Monthly Archives: February 2008

Glendale Tennis Club visits Casino Espanol de Cebu

Last January, at around the time of our Sinulog, a group of men and women from Glendale, California, held a friendly tennis encounter with our very own Casino Espanol de Cebu tennis group. The original schedule, January 19 (the day before the Sinulog), rained out so we moved it to Jan. 21, the day after the biggest party and celebration of the year in Cebu. It was competitive, exciting, filled with serves, volleys, lobs and smashes, and both groups enjoyed each other’s company. Thanks to Brian Bailey, who helped facilitate his Glendale group’s visit to Cebu, we had an ace of a time!

Continue reading Glendale Tennis Club visits Casino Espanol de Cebu

The TLBF: An Affair to Remember in Ormoc

In Nov. 9, 2004, I wrote this article for Sun.Star Cebu…

Jaime Gallego and I are members of the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (BCBP). Our motto reads: Be Honest. So I’ll be honest. I’ll make a confession. I had an affair. And so did Jaime.

Three weekends ago in Ormoc City, miles of sea away from our wives’ radar screens, we each smuggled in “roommates.” We checked in at Hotel Don Felipe. Held their hands. Opened the hotel room door for them. Inside, our eyes sat frozen ogling at two attractive, sexy, ravishing frames. We massaged their curves. Gave each a long wet bath. To cut the long drama short, like most affairs, word leaked out and our wives found out. We had to spill out the truth. And be honest. How that weekend, we “roomed” our bikes. Continue reading The TLBF: An Affair to Remember in Ormoc

Why I Love Cebu

From left: Jesse Taborada, John Pages, Meyrick Jacalan, Dr. Ron Eullaran and Roel Militar

The year was 1986 when my family and I moved from Bacolod to Cebu City. Back then, like any 14-year-old who had developed deep friendships with classmates and neighbors, I resented the decision

“Can I just stay in Bacolod?” I recall asking my parents. The answer, of course, was obvious. From the City of Friendship we transferred to this Queen City of the South. Looking back 22 years ago to that time—with no offense meant to Bacolod—it would be hard for any city to surpass what Cebu offers. In schooling, in business opportunities, in R & R, in malls to visit and night spots to party in and, lest I forget, in this favorite topic of these back pages…. Sports.

Take mountain-biking. Here in Cebu, if one craves to climb steep hills, descend on trail roads, trek across muddy terrain or traverse shallow streams—it’s all, as the cliche goes, right at our own backyard. Continue reading Why I Love Cebu

If ‘Pistol Pete’ guns for it, he can win W.

Tennis’ greatest-ever—next to Roger Federer—is Pete Sampras. He amassed 14 Grand Slam singles titles—the most of any male player. But we know he’s long retired; back at the 2002 U.S. Open final against Andre Agassi, Pete won that match—his last on the ATP Tour. And that was 5 ½ years ago.

Today, Pistol Pete is back. Last November, Sampras played thrice against Federer. He lost the first match, 6-4, 6-3, in Seoul, Korea. He lost the second, 7-6, 7-6, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. But in their finale, Pete shocked Roger in Macau, 7-6 (6), 6-4. And, just a few nights ago against Tommy Haas, Pete spent just 43 minutes dismantling the German, 6-4, 6-2. That’s two of the last two.

(This painting and the one below from

Which brings me to ask: Should Pete return? Continue reading If ‘Pistol Pete’ guns for it, he can win W.

The Day I Tried….

February 17, 2008. That date was to have been one of my life’s biggest moments. Like that first kiss. Like my graduation. Like winning that first tennis event. Like my wedding. Like my daughter’s birth nine Novembers ago.

When I woke up at 4:45 a.m. last Sunday, I was sure that when I crossed the Finish Line to record my first-ever 42-K run—the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon—that it would mark one of my life’s most memorable days.

Well, dear readers, guess what: I didn’t make it. I failed.

When the horn roared along Nathan Road at 7:45 a.m. four days ago to signal the start, I felt confident. And running beside Jesse Taborada, the president of the Cebu Executive Runners Club, the first part was easy. We laughed, talked, overtook dozens. At the 10-K point, our time was one hour, two minutes. With barely a sweat.

Thirty minutes later, Dr. Vic Verallo joined us. Down the tunnel, up the tunnel, down the foot of Tsing Ma Bridge, up the world’s sixth largest suspension bridge, down, up the Ting Kau Bridge, down. Flyovers. Tunnels. Bridges. Continue reading The Day I Tried….

