On Spotlight: Lucian Antonio Alejo – The Champion Unleashed


Tonito Alejo at the ASTC Singapore Internal Marathon. Photo Credit: Lucian Antonio Alejo

Tonito Alejo at the ASTC Singapore Internal Marathon. Photo Credit: Lucian Antonio Alejo

It was a fine morning of June 6, 2016. I was on my way to Capitol Commons to meet the Alejos, who just arrived in Manila from their week-long vacation in Singapore. It was the first time that I would meet the whole family. Right outside the Pancake House in Capitol Commons, Ton approached me and led me to their table. There I met his sister Alex, his mom Tita Charis and a bit later, his dad Tito Boyet.

I met Lucian Antonio Alejo, or Tonito or Ton, back in 2014 when I did the on ground coverage of Alaska Ironkids in Cebu.

Unlike most junior triathletes, Tonito joined triathlon at a later age in his hometown in Iligan City. Having no background in swimming, he fast-tracked his swimming lessons so he can make it to his first triathlon race a few months away.

After finishing his first race, Tonito developed his love for the multisport and at the same time he wanted to attend the regular school. However, he had to make a tough and wise decision and a few considerations have to be made. Because when he chooses to attend regular school, he won’t have much time to train for triathlon. And for someone who had the passion for the sport, Ton chose the home study program so he can have more time to train and even join triathlon races without compromising his education.

Ton was 13 when he had his first taste of the Alaska Ironkids race which was held on April 13, 2014, in La Stanza, Marikina, where he ranked ninth among the boys in the 13 to 14 age bracket, completing the course in 45 minutes 13.67 seconds (Swim 400m, Bike 12km, Run 3km). He then joined the Alaska Ironkids in Cebu on August 2, 2014, where he ranked sixth in the Boys 13 to 14 age group, with a finish time of 35 minutes and 20.7 seconds (Swim 300m, Bike 9km, Run 2km).

Tonito Alejo during the run leg of Alaska Ironkids Subic, March 2015.

Tonito Alejo during the run leg of Alaska Ironkids Subic, March 2015.

Back home, Ton trained doubly hard and joined other triathlon races. During the Alaska Ironkids held in Subic on March 7, 2015, he missed to bag the third spot by just a second, placing fourth with a finish time of 32 minutes even (Swim 300m, Bike 9km, Run 2km). I can still vividly see him sprint to the finish line.

At 14, Ton had only one shot left to make a mark in the Alaska Ironkids triathlon race. The Alaska Ironkids Cebu held on August 1, 2015, was his last race in the local franchise of Ironkids. Confident with his training, and with his sister Alex and parents in mind, Ton was ready give all the best that he had. His determination to bring home his first Alaska Ironkids trophy and mascot didn’t falter. Not a single bit, as he had always wanted to give Alex that stuffed toy.

When I got off the service car (provided by Ford) straight from Mactan International Airport, I bumped into none other Lucian Antonio Alejo, who had the good news for me!

Among the 36 boys in the 13 to 14 year old category, Ton made a bang with his second place finish in 45 minutes 51.4 seconds, which put John Caleb Barlin in the third spot. His race stats: Swim (400m) – 00:08:13, Bike (12km) – 00:22:34, Run (3km) – 00:15:06. Very impressive! Now, this one’s off his bucket list.

I remember telling him, “What a great way to cap off your final year in the Alaska Ironkids program!” Indeed! Personally, I am so happy to see him achieve his goal because I knew that he worked hard for it. And I can only see a modest grin in his face whilst he said “Thank you po.” Such a fine kid.

Looking at his past Alaska Ironkids races, he improved tremendously from his 9th place in April 2013 to an awesome Second Place finish in August 2015. Yet, Ton has always remained grounded. Still calls me Kuya even when he’s way taller than I am!

Meeting the Alejo Family: Tita Charis, Tonito, Tito Boyet and baby Alex.

Meeting the Alejo Family: Tita Charis, Tonito, Tito Boyet and baby Alex.

