There’s going to be another fun run for Pasig River on October 10 and it seems it’s going to be another success for the organizer, ABS-CBN Kapit Bisig. A report on the website lopezlink.ph claims about 90,000 have already pledged their participation.
Fun runs are clearly the “in” thing to do nowadays for generating buzz around a cause or advocacy. In this case the rehabilitation of Pasig River.
I’m just wondering if those who plan to participate in this fun run will do so because they genuinely support the cause or because they enjoy running. I sometimes suspect it’s the latter. Well, who am I to judge what drives these people to participate. Participating in such an event because of a passion for running is a valid motivation regardless if they really are giving the advocacy being promoted any thought at all.
I’m really curious though as to to how much of an impact such fun runs have on the actual rehabilitation efforts. In this case, I think one way to measure is to check how much money such events are able to raise.
According to the 1010runforpasigriver website, the participation fee is P250. Let’s do a little math.
P 250 x 100 participants = P 25,000
P 250 x 1000 participants = P 250,000
P 250 x 10,000 participants = P 2,500,000
P 250 x 100,000 participants = P25,000,000
As you can see, if the fun run manages to bring in 100,000 participants it would generate P 25,000,000. That’s no small potatoes. Though obviously not enough to clean up the whole river, it can help finance at least part of it.
But, of course, that’s assuming fun runs do attract such a large number of participants. For this event, Kapit Bisig hopes to attract a minimum of 120,000 runners. If it does succeed in getting that number it would break the long running Guinness record set in 1988 by the Bay To Breakers race in San Francisco California, which is 110,000 runners.
Let’s compute again:
P250 x 130,000 = P32,500,000
Not bad. Not bad at all. However, according to a report from AusAid, the cost of rehabilitating the river to class C standard could exceed US$ 10,000,000,000 or, at an estimated current exchange rate of P45 – $1, about P 450,000,000,000. That’s a lot zeroes.
Now assuming we’re going to rely on fun runs to raise funding for Pasig River’s rehabilitation, Kapit Bisig better hold about 13,846 runs if it aims to hit P 450,000,000,000.
Let’s go through the numbers again:
P 450,000,000,000 (AusAid estimate) ÷ 32,500,000 (amount that may be raised from one fun run) = 13,846 (number of fun runs needed to hit ausaid estimate)
Now if we spread that number over a period of 15 years, then:
13,864 runs ÷ 15 years = 924 runs per year
924 runs ÷ 365 days in a year = 2.595 or 2.6 runs per day
This is obviously becoming quite ridiculous, don’t you think?
To summarize. Based on my admittedly unscientific figuring, while commendable, fun runs like this upcoming one by Kapit Bisig don’t really have that much of an impact in terms of fund-raising (I’m also assuming all of the funds raised go directly to the rehab effort).
How about creating awareness, which I think is one of the main goals of such fun runs? That should count for something, shouldn’t it? Well, I raise the question: Are there that many people right now who are seriously wishing, hoping and actually doing something to stop Pasig River’s continued degradation?
I don’t think so. I checked for feedback on past Pasig River fun runs and among the comments that I think stood out are of this sort:
I ran in the A Run for the Pasig River event last Nov. 8, 2009. I was so disappointed to see how disorganized the Rehydration Station which was offering Gatorade drinks. They had 2 guys filling up cups one at a time to give to the runners. One gets a drink if you’re lucky enough to get a clean cup. Good thing that the race was not timed or else one would have lost precious minutes. Why did they not just set up a table or two, line up the cups, fill them with gatorade and handed them to the runners. Maybe they did not want us runners to get a second cup. The water station was organized so could the rehydration station.
I also ran for this event and so far this was the worst fun run I ever joined in! I was really so disappointing, it was so unorganized! grabe! and to think that this was organized by the biggest network in the country huh! From the claiming of singlet down to drinking water. They only have one booth for gatorade, then the guys filling up will tell you pa, “Sige pag di kayo pumila di namin kayo bibigyan”.And the water, grabe! you get what you drink in a drum and from maynilad. My friend even saw one person upon fetching water in the drum kasama ung buong kamay! And when you reach the finish line, there’s no available cups for drinking so you end up buying and looking for water. Some people even suffered from diarrhea after. I wont ever join the fun run again if the organizer will be abs-cbn. Sana man lang they have concerns too to the runners.
Wow, not a single word about Pasig River.
Now what about the fun run organizers and sponsors? What do they gain from all this? What do you think?
You must really be naive if you can’t figure it out.
The answer is: Good Publicity.
By the way, I forgot to subtract the cost of organizing such an event from the participation fees to be collected. What? You thought they don’t incur expenses? Of course they do. It might be minimal but it’s still expense they have to cover either with their own funds or from the money paid by participants. If it’s the latter then all our computations above should be adjusted. The net result would of course show that even more fun runs will be needed to hit the total amount needed to rehabilitate Pasig River.
So, what’s the point of this long-winded blogpost? I just wanted to point out the reality most people fail to see — that fun runs and similar events are more publicity gimmicks than solutions or even short-term fixes. If we’re really serious about reviving the river, we need real solutions like removing all sources of pollution along the whole length of the river and its tributaries and/or the imposition of higher taxes on those who routinely pollute the river.
If you really love running that much, watch the following video:
If you really care about Pasig River and want to see it revived, read this document.