…. And Why I’m Thankful For Failure

Yesterday (Feb. 21, 2008), when I wrote about my daydream-turned-nightmare called the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon, I spoke about running comfortably until the 28th km. when cramps writhed my legs in pain, when I vomited and could barely stand up when I sat down, and when I trudged on with the help of Dr. Peter Mancao until unbearable leg injury forced me to stop at Km. 36.

What happened? I started too fast. At the 21-K mark, my watch read two hours, seven minutes. At Km. 28, it was 2:50. Now, that’s nowhere near the 42-K world record mark of Haile Gebrselassie (2:04) but, considering that the up-and-down, tunnel-bridge-flyover-plenty route of Hong Kong was found in the first 25-K—then it was too fast for me. Had I ran 10 minutes slower, it would have made all the difference. Said Dr. Yong Larrazabal: “The course was really difficult. I even experienced cramps which I did not in New York.”

I didn’t run hills. Here in Cebu, I almost never ran uphill/downhill. Once, when I climbed Ma. Luisa Estate Park for 20 kms., I limped for days with knee pain. And the worst part? The downhill. And in HK, we were going fast down.

I didn’t drink enough. Looking back, over the course of 25 kms. I drank less compared to what I drink here in 10 kms. (At each water station, I grabbed only a half-cup to drink.) Knowing the importance of hydration—and carrying two empty water bottles around my waist which I almost never got to use—why didn’t I drink more? It was cold and my body didn’t sweat as much. I wasn’t as thirsty. Still, internally, my body was dehydrating faster than I was replenishing it with liquids.

No walking breaks. In a marathon, unless your body is the mold of Paul Tergat, walking after every few kms. (or during water stops) is recommended. I didn’t do this. At each water station, I stepped to the side, grabbed a cup, downed it, then zoomed away. Why? I was with Dr. Vic Verallo and Jesse Taborada—two long-time runners who’ve finished, between them, five marathons prior to Hong Kong—and they were quick-paced. And, to me that morning, the last thing I wanted to do was run alone. So I stayed with two veterans—and this neophyte suffered. Continue reading …. And Why I’m Thankful For Failure

Mendel and Leszl: Congratulations!

They are the two fastest long-distance runners in Cebu. One is 23 years old, single, and a graduating student at the University of Southern Philippines Foundation (USPF). His name is Mendel Lopez. The other is 33, married with three children and was once RP’s no.1 in the sport of arm-wrestling! Her name: Leszl Gitaruelas.

Mendel flew to Hong Kong last Friday together with Leszl and they both competed in the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon. No, not the full 42-K race, but at distances that they were best at: Mendel with the 10-K and Leszl, the Half-Marathon (21-K).

The result? Excellent. In an event which drew about 20,000 or so runners in the 10-K competition, Mendel Lopez was 6th overall. Imagine being no.6 among 20,000? In his category, he placed 4th. Leszl, with thousands also competing for the women’s 21-K, finished 11th overall and, in her Senior Category, placed 5th. Continue reading Mendel and Leszl: Congratulations!

Hong Kong Marathon: What an adventure!

Helicopters swirled the skyline. Booming music blared. Photos were snapped. Camera bulbs flashed. Wives, husbands, children, friends—all tiptoed at the sidewalks to revel in the hot atmosphere of last Sunday’s cold morning.

From left: (sitting) Ted Tecson, John Pages; (standing) Dr. Peter Mancao, Jesse Taborada, Serge Amora, Dr. Vic Verallo, Meyrick Jacalan, Dr. Yong Larrazabal, Dr. Nicole Chua, Dr. Albert Santos

At 7 a.m., our Cebu team huddled at the Kowloon Hotel lobby, posed for pictures with the RP flag, wished each other good luck, then, all in unison, we sang, “HAPPY… BIRTH… DAY… TO… YOU…”

Meyrick Jacalan, who turned 37 when the clock struck midnight last Sunday, grinned from ear-to-ear as we serenaded him at the hotel parking area. Continue reading Hong Kong Marathon: What an adventure!

From Cebu, 14 among 49,947 runners in Hong Kong

From left: John Pages, Mendel Lopez, Leszl Gitaruelas, Dr. Yong Larrazabal, Dr. Peter Mancao

HONG KONG—After six months of waking up each Sunday at 5 a.m. for “The Long Run,” after pairs of Nike shoes worn-out and replaced, after over 1,000 kms. of mileage, dozens of Runner’s World magazines read, hours of ‘80’s music on the iPod Nano listened to while bouncing up and down, after booking this trip last December and registering to join my first-ever full Marathon, only three words are left unsaid: THIS IS IT!

At 7:45 this morning, a gun will fire and echo along Nathan Road here to signal that, yes, finally, the race has began.

Would you believe: A record 49,947 runners will trample on the cemented roads here to join the 2008 Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon. Can you imagine that? Fifty thousand pairs of legs hopping, squeezed together, arms moving front and back, hearts pounding, and lungs huffing and puffing? In weather that’s super-cold at 12 degree Celsius?

Sports headline news here: Note the legs formed into the number “49,947” Continue reading From Cebu, 14 among 49,947 runners in Hong Kong

Red-hot Valentine’s Day in Hong Kong is Cold

HONG KONG—The two words and eight letters that spell this popular region south of China can be downsized and cut to one word and four letters: C-O-L-D.

My wife Jasmin and I arrived here via Cebu Pacific from Cebu at 12:16 a.m. yesterday and, when we stepped out of the airport doors and smiled to greet the Hong Kong air—we clammed up like shells. We zipped tight our jackets, buried our hands inside the pockets, shivered.

Temperature reading? Nine degrees Celsius.

When we finally arrived at our headquarters here for four nights—the Kowloon Hotel along Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui—it was past 2 a.m. We got off the N21 Citybus 50 meters from the hotel and, while walking at that unholy hour towards the hotel’s doors, cold wind breezed and enveloped our already-cold bodies. Continue reading Red-hot Valentine’s Day in Hong Kong is Cold

No Horsing Around

This weekend (Feb. 15 to 17), a big event will kick-off at the Mandaue Reclamation area: the annual Horse Show and Competition now officially named “The Governor’s Cup 2008.” If you want to see cowboys or want your 12-year-old to ride on a pony, visit this weekend. To my brother-in-law Jake Mendez, the president of the organizing group (CEOBSA), good luck. And, doesn’t Governor Gwen look pretty and perfect in cowboy attire?

Continue reading No Horsing Around

ML and LG: Ready…. Set…. Go…. HK!

John, Leszl and Mendel

At 11 a.m. yesterday in my office, I met two athletes. Skinny and long-legged, they can sprint after a cheetah. Ask them to visit the Cebu City Sports Center and they’ll zoom round and round, circling the track oval with nary a sweat, not losing breath.

ML is Mendel Lopez. Only 23, Mendel has amassed a pile of trophies, medals, citations and, yes, worn-out running shoes that will tower taller than the Ayala Center Christmas tree of last December.

“I won gold in the 1500 meters yesterday,” he told me a day after dominating the regional PRISAA. “Same with the 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 relays. We won gold.”

Gold, you see, is Mendel’s favorite color. And rarely has he joined an event in Cebu and not—at the end of the finish line—hung a round metal around his neck that’s not shining gold. Continue reading ML and LG: Ready…. Set…. Go…. HK!

RP vs. Japan in Davis Cup: We lost 0-5

NO, it wasn’t embarrassing. And the matches, especially the first two days and the doubles last Saturday, were close. We just couldn’t pull through. I spoke last night to Randy Villanueva, one of the officials from the Philippine Tennis Association (Philta) who helped our Davis Cup team, and he said the matches could have gone either way. But the fact is, the final score in the Davis Cup tennis tie between the Philippines and Japan is 5-0. The winners: Japan. Here’s a story from the Phil. Daily Inquirer… The below photos are courtesy of my good friend Dan Mastous, who flew in from Boston the day before and made it in time to watch all three days. Thanks, Dan! Continue reading RP vs. Japan in Davis Cup: We lost 0-5

Run For Your Heart

Another highly-successful event organized by Dr. Peter Mancao, one of the most prominent running doctor/enthusiasts in Cebu. Here are the details on yesterday’s “2nd Run For Your Heart” event written for The Freeman by Caecent Noot-Magsumbol.

AT THE STARTING LINE: Doctor’s Division champion Dr. Yong Larrazabal (center) with (wearing purple) Milet Chiongbian, who placed second in the Women’s Executive division

Cebu City Vice Mayor Mike Rama (center) leading the charge with (to his right) Councilor Edgar Labella and (left most) Bernard Lanutan

From left: top runners Christy Sevilleno and Leszl Gitaruelas sharing a laugh with Robert Salahug, Dr. Peter Mancao and John Pages