Pinoys to run in Dubai Marathon for distressed OFWs

Dubai, UAE – What started as a sport activity for a group of Filipino long distance runners to keep themselves healthy and to overcome their loneliness for living away from their families evolved into a charity cause.

Filipino Runners-UAE will see action in the annual Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon on January 21 not only to achieve personal goals but also to help out their needy countrymen.

Dubbed Takbo para kay Kabayan (Run for my Countrymen), 39 members of the group will run a total of 800 kms in the Dubai Marathon. They hope to raise at least Dh40,000 (P480,000) by asking for pledges of Dh50 (P600) for every kilometer that they will run from individuals and companies.

Proceeds of the project will go to Filipino patients in Rashid Hospital who are in dire need of financial assistance; education and training workshops which include skills enhancement and knowing the basic rights of expat workers; and repatriation of distressed migrants staying at the POLO-OWWA Center in Abu Hail, Dubai.

“Finishing the Dubai Marathon which includes the grueling 42km event as well as 10km race is a major feat in itself but participating in that event to help others is glorious,” Euca Bolingot, 28, coach and team captain of the group said.

Bolingot, an IT professional in Dubai, noted that many Filipinos especially those working as domestic helpers and unskilled workers end up as victims of maltreatment, harassment and unfair labour practices and some of them have piled up hospital bills. Takbo para kay Kabayan is their way of reaching out to their distressed countrymen and raising people’s awareness that something has to be done.

Few days into the race, Bolingot, who is also aiming to improve his personal record of 2:55 for the 42km marathon,  said that they are already well-prepared for the race. He was happy how the group grew from three runners to almost 50 in just a few months.

The group is composed of “veteran” runners and eager beginners who initially called themselves Zabeel Night Striders until they finally decided on the name Filipino Runners-UAE.

With the change of name came the change in the orientation of the group.

Their plan was put into action after they forged partnership with the UAE chapter of Migrante International late November last year.

Migrante International has long been working for the protection of Filipino migrant workers not only in the UAE but in other countries as well.  It was instrumental in getting the support of other organizations under FilCom, an umbrella group of Filipino associations in Dubai and the Northern Emirates, for the project.

More than a charity run, Yuri Cipriano, chairperson of Migrante-UA, believes that Takbo para kay Kabayan “is a clarion call to all Filipino expats to hold similar activities that will uplift the lives of their kababayans (countrymen) in the Middle East.”

Cipriano, who will participate in the 10km run, said Takbo para kay Kabayan is a fine example of the Filipino spirit Bayanihan or collective action.

Bolingot agrees with Cipriano. He said: “More than ever we are more determined to reach the finish line. Each stride, each bead of sweat, each glory and pain is dedicated to improve the lives of our fellow migrant workers.”

For details on how to give donations to Takbo para kay Kabayan, visit or call Euca Bolingot at +971 50 5189917.  Photos by Yolly Ignacio

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