Evia has Evolved

We broke routine this weekend. Christmas is getting closer and yesterday’s advisory on SLEX’s LED monitors showed hint that grinches, I mean shoppers, are flocking to Alabang onwards. But luck was on our side this time.

Our recent plan to check out Evia Lifestyle Center once more was timed right. For the first time I drove coming from Calamba to Daang Hari via MCX and parted ways from motorists on SLEX who were then pacing slowly like reindeer-less Santa sleighs. Traffic to this mall in the middle of the Villar-owned properties was light with only a slight hitch at the toll gate. Thanks to RFID we got through faster than those queuing at the cash lanes.

Evia has evolved and improved a whole lot since we first set foot two years ago. It now has more stores and more parking spaces. Basement parking is also now open and there’s an extended parking area across the mall close to Petron gas station where free shuttle service to and from the mall is available from 10 AM until 10 PM.

Evia Lifestyle Center is part of the growing Vista Mall chain and construction is ongoing. I realized this must be the reason some of the guards are as confused as us. We asked a couple of them for directions to the cinemas and we were advised we can take the escalators with Marcus in his wheelchair. We obliged despite protest but soon figured there are two elevators we should’ve used. First is the one that’s only until the 2nd floor and another that reaches the cinema level.

Evia’s 3rd level offers more than just movies. We discovered after spending a thousand for two persons for dinner that there are cheaper alternatives like pizza, pasta, burgers, churros, and even street food snacks. No regrets though as Bulgogi Brothers served us a nice hotpot plus the staff were very accommodating.

Evia has a newly-opened iMax cinema but Marcus has his mind set to the new Fortnite season and was also anxious to get back home to see our dog which is why we skipped the movies this time. Anyway I’m sure we’ll be back some other time soon.

Evia’s Christmas decor beats the Ayala malls’ we’ve visited.
The tight elevator makes good effect.
At Bulgogi Brothers. Away from fatty pizza and burgers.
Cinema area looks nice.

***

Big question: what’s with malls that they would rather use a PWD elevator than build a ramp?

Evia’s wheelchair/stroller elevator.

Ayala Town Center has this similar elevator which remained broken until our last visit and it was the reason I didn’t like going there anymore. Hopefully they already fixed it is our access to the cinemas, North Park, and the sports store that sells nice shoes. Wink, wink.

***

Mood: 5/10 Honks! (Weather’s nice but I got cold to deal with.)

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Live The Beat

Marcus collected our Fitbars and finisher medal.

Run with music? It took me only a couple of days to decide that this is the second official running event I’d do this year the first time The Music Run PH appeared on my Facebook timeline. The words discounted registration rate for early birds was also a come-on. It was only July then but I could already smell November immediately after I filled in my personal details and clicked submit.

The next runs were soon more purposeful. My plan was to beat the 10K PR I did in February when I joined 7-11’s running event. I finished it after an hour and 6 minutes but I knew I can do better.

The twist came though when Marcus got the hang of running with me few months later. He must have loved the feel of his wheelchair moving faster that it would at home or in the malls and so he’d say yes whenever I ask if he’d like to go out and run with me. He got hooked so the training strategy changed.

I got this.

I wasn’t really sure then if organizers of The Music Run PH would grant my request but I sent a message anyway. Their response was quick, they said yes I could bring Marcus with one simple rule–stay on the left lane. The update got me very excited. The weekends that followed we logged runs farther than 5K, progressing each time.

This Saturday the months of anticipation and training was tested. Wifey supported our adventure so we all checked in at one of Marcus’ favorite place–the Acacia Hotel in Alabang–which was perfect due to its proximity to The Music Run PH’s venue.

Loading up on McDonald’s carbs.

Powered by McDonald’s spaghetti happy meal for lunch, I finished all the French fries even, we set off. The venue was five minutes away from the hotel and the quick trip on foot also served as my warm up run. There was no gun start so we joined the other runners as soon as we reached the start gate at about 4:30 PM. Weather was nice and warm.

Several people, participants and marshals included, cheered for Marcus. The energy was contagious and it motivated me more. The road was almost packed so I tried to steer clear of other runners and stuck to the left lane as agreed but every now and then I’d overtake those who paused and walked. Loudspeakers playing upbeat music were set up along the route so I was tempted to do the floss at some point but decency kept me from doing it–old guy doing a Fortnite emote doesn’t look good around sweaty millennials. So I pushed forward instead. Marcus shared his Skittles whenever I stop for my Gatorade.

Two loops later, we reached the finish line. It was already dark, though night was young. We clocked 10 minutes more of PR but that’s good enough considering the wheelchair. A quick random interview and we’re soon out of the event’s ground, happily on our way back to the hotel with our first ever 10K finisher medal. The race was tough as I have imagined but I think we’ll do this again.

