Outdoor athletes—whether cycling, running, or hiking—are no strangers to being rained on: The parade marches on
Photos by Getty Images/Unsplash+ and courtesy of Pao Vergara
Rain. One of Filipino music’s biggest fascinations, from Apo Hiking Society to Rivermaya to Lola Amour, the imagery of rain captures our tropical experience in music.
Each time I’ve been rained on doing sports I love has taught a different lesson and whatever lesson learned in the previous shower might not apply in the next one. There is a time to seek shelter, and a time when doing so will only chill you and weaken your immune system.
During an “easy” urban ride through the Ortigas hills, the downpour was sudden and even as we sought shelter, I kept shivering. Dad and his cyclist friends decided that to stay warm, we ought to continue the ride. I was a teen then, and Lola was thoroughly surprised that I didn’t get sick after.
Each time I’ve been rained on doing sports I love has taught a different lesson and whatever lesson learned in the previous shower might not apply in the next one
On the next ride, however, it was best to hunker down in a shed, let the rain—and mudslides—pass, and stay warm with an extra tee. Tiwala sa Dri-Fit!
Once, when hiking in Zambales at the height of a storm, our group was stunned to witness a side of nature mostly seen in documentaries: water, er, mudslides, and rain that wasn’t falling down but shooting at us, not from the sky above, but flying sideways, seemingly from the South China Sea.
Our reverie was shattered when it was time to pitch tents. This normally took 30 minutes, but here it took two hours. Some of us had to brave the flying rain to find and haul boulders back to camp to secure the tent strings. That night, we got some nausea as the tent felt more like a boat at sea, but the freshly cooked rice was the best plain rice we ever tasted in our lives.
And sometimes, the experience is barely dramatic but nonetheless impactful. Armed with basic knowledge readily available online, I know that I won’t get sick running under a drizzle if I take the right precautions before and after, but boy am I lazy to train even when I know I need to reach a certain weekly mileage to not conk out at an upcoming race.
I look for reasons to stay indoors—a pour-over coffee, “the rain will stop, five more minutes,” maybe I can just do calisthenics. Until I just do it. I head out, and power through.
To conquer myself—through the rain—what a feeling!
Rained on? What a ‘ginhawa’
In many classic Chinese and Japanese landscape paintings, you can actually spot a few humans: an ink-and-parchment Where’s Waldo of sorts. In a vast mountain range, there are three weary travelers stopping by a bamboo grove on a mountainside path, or further at the lake, there are some fishermen returning with the day’s catch, while on the shore, steam wafts from a teahouse’s fresh brews.
In a way, these paintings put into perspective mankind’s place in the larger environment, but rather than fear or man’s insignificance (a rather Western fetish), many of the painters depict in their human characters humor, harmony, or a graceful acceptance of What Is.
Ginhawa is one of my favorite “untranslatable” Filipino words. Most attempts in English describe it as a word for “relief” or “safety” or “comfort” but I think these definitions fall flat.
If I had to explain it in English, I’d go for a scene and feeling, an image: It’s 2003, raining outside and there’s a Band-Aid over a graze you got from tripping while playing futsal outside, but you feel cozy because Lola made you a cup of tsokolate as your family unwinds after dinner.
It’s humbling when nature’s ways force us towards Plan B, C, or D. You realize that no matter how modern we think we are, something as ubiquitous and seemingly mundane as the rain forces us to think on our feet and power through with sheer grit
As depicted in the Sinosphere landscape paintings, ginhawa is best felt with good company: The travelers marvel at how far they’ve come, the fishermen sing on the way home, the teahouse host anticipates mirth.
There’s something humbling but also liberating about having nature derail your plans and still pushing through.
It’s humbling when nature’s ways force us towards Plan B, C, or D. You realize that no matter how modern we think we are, something as ubiquitous and seemingly mundane as the rain forces us to think on our feet and power through with sheer grit.
It’s liberating when you realize that the anticipation of the dreaded thing is more stressful than the thing itself, in this case, the rain. You realize that wow, you’re capable, you’re strong, thanks to hundreds of thousands of years of evolution and inherited instincts from your prehistoric ancestors guiding you.
And the best part is when it’s a shared experience, you may all walk different paths after each rainy adventure, after you graduate, after you move house, after you change jobs, but when you see fellow athletes who’ve been there, you’ll share that wordless bond, that shared knowing of having not only conquered nature but having had your ego conquered by nature.
There’s something primal about it all, and healing, too, in how living in your body, trusting your instincts, suspending the usual predictable nature of life, puts you in the best headspace.