The Truth About Pasig River Fun Runs

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:

comment 1
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.

comment 2
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.

Give up?

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.

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21 Responses to The Truth About Pasig River Fun Runs

  1. Jake Ramos says:

    I feel the same way about fun runs – they’re just for publicity, pa-pogi ng organizers and sponsors, no real results. Like partying for a cause and similar stuff where no real goal-oriented actions or sacrifices are made. I had my own say on the matter of following through for Pasig River in my own blog post:

    http://bruisedleaf.wordpress.com/2010/08/15/government-gives-priority-to-pasig-river-rehab-needs-follow-through-for-results/

    I couldn’t resist making an example of what I think is ineffective so I included a photo of it. It’s dramatic so you’ll know it when you see it.

    Anyway, this time I hope some real work gets done for Pasig River by the people who have assumed leadership on this, AND I hope they get President Aquino, the Senate and Congress to take radical action.

  2. tess javier says:

    sobra ka naman nakakatulong naman ang mga fun run lalo na for awareness.

    • tess,

      i think i acknowledged that in the post. although i did raise doubts on whether it really does help improve public awareness and concern. if you plan to participate then good for you. enjoy the run.

  3. Runaholic says:

    Awareness, its an advocacy for awareness. The sponsors and everything that will fall under monetary will go directly for the rehabilitation of the pasig river and they aim to have this yearly and make everyone more in touch.

    It will help improve public awareness as the runs will be very much organized and all equipments (well at least to most) will use recyclables. Also, just like how fun runs were done before – wear your own garments, no singlets and no extra chips. Just you, the road and the run for pasig river.

    🙂

    Ive been excited for this event, the reason I got into marathon training and felt even much more in touch with my health.

    1. there’s no need to drive the car if you can walk it
    2. using my own water container since i need water at all times to hydrate than purchasing each cup or each plastic of bottled water.
    3. no smoking!
    4. I am now more close to nature as I have fallen in love to training for trails and want to run more on a cleaner environment hence I and I keep an eye on those who throw things on the road just because.

    these are few which made one turn more in touch with change, through training, you’re not just taking good care of yourself but you’re also taking good care of your surrounding.

    • runaholic,

      good for you. by the tone of your post, i’m assuming you do get that i’m not knocking down this event and that i’m just merely pointing out some observable facts about it.

      in any case, good luck on your participation this year. my hope is that it would really lead to greater awareness and not just what i would call temporary euphoria much like what we had during the campaign season.

      pasig river needs real solutions and it is my other hope that bigger ideas with far reaching effects will be given more attention than piecemeal “solutions.”

      thanks for the comment.

  4. asapakayo says:

    Aysus naman. Ang tiyaga mo rin Avenger. As i told you before, just accept the fact that Ilog Pasig is dead.

    Fun run, fun run. Showbiz lang yan.

    Pero ayos ang computation mo ha.

    • asapakayo,

      thanks for liking my computation.

      and thanks also for your keen observation. pasig river is indeed dead. now, instead of heckling why don’t you just help me spread the word?

  5. Taga Ilog says:

    Avenger,

    I do hope that the organizers of fun runs are more transparent about how much money they’ve raised and how they’ve spent it. It would be best to know how much money went to organizing and how much money was spent on actual projects to save the Pasig River.

  6. xerberux says:

    who cares. run lang ng run! Its not about money. do what you enjoy. im doing the 21k run on that date and registration is, i think, 150 only.

    • xerberux,

      obviously, you don’t. so sige takbo lang ng takbo. take what you can from the experience.

      just to put this in perspective. the post is not about you the runner. it’s about the organizers using a serious issue as a means to gain positive media mileage while conditioning the public’s mind that they are making a big difference when in reality they’re doing very little. not that whatever contribution they made doesn’t matter. it’s just that the whole thing serves as a distraction.

      the problems are known. the real solutions are staring us in the face but some interest groups are doing all they can to keep the people blind.

      thanks for the comment anyway.

  7. Sa tingin ko, hindi naman talaga kakayanin na ma-raise ang ganung amount with just a fun run. But I do hope na sa kaunting halaga na ‘yun kumpara sa kinakailangan ay ilagak talaga ng race organizer para sa Pasig River.

    Anyway, sana hindi mo isipin na lahat ng races ay for publicity lang lahat. ‘Yung Nature Valley Fun Run, 1 Tree = 1 Runner, nagkaroon talaga sila ng tree planting activity. 🙂

    • captainrunner,

      i think it’s always for publicity as far as sponsors are concerned. organizers? well it depends on who is organizing. participants? well as i said joining just for the love of running is a valid motivation. i don’t have any problem with that yun nga lang sana talagang they finish the race with renewed awareness and concern for whatever it is that is being promoted.

      thanks for the comment.

  8. charles min goose says:

    question:

    would media companies risk offending one of their major sources of advertising revenue by reporting that said advertiser spends very little on serious environmental projects?

  9. charles,

    interesting question.

  10. RunningAtom says:

    I share your sentiment PRA, great post!

    But let me also share you some of my idea. Back in 1997 when I started running, there were very few races and even almost zero race for a month or more, and whenever there is a race, it is very very seldom that the race would be having beneficiaries, unlike these days.

    Then I stopped running for almost a decade, and when I came back to running last 2008, what made me stick to it once again was due to the “for-a-cause” thing that the races have on their events now (from Tahanang Walang Hagdanan, GK, KF, the Bohol Dolphins, Watersheds, Rivers, Calamity victims, etc… ).

    Like what you said, I also became concerned if the funds raised on these fun runs have helped out their beneficiaries. Truly, publicity is inevitable with this kind of event, but I also think that these small acts of kindness, the small funds being raised, could somehow “spark” some hope, instill some knowledge, and MAKE EVERYONE ACT in reviving our dead/dying aquatic resources.

    But are we really going to the right solution? No, or maybe not yet! Maybe not until the organizations concerned could realize what you want to portray in this post.

    Oh by the way, let’s cross-finger that the rehabilitation of Pasig River would be much lower than US$ 10,000,000,000 so it could be revived in less than 15 years 🙂

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  14. robertlabayen says:

    A lot of work on the river has been started. They have began cleaning esteros that lead to the river.The private sector and government agencies are working together. An army of volunteers, called River Warriors, help guard against polluters. The work is long and hard so don’t expect overnight results. But the work is scientific and done step by step. In the coming years, they will clean up the Manila Bay and the Laguna Lake which both feed into the Pasig River. Raising funds and raising awareness will not finish the work but they certainly help in making the first few steps. The World Record will not solve the problem but it’s great PR if we want a whole nation to help in this noble cause because success is accomplished by believers, not critics. Hopefully, new laws will add teeth to the project.

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