Why Filipinos run in UAE

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The Filipino Runners UAE (FRU) is a Dubai-based, non-profit organization composed of runners, athletes and outdoor enthusiasts. 

It aims to promote and encourage running in the United Arab Emirates and to educate its members on its physical and mental benefits.

The FRU was founded by Euca Bolingot, Budo Baylosis, Amor Baylosis, Arisher Manzo, Richard dela Cruz, Maui Ann and Luisa Sarsonas

Five years and counting

FRU Chairman Ross Fisuena said they started training together at Zabeel Park in the summer of 2010. “Since then, we kept on growing as a group with more than 650 members of different nationalities. We have extended our regular activities to Dubai Marina and Abu Dhabi. Presently, there are 300 strong Filipino active runners,” Fisuena added.

“Our running activities always set to help our kababayan. We ran to promote good health towards our fellow OFW’s and at the same time donate something to our needy kababayans.”

Aside from Pisuena, the officers-in-charge were chosen to serve various committees. They are Mary Ann Briones, Community Service; Rommel Reclosado, Run and Extreme; Fhelie Hernandez, Climb; Jay Lovete, Swim; Emman del Rosario, Bike; Jenel Guingguing, Media; Belle de Leon, Accounts; Cathy Valenzuela – OIC Medic; Geebeth Laxamana, Events and Program;  and, Shernan Mayoyo, Membership.

Advocates of social action

Their activities are geared towards raising a certain amount for worthwhile endeavors. “We are not only dedicated to promoting healthy lifestyles and enduring friendships, but also passionate advocates of social responsibility and in giving back to the community.”

They have an ongoing event, the RUN365 Days for a cause. For this year, scheduled to take off are RUNmadan Challenge, FRU Annual Ultra Run, FRU Annual Climb and Trail Run, Athens Marathon and Frankfurt Marathon. In 2016, there will be Takbo para kay Kabayan.

In 2011, the Takbo para sa Kabayan, 39 runners were able to participate in the 800-kilometer Takbo para sa Kalayaan. In January of the same year, FRU organized a fundraising activity dubbed as “Takbo para Kay Kabayan” (Run for My Countrymen) to coincide with the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon. It was a collective effort of our group to run a total of more than 800 kilometers as our way of reaching out to our distressed countrymen.

In this activity, they were able to raise a total of Dhs 31,000.  Part of the amount was directly handed to selected Filipino patients in Rashid Hospital who were in need of financial assistance while the remaining fund was used for education and paralegal workshops which include skills enhancement and knowing the basic rights of expat workers; and, repatriation of distressed OFWs staying at the POLO-OWWA shelter.

Their latest major event was RUNmadan Challenge 2014 with the theme “RUNmadan para kay Kabayan”. The group donated 2000 AED worth of goods and meals to nearly 50 distressed Filipino workers under the care of the Philippine Consulate.

Why Filipinos should join the group? Said Fisuena, “We are here to serve. We run to serve. FRU is free and open to all. There is no membership fee. Donations directly go to our beneficiaries. When we run, we help. Dubai road is our gym.”

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IMG_3984THE BLOGGER. Ulysses Espartero is a journalist, historian and book author who traces his roots from two Philippine jewels – Laguna and Antique.  While in Dubai, he enjoyed his expat life documenting the struggles and victories of migrant workers in the Gulf Cooperation Council states. In 2014, he released Precious Gems in a Desert of Gold, the first and only coffee table book about Filipino achievers in the United Arab Emirates. Connect with him on facebook.

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