June 24, 2011
Fifty-nine year old Cebuano engineer Virgilio Fernandez took up running in 2008 to help ease his hypertension. Fernandez's eldest son Neil Adrian tells ABS CBN Cebu reporter Rachelle Dangin his dad Virgilio would run around the Fuente Osmena circle every morning without fail. Little did Virgilio know that his recreational running would one day save his life.
It was 1:30 in the morning of June 19 in Tipotipo, Basilan. While everyone else was sleeping, Fernandez, held captive the by notorious bandit group Abu Sayyaf since June 3, ran like he never ran before.
The night before his daring escape, Fernandez pretended to be sick with stomach flu. His captors let down their guard and let him sleep by the door of a hut. The bandits asked him to remove his shoes and made sure he only had his socks on, probably to make sure he won’t run away. But being barefoot did not prevent him from running non-stop away from Tipotipo. At 1:30 in the morning, after making sure that his captors were sound asleep, Fernandez ran towards freedom.
Feeling neither pain nor tiredness, Fernandez literally ran for his life.
Over TV Patrol Central Visayas, Fernandez recounts how he dared not ask for help from the local residents as most of them were in cahoots with his captors – “Kadaghanan nila ila mang kasabwat.” (Many of them were in cahoots with the Abu Sayyaf.) Barefoot and with only the moon as his guide, the stocky engineer ran and walked non-stop in a northwardly direction until about 7:30 in the morning. He found help in the morning after meeting a man with a bolo, who luckily had a brother who was a military asset.
What happened to Fernandez that night was a flight or fight situation. Fleeing his captors caused his body to produce adrenaline, which allowed Fernandez, who until that night probably never ran that fast and that long in his life, cope with dangerous a situation. With adrenaline rush, air passages are dilated allowing more oxygen to enter his body and pain-dulling hormones were released masking painful cuts and blisters on Fernandez legs and feet.
Of all the different sports out there, running can be the most practical and can literally save your life . Hearing Engr. Virgilio Fernandez’s tale really makes you want to lace up and run, though hopefully not away from kidnap for ransom bandits like the Abu Sayyaf.