Monthly Archives: January 2008

Sportswriters Association of Cebu (SAC)

Yesterday (Jan. 29), the group of men and women whose stories you read about in the newspaper Sports Section met to deliberate on the winners for the upcoming SAC-SMC All-Cebu Sports Awards, an annual gathering where top athletes, coaches, individuals and teams are honored. I don’t have the final listing yet of awardees and will post them very soon. But for now, here are our photos from yesterday’s lunch at Cafe Laguna, courtesy of San Miguel Corp. and one of their top honchos, Girlie Garces.

Seated fom left: Marian Baring (Sun.Star Daily), Rick Gabuya (CDN), Manny Villaruel (The Freeman), Girlie Garces (of San Miguel Corporation); (standing, from left) Marsante Alison (The Freeman), Mike Limpag (Sun.Star Cebu), Raffy Osumo (The Freeman), Jun Migallen (Sun.Star Superbalita), Caecent Noot-Magsumbol (The Freeman), Brian Ochoa (CDN), John Pages, and Nimrod Quinones (The Freeman) Continue reading Sportswriters Association of Cebu (SAC)

Atty. Jingo Quijano

With Freddie Roach

One of the top boxing scribes in the country is also one of the top lawyers in this city. I’m referring to my “neighbor” in Sun.Star Cebu, the man I sit beside often when we watch local boxing fights, and the writer who just “cornered” Z Gorres and penned an excellent interview/article on the fighter we’ll see this Saturday. Read Atty. Jingo Quijano’s excellent piece in Sun.Star Cebu today… it’s aptly-titled “AYE TO Z.”

Z vs. V: Who’ll be put to Zzzzz’s in this fight?

Last Sunday morning at the Casino Español de Cebu, I chanced upon meeting Michael Aldeguer. I’ve known Michael since high school—we played basketball against each other; he donned the Sacred Heart uniform while I wore the CIS jersey—and, when we talk of sports and boxing and the NBA, he’s one of the most impassioned and enthusiastic of men. Mike and I sat down for a few minutes to talk about—of course—this Saturday night’s blockbuster named “Now Or Never.”

“This fight is generating a lot of excitement,” I told Mike. “Probably even more than the one of Gorres and Montiel. And considering that in that fight (last year at the Cebu City Sports Center), Boom-Boom fought.”

“You think so?” Mike replied. When Mike asked why, I mentioned that the key component in all this hysteria can be summed up in one word: DARCHINYAN. Because while Montiel last year was the WBO super flyweight champion when he fought Z, he wasn’t known. I, for one, had not known of the Mexican until I saw the posters promoting “The Moment of Truth.”

(Photo by Joe Miranda)

Darchinyan? He needs no introduction. We must have read his name and seen his video footages, what, 127 times. The reason? Because of a Filipino-American named Nonito Donaire who knocked him out in the fifth round last July 7—for his first-ever defeat. And more than that, we also know Vic Darchinyan to be “The Raging Bull.” Prior to his Donaire upset, he won all 29 pro fights (with 23 KO’s). So the Cebuanos know that this, quite possibly, will be one of the best-ever fights we’ve seen on home soil.

Z Gorres? “He’s very, very excited,” said Michael. “In fact, when we asked him months back whom he wanted to face, he really asked for Darchinyan. So this, I think, is the perfect match-up.”

(Photo from

Where’s the fight? At the Waterfront Lahug. I really enjoy watching fights there. I recall accompanying my father-in-law Jack Mendez there a few times. You’re seated on foam chairs, there’s no chance of rain falling, the room is cold, and the boxing is hot. What more can you ask?

Trust me: This Saturday is a fight you should NEVER miss. And if you still haven’t bought tickets, here’s another tip: but them NOW.

‘King Tsong’ vs. ‘The Djoker’

It doesn’t matter if you’ve never swung a Wilson tennis racquet before, I hope you saw the Men’s Final of the Australian Open last Sunday night. The first set? It was all a tussle and grapple of physical will.

Jo-Wilfriend Tsonga, all of 6-foot-2 and built and looking like Muhammad Ali, sparred against the 6-foot-1 1/2 Novak Djokovic. And, just like the way he demolished Rafael Nadal in the semifinals, Tsonga won the first set.

