So: Ungo runners

REGRETS only come on a Friday night. I tell my friends that I regrettably cannot join them for dinner on Friday or watch a movie with them. I cross my fingers that an event I’d like to attend is not scheduled on a Friday night.

Because on Friday night I turn into an ungo. And I am not the only one in Sun.Star.

Three editors of Sun.Star Cebu—the editor-in-chief, the news editor and the business editor—and the managing editor of Sun.Star News Exchange (Sunnex) find themselves similarly changed at 10 p.m.

Doctors, nurses, company executives, call center agents, lawyers, entrepreneurs, bankers, business people, web administrators, aircraft engineers, students, kids, hacienderos and a judge gather with us for a séance on running.

We are the Ungo Runners. Ungo is a Cebuano noun for witch, a being said to prefer to do things at night when everyone else has retired. When used as a verb, say naungo, it means bewitched or addicted. For these reasons, we call ourselves ungo. We run at night and forego everything else on a Friday night just to run.

We don’t look like an ungo, at least not before arriving at our destination. We begin to resemble one upon reaching our water stop. The transformation happens in the third kilometer when we’ve coated ourselves with sweat, dust and vehicle fumes from running on the main roads of Cebu City that lead to IT Park.

When we started the Friday night run last Feb. 19, there were only 12 of us led by Sun.Star Cebu business editor Max Limpag. In this group were lawyer Ramsey Quijano, the Joel Garganera, Dr. Vilma Pesa, Dr. Mitty Igana, The Freeman community editor Divine Ngujo, Romer Empialis and Sun.Star Cebu reporters Linette Ramos, Justin Vestil and Rene Martel, Max’s wife and Sunnex managing editor Marlen Limpag and me. Linette and I could barely run a kilometer then without stopping to pick our dislodged eyeballs. (Now, one eyeball nalang for me but Linette still both.)

The group has since grown and new faces show up every Friday. In one when we had taekwondo expert Kenneth Toledo as guest speaker, there were close to 100 of us.

We have pep talks by veteran runners. We’ve listened to Dr. Yong Larrazabal, ultra-marathoners Jonel Mendoza, Haide Acuna and Bro. Carlo Bacalla, serial marathoner Joel Garganera, endurance swimmer Basti Lacson, barefoot runner Redg Plopinio, triathlete/diver/doctor Reel Bontol, OB/gyn doctor and ramp enthusiast Eleanor Casquejo, race organizer Kenneth Casquejo, running icon Steve Ferraren and tennis champ John Pages.

Having heard about the Ungo Runners, triathlete Sen. Pia Cayetano has expressed her interest to speak in one of our Friday runs. (Please, please, Lord, let Piolo Pascual hear about the Ungo Runners.)

The Ungo Runners are a mix of milers and newbies. Each runner sets his or her pace and everyone waits for the last runner to arrive at the water stop. No one complains about the slow runners. Max and Marlen run the route back and forth to check on the tail-enders.

Ungo Runners have grown in number that race organizers attend our Friday runs to promote their events. We got a discount in our registration fees for the Aug. 22 Aboitiz Run. St. James has been providing us with free water in our Friday night runs.

No regrets on Friday nights.


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