Monthly Archives: October 2009

Can UC ambush UV to force a wild Game 5?

(From Sun.Star Cebu)

Ever since the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc. (Cesafi) started in 2001, one name has emerged victorious in men’s collegiate basketball. For the past eight seasons, the University of the Visayas has been undefeated. They’re 8-0.

Will this number become nine out of nine tonight, when the UV Green Lancers, armed with a 2-1 lead in this best-of-five Finals series, meet the University of Cebu Webmasters in Game 4 tonight?

“This is our biggest game of the entire season,” said top lawyer Baldomero “Merong” Estenzo, who is UC’s Dean of the Law School and the basketball team manager, when we spoke yesterday morning. “If we win, we will have an excellent chance in Game 5 on Sunday. The momentum will be with us. Our players will have added morale.”

Of course, the big, two-lettered word is… “IF.” Because if UC loses, then it’s the end to another disappointing season—and another splendid year for the unbeatable Green Lancers.

“The key to UV’s wins has been their experience,” added Estenzo. “In Game 1, we led the entire game and only lost it in the last three minutes. Same with Game 2. We led but then UV came back. Good that we won that game in the end.”

That’s true. In Game 1, UC led 42-36 entering the fourth quarter. With 7:49 left in the ballgame, they had a 10-point margin, 48-38. But in the end, the last-minute jitters attacked their squad as UV escaped with a 64-56 victory.

In Game 2, UC again led, this time by as much as 16 points before UV sneaked back to lead 70-68 with just 32 seconds left to play. That’s when the heroics of Rommel Luceño arrived when he buried a three-pointer to give UC the win via overtime, 71-70. In last Tuesday’s Game 3, it was all-UV as the Lancers won, 81-67.

“Our players were very tired in Game 3,” said Estenzo. “Game 2 was played on Monday and, on Tuesday, we played Game 3. Unlike UV where they have a lot of second stringers, with us, we rely on a few key players for the entire ballgame. And so, playing back-to-back days, UC was tired. Also, that was a disadvantage to us because many of our players are rookies and not as experienced.”

As to UC’s star center, the 6-foot-9 Jun Mar Fajardo, how has he fared in the finals? “He knows he’s carrying the team. But, sometimes, he becomes too ‘gigil.’ Maybe because too much pressure is on him. At times, “ma-pugos niya and iyang duwa.” When’s he double- or triple-teamed, ma-pugos niya. He has to realize that, when he’s double-teamed, that leaves one teammate vacant. And with UC, there are plenty of good shooters.”
How has the Fajardo vs. Greg Slaughter one-on-one played so far? “Slaughter, no doubt, is a very valuable player for UV. He has the height. He has the heft. And he can stop Fajardo. But in Game 1, it was Fajardo who outplayed Slaughter. But in the next two games, it was Slaughter who dominated.

“What I told Bernard Ricablanca (UC’s athletic director) was for Fajardo to take advantage of his speed. He’s fast. For a person with his height, he’s fast. But I’ve noticed that he has the habit, in practice, of simply jogging. They should engage him with more sprints. Fajardo is extraordinary for a guy at 6-9. He’s not slow-footed. He has to take advantage of his speed. Like, for example, after he rebounds and passes the ball, he should sprint back. No one, especially Slaughter, will be able to catch him.”

When I asked Estenzo why UV, this entire decade, has been unbeatable, his reply was precise. “They have an excellent program. A program that’s geared towards winning championships. They have a deep bench. They have a lot of players. Lots of reserves. They can even form a second squad that can compete against everybody. And so, these second- and third-string players, after a year or two with UV, they’re already seasoned. It’s a continuous winning program.”

Finally, I asked Atty. Estenzo what it takes for UC to break the UV streak. “Our players need to trust each other. No one player can carry the whole team. Not even Fajardo. He needs the support of all players. We have to be a team.”

The ‘big’ Little Olympics by Milo was dazzling

Confetti showered. Cheer-dancers somersaulted. The Dancesport Team Cebu City boogied and waltzed. Fireworks erupted. Athletes screamed. Lights circled the stage. Smiles and hugs and fist-pumps and outstretched arms swamped the arena.

What a Closing Ceremony! I’ve witnessed the 2005 SEA Games opening and, last year, was in Beijing when the first-ever China Olympics were held. But the party and presentations and parade that was showcased last Sunday night when the 1st Milo Little Olympics National Finals concluded was just as breathtaking.

Cebu City should be proud. Ricky Ballesteros should feel proud. Nestle and Milo should be applauded with a city-wide standing ovation. For what a super-successful staging of a nationwide sports meet that’s world-caliber.

