Monthly Archives: February 2010

The perfect blend? Mix sports and coffee

Back in July of 2007, I started a habit. I drank. Not beer or Johnnie Walker or tequila or lambanog. I drank a brown-colored mix that’s available in carenderias and supermarkets, SM City and Ayala Center, our homes and offices. I started with San Mig Coffee. When I woke up in the morning, I tore open the blue sachet and poured the 3-in-1 on a steaming cup of water. I sipped. Next, I swallowed Nescafe Intense. It was, as it’s family name suggests, intense. I drank it two hours before running the Hong Kong 42K footrace. I drank it each morning at my Talamban home.

Today, I still drink. But thanks to Jourdan Polotan, who, to me, owns a doctorate in Coffeetology, I’ve learned to be more sophisticated. Mr. Polotan who? He happens to be the husband of Jingle, who’s the sister of Steve Benitez, who’s the owner of the outstanding Cebu brand named Bo’s Coffee.

Jourdan, who’s resided in Surabaya, Indonesia and traveled to Russia and Dubai and Italy and most of the corners of this round planet, taught me about this “French Press.” At first, given his all-muscle physique, I thought the “press” was his gym exercise: the leg press.

French Press, it turned out, was one excellent method of making coffee. And so, for the past 60 days since I’ve purchased that portable French Press gadget at Starbucks and a coffee grinding machine at Rustan’s, I’ve grounded various selections of beans.

When do I savor my coffee? Each morning, with no miss, at 6 a.m. What does one 8-oz cup do to my system? It stimulates my brain. From half-shut, my eyes amplify. From a funky state I transform into a punk. From being a wuss, I transpose into a revving Lamborghini. Coffee, as commonly said, “perks me up” and switches my just-awoken zombie skeleton into an Energizer bunny.

Which brings me to E: Exercise. And why, if you don’t drink cappuccino before you engage in sports or, worse, if you don’t involve yourself in any type of sweating, you should.

Needless to expound, Exercise is necessary for a robust and strapping figure. But here’s what I’ve uncovered is just as necessary prior to exercise: a brown cup. And this theory of drinking coffee before working-out is endorsed not just by me or Vice Governor candidate Glenn Soco, who owns the chain of cozy outlets named Coffee Dream, but by plenty of studies.

“Australian researchers found that even a small quantity of caffeine allowed athletes to exercise almost a third longer,” said the August 2003 article from BBC.co.uk entitled, Coffee ‘boosts exercise stamina.’ “A single cup of coffee may be enough to trigger these beneficial effects. The Australian Institute of Sport team found that caffeine triggers the muscles to start using fat as an energy source rather than carbohydrate sugars. Caffeine has been used by many endurance athletes as a way of eking extra energy out of their body’s reserves during an event. The researchers tested its effects on cyclists, who were allowed to sip on flat cola or coffee as they pedaled. Those who did were able to keep going longer than those who stuck to water.”

Believe it now? There’s more. In fact, hundreds of studies have validated the positive effect of coffee on athletes.

According to the Univ. of Michigan Health System website, “it makes (people) feel more alert, gives them more energy, improves their mood, and makes them more productive. Athletes often use caffeine to help them perform better, both in routine workouts and in competition.”

To me, it keeps me motivated to pedal that Trek mountainbike, sprint that 5K run, swing that Babolat tennis racket.

I hope you drink coffee. Not just to sleep awake, slumped in Seattle’s Best’s sofa set for 104 lazy minutes, but to use coffee to energize your senses and convince your physical self to move.

Do sports. Sip caffeine. What a one-two combination. That’s why I love the French Press. It’s the perfect mix prior to a bench press.

Open: Andre Agassi and his tennis diary

Like Borg and McEnroe, Evert or Navratilova, Federer vs. Nadal, there stood two enemies in the 1990s: Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. I sided with Pete. Not now. Not in this battle between books. Having read the memoir of Pete Sampras, “A Champion’s Mind: Lessons From A Life In Tennis,” a year ago and having consumed, in just several hours of nonstop reading yesterday, Andre’s tell-all, “Open: An Autobiography,” it’s a no contest. Agassi beats Sampras in straight sets.

I love AA’s book. It’s funny. It’s shocking. It’s no-holds-barred. It’s absorbing. So unlike Sampras’ book where, if you ask me now, I can hardly remember anything. Not Agassi. The most colorful character in tennis. He dated Barbra Streisand. He sniffed shabu. He helped “discover” Celine Dion. He wore a wig (deceiving the admirers of his then-blonde, flowing hair). And, to me, the most shocking of all revelations: He despised tennis.