Two loops of this. We were hamsters in a music trail.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Early morning bit looking forward to buffet lunch.)

In Sickness And In Health

When we walked the aisle on that very day we professed the ultimate commitment of our love for one another we made a promise. It was the sweetest, it was binding, it was the bravest vow any couple would ever make. Until death do us part, right?

Then life goes go one after the fanfare. Life as a couple, ideal it seems at that time, moves forward. We’re now husband and wife, ready to face the world. Then we’d have kids, the family grows from just two to more. Married life is bliss. Our love holds for richer or for poorer, for better or for worse…

But sometimes life would test further. Life would soon remind us the boldest commitment we’ve ever made, those romantic promise, likely in our then absent-minded state. In sickness and in health we’d later realize would be our mantra as we face head on the toughest of the toughest trials that would come our way.

Fact is, true love is easier said than done. It is skin-deep if it exists just for fun and in good times. For all we know, true love isn’t a party for it goes beyond looks and sex and marriage vows. It is anything but true love if it doesn’t survive ‘in sickness and in health.’ True love is an adventure, it’s a journey. Hair-raising but rewarding journey. Again, that is if we survive it, if we don’t give up midway.

This is why I admire married couples, more so the elderlies, I see in hospitals. These guys beat lovers in the malls anytime. I envy those who persevere, who try their best to make their balding cancer-stricken spouse smile; those who wheel in day after day their immobile husband to complete another challenging physical therapy; those who hold hands until their partner’s last breath. That, to me, is true love.

If I have my way, however, I do not wish to see the day I’d have to prove myself, to walk the talk, to prove true and deeper love. But when that day comes I wish and pray I’d be the strong person than I am today. “In sickness and in health…’til death do us part.”

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Words inspired by this recent week’s event.)

First Fun Run

We’ve had morning runs in the past and we’re even in attendance in a fun run event which I recall was during the adoption awareness week about nine years ago. But wifey and I were never together as registered participants. Last week we had the chance to see ourselves run side by side.

Eager 3K runners.

The Sto. Tomas Color Fun Run, an organized though small running event, got all three of us in our running sneakers. On Friday morning we gathered with other excited runners at the starting line just few meters away from home, our aspin dog tagging along.

Dog panting but enjoying.

It was wifey’s first time to run again after several months, stuck normally at home doing her freelance jobs, so I paced with her. Basically, it was skip, hop, and jog for me, just to keep Marcus entertained, until the second kilometer. I started picking up the pace and left wifey behind on the last 1K stretch. Less than 10 minutes later, Marcus and I saw her cross the inflatable finish line arc. Not bad.

Post-run recovery was free Jollibee Yumburgers but three of us shared just one of it. I haven’t event burned the carbs I took prior to this. So barely exhausted and not wanting our dog to get lost on its way home, I decided that Marcus and I can still run with the dog. My Garmin registered about 6K total that morning.

This shouldn’t be our last. I want the three of us to join another event soon. Practice runs won’t be bad as well.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Hot chocolate at the car wash.)

Marcus Can Fly

An ultralight adventure got us back to Pampamga. After more than 10 years I drove the car up the north route again, its seven of eight good spark plugs doing their job. Our unplanned stopover at the Total NLEX gas station where wifey and I got locked out before made the trip even more nostalgic.

Last year I read about ultralights flight being safe and affordable and since then I wished we’d someday do it. A month ago a friend’s video on an ultralight became the final reminder so we booked our son for his first ever ultralight flight.

The drive to Angles City Flying Club took about four hours in a surprisingly moderate traffic on a Saturday morning. One hundred and sixty kilometers later we arrived at our destination although we later learned Waze could have done better had it directed us to Mabalacat exit instead of Mexico, Pampanga.

Incidentally, World Ultralight Fly-In (WUFI) 2018 was also happening that same day so Marcus had to stay and wait in the queue with other eager flyers. There were five ultralights per batch. Our son was number 29.

Marcus soon took off and didn’t back out of it but the other kid in his batch did bail out so a second take off was made. Flight time above the scenic Woodland Airpark in Sitio Talimundok, Pampanga was about 15 minutes with his pilot giving him a taste of how to control the nimble ultralight sometime during flight.

Me and the crew assisting Marcus after landing.

A copy of the video we received a week later would confirm what Marcus said he experienced. Strapped and having poor control of his muscles, he wasn’t able to look around while up in the air. He said he was limited to what he could see up front and within his peripheral vision. Nevertheless, another achievement unlocked. Marcus was able to fly.

***

Luck was on my side that day. Vince from Travellog.Ph who assisted booking Marcus for this event offered me a free ulttalight ride. I’ve done static skydive and tandem skydive in the past so I thought nothing could be more exciting. The ultralight flight proved me wrong.