Little? Milo calls these Olympics…. little? With over 1,223 athletes from Mindanao, Visayas, Luzon and the NCR, plus a thousand more officials and coaches, plus thousands more of parents and cheerers and spectators, can I suggest that these games be called… giant-sized? Or amazing? Or splendid?

I witnessed the games first-hand. As a sports aficionado, I doubled as a parent last weekend to my daughter Jana who won for Visayas the bronze medal in girls elementary tennis. I sat during the Opening. Was a spectator during the athletic sprint events. Observed the Closing. And, you know what I heard from players and coaches from Manila and Davao and our Visayan neighbors?

Cebu is bad!!! You know why? Because we’ve set such a high bar of excellence in organizing the Milo games that future host cities can’t meet our standards. “From now on,” they tell me, “all other athletes and delegates will be disappointed!” Amazing, Cebu. I second the motion.

More on last Sunday night… what was fun to watch was, unlike the Opening when the officials wore formal attire, in the Closing it was a party. A giant soiree. Gone were the barong tagalogs. This time, everybody wore green Milo T-shirts and Levi’s jeans. The athletes? While, during the Opening, they paraded with their respective contingents, two nights ago it was this sight: Luzon mixed with Mindanao who mixed with NCR who mixed with the Bisdaks from Visayas. It was one humongous party. Win or lose, the athletes all celebrated. Everybody won.

Mayor Tommy Osmeña, who arrived with his beauteous wife Margot at 6:30 p.m., in his brief speech thanked Milo for having chosen Cebu City to be the event’s first host. Well-said, mayor.

Among the many entertainment theatrics we witnessed that evening, to me one of the most moving episodes was when a lone singer sand the Lea Salonga hit song, “Journey.” With the Cebu City Sports Center in total darkness and only seven large screens were lighted on stage displaying the children in action, she sang, “What a journey it has been… and the end is now in sight… But the stars are out tonight… what a journey it has been.” It was fitting, emotional, powerful. I had goose-bumps.

Finally, the highlight was the announcement of the winners. In the overall championship, after the names of Mindanao (3rd place) and NCR (runner-up) had been announced, the boys and girls with the blue-colored Milo sweatshirts started sprinting for the stage. They knew. The Cebuanos knew. Team Visayas knew. Nicknamed “D’ Bisdaks” by Ricky Ballesteros, wasn’t it fitting that we won as champions?

Joy Augustus Young, who first started these Milo Little Olympics here in Cebu back in 1996 when he was a Cebu City Councilor, was back where he belonged: on stage to receive the Grand Prize as the Visayas team’s Chef De Mission.

In all, it was astonishing. Thanks to a company who builds “champions in life.”

Milo and Nestle: Building champions in life


Last Friday night, I attended a spectacle. The Lumad Basakanon dancers, many-time Sinulog champions, astonished the crowd. Raki Vega sang the Olympic theme, “Reach.” Marichu Jao San Juan, the Hall of Fame volleyball star, helped light the torch. Govt. cabinet secretaries Ace Durano and Jesli Lapuz spoke. So did Vice Mayor Mike Rama.

It was the Opening Ceremony of the 1st Milo Little Olympics National Finals. And, who else to host this “first” but our very own, Cebu City? A total of 2,333 athletes and coaches jam-packed the Cebu City Sports Center. The four contingents that paraded the oval—representing Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao and NCR—were, I’m sure, impressed. Continue reading Milo and Nestle: Building champions in life

UC vs. UV: Can Fajardo slaughter the champs?

When I spoke to the two-time reigning CESAFI MVP yesterday, Greg Slaughter corrected me. “Are you ready for the match-up of the two tallest men in Cebu?” I asked. “You mean the two tallest players in the whole Philippines!” answered Greg.

Oh, yes. Greg Slaughter is Herculean. He stands 7-feet-tall. Jun Fajardo (above photo) is gargantuan. He’s 6-foot-9. In the history of Cebu basketball—and possibly of the entire Philippine collegiate basketball—this is the most sky-scraping and towering of contests. Continue reading UC vs. UV: Can Fajardo slaughter the champs?