His father, Mike, an Olympic boxer for Iran, treated his youngest child like a slave. He allowed him to skip school to play tennis. He forced him to eat, fantasize, work, sleep, study one word: Tennis. Andre hated and loathed and abhorred the game. Unbelievable.

Sins? Ahh. The 388-page hardbound book, sent to me by fellow columnist Michelle So and owned by tennis left-hander Atty. Frank Malilong, exposes plenty. The most scandalous of all is Andre’s taking crystal meth. He didn’t sniff the drug for years. He took it maybe a few times. But the fact that he did engage in drugs and lied about it with the ATP officials–then revealed it in this written story is startling.

But Agassi is Agassi. He’s open. He’s honest. Today. And he did the right act by divulging that sin. Why? Simply because this book is not fictional; it’s a diary, a confession, a tell-all. For him to have hidden this dark episode would have made him a fraud. (And deprived the publisher of millions more in book sales!)

The autobiography also hurts people with its openness. Take Sampras. Agassi insults his arch-rival. First, he describes Pete as more robotic than his pet, a parrot named Peaches. On another occasion, he says Pete is cheap when he tipped a parking valet only $1. Wrote Agassi: “I envy Pete’s dullness. I wish I could emulate his spectacular lack of inspiration, and his peculiar lack of need for inspiration.” Ouch.

The book also recounted all of Agassi’s major triumphs. His Wimbledon conquest. His Australian Open titles. His U.S. Open victories. His come-from-behind French Open win. But more than tennis-talk, this book was a love story. For Agassi is a romantic. A love story not so much with Brooke Shields, his wife from 1997 to 1999, but more so with a player you might have heard of: Graf. Stephanie.

For who’d have known, had he not revealed it, that Andre has kept, from way, way back, a secret crush on Ms. Graf? Their love story is titillating. How he sent her flowers (while her boyfriend was there). How he wet the piece of paper with Steffi’s phone number and panicked to retrieve it. This love story I found most riveting. For who would have imagined a better-than-a-movie ending: the only two people to have won all four Grand Slam titles plus the Olympic gold medal… Only Mr. and Mrs. Agassi.

Funny. That’s what this book is also about. It has hundreds of episodes that will make you laugh. In page 191, for example, Agassi loses in the 1994 French Open to Thomas Muster. But he’s angry for a different reason. “At the net he rubs my head, musses my hair. Apart from being condescending, his gesture nearly dislodges my hairpiece… I stare at him with pure hatred. Big mistake, Muster. Don’t ever touch the hair.”

The book is, most of all, well-written. Co-authored by J. R. Moehringer, a Pulitzer Prize winner, the words are compelling and irresistible. (So impressed by the writing, I visited Fully Booked and bought another Moehringer book, The Tender Bar.)

In summary, this book you MUST READ. Tennis fan or not, it’s one of the best autobiographies I’ve ever read.

No show of the snow? SkyCable is lousy

Last Wednesday, I stayed overnight in Iloilo City. I switched on the TV set while inside the hotel room. I shivered. Not because the air-conditioning was near-freezing, but because of what my eyes witnessed.

Snow. Lots of snow. It’s the Olympics and the star is Vancouver, Canada, where the 21st Winter Games are being held from February 12 to 28.

The cable TV company in Iloilo showed two channels fully devoted to the Winter Olympics. One was a European channel and the other was Solar Sports. It was nearly a 24-hour, all-snow, all-Vancouver coverage. And it was sensational. I watched Curling. Virtually unheard-of in this part of the tropical world, it’s a game of utmost precision. I saw Cross-Country Skiing. The skiers were terrific athletes: they’d climb up a steep hill, stride down, sprint on a flat mound, both arms swinging, all hearts pounding in 111 percent effort. Ice hockey I saw. Same with Speed-Skating and Alpine Skiing. These were all shown in both live and replay feeds on both two channels.

Not in Cebu. But in Iloilo. Now why, I ask, isn’t the Olympic Games, held only once every 48 months, being shown in our Queen City? I don’t know. But I don’t like it. And I presume, so do the thousands of other SkyCable subscribers who would have loved to see snow in our sunny island.

