Milo heroes; unselfish dedication

Reliving traditions. The UC Junior Jaycees continued the long standing tradition of volunteering for the Milo Marathon. Its current president Sofia Elena Labajo (3rd from right standing 1st row) has no intentions of breaking the tradition.

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Annually, Cebu City turns in a huge number of entries in the Milo Marathon elimination.
And year after year, the Cebu race exceeded expectations because of the kind of management and strategy the local organizer has employed to make it more attractive than any other race.
And Ricky Ballesteros, one of the most winningest Milo Event Organizers, and Cebu Elimination race organizer have this secret to share – the volunteers, the unsung heroes.
“They (volunteers) are a big help. It is not easy to mount a big event like Milo Marathon, especially with 24,000 runners participants. It (organizing) has become a collaborative effort to all that are involved,”  Ballesteros revealed to iNews.Ph.
This year, the Milo Marathon attracted more than 1,000 volunteers who helped make the event an overwhelming success.
“Since I started organizing events, I always involved volunteers. We have the student groups, the University of Cebu Junior Jaycees, the Mambaling Youth Organization, Canine, Radio Clubs, the Cebu City Disaster and Risk Reduction Unite, the Department of Public Services, street cleaners, the Police, CCTO, Cebu City Fire Department, barangays along the routes, marshalls, ERUF, RAPID, Barangay Ambulances, Barangay Tanods, DEPED, PSC and all Cebuanos who volunteered their services. They were all valuable in helping us have a smooth race,” Ballesteros continued.
One of the groups that Ballesteros mentioned was the UC Junior Jaycees.
The group is composed of UC students who took their time off from the usual nitty-gritty of college life to be part of a tiresome but worthwhile undertaking.
“This was a humbling experience for us. We learned to value the small things for a greater good. Very tiresome tasks but a simple thank you is all worth it,” stressed Sofia Elena Labajo, the current president of the  UC Jr. Jaycees.
Sofia led the more than one hundred students, who worked as encoders, manned water stations and were human barricades at intersections to protect the runners from vehicles.
“A week before the race, our group had already started encoding the names of the participants.  And we get to go home last because we need to make sure to encode the names and times of the finishers efficiently. And come race day, the bulk of the UC Junior Jaycees came in at 12 midnight and manned our stations before the race would start. It is very tiring but very rewarding when we get a thank you and good mornings from the runners,” Sofia continued.
It is a tradition that Sofia and the future presidents would likely continue to exercise.
“This (volunteerism) project began in 1995 and the tradition continued until these days. Aside from Milo we also volunteered in some running and special events. This project is for a greater purpose as the proceeds of the honorarium we may get from Milo will be used for our projects such as visiting charitable institutions and home for the aged, feeding programs and tree planting activities. Aside from our external projects we also conduct internal projects for personal developments of our members,” Sofia explained.
Among those who Ballesteros lauded were the unparalleled service of Audie Marte and the Philippine Sports Commission Cebu office and extended family.
Marte who was already helping since the start of the registration period was also in charge of the logistics and coordination among the volunteers.
 “We made it a point that the Milo Marathon would become an event to look forward to every year. Exciting, fun and something that we can showcase and be proud of, that we Cebuano can mount a world-class event. And they (volunteers) want to be part of the history and it’s actually a collaborative effort. And every time we see happy and contented faces of those participants from all walks of life is most satisfying to the organizers, we know this happened because the unselfish dedication of our volunteers,” Ballesteros concluded. RCM
5K runners began their quest to make a podium finish at the sound of the starting gun. (Photo by Christian Maningo)