***

Here are tips for a better ACFC ultralight flight experience.

1. Bring a GoPro. ACFC’s 15-minute flight is only Php2,888 but availing the package that includes shirt and photo-video costs an additional Php1,700. Shirt was cool but the photo and video aren’t worth it. So bring a GoPro if you have one as the plane has a GoPro mount.

2. Memory, memory, memory. I didn’t avail the photo-video package (firstly, got my ride for free) so I used a traditional Canon point-and-shoot attached to a selfie stick to record my flight. I was enjoying every bit of the experience when in the middle of the flight the dreaded “insufficient memory” error started showing up. Sucks that the thrilling turns and stalls weren’t captured.

3. Pick your pilot. Ask around, look for dizzy yet happy passengers when the planes land. I flew with a crazy local pilot and it made the free flight double the fun. Check my video above. Find that guy.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Sunny Sunday and I wish we could fly again.)

Red Wheelchair’s Farthest Run Ever

Stopping for his chocolate chip frap at Starbucks Sto. Tomas.

I ran with Marcus. Yup, not just for Marcus. A dream coming true for me even if he’s on a wheelchair. For two days in a row we covered the most distance and we achieved more running this time. In his gaming parlance it was “achievement unlocked.”

Saturday’s run on a route we once took with wifey earlier this year was short and quick. Seeing two clowns on a motorcycle was the one of the highlights of this run and although Marcus neither saw goats nor cows, he found a compound with Ostrich. An animal sighting made the 3K session worth it for him.

The next day Marcus wants more of it. I thought he won’t ever ask to do it in succession as he’d have to deal with smoke-belching vehicles, dusty road, and was exposed to the sun for a longer period. But I was wrong. Marcus didn’t mind staying out in the open on his red wheelchair. Our second run is proof that he loves to do more.

Sunday afternoon we started earlier. At about 4:30 PM we met the blinding sun head on. He refused to wear the visor cap which he calls a stupid hat because he finds it weird that the top portion is open. So I gave him the option to wear his Batman baseball cap and told him to just look down and avoid staring at the sun rays. We reached shade more than a kilometer later. Running was easier at this point.

Marcus was chatty almost the entire time and it was a good thing. Having a conversation with him diverted my thoughts away from the effort I was exerting to keep running. I would only check my Garmin whenever he’d ask how much distance we’ve covered so far and that’s only when I’d also see my heart rate and pace info. Every now and then he’d look back to check if I was sweating or not. I’d respond back that I’m fine.

We hit the 7K mark at exactly an hour later just in time before dark. His Starbucks chocolate chip frappuccino we got halfway of our run is already consumed except for its whip cream when we stepped back inside our house. I’m not sure when the next time is but I would love him to join me again while I try to rack up more miles this October.

7K with Marcus.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Air time for Marcus in few more days.)

I Survived Buy-One-Take-One Day

Remember that lemon fan? Our weeks of being under the mercy of rechargeable handheld Iwata fans have ended. Yesterday, we went to our first ever S&R buy-one-take-one sale day with the main purpose of getting a replacement for our now useless electric stand fan. Well, one of the main purposes, at least that’s how wifey justified it.

The experience was crazy. I’ve heard of long queues during sale events but I never realized how long is long until I saw the queue of restless shoppers twisting back and forth outside S&R’s Nuvali store like an oversized hungry Slither.io snake. To be honest, I always appreciate Marcus’ wheelchair on days like this. We soon bypassed the regular line and was ushered to the priority lane where there are few patrons waiting to be accommodated, though including some grumpy senior citizens. A compromise I was glad to take.

Me trying to summon inner peace on our way to the cashier.

Entering the store wasn’t the end, however. This time we had to weave in and out and dodge over eager shoppers as they push their trolleys around like zombies out for blood. The line outside the store seemed more civil and subtle. To discover that not every item is buy one take one made me feel more impatient and secretly regret driving despite lack of sleep just to be there.

But wifey was a fighter. All women are, I guess. To them the word sale is caffeine. She was like on zen despite minimal lunch. What was once an empty large pushcart was soon filled. To her wallet’s credit, I noticed that the pack of toilet paper that Marcus and I were kidding her as the second on her list wasn’t the reason her cart was overflowing. Two boxes of stand fans shared space with other stuffs. Minimalism died that day.

Four hours later, we exited the store triumphant. Or more aptly, relieved. The buy-one-take-one smoothies capped our sale day. So are we going to do it again next time? Our answers are opposing. Mine and Marcus obviously on the negative side. But barely 24 hours after, I heard wifey saying she wants a second shot. Fingers crossed, I hope S&R drops prices by half in the hardware and car isles. I’ll be ready by then, hope my wallet is.

A giant Starbucks coffee pack made my day.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Can’t wait for this sleepy week at work to end.)