Then he started making errors. Then Djokovic started to play like the world’s no.3 who had just beaten Roger Federer two days earlier. Novak won the second set. Next, the third. And, just when we proclaimed the match was over, Djokovic limped. He looked weary. A trainer was called to massage his legs while Tsonga bounced and was ready to pounce. But in the end, after a fourth set tiebreak, Djokovic collapsed to the ground in victory to claim his first-ever Grand Slam title.

Continue reading ‘King Tsong’ vs. ‘The Djoker’

18 Points from the ’08 Australian Open

1. I like Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. When he meets Novak Djokovic at 4 p.m. (RP time) later for the final, I’ll cheer for him. I hope he wins. And if he plays like he did against Rafael Nadal, he’ll win. But will the enormity of a Grand Slam final rattle his brain? And unnerve him? I hope not. Because watching him play Nadal, it’s hard to find someone so unruffled, unaffected, unflappable. Yet…

2. Djokovic will win. I hate to say this but he will. Tsonga (pronounced “Songa”) is playing in only his fifth career Grand Slam event. Novak? He played at last September’s U.S. Open final. So he’s experienced and, at world no.3, more reliable in pressure-cooker situations like today. Still…

3. I hope Tsonga wins.

4. Back to Tsonga-Nadal: In all the decades I’ve watched this sport, I must rate Tsonga’s game that night as one of the most immaculate and masterful I’ve seen. Nadal is no slouch. He runs like a cheetah and is built like Hulk Hogan. Nobody—not even the great Federer—embarrasses Nadal. Until Tsonga did last Thursday.

5. Is Tsonga for real? Where did he come from? Is he, as so many are, a one-event fluke? A star who glitters today but who’ll evaporate tomorrow? No, no. A former US Open junior champ, the reason why he’s appeared only now is because he’s been badly injured. But now that he’s healthy, enemies beware…

6. “Floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee.” Does that refer to someone? Continue reading 18 Points from the ’08 Australian Open

An Australian comments on the Australian Open

GRAEME MACKINNON sent me this comment two days after Jo-Wilfried Tsonga demolished Rafael Nadal and a day after Novak Djokovic did the same to Roger Federer. His commentary below couldn’t have been more correct. (Keep in mind that the reason why Graeme is an excellent writer is because, lest you forget, he was a writer… a long-time sports columnist at The Freeman before he went back to the Land of Oz a few years back.) And as we await the Men’s Final tomorrow (Sunday), let’s ponder on these words by Graeme…

There have been many fairy tale endings to many tournaments competitions etc and this could be an other one. As you know I have been watching Tsonga for a while now and have been, to be perfectly honest, waiting for him to crumble under the weight of expectation but it has not happened . . . yet! Continue reading An Australian comments on the Australian Open

Ana: How do you solve a problem like Maria?

Yesterday, my mobile phone beeped at 1:10 p.m. It was my dad, Bunny, with this text message: “John… your favorite was clobbered by Hantuchova in the 1st set, 6-0… Also, she got broken in the 1st game of the 2nd set… Hope she recovers but it’s a big mismatch thus far…”

The big tennis fan that he is, my dad spoke of the ongoing Australian Open, the year’s first tennis Grand Slam event. The match he described?

Ana Ivanovic vs. Daniela Hantuchova. I quickly devoured what was left on my lunch plate and raced to the TV screen. The score: 6-0, 2-0. In favor of Daniela. I couldn’t believe it. Here I was, predicting an Ana victory, possibly in two easy sets, and here she was losing… the first eight games! Unbelievable. I sat down to watch. Ana won a game, then another, and then one more. The next thing I knew, she won six of the next seven games to snatch the second set, 6-3. We’re in for a fight. In the third set, the match see-sawed until Ana finally broke Daniela at 4-all and went on to win, 6-4. Continue reading Ana: How do you solve a problem like Maria?

At the Oz Open, who’s the fairest one of them all?

Among all the women on earth who grip tennis rackets, swing at yellow balls, glide across the rectangle court, serve, volley, smash lobs, and sprint for drop shots, three ladies I find most attractive…..

First, and no need to introduce her, is Ms. MS. You know who she is. She stands 6-foot-2, hails from Russia but calls Florida home now, and, at the 2008 Australian Open, she just defeated the world no.1 Justine Henin in a lopsided score, 6-4, 6-0.

