed. The next of the series are Water, Air (Wind), and Earth. Sorry, there’s no ‘Heart’ theme, so Captain Planet won’t be summoned by the time the series ends (better wait for a Valentines Day 2019 run, I guess). The beneficiary of the run for a cause is The Haribon Foundation.

I encouraged Diane (the runner I was training for her first half-marathon) to join this event as a tune-up run for NatGeo Earth Day Run 2018. She offered me to join the race as well and I couldn’t say no because it’s the best time to assess her health condition and overall fitness.

Race day (April 15). I woke up around 1 am and prepared for the event. I left home before 3 am and managed to board a bus to Alabang. It was way passed 3:30 am when I arrived in Alabang and it’s taking too much time to fill up the bus going to Cubao. If I remember correctly, I arrived in Makati at 4:20 am. Unfortunately, very few buses going to Mall of Asia drive by at the time and when I finally got on a MOA-bound bus, I only have 30 minutes or less before gun start. Since I’m not familiar with the jeepney commute from MOA area to CCP Complex, I had to travel on foot, which is at least 3 kilometers. I alighted near Blue Bay Walk with only 18 minutes to spare before gun start. I ran, but the weight of my backpack is slowing me down. I was near World Trade Center when Diane called to inform me where she’s at and the race is about to start soon. She was calling a 2nd time when I was near Star City and only 2 minutes left before gun start, but I was unable to answer it because I was jogging. Then I heard the gun start from the distance and saw the 16k runners already running. I’m probably 5 minutes late (deja vu?) and still took some time to get my backpack to the baggage counter. Everyone had a 7 minute (or more) head start.

I couldn’t see the tail end of the 16k runners and tried my best to catch up. I almost got lost by turning left to Roxas boulevard (cause I saw a U-turn sign), but the marshal there pointed me to the right direction. I finally saw the tail end on the dark road before the flyover and going to Buendia. I was looking for Diane and slowed down to check every runner I see. I was approaching the 4th kilometer (6+ kilometers if I include the 3 kilometers I ran earlier) and still couldn’t find her. I texted her and ask if she was ahead of me or behind, but I’m sure she is ahead because I looked at every runner along the way (even saw Anne Curtis). It was near the 16k U-turn when I finally found her and she already made the turn (approaching the 6th kilometer). I told her that I’ll catch up and boosted my pace. She’s moving faster than I estimated, I thought I will see her at the 3rd or 4th kilometer, but she was already approaching the 7th kilometer when I finally ran by her side. Gotta admire her motivation and endurance, I was slowing down to recover some stamina but she suddenly sprints whenever she see an intersection or traffic light. That’s how she’s Fired Up and I’m Fired Down. She also reached the 10th kilometer mark at 1 hour 9 minutes, faster than our training runs and close to her fastest 10k PR.

The sun is up when we got back to CCP Complex and the heat can be annoyance as we dehydrate faster than usual. I grabbed her water bottle and run ahead to refill it whilst she keeps moving. She told me that on the 12th kilometer she started to feel jello legs and we had to slow down for some recovery time.

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Some like it hot. She gets furious (Fired Up) as I wipe the sweat off my face (Fired Down). Photo by Calvin Nadua Photography.

The PICC part of the route caused confusion to some runners,  first you take a U-turn and back to the other side of the road and then go around the rotunda (near Coconut Palace) and enter the PICC road again then finally take the left turn to the finish line. I saw some runners stopped and asked the marshal about the turn and probably asked how many times it should be done. We only did one loop as per our understanding and told the marshal that we already looped around the rotunda and he pointed us to the left turn.

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After completing the PICC road-Coconut Palace Rotunda loop…
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She still got the energy to smile…
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whilst I’m trying to exert a small amount of energy to smile. Photos by Calvin Nadua Photography.

She still have a good amount of energy left and we jogged the last hundreds of meters non-stop.

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Her resiliency is on fire!!! Photo by W30N Photography.