Tonito Trivia
  • He can mimic an accent. He can talk in an Indian accent. Though his favourite is Craig Alexander’s Aussie twang.
  • He looks up to Crowie Alexander.
  • One day, he wants to join a Kona Ironman World championship race.
  • He can sing.
  • He can dance.
  • Awarded Athlete of the Year by City Sports Office, Iligan City Government
  • He saved up his cash awards to buy his gears.
  • He is under a home study program through SEIBO College
On Life After Alaska Ironkids
Tonito Alejo at the Dipolog Triathon 103. Photo credit: Dipolog Triathlon 103

Tonito Alejo at the Dipolog Triathon 103. Photo credit: Dipolog Triathlon 103

After his stint at the Alaska Ironkids, Tonito continued his triathlon journey joining sprint distance races like SUBIT, NAGT CDO Leg 3 (First Place) and in the most recent ASTC Singapore International Triatlon, which was also his first international race.

Currently, Ton is part of ActiveHealth Junior Elite Team (Unilab) under Coach Ani de Leon-Brown and Coach Dan Brown. Speaking to Coach Ani, she only has encouraging words for Ton. Whilst his good form is a big plus, he needs to fine tune his focus on training and in his races. With his abilities and talent, there’s a big world of opportunities waiting for him.

Ton, always put your best foot forward in everything that you do. I’m glad to know you’ve found your passion and it’s where you heart belongs to, and you have amazing parents and sister to always motivate you. Continue to be an inspiration to everyone as you’ve found your strength in your weakness! Cheers!

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Champions Reunite at the Alaska Ironkids Aquathlon


Having missed the second instalment of the Alaska Ironkids Aquathlon back in May, I was excited to once again witness the up and coming young triathletes take on the swim and run courses of the Alaska Ironkids Aquathlon in Subic on June 4, 2016.

The race venue was already packed with the participants and their parents as early as 6am. While everyone was busy preparing, I bumped into familiar faces like the Borlain sisters – Sam, Tara and Chezka, Wacky Baniqued, Jana Macalalad, Luigi Crisostomo with their parents in tow. Yes, whenever you see them in any event, you can expect that the parents are just somewhere. There’s no way that I can overlook the presence of these people. Except for Josh Ramos, Chantal Macalolot and a few new entrants to the race, they are the prominent personalities in the Alaska Ironkids races since I started doing live coverages of the event in 2012!

Triathlon Trio: Luigi Crisostomo, Wacky Baniqued and JB Sarmiento.

Triathlon Trio: Luigi Crisostomo, Wacky Baniqued and JB Sarmiento.

The Alaska Ironkids Aquathlon was a reunion of these young and promising triathletes. It is a culmination of their months-long training and preparation, their stage where they shine, their turf where they can be invincible.

Competition is inevitable among the participants even there are no cash prizes to speak of. The top three winners take home a medal, a trophy, the Ironkids stuff toy and the pride that their hardwork had paid off.

The pool side at the Wow Recreation & Activity Center was starting to be filled with spectators as Alaska Ironkids Race Director Ani de Leon-Brown conducted the race briefing a few minutes before the gunstart for the 13 to 14 year olds. As expected, the morning just got a lot busier as soon as the first wave of participants took off for the swim. Exciting twists happen during the race. Some participants can be strong in swimming while others can be faster in the run course.

Wacky Baniqued, 2014 Grand Slam Champion in the 11-12 years old category, came out of the water on the second spot. He gave his best in the run course which placed him on the first spot ahead of Marco Austriaco, who was the first out of the water. Wacky cross the finish line 19 minutes 21.6 seconds. Josh Ramos came in second at 19 minutes 30.5 seconds. Luigi Crisostomo completed the podium list with a time of 19 minutes 32.3 seconds.

This year, it’s another classic race for the Borlains sisters Sam and Tara, as they compete in the same age category. I have seen these two compete and of the two, Sam is a faster swimmer and Tara is the faster runner. But I honestly didn’t consider these two wonderful girls competing against each other. More than the competition, Sam and Tara race to win against themselves. And it was a speedy race for these two. Tara took the spot with a finish time of 19 minutes 44.7 minutes and Sam closely followed at 19 minutes 51.9 seconds. Everly Janarie Macalalad completed the list with a time of 20 minutes 49.6 seconds.