Bode Miller? Who captured gold yesterday in the Super Combined? No show. Lindsey Vonn, an unbelievable beauty of a blonde American who won gold in the Women’s Downhill? Sorry, folks, but you can only check out her moves and photos via the internet (visit the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition and you’ll see her in seductive, two-piece swimwear.)

It’s a pity SkyCable severed its ties with Solar Sports. The biggest losers in all this are you and me.

SUPER BOWL. Last week, I got the chance to speak by phone to Raymond Kokseng. He was infuriated and annoyed. And Mr. Kokseng, one of Cebu’s top businessmen (Banilad Town Centre, Harbour City/Dimsum Break, Golden Cowrie, Grand Convention Center, to name a few), is also one of this island’s most amiable and courteous of gentlemen. Thus, to hear him somewhat aggravated was a surprise.

The reason: Sports. Once again, the no-show by SkyCable. The event: Super Bowl XLIV.

Played between the Indianapolis Colts versus the New Orleans Saints, it turned out to be a huge upset win for the Saints and Drew Brees (who outperformed the so-called “greatest quarterback ever,” Peyton Manning). That February 7 event also turned out to be the most-watched TV program in U.S. history, beating M*A*S*H. In all, 106.5 viewers saw the Super Bowl.

You and me here in Cebu? Ha-ha. Pity us. We saw nothing. And that’s what got Raymond Kokseng displeased. Having resided in San Francisco (“I was a big, big fan of the 49ers”), he had grown to love, and to follow, American football; in particular, that once-a-year spectacle. Sadly, it was no Bowl, no snow, no show.

Pop

Pop Sabandon is dead. Last Friday past 11 p.m., as he exited the hospital after visiting his father-in-law in Gen. Santos City, Pop was shot twice in the head. Shocking. Pop was one of the top tennis players of our land: a former Davis Cup player, he was ranked as high as RP # 3 just a few Februarys ago. But more than his tennis prowess, he was one of the most cheerful and enthusiastic of men.

Last April, he was in Cebu. Joining the Cebuana Lhuillier Men’s Open at Baseline, he entertained the crowd with his bandana-on-the-forehead look and style of play that was aggressive and captivating. One occasion I recall was our dinner last year with Jean-Henri Lhuillier and the rest of the players at Mr. A in Busay. Pops was the star. He sang. He drank. He joked. He smiled. He was simply a lovable, outgoing person.

According to Cebuano tennis ace Michael Quiñones, one of his closest friends here, Pop was a few days away from leaving for Hong Kong for a possible tennis coaching profession. He was only 28.

Nike supports Tiger

Thanks to my good friend Steve Ferraren for this forwarded email/photo:

Nike Pays for Plastic Surgery to Fix Tiger’s Lips after Accident

Although there still remains speculation on how Tiger got his lips cut up the other night….some say his lovely little wife did in fact take a 9 iron to his mug as a result of a domestic dispute over another woman.  Others are saying that he did a face plant into the steering wheel or windshield when he hit a fire hydrant and then a tree, because he couldn’t sleep that night thinking about the upcoming tourney he was hosting and the problems he has had driving it straight…so he was out practicing bare foot in his escalade!

But, NIKE has once again shown complete support for their prize athlete and have paid for reconstructive lip surgery….

FIFA and Sony Ericsson

Sony Ericsson to send Filipino flag bearer to FIFA World Cup™

A Filipino child will get the chance of a lifetime to experience the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ live on the pitch in South Africa .  Sony Ericsson has opened a video competition that will bring the country’s first FIFA flag bearer to a FIFA World Cup™ match in July, marking the first time the country will participate in the global sports event.

The competition dares Filipino children aged 10-16 years old to creatively answer in a 30-60 second video, “Why I deserve to win the Sony Ericsson Search for the FIFA World Cup™ flag bearer.”  Act, dance, illustrate, sing or perform your reasons on the video.  Or show off your best football moves to impress the judges.  Get family and friends and play around, do fancy footwork or put on some Shakespeare.  Just remember to have fun and use your imagination.  Contestants can submit as many entries as they want.  Video entries are accepted www.clickthecity/sonyericssonfifa from now until March 5, 2010.

Starting March 8, 2010, five videos will be shortlisted for a new and final round of voting.  The five finalists will each win the Sony Ericsson Kita, the gesture gaming phone wonder with 5-megapixel camera, photo geo-tagging, Net access, high quality media player and stereo speakers.