We crossed the finish line with an unofficial time of 1 hour and 47 minutes. But, it’s possible that the actual distance is less than 16 kilometers because Diane told me that her Apple watch recorded the distance of 15+ kilometers and my smartphone using Nike Run Club app got 18.1 kilometers including the 3 kilometers I covered from Blue Bay Walk to CCP Complex.

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The total distance I covered including 3 kilometers from Blue Bay Walk to CCP Complex.
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Happy Finishers!

Fire Run 2018 is a good running event. It has its flaws like the confusing race route (I heard a runner along the way talking on her cellphone saying that it’s not 3k because she’s already in the 4th kilometer, probably got lost), insufficient supply of water in some stations, and the messy line in the activity area. The medal’s design and quality is good and I like the fabric and simplicity of the finisher shirt. And it’s a run for a cause, you’re not just running, you’re doing it for awareness and the environment.

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The Haribon Foundation’s Philippine Eagle mascot. The Philippine Eagle has a life span of 30 to 60 years. Unfortunately, they are a critically endangered species…
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Let us all be responsible human beings and take care of nature and the endangered species.
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Contents of the loot bag.
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16k Finisher Shirt and medal.
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Thanks Diane and Russel for the buffet breakfast at Bayview Park Hotel Manila.          

 

Posted in #CONVENTION, #COSPLAY, #GAMING, Anime', Comic books, Cosplay, Expo and Events, Video Games

Con? Controversy? Comiccon Asia 2018!

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When early birds get no worms.

Pop Culture conventions are nothing new in the country be it an anime/manga, comic book/western, or toy convention and the growing video games and e-sports events. And these kind of events gather as many as tens of thousands of visitors in one weekend. In recent years, conventions became bigger, turning into one grand event that includes almost everything fans, otakus, gamers, could ever ask for. Comiccon Asia is the newest entry to the ever expanding world of multi-genre conventions. What captured my attention (and probably others as well) is that it looks and sounds like San Diego Comic-con especially the similarities with the logo and the addition of movies.

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Just google the San Diego Comic-con logo.

When the event was announced last year, it already sparked controversy because the chosen ambassador is boxing icon and Philippine Senator Manny Pacquiao who’s reputation as a Bible-thumper and alleged homophobe is a big turn-off to some people. There were also rumors that the event is funded by Manny, but it was cleared at the 2nd press conference (which I attended). After those issues, the event doesn’t really highlight or use Pacquiao’s name that much in their promotions. The announcement of the organizer bringing comic book legend Stan Lee to the Philippines for the first time for a meet and greet at the event created a buzz so huge that it put Comiccon Asia in the position of becoming the biggest pop culture event of the year. Unfortunately, due to health reasons, Stan Lee had to cancel his appearance. Actress Hayley Atwell, better known as Agent Carter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, was tapped as replacement. But, just days after the announcement, she also had to cancel, citing “Political Unrest in the country” as the reason. Which also created another big controversy when Ms. Atwell released her own statement in an instagram post with changes in her work schedule as the real reason (which is the same reason of her Asiapop Comicon cancellation 2 years ago). So many controversies before the event, but what about the event itself? what’s it like? did things go smoothly? was it successful? I only attended Day 1 with a media pass and I’m about to share to you my experience.

I arrived at SMX Convention Center Pasay before the scheduled 8:30 am Press Conference. Only a few people were there at the time with only a single line outside. Unfortunately, the presscon was rescheduled to 4:30 pm, so I just spend my time at a meeting room relaxing and waiting for time to pass by. Our media pass and goodie bags were given and we were told that the gates open at 10 am. A few minutes before 10, I went down to the activity halls and already saw a lot of people lining up (see top photo above). Inside the activity area, I’m surprised to see a lot of empty spaces. It’s neat and there’s a lot of breathing room, just not used to see this much space compared to jam-packed events like ESGS and Cosplay Mania. As a multi-genre event, there are areas with toys displayed, areas for gaming and computer-related stuff (Dell, Lenovo, ASUS ROG, etc.), some anime, comic book, and costume stores, and a Pacific Rim Uprising booth. And that is the only movie-related booth I’ve seen (not counting the numerous Star Wars related stuff which is more associated with cosplay and a VR game by Lenovo). Strangely enough, there are booths for an airline company, a newspaper, the U.S. Embassy, an alcoholic beverage brand, and a barbershop? stranger things, indeed. It was already 11 am, but the floor is not as crowded as it should be, there’s still a lot of people outside and I wondered why. To warm up those who are already inside, some of the ASUS ROG representatives went on stage to give away some ballers, lanyards, and did some brand/product presentation.

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A lot of Star Wars cosplayers present. They even have a welcoming committee. Too bad they had to stand there for a long time since people are not allowed to enter right away.
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Red hot and sexy cosplayer, Vampy as Elektra.
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Had a selfie with the red hot and sexy Elektra.
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The beautiful Enji Night as Bulma.
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Vegeta wouldn’t mind, right?
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Battle Ready Chad Hoku as Uther the LightBound.
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Bounded by light.
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Comiccon Asia 2018 welcomes the Philippine Army.

I sat down near the main stage around 11:30 am, waiting for the celebrity guests Walter Jones (Black Ranger), Dacre Montgomery (Stranger Things), Holland Roden (Teen Wolf), and the Overwatch voice actors to come out. They were suppose to be on the main stage at 11:45 am to interact with the fans. It was already 12 noon and still the guests have not come out. Then they removed the celebrity guests seats and names, leaving only the Overwatch voice actors to take center stage. It was already 12:36 pm on my watch and the segment still hasn’t started. I was about to get up and eat until finally the hosts came out introduced the guests.

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The Overwatch segment was hosted by Daiana Menezes and Regine Tolentino.
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Anjali Bhiman making her graceful entrance.
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The Overwatch voice actors from L to R: Jen Cohn (Pharah), Carolina Ravassa (Sombra), Anjali Bhimani (Symmetra), and Feodor Chin (Zenyatta).

After an hour of waiting and non-activity, Team Overwatch lit up the stage. I haven’t played Overwatch yet and not very familiar with what they and the fans are talking about, but the way they interact with the crowd is a joy to watch. The actors even commented on how enthusiastic the fans are and wonder if others can top the energy of this crowd. A fan was even lucky enough to dance with Anjali Bhimani on stage. It was a fun time and one of the best especially for the huge Overwatch fans in attendance. I think the reason why this segment was delayed is because a lot of fans are still outside and even when the panel started, the hosts said there are still 400 or more people outside.

After the Overwatch panel, celebrity cosplayer Myrtle Sarrosa had a song and dance presentation and to promote GSM Blue (which is inappropriate for a convention that is aimed mostly for kids or minors).

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Hey, kids! check out the new flavors of GSM Blue!
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Maybe we could get some weapons from Stark Industries.
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You have to fight this guy to get this Lenovo Legion laptop.
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Thor in his happiest, before Mjolnir and his right eye got crushed.

I then had a quick stroll around the Halls before taking a break to eat at Mall of Asia. I was surprised by the big crowd outside the halls. Since they had a problem with the system, registration was done manually using pen and paper, slowing down the process time and people piling up. Some people including Ibet, a friend from work, and his nephew said that it took them more than 3 hours just to get in.

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And this is what it looks like outside at 01:35 pm. Still a lot of people having a hard time getting in.

I went back to SMX around 2 pm and made another stroll around the area to see if there’s something interesting going on. International award winner Taguig Robotics Team showcased their dancing humanoid robot.

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They’re doing the robot, cultural dance style!

I didn’t know that Michael V’s segment was at 3 pm (because I stopped looking at the schedule since they don’t really start on time anyway).

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Michael V drawing his favorite DC character, Batman.
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Michael V having a selfie with host RJ Ledesma.

Michael V (better known as Bityo) and RJ Ledesma is another highlight of the event. It’s fun and funny (as expected when 2 comedians are on stage). Bitoy talks about his life story, his career, and his love for drawing. He even drew Thanos, Batman, and Daredevil which was given to lucky fans who asked questions.

The much-awaited cosplay competition started around 4 pm. Unfortunately due to the bouncers always telling us (photographers and bloggers) to stay low, I can’t find the ideal position (all front seats taken) and get good shots. So, the cosplay photos below are all I got.

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How to use farming tools Volume 1 (Undertaker Shinigami).
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Psylocke. (Ezra Scarlet)
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Afroman, because he got high. (Mr. Satan better known as Master Pogi in the Philippines)
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Viserion (clever use of talcum powder to simulate frost). (Toshiro Hitsuyaga)
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Ned Stark (Saber)
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Siegfried (Saber)
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Soul Calibur (Saber)
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The Lizard. (Cell)
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Mutated Giant Beetle. (Kiba)
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Mazinger Z. (Voltes V)
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Dragonzord. (Death Saurer)

I left the cosplay competition during the intermission to attend the press conference at 4:30 pm. But, it seems like they’re still under preparation when I got there, so I went back to see if the cosplay competition resumed. It did, unfortunately I couldn’t go back to my position near the main stage due to the crowd. I decided to just roam around the halls and see what else is there.

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Since Stan Lee couldn’t make it, here’s a look-a-like to fill the void in the hearts of his fans. Fun Fact: Stan Lee did not create most of Marvel’s popular characters alone, he is a co-creator. The other guy, Jack Kirby, went to DC Comics because he was treated unfairly. See why Stan Lee is the most popular?
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Beauty Queen meets Cosplay Queens. PSL Entertainment is the organizer of Miss Global Philippines. 2017 winner Barbara Vitorelli was present and having her photo taken with cosplay queens Enji Night and Nana Kuronoma.
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It’s Wonder Woman!… no, it’s Darnaaaa!!!!
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Wonder Women… I mean, Darnas!
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Can I be Ding?
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THE Wonder Woman!
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Trust me, Brandon Vera is playful, but can be intimidating if you don’t approach him right XD 
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Dunno if this cosplay is tasteless or will offend some people, but it feels like riding the trend because the Holy Week is just a week away and I’ve seen the more hardcore versions in Tarlac.

After the cosplay competition, there isn’t really much to do in the activity area. The meet and greet is held in Function Room 5 and there are workshops and seminars in meeting rooms in the 2nd floor for those who want to learn something from the pros. I wasn’t able to attend the press conference, so I just checked out an ABS-CBN News article and PSL Entertainment head Pauline Sofia Laping said that the Political Unrest reason was what they received from her personal management and they respected her decision and didn’t ask for anything else. So, take it as it, I don’t know who really said or made the Political Unrest excuse, it could be Ms. Atwell’s management side and Ms. Atwell had to do something to clear her name.

I attended Comiccon Asia 2018 to experience it and see what they have to offer. So, what do I think about the event? For me it was an average event, it had a lot of potential but none of that potential was tapped and it failed to live up to the hype. It’s not as packed as other conventions that I’ve attended, it kinda feels like a video game that requires (or relies on) DLCs (Downloadable Content) to experience the full game. This is the reason I only attended Day 1 because I feel like I’ve seen enough and there’s nothing special on Day 2. They did good on cosplay and video games, but feels lacking when it comes to anime, movies, and comic book presentation and activities. It’s not a flop just because it didn’t deliver Stan Lee or Hayley Atwell, they were able to satisfy the Overwatch fans’ cravings and they’ve got a decent lineup of celebrities. It’s just not as explosive or active like other conventions, but keep in mind that this is the first time PSL Entertainment organized an event like this. They probably don’t have experience in making an event for otakus and geeks or don’t know much about the source material. I’ve read all the negative comments of the disappointed ones on facebook and I agree with most of them like there’s so much empty space, there’s so many unrelated stuff (like the presence of an airline, newpaper, and liquor brand), the ticket price of 800 php is not worth it, and the slow process of registration (this is the biggest problem). There is a lot to improve should the organizer plan or attempt to do this kind of event again and hopefully they learned their lesson. The event is controversial, but is it a con? that depends on your definition of a con.