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February 11th, 2024 | By Roger Rigor

The year 2023 is almost over and I decide to take an early morning jog. The breaking of dawn will still be for a while; just the right time to relish the quiet and the peaceful, the flickering of the few holiday lights dotting Beacon Hill drive. I also realize that today (December 30th), we commemorate the execution of the Great Malay, Dr. Jose Rizal, at Bagumabayan field (now Luneta Park) in the late 1800 Manila.

It should be a refreshing run, allowing to reflect upon a year that was…and, the year to be.

As anticipated, and as I get settled with rhythmic strides, the air was brisk with a nip of cold. But it felt good as I began to turn the corner towards Columbia Way, with Fou Lee across it still silently shuttered. A bead of sweat is now upon my eyebrow…

It was then that I heard the barking of a dog, not quite far. A big dog, I notice. It was being held on by a portly, elderly man now straining to keep it still. It was no use…how can an alpha dog not be agitated by a runner in black, at an ungodly hour? I figured, since they were across the street walking opposite my way, it won’t be long, and they’d be

back at their house.

Sure enough, as I looked back from a good distance now, the elderly man was turning towards one of the houses, pulling his barking dog apparently to bring it inside.

I get back to my rhythm and free-flowing thoughts…until I heard at a distance now the same old man screaming some unintelligible name…could hardly hear what it was, as I was quite a way from them.

And then it hit me.

There is only one reason he’d be screaming his head off… And so, I turn my head again in the direction I last saw them in, trying not to miss my running beat. There can be nothing more horrifying than to see an alpha dog, loose on its leash, savagely speeding

towards you, even from a distance. At that dog’s relentless speed, it would be only a matter of seconds.

My first reaction was to climb the wall that I was by. And I frantically did, but it was no use…straining and cussing, I couldn’t pull myself up. And besides, the wall was too narrow to sit on…and, more importantly, what would the owner of the house think I am? That would be worse!

Having no wall to climb, and realizing I can’t possibly outrun a rampaging dog, I was left with no other choice: FACE IT!!

Seconds seemed to stretch slow now and taking a deep breath I turn around in a somewhat squatting position with both my arms stretch out wide on my side…trying my best to look bigger than what I can imagine myself to be. And with the loudest growl I can muster at about the direction and the instant when the dog was about to lunge at me---it stopped; seemingly startled, suddenly somewhat unsure…my loud, primal growl-scream is working!

It was enough for me to reign in my fear and finally get overtaken by some sense of fighting hope! But the thought of his powerful jaws ripping at my flesh was enough to keep my scream really loud! I never thought I could even scream that loud!! In the tense stand-still, alpha dog snarling and figuring out the situation, I’m sure, the old man was breathlessly coming towards us, with hardly a run. I can see he was already spent but was frantic.

“I’m sorry! I’m sorry” …was what he kept repeating!

All I could do was keep my growl-scream going, and in between, would just as scream back, “Get him!! Get him!!”

He would stumble trying to catch the dog. Stands up and puts himself between me and the dog. Until he finally was able to grab the leash, pulling it back, wildly trying hard not to let go. I was afraid the dog could overpower him again. But he was determined nothing serious would end this morning.

Now shaking and adrenaline rushing like heck, I try to run backwards, facing the pair, making sure they were far and safely inside…though, I was still anticipating that perhaps the dog might bolt loose again…

But it didn’t. And it was over, albeit with a sore throat that I have not felt that sore before…

Wow…what a way to end the year! And what a metaphor to start it with…

I rounded my way back trying to avoid the same spot and took a longer route through the Veteran’s Hospital way.

Nothing could be more profound in the lesson this encounter has made in me:

There are times when one is left without a place to run to; a place to hide in…and the only recourse is to face the challenge.Adversity will always confront your choices.

Rather than dwell upon an impending defeat, there is still that sliver of chance by facing it, in spite the odds! Stand up, take a deep breath and give it your all…!

Thank you, 2023….And, 2024…here we come!

Images generated from - inspired by Kuya Roger's account bidding farewell to 2023 and welcoming the new (lunar) year, 2024: The Year of the Dragon.


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