Melinda Ponce passed away on October 16, 2011 after she and her three children and their helper was allegedly killed by his husband on October 16, 2011 in Talisay City, Cebu province.
Emmanuel Ponce, 55, allegedly killed her wife Melinda, 53, three of their four children – eldest daughter Elaine Grace, 26; Heather Joy, 25; and son Emlin Bridge, 18 — and their helper Anastacia Deniega, 30.
Melinda, an inspiration in the local running community, died with her running clothes on.
Hours before she was killed in a gruesome massacre, Melinda, a Banco de Oro (BDO) cashier was where she was almost every Sunday—in a run.
At 5:30 a.m., October 16, 2011, the Banco de Oro employee fired the starting gun during the fun run that opened her bank’s sports fest. She was happy and enjoyed being with co-workers during the run, said BDO E-mall branch accountant and fellow ultra-runner Virgilio Remo Jr.
Having been featured in newspapers after winning ultra-marathons, races that are at least 50 kilometers, Ponce, 53, was an office celebrity, and many of her co-workers had their pictures taken with her. Ponce instructed those manning the water stations and cheered on the bank employees who joined the 3K and 5K events.
“She was very happy,” Remo said.
Ponce started running at 48, a year after undergoing total hysterectomy. She suffered a mild stroke in 2009, which she blamed on her failure to look after her health and pushing herself physically despite the lack of rest.
Ponce ran every morning from her house in Bulacao, Talisay City to the IT Park on her way to work. She was still considering joining the 100-kilometer race from Bogo City to Cebu City in November.
Ponce won the women’s category in the last two ultra-marathons she joined—the Be Resorts Warrior 53K that started and ended in Mactan Island and the Summit 60K in Talisay City last Oct. 9.
Ponce had qualified for this year’s national finals of the Milo Marathon in her age category, after running 21 kilometers in 1 hour and 52 minutes. She said running in the national finals was her dream. She also qualified last year but chose not to run so that she could join the first ultra-marathon in Cebu, a 50-kilometer run from Mt. Manunggal to the Capitol.
Runners who knew Melinda Ponce and what she had achieved as a runner, have organized a tribute run last October 23. The five-kilometer run, by seasoned runners’ standards, is short but it is a fitting gift to Melinda in acknowledgment of her esteem.
The “Run in Peace, MP” was quickly pulled together by race director Joel Baring, who offered his services for free, and runners who have organized races. Running clubs offered their time and logistics.
All proceeds of the tribute went to the surviving member of the Ponce family, 13-year-old Embrelaince, to the husband of the slain helper, and to a center for battered women in Cebu City.
Melinda was a battered wife. In running, she had found relief and escape from her troubled marriage. In death, she caused a cause.