Top Photo: Sam Borlain, Tara Borlain and Jana Macalalad at the 2016 Alaska Ironkids Aquathlon Subic. Bottom photo: Sam Borlain, Tara Borlain and Jana Macalalad, and Ironman Pros at 2012 Alaska Ironkids Cebu.

Top Photo: Sam Borlain, Tara Borlain and Jana Macalalad at the 2016 Alaska Ironkids Aquathlon Subic. Bottom photo: Sam Borlain, Tara Borlain and Jana Macalalad, and Ironman Pros at 2012 Alaska Ironkids Cebu.

And just a little trivia for you, dear readers. Sam, Tara and Jana have been racing in the same age group category since 2012 and have taken the top three spots for four times. These races were Alaska Ironkids Cebu 2012, Alaska Ironkids La Stanza (Marikina) 2014, Alaska Ironkids Cebu 2014 and Alaska Ironkids Subic March 2015.

Though JB Sarmiento didn’t make the Top 3 in the 13-14 age group, he championed among the boys when he recorded the fastest run split with a time of 12 minutes 31 seconds. Among the girls, Tara Borlain completed the run course in 12 minutes and 56 seconds.

In the 11 to 12 age group, Joco Miguel Delizo and Zedrick James Borja made a remarkable finish. Glendwyn Mariscotes came in the fourth place. Back in 2012, Glendwyn topped his age group.

It’s Aubrey Tom’s time to shine as she topped the girls in the 9 to 10 year old age group. The Tayag Twins – Jose Maria and Juan Miguel, are both podium finishers. This time, it’s Jose Maria who landed on the third spot.

Franchezka Borlain apparently takes the same path as her sisters as she consistently makes impressive finish in her races. Chezka placed second in the 6 to 8 year old age group with a time of 7 minutes 44 seconds, four seconds shy of Zurielle Kenzie Galo, who placed first in 7 minutes 40 seconds.

I would like to personally mention Justicia Mariearl Tan. Whilst she didn’t land in the top 3, Isha had her own share of the podium moments in the past races.

The upcoming breed of triathletes in the country (from left): Jusiticia Mariearl Tan, Chezka Borlain, Anika Savet, and Twins Jose Maria and Juan Miguel Tayag.

The upcoming breed of triathletes in the country (from left): Jusiticia Mariearl Tan, Chezka Borlain, Anika Savet, and Twins Jose Maria and Juan Miguel Tayag.

Aside from the Race category, Alaska Ironkids has created a category for enthusiasts who want to have a feel of the multisport events , the Play category. Though participants in this category are not eligible to win, yet, their ranking can can be an indication how well they do in the race. Impressively, at the age of 4, Anika Savet topped the girls in the Play Short Distance event with a time of 8 minutes and 41 seconds tying with the 9-year old Dani Tengco.

The title Champion not only applies to the top finishers but also to everyone who finished the race as each one of them had trained and prepared well for the event. Some may not be as fast and strong as the others, but for sure, they did way better than their last race, recorded a new personal best, or simply feeling good about finishing the race. More than the awards and the trophies given to the top finishers, Alaska Ironkids is a venue to further encourage the children to live a healthy and active lifestyle through sports and proper nutrition.

Congratulations to all Finishers of the Alaska Ironkids Aquathlon!
For a complete list of the winners, please log on to www.ironkidsphil.com.

What’s your Alaska Ironkids story?

Sam Borlain and Wacky Baniqued Lead the Pack of Alaska Ironkids Champions


Months of training led to the most anticipated triathlon event for the young triathletes. On March 5, 2016, some 126 junior triathletes gathered for the first installment of the Alaska Ironkids triathlon held at the Wow! Recreation and Activity Center in Subic.

The early morning was abuzz as young triathletes checked in their bikes and geared up for their respective race distances, whilst a few seemed to be unmindful that they were actually racing that morning. Race Director Ani de Loen – Brown made sure that participants  were familiar with their race route briefing each wave prior to the swim start. 15 times Ironman champion Belinda Granger joined in the event as part of the Sunrise Team that staged the Alaska Ironkids. Aside from giving tips and sharing her experiences as a professional triathlete, she later on gave the participants a hand as they came off from the swim leg.