Sony Ericsson will let the public decide which child should carry the FIFA flag before thousands of spectators around the world in one of international sports’ most exciting events.

“Sony Ericsson was designated an official FIFA World Cup™ partner in 2008, allowing us this tremendous opportunity to participate in this unique way.  This will be the first time for the Philippines to participate in a FIFA World Cup™ event so we are inviting Filipino children to try out and give it their best,” said Dennis Manzano, Sony Ericsson General Manager.

The winner, together with his parent or guardian, will fly to South Africa complete with hotel accommodations and pocket money.  In an inspiring moment at the semi-finals, the winner will walk the pitch with other young flag bearers and watch a thrilling FIFA World Cup™ semi-finals match firsthand.

Visit www.clickthecity/sonyericssonfifa to learn more.  Registered voters on the site also get a chance to win the exclusive Sony Ericsson Team Pilipinas shirts..  The winner will be announced on March 26, 2010.

Despite the sorry, Tiger not out of the woods

(Lori Moffett-Pool/Getty Images)

When Jasmin and I arrived home the other night, we switched on CNN. It was 12:35 a.m. We had just arrived from a late family dinner after watching the terrific show, ONE: A CONCERT FOR A BETTER WORLD, of our school, Bright Academy.

It was TW1. Yes, the only athlete to have climbed the $1,000,000,000 mark in earnings; the most gifted sportsman in all of golf–and possibly, in all of sports.

Watching the replay of his press conference minutes after it was shown live by CNN, I sat down in my bedroom couch. Jasmin wouldn’t glance. She detested Tiger. “He’s a fake,” she said.

Tiger spoke. What an awkward moment. For the Tiger we’ve grown accustomed to seeing was Tiger in full command: pumping his first after sinking that 22-foot birdie putt or strolling confidently on Augusta National’s green grass. Always, Tiger appears self-assured, decisive, poised.

Not the other night. Tiger looked scared. Gloomy. Unsure.  His face was anguished. It was obvious, based on the body language and his stammering… to say… the right…. words… out… loud… that this… was… all rehearsed for that maximum, I’m-so-sorry effect. “It looks so scripted,” said Jasmin.

What did Woods achieve with his appearance? Mixed results. Some further lambasted Tiger. Wrote Eva Rodriguez of The Washington Post yesterday, “I’ve never been more disgusted with Tiger Woods. I found his apology unbelievable, insincere, self-serving, self-indulgent, and narcissistic. (Long winded and repetitive, too.) The more he spoke about redemption, about becoming a better man, a better husband, a better father, a better Buddhist, a better role model for your children and mine, the more I wanted him to just shut up…. He did not owe us — you and me — an apology. That he delivered one just shows how meaningless it really was.”

Others, possibly from diehard fans, applauded his statement. Said Ruth Marcus, also of The Washington Post: “Well, that was excruciating. I’m not sure I’ve ever witnessed a more public, more extended self-flagellation…. The man walked in looking stricken. He walked out the same way. Maybe it was all an act, calculated to save sponsorships. If so, it was an extended and, I thought, convincing one. I’ve watched a lot of apologies in my day, mostly from politicians, and most of them annoy me. This one didn’t. Imagine having to do that, not only in front of millions, but in front of your mother.”

Mixed results. As for me, I’m glad Tiger has spoken. To recall, that mysterious tree-smashing car accident happened in Nov. 27. Now, finally, he’s emerged from the woods.

I’d have preferred, though, that he spoke sooner, maybe a week after? But Tiger is Tiger. He’s a control freak. In the same way that he controls his golf swing and the outcome of tournaments (mostly, to his favor), he wanted to control this bizarre situation. But, from what we’ve witnessed the past 2 1/2 months, he couldn’t. This story has transformed into a jackpot for the tabloids.

Or maybe Tiger could have opted for one-on-one with Larry King or Oprah. (Absolutely not in The View, for he’d have been roasted by Barbara Walters and Whoopi Goldberg!) With either Larry King or Oprah, he’d have appeared more human and personable, less stiff and less scripted.

Still, his actions won’t be forgotten soon. Not tomorrow. Not in 2010. Maybe never. Just look at the sorry examples of Hugh Grant or Bill Clinton or A-Rod or Boris Becker or Kobe Bryant or maybe even our own Manny Pacquiao to note that, while forgiven, these acts are rarely forgotten. Worse because of his clean-cut persona, he has to forever repair the damage inflicted upon the brand labeled “Tiger Woods.”