Amsterdam Marathon

Albert Santos, Nica Ong, Jane-Jane Ong, Andrew Ong, Meyrick Jacalan, Perl Jacalan and Vic Verallo

Last Sunday, Oct. 18, while plenty from Cebu joined the Quezon City International Marathon, seven of our fellow members from the Cebu Executive Runners Club (CERC) travelled all the way to Europe to join a major marathon race. The Amsterdam Marathon is acknowledged as one of the most popular of road races in Europe. The results of our fellow Cebuanos? Excellent! All of them posted Personal Best (PB) times. The team was led by Dr. Vic Verallo, one of Cebu’s top dermatologists, who posted a speedy time of 4:20:50. He was followed by ASAP Advertising top honcho Meyrick “Jacs” Jacalan who posted a fast time, despite nursing a foot injury, of 4:21:14. Next, it was first-time marathon Andrew Ong who clocked 4:24:23. Then, Jane-Jane Ong, who runs the famous Leona Pastries outlets in Cebu, finished in 4:29:12. Next was Jane’s sister, Nica, at 4:29:54. They were followed by Dr. Albert Santos, a veteran of three marathons (Hong Kong, Singapore and Milo), who also finished in his PB time of 5:03:34. Finally, there was Perl Jacalan who finished the 21K in 2:17:36. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

Quezon City Intl. Marathon: The Good and the Bad

Having joined dozens of road-running races (mostly in Cebu), including the Hong Kong and Singapore marathons in 2008, here are several observations from last Sunday’s QCIM:


1. Weather. Obviously, this has nothing to do with the organizers, but we were blessed with excellent weather that day. It didn’t rain. Even better, the sun barely shined all-morning-long. Given the up-and-down terrain of the QCIM 42K, can you imagine if the weather was super-hot? If, from 6:30 to 11 a.m. there was blazing sunlight? I bet a lot of runners would have stopped. Especially because the event ran out of water on so many water stations.

2. Chip. Having that ChampionChip on your shoe makes the event world-caliber. This was good. And something we have yet to experience in Cebu (given it’s cost, around P200,000 just for the deployment, we’re targeting in the 2011 Cebu Marathon). Continue reading Quezon City Intl. Marathon: The Good and the Bad

The torture called Quezon City Marathon

That’s me and Bro. Carlo Bacalla meters from the finish

Jesse Taborada, a veteran of six 42K marathons, calls it, “The hardest marathon in the world!”

Of course, Jesse exaggerated. Nothing, I assume, can beat the Great Wall of China or the Mt. Everest marathons. But the 42.195 kms. that we trekked last Sunday may be termed, “the country’s toughest 42K.”

The Quezon City International Marathon (QCIM) started at 4:30 a.m. Anticipating harsh weather due to Typhoon Ramil, it did not rain at the QC Circle. Stars glazed. At the Starting Line, hundreds of hearts pounded. Then, after a 10… 9… 8… countdown, the firing gun blasted. Joel Garganera was beside me. Same with Jesse. And Bro. Carlo Bacalla of Don Bosco in Labangon, Cebu. We entered U.P. Diliman in darkness as students slept. Next, we exited and ran along Commonwealth Avenue—all of eight lanes-wide per lane. Cars were barred. It was perfect. Continue reading The torture called Quezon City Marathon

Fuente Osmeña and the Quezon City Circle

MANILA—Question: What do the two ring-shaped ovals of Quezon City and our own, Cebu, have in common? Answer: They’re both historic landmarks located at the center of each metropolis. Plus, more than that, when these two cities organize a momentous sports event called The Marathon, the two rotundas will be the main features.

For Quezon City, celebrating it’s 70th founding year, the Quezon City Circle will be spotlighted today. Because this morning is the Quezon City Intl. Marathon, a world-class event with P3 million in prize money and an estimated 10,000 runners joining. For Cebu City, it’s the date 01-10-10. Spelled in full, that’s January 10, 2010, when the Fuente Osmeña will be a key turning point for the runners participating in the Cebu City Marathon.

As you read this, I’m in Quezon City. The purpose: Like a few dozen from Cebu, to join my third 42K race—the Quezon City Intl. Marathon.

Who else from Cebu are here? Plenty. There’s Atan Guardo and his brothers Genito, Jerry and Jeson. There’s Tinago Councilor Joel Garganera. Haide Acuña is here. So are three members of the Holiday Gym and Spa: Annie Neric (who already finished the Singapore Marathon) and two first-timers, Mike Enriquez and Monsignor Siongo Tan. From the Cebu Executive Runners Club (CERC), there’s president Jesse Taborada, Dodong Sulatre, Joel Juarez, Bro. Carlo Bacalla, JR and Rovie Aguilon, Dr. Raymund Bontol, and one of our fastest, Steve Ferraren. These runners are joining the 42K.

For the 21K, there’s Lahug Brgy. Captain Mary Ann de los Santos, The Freeman columnist Raffy Uytiepo, coach Bert Banzon and Frederic and Millette Chiongbian—one of the most recognizable of running couples in Cebu.