Alaska Ironkids Champions in the 13-14 AG: Sam Borlain and Wacky Baniqued

Alaska Ironkids Champions in the 13-14 AG: Sam Borlain and Wacky Baniqued

The race kicked off with the first wave of participants in the 13 to 14 year old group, followed by the 11 to 12 years old, 9 to 10 years old, and the final wave 6 to 8 years old in the Race category. Apart from the competitive ones, Alaska Ironkids also gave priority to newbies in the multisport through the Play category.

Marcus Faytaren led the boys in the swim leg of the race and came out of the water first. Sam Borlain led the girls and came out of the water with a wide gap. The race went on as the participants transitioned to the bike leg. It was a pretty close competition among the boys led by JB Sarmiento; Josh Ramos came in a few seconds behind and Wacky Baniqued on the third spot. Marcus Faytaren landed in the fourth spot. Sam Borlain firmly maintained her lead in the bike leg down to the run leg and soon caught up with the boys in the run leg.

Not having a team to train with months prior to the race day, Wacky Baniqued never lost his focus. He did what he’s best at and finished off the 400 metre swim, 12 kilometre bike and the 3 kilometre run in 43 minutes 8 seconds. JB Sarmiento came in 44 seconds behind in 43 minutes and 54 seconds. Josh Ramos, who’s racing in his second Alaska Ironkids triathlon, remarkably finished third in 44 minutes and 16 seconds.

Sam Borlain never broke despite some misfortunes that beset her in the bike leg – both her bike’s brakes and bike shoes were locked when they’re supposed to be unlocked. Sam finished with a breeze in 47 minutes and 52 seconds. Jana Macalalad leveled up her game with a second spot finish in 50 minutes and 1 second. Pia Suarez trailed in the third spot with a finish time of 51 minutes and 57 seconds.

15x Ironman Champion Belinda Granger sharing her experiences as a professional triathlete and giving tips to future champions at the Alaska Ironkids triathlon held in Subic on March 5, 2016.

15x Ironman Champion Belinda Granger sharing her experiences as a professional triathlete and giving tips to future champions at the Alaska Ironkids triathlon held in Subic on March 5, 2016.

It’s a great opening year for the 11-year old Zedrick James Borja, who topped the boys 11 to 12 years old category with a finish time of 37 minutes and 16 seconds. In 2015, he tied with Jose Maria Tayag in fourth place in the 9 to 10 boys category. Coming in at the second place is Eric Almendral who finished in 39 minutes and 54 seconds; Johann Carlos closed the roster with an 11 second gap finishing the race in 40 minutes and 5 seconds.

Tara Borlain once more proved to be invincible as she flawlessly took home another championship title for herself. Tara had her share of misfortune in the bike leg when she almost crashed at the bike mounting area because her rear wheel was unlocked. As a true athlete, she never faltered. She crossed the finish line in 35 minutes and 6 seconds. That’s a full minute and a half ahead of Micaella Barlin, who came in second with a time of 36 minutes and 36 seconds. Allison Ann Noble from the Bull Shark Triteam of Ilocos placed third with a time of 36 minutes and 54 seconds. The 11 to 12 years old race category consisted of 300 metre swim, 9 kilometre bike and 2 kilometre run.

Alaska Ironkids Triathlon finishers: Keesha Toledana, Francyn Elbenco, Anika Toquilar, Johann Manubay and Neil Nazarro.

Alaska Ironkids Triathlon finishers: Keesha Toledana, Francyn Elbenco, Anika Toquilar, Johann Manubay and Neil Nazarro.

Claiming the same spot in last year’s Alaska Ironkids Triathlon Subic, Mark Grist finished the 200 metre swim, 6 kilometre bike and 1.5 kilometre run in 25 minutes and 48 seconds, bringing home another championship trophy. Juan Miguel Tayag and Michael Gabriel Lozada filled in the second place and third place, respectively, with a finish time of 26 minutes and 41 seconds.