Who else but Maria Sharapova! And who doesn’t find her attractive? Or sexy? My favorite dentist, Dr. Nonito Narvasa, long-married to his beautiful spouse Jency, has also long-nurtured a crush on Maria. Mike Limpag? My sports editor on these pages? Two weeks ago after I wrote about Roger Federer, Mike berated me with the text message, “When are you going to write about my ex-girlfriend, Maria?” Wow. It seems everybody loves Maria. And that, I have to admit, does not exclude me. Continue reading At the Oz Open, who’s the fairest one of them all?

Sinulog Half-Marathon….. A Runaway Success


How do you convince 1,000 people to converge at 6 a.m. on a Saturday to join a running event?

You ask Meyrick and Perl Jacalan to promote the event. The owners of one of Cebu’s top advertising agencies—ASAP (Advertising Services and Promotions)—this couple helped organize last weekend’s highly-successful Mizuno-Shell Sinulog Half-Marathon. Energetic, young and overflowing with creative ideas, Meyrick and Perl are even more than that: they’re passionate and possess an attitude that says, “Go-Go-Go!” And because of the two, the Sinulog Run convinced big-name companies to sponsor: Mizuno, Shell, Mazda, Burlington, Alcordo Advertising, Holiday Gym and Spa, Cebu Globenet Realty, Activa Kontra Arthritis, and Infinity Colors (among others).

How do you divide the work?

You don’t do it by yourself—but function as a team. Take the president of the Cebu Executive Runners Club (CERC), Jesse Taborada. It wasn’t Jesse alone who spent late nights working to make the Sinulog race a success—but his whole family. I saw for myself how Jesse enlisted that “team-work” spirit with the help of his wife Bebie and their five children: Geigy, Kitty, JJ, Jason and Jon. So when the participants picked up their singlets at Jesse’s family-owned Sug-Angan Restaurant, they were assisted by his six family members who all volunteered. It’s called Family Power. Continue reading Sinulog Half-Marathon….. A Runaway Success

Photos by Dr. Vic Verallo

At 5 a.m. last Saturday (Jan. 19), one prominent doctor wearing shorts and running shoes was clicking his camera to take photos. Enjoy these excellent pre-race pictures taken by one of the prime-movers of the Cebu Executive Runners Club (CERC), Dr. Vic Verallo…

10 minutes and counting…. at the Asiatown I.T. Park starting/finishing line

Vice-Mayor Mike Rama with some final words of motivation Continue reading Photos by Dr. Vic Verallo

Graeme Mackinnon Writes

One of the people I admire the most in sports is Graeme Mackinnon. For many years, Graeme lived in this Queen City of the South and built Cebu football to what it is today… one of this land’s most popular sports. Now back in his native Australia, Graeme has been following, of course, the Australian Open. I’ll be writing an article on Graeme and Australia (and why it’s one of the world’s sports superpowers) within the week, but for now, here’s a letter Graeme e-mailed me yesterday….

Well what a night. I succumbed to the sleep deprivation of the nights before at 2am this morning (Sunday) with the game still very much in the balance. The caffeine did not do the trick and the match sticks were not helping. All the dramas could not keep me awake. I was surprised this morning to find that Super Brat had won after 4.30am. Continue reading Graeme Mackinnon Writes

Nike Plus

Allow me to brag for today and announce that, just now, I’ve joined the Top 10 runners with the most mileage among the Nike Plus users. This goes for the whole Philippines. In my 30 to 39 age-group bracket, I’m No.3 (below). Since I started uploading my runs last August 12, 2007 (or roughly five months ago), I’ve ran a total of 855.57 kms. On to the next goal of 1,000 kms. before we run 42 kms. at the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon on Feb. 17. Continue reading Nike Plus

One Cebu….. One Beat

I can’t play the drums. Piano? Ha-ha. Back in high school, my mom enrolled me at Reyco, the famous music school near Junquera, and I lasted exactly TWO sessions. The guitar? Can I strum the guitar? Oh my. The only strumming I know is singing the “Killing Me Softly” song… strumming my pain with his fingers. Did I say “singing?” Don’t laugh but every time I sing, my nine-year-old daughter Jana covers her ears while my wife Jasmin asks, “Are you, uhm, reciting a poem?”

Seriously. I have ZERO musical talent. Same with my dad. And my mom. And my grandparents. My ancestors? I’m sure we’re all the same blood. The lone family member who has music bouncing in his veins? Continue reading One Cebu….. One Beat