Our route? The 42K race begins at 4:30 a.m. at the Quezon City Circle. From there, we enter the U.P. Diliman grounds. (To me, a U.P. Cebu graduate, this will bring back delightful memories of the one semester I studied there.) We’ll encircle the sunken garden of U.P. then exit the sprawling campus and make our long trek along the Commonwealth Avenue, considered as the widest road in our country (with eight lanes per way). We’ll run northwards to the Batasang Pambansa, exit the House of Congress, then traverse to the La Mesa Dam. From there, it’s more winding roads before heading back the same route to the QC Circle finish line.

Why, you ask, run a ridiculous distance of 42.195 kms.? What for? Is the purpose to self-inflict pain? A form of masochism, to induce torture on one’s physical being? Yes. No. Running for four, five or six hours is agonizing. You can develop knee aches, ankle spasms, calf strains, leg cramps. Complete physical exhaustion is expected. Vomiting isn’t rare. Even bleeding, in one’s nipples, due to the friction of the shirt on the chest, is common.

Then, why? The answer is easy: Because the marathon is “the Mt. Everest of runners.” In the Running Clinic the CERC conducted last month, when I spoke before the 150 in attendance at the Casino Español, I said these words…

“Why do it? Precisely because it’s such a difficult goal… a target that not many have achieved… an aim that, at first, you thought was not possible… that’s why we run marathons!

“If you’re a mountain climber, and you’ve scaled the summits of Mt. Manunggal and Mt. Apo, it’s Mt. Everest. If you’re a tennis player and have joined local tournaments, it’s like entering Wimbledon. The only difference is, as tennis players, we can’t join Wimbledon. We can’t be in the same event with Roger and Rafa.

“With running, yes we can join the same events as the world’s elite runners—the only sport, in my analysis, where you’re beside the world’s best.

“But more than that… it’s an effort that will require years and months of training and endless weeks of waking up at 3:45 a.m. each Sunday to prepare for the long runs… it’s a big sacrifice… it’s a commitment… it’s a test of your perseverance… That’s why we run marathons!”

See you at our very own, the Cebu City Marathon!

Rey Bautista: Will his punches boom-boom?

Boom-Boom (center) with Edito Villamor and Atty. Jingo Quijano

His first fight was at the Gaisano Country Mall. He was one week shy of his 17th birthday. Against an unknown Reyco Compendio, he won that battle in June 12, 2003. Since then, Rey Bautista has gone on to become one of the most celebrated of sportsmen in our island, his popularity as high as a Dondon Hontiveros. He also inherited a striking nickname. One that is defined as “bursting” and “explosive.” Continue reading Rey Bautista: Will his punches boom-boom?

Ateneo vs. UE: The clash between Blue and Red

At 3:30 this afternoon, two colors will collide. One is red, the other is blue. The hostilities started last week. In Game 1 of the UAAP basketball finals, Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) beat the University of the East (UE). That victory was expected. The leaders during the elimination round, Ateneo was dominant and authoritative. But in last Sunday’s Game 2, when the Araneta Coliseum was to have been awash in blue, the red-blooded UE squad turned their opponents blue—as in gloomy and unhappy blue. For the Red Warriors did not just defeat the Blue Eagles, they obliterated them with the score 88-68.

(This photo and the one below from Continue reading Ateneo vs. UE: The clash between Blue and Red

Casino Español de Cebu’s 1st President’s Cup

His first name is Manny. His second name is Sainz. And just like Carlos Sainz, the world champion rally driver who hails from Spain, he, too, traces his roots from the country that’s home to the world-renowned cities of Barcelona, Valencia, Bilbao, Sevilla and Madrid.

Manny Sainz is the president of one of the most illustrious and preeminent clubs in this city, the Casino Español de Cebu. Last week, in his honor, two sporting events were organized. One was tennis; the other, badminton. With the game of Maria Sharapova, a total of 40 aficionados joined. The yellow team, headed by team captain Romy Alejandro, had 10 doubles pairs; same with the green squad of captain Fred Quilala. For several nights, their squadrons battled using tennis racquets as they tossed balls to serve, spiked them for smashes, swung forehands, sliced backhands. In the end, one team emerged winners: Green. Continue reading Casino Español de Cebu’s 1st President’s Cup

Rio wins while Chicago’s ‘O’ team scores an O

Obama plus Oprah plus Obama were supposed to win for Chicago the “O.” Games of 2016. Instead, what the three most recognized people on earth received was a first-round Copenhagen loss. No gold, no silver, no bronze—but a fourth place finish out of four.

“I’m shocked,” said the Australian IOC member, Kevan Gosper. “The whole thing doesn’t make sense other than there has been a stupid bloc vote. To have the president of the United States and his wife personally appear, then this should happen in the first round is awful and totally undeserving.” Continue reading Rio wins while Chicago’s ‘O’ team scores an O