‘The family that plays together, stays together’

At the 26th All-Cebu Sports Awards, (L-R) Don-Don Hontiveros, Jess Lagman, Julie Lagman, Jacob Lagman, PSC Chairman Butch Ramirez

If there’s one clan that I admire most here in Cebu, it’s the “J” family. Yes, every single family member is first-named J. There’s Julius, Jess, Julian, Jessica, Julie, Jacob. The “6Js” I love to call them.

Jess and Julie are the dad and mom. Julian and Julius, the two eldest boys, are studying in Ateneo de Manila University. Jessica, the only girl among four siblings, is third year high school at the Sacred Heart School–Hiyas de Jesus. The youngest J member—Jacob—happens to be the most prominent who’s graced the headlines of the sports section.

Jacob, Julie, Julian, Julius, Jessica and Jess

Lagman. That’s the second name of the 6Js. And, if you’ve been following these back pages for 12, 24 or 48 months, for sure you recognize their names and have glanced at their photos.

Yesterday at 10:45 a.m., I made a phone call. “Welcome back!” I greeted.

Jess Lagman was on the other line and, together with his two youngest children, Jessica and Jacob, they had just arrived a few hours earlier from San Francisco, U.S.A.

The International Children’s Games, or ICG, it’s called, and Jessica and Jacob represented Cebu in the sport of tennis.

How did Team Cebu perform? As reported on these pages by ace writer Marian Baring, the Lagmans were joined by three other athletes: Ariel Torion for tennis; Jean Philippe Jawad-Honoridez and Dannel Jay Tormis for table tennis. And, among a pool of 1,200 children representing 40 cities, our Cebu contingent did not win the silver. Or the bronze. Or the gold.

Still, when I spoke to Jess Lagman, he was proud of his children’s accomplishments, in particular of Jacob.

“He was able to beat two players, one from India, 8-4, and the other from Switzerland, 8-6.,” said Jess. “In his next match against the US, the score was tied 5-all and Jacob had 40-15. But hindi niya nakuha and he lost, 8-5. Had Jacob won that match, he would have entered the semis.”

But here’s the consolation: Jacob, a first year high school standout at the Sacred Heart School–Jesuit, is only 13 years old while his opponents (the ICG is open to 12 to 15 year-olds) were all aged 15.

Jacob with Caecent Noot-Magsumbol of The Freeman

TRAINING. Prior to joining the ICG, the Lagmans spent time for training at a top tennis school in Ojai, California called the Weil Tennis Academy.

“We stayed there for three days and one of the top US coaches tutored Jacob. His name is Mr. Demeter and he coached the junior champion at the recent Wimbledon,” said Jess. “The two coaches, Demeter and Mr. Weil, the owner of the academy, evaluated Jacob for 30 minutes and they commented, ‘He has a lot of potential!’”

Jacob, to Cebuanos, is well-known. Ranked No.1 in the Philippines when he was a 10-year-old, two years later, he ruled the Boys 12 and Under division.

“The coaches asked us if Jacob could stay and train for two months. Then, he can next join the Orange Bowl, one of the biggest events in the US,” said Jess. “We had to say no because of school but we plan to go back from March to May next year.”

At the ICG competition, Jacob and Jessica are not the only members of the 6Js Family to have joined the event. A few years back, their older brother Julius (now a fresman at Ateneo) had the opportunity to join two ICGs: In Cleveland, Ohio and, the next year, in Coventry, England.

On a personal note, let me say this: I’ve known the Lagmans for nearly two decades now—back during the days when our families joined the Bukas Loob sa Diyos (BLD).

And what has impressed me most about them is this: their love of family and love of God. “Tennis,” their mom, Julie, once told me, “has brought our family closer.”

Their love of God? The family has achieved much—on and off the tennis court—because they have invited a “7th J” to be at the center of their family.

Who is the family’s 7th “J?” With outstretched arms, we see him on the cross.

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