Kira Ellis dominated the girls crossing the finish line in 27 minutes and 25 seconds. Ana Maria Mempin came in second with a time of 28 minutes and 54 seconds. A consistent podiumer, Justicia Mariearl Tan added one more trophy in her collection when she finished in 30 minutes and 46 minutes.

You may say that they’re too young to race yet. Watching them behind those A-boards as they wait for their swim start, I can tell you no, they’re not. Who are we talking about here? I’m referring to the youngest of the participants in the race, the 6 to 8 year olds, who made 100 metre swim, 3 kilometre bike and 1 kilometre run.

Connor Hodges made a strong finish in 17 minutes and 15 seconds, topping all the boys. Gabriel Gaw came in second and finally Ythnmathw Orellana, both with a time of 17 minutes and 46 seconds.

Top three girls in 6-8 AG: Franchezka Borlain, Zurielle Kenzie Galo and Kyle Enielle Toledana with IM Pro Champion Caroline Steffen during the awarding ceremony.

Alaska Ironkids Top three girls in 6-8 AG: Franchezka Borlain, Zurielle Kenzie Galo and Kyle Enielle Toledana with IM Pro Champion Caroline Steffen during the awarding ceremony.

Franchezka Borlain makes a name for herself by championing among the girsl in the 6 to 8 year old group, finishing with a time of 16 minutes and 54 seconds. Zurielle Kenzie Galo filled the second spot as she crossed the finish line at 18 minutes and 48 seconds after the swim start. Kyle Enielle Toledana placed third with a time of 20 minutes and 25 seconds.

And to further inspire the winners and the participants, Ironman Pro triathletes like Dimity Lee Duke, Craig Alexander, Sam Betten, Katy Duffield, Caroline Steffen among others  joined in during the awarding ceremony. Winners in all of the age group categories earn a free entry to the Alaska Ironkids Triathlon to be held in Cebu in August this year.

On top of bringing home a championship title, Wacky Baniqued and Tara Borlain also each won a pair Newton shoes for recording the fastest run split in boys and girls division, respectively.

Triathlon Brings Families Together

For years now, Alaska Ironkids has become the venue for children who embrace healthy and active lifestyle through sports. And for the past four years since I started covering the Alaska Ironkids, I have seen so many young triathletes and their families come to the event.

Both the Aquathlon and Triathlon races have become a weekend bonding for triathlon teams and their families. Notably, the Borlains – Dad Ringo, Tita Carol with Sam, Tara and Chezka, make these races as part of their weekend getaway.

Jet and Lou Ann Ramos drove all the way from the highlands of Baguio with their three sons Josh, Dash and Arrow to Subic for the Alaska Ironkids, who each participated in the 13 to 14, 11 to 12 and 6 to 8 years old age group category, respectively.

Tayag Twins - Juan Miguel and Jose Maria, with Mom, Dad and younger brother.

Tayag Twins – Juan Miguel and Jose Maria, with Mom, Dad and younger brother at the Alaska Ironkids Triathlon held in Subic on March 5, 2016.

Triathletes and families of Team TriClark have always been visible in every Alaska Ironkids race. JB Sarmiento’s parents have always lent him the support he needs that enabled him to perform better in each race. The Tayag Twins – Juan Miguel and Jose Maria, have always their mom Connie and Dad Abe in tow each time they race. This time, they tag along their younger brother at the race venue!

During weekends and holidays, they go out for a swim, bike or run with their families or team mates. Their active engagement in these activities promote a healthier lifestyle which inspires more people to get into sports.

Nowadays, a significant number of triathlon teams and individual participants register for the races. Races that instill the values of discipline, hard work, determination and sportsmanship. Races that teach the importance of good nutrition. Races that develop them to be better individuals and athletes. Races that mold them become champions in life.

For more on Alaska Ironkids results, please visit www.ironkidsphil.com.
For more information on Alaska Sports program, visit www.alaskamilk.com.ph.
For updates, follow @AlaskaPlayPH on Instagram, @PlayPH on Twitter.

A Look Back at 2015: A Day in the Life of a Blogger in Me


2015 was a year of many things to reckon. It was a busy year, too!

Community management for social media accounts became a second nature to me. Social media coverage included GMA New Year Countdown, MyxMo, Alaska Crema Food festival, Alaska Aces, and Alaska sports events such as Alaska Power Camps, Jr. NBA-WNBA Philippines and Alaska Football Cup.

Werkin’ it at the Ironman 70.3 Philippines (Cebu) Photo Credit: Jamil Buergo

I have learned the ins and outs of live sports coverage that I got to do live coverage of triathlon events (Alaska Ironkids, 5i50, Ironman 70.3) where I go onground to give exclusive and first hand live updates on the Pros and the Filipino elites from the swim start, the bike leg, run leg down to the awarding ceremonies.

With Ironman Pros (from left): 15x Iroman Champion Belinda Granger, Dimity-Lee Duke and Justin Granger.

With Matteo, Giorgia and Paulo Guidicelli during Alaska Ironkids Triathlon, Subic.

Doing triathlon events is a thrill because I have the direct access to the Ironman Pros like Belinda Granger, Caroline Steffen, Brent McMahon, Pete Jacobs and a whole lot more! I even had a photo with Formula 1 champion Jensen Button! And of course, I got the chance to be upclose with some local celebrity triathletes, and even got to meet the Guidicellis!

La Presa

At the famous La Presa of the tv series Forevermore.

These live coverages brought me to out of town trips. During the Cebu coverage of Ironman 70.3, I had the privilege to have Ford as my service car, picking me up at the airport or take me from the hotel to the race venue. The Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA coverage in Baguio with fellow bloggers was very memorable because we got the chance to visit the very famous La Presa. It also gave way to a hosting gig during the send off party for the Jr. NBA – WNBA All Star Team. Thank you, Alaska Sports Team!

As a blogger, a runner and a fitness enthusiast, UNTV, through the recommendation of my friend Tonette Nicholas, invited me to talk about smart watches that have special features in their morning show Good Morning, Kuya. Being my first time to go live on a TV show, I really felt nervous that I got cold sweaty hands and a dry throat. The show’s host were very nice and accommodating that 5 minutes went by unnoticed.

GMK Guesting

I thought that it’s going to be my first and last but I was wrong. The show’s Segmet Producer Jay got me on the show twice. Thanks Tonette and Jay!

Quite frankly, I’m not the kind of blogger who would get invites to huge and grand events and product launches. I rarely receive invites even. But it’s not a biggie for me.

Despite of that, I was honoured to have been invited to join the ASEAN Media Bloggers Tourism Hunt, which was organised by Tourism Malaysia. The six-day itinerary was full but I was able to squeeze in some “me” time like running at the KLCC Park, a quick drop by at the Suria KLCC to get some Malaysian Ringgits, exploring the roads in Port Dickson or shopping at the Jonker Walk in Malacca. The mega fam experience included a visit to the Malaysia Tourism Information Centre, watch the grand and colourful Citrawarna @ KL, and got up close with the Petronas Towers.

Up-close with the imposing Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur.

The Malaysia Tourism Hunt saw us on a long road trip from Kuala Lumpur to Port Dickson, Malacca and Putrajaya, visits to museums, a quick drive to the Ostrich Farm and ran with the ostrich, experience best accommodation in best hotel, and experience a fast internet connection.

Road trip stop over in Putrajaya, Malaysia. #SeeMalaysiawithProton

In Malacca for the Trishaw Hunt. #MalaysiaTourismHunt

It was also a chance to learn more about Malaysia and its culture, aside from its being a neighbouring country, and meet bloggers from other ASEAN countries. The Malaysian Tourism Hunt was an absolute experience.

Six days went by so fast, and on our final night in Malacca, we were awarded with this Certificate of Appreciation. #MalaysiaTourismHunt #MYBFFXOXO

There were so much fun and adventure in all those six days. Thank you, Klay and Bianca!

Indeed, 2015 was a year to reckon. There’s too many stories to tell; there’s a lot of experiences to learn from, and endless memories to treasure.

THANK YOU, God for continuously blessing me with wonderful people, opportunities, a good job, for my friends and Family.

Cheers to a more fruitful, more rewarding and more awesome 2016!

“Blessings come to those who are good, do not envy and who patiently wait.”

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