“Tour de Takong” Lures Firefighters, Policemen,Teachers, Out-of-Towners, LGBT
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The annual “Tour de Takong” or Stiletto Race lured all types of people including runners from other parts of Luzon, firefighters, some celebrities, policemen, housewives, members of the LGBT (lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender) community, who all took part and had fun in this unique event that only happened in the Shoe Capital of the Philippines.
Actor and athlete Gerald Anderson, sporting a blue shirt, jeans and a cap, elicited swoons and screams from the crowd, some even managed to have a photo with him using their mobile phones. Gerald is part of the Marikina Shoemasters, the city’s basketball team in the ongoing Maharalika Pilipinas Basketball League Datu Cup.
Coach Elvis Tolentino and his teammates accompanied Gerald in the motorcade that started from the Teatro Marikina to Cityhood Park, the same route for the Stiletto Race.
More than a hundred runners joined the race, some of them were men who did not mind wearing women’s shoes with heels of at least three inches – a requirement in joining the race – including those from the police, bureaus of fire protection and jail management. Some even came from other parts of Luzon such as James Pineda, who is from Pampanga.
“First time ko sumali sa Tour de Takong. Pero athlete talaga ako at sumasali sa mga race na mga three kilometers hanggang 42 kilometers,” said the 27-year-old James who works as a security guard. “Nalaman ko ang tungkol dito mula sa kaibigan ko na nagtratrabaho sa construction dito.”
James wore a pair of shoes with three inches heels borrowed from his friend, who also joined the race. Despite his experience in joining races, James was not confident of winning the race since this would be his first time to run in heels.
The first placer in the women's category, Luisa Raterta, was another out-of-towner. The 37-year-old runner is from Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
The Marikina Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) had the biggest number of delegation: 58. Of the 58, 54 are women. Most of the BFP runners were still under training as firefighters but decided to join the race for fun.
“Sumali kami bilang pagsuporta kay Mayor Marcy,” said Inspector Hill Hernandez, head of the BFP contingent, assigned in Marikina for the first time. “May mga exercises at practice kami daily, kasama na ang pagtakbo. Pero hindi pa namin nasubukan ang tumakbong naka-heels. So kahit hindi manalo, ok lang. For fun lang ito at part ng aming community relations.”
After the race, five of the female runners from the BFP – Jaygie Calyaen, Kristine Joy Majait, Ana Katrina Mento, Frances Pearl Palma, and Divina Turqueza – won special awards. Hill was also one of the five male runners who won a special award. They all went home with cash prizes.
Scene-stealing Fab LGBT
Not to be outdone, LGBT members raised the rainbow flag at the race. They wore fabulous outfits, were fully made-up and ready to steal the stiletto race like Jonathan Jarden, John Rey de Leon, AJ Corpuz, and Marlou Parro.
It was the first time for Jonathan, who works at a Shell gasoline station, to join the race. He was dressed in a sparkling golden yellow sequinned and fringe dress with a cape and a headdress inspired by the symbol of the oil firm where he works. His mother, who also served as his make-up artist, costume caretaker, moral booster, and cheerleader, was with him.
“Manager namin sa Shell ang nagsabi sa akin na may ganitong race nga raw. Taga-karga po ako ng gas doon sa gasoline station. Dati kasi lalake ako, ngayon naging bading na," he said in jest when told as a joke that his job required muscles and strength, something that was usually identified with men.
"Nag-practice ako ng mga one-hour kaninang madaling araw. Tumakbo ako gamit ang heels ko na four inches,” said Jonathan also known by the name of Trisha Mae.
His dress and cape were borrowed from his manager at Shell, who also joined the Tour de Takong in previous years. He bought his four-inch stiletto at an “ukay-ukay” (a store for second-hand items) and put in the trimmings himself that included glittering sequins.
Jonathan, who said he would be happy just to finish the 600-meter race, took home the "Amazing Shoeperstar" special award.
Marlou, who looked like a creature from the “Avatar” movie, was covered in blue body paint from head to toe with red drawings and wore a black skirt and a black wig. He was among the last runners to arrive at the finish line but his fantabulous and tall stiletto, at 6.8 inches, won for him the "Nakakatakong Award", given to the runner with the tallest heels.
Teacher Johnny Timbreza, who had to buy a new pair of stiletto shoes after the pair he brought with him was not allowed, said he joined the race for the first time to help promote the traditions of Marikina City. He was with his wife and son.
“Para makasali sa tradisyon ng Marikina. Dati po akong athlete. Parang spike na rin itong heels sa sapatos” said Johnny, who teaches Araling Panlipunan (Social Studies) at the Fortune Elementary School. “Kahapon po nag-practice ako sa school namin.”
The 42-year-old teacher was one of the five male runners who received a special award alongside Hill the firefighter from the BFP Marikina.
(Photo credits: Alfred Javier of MASIDO and Marikina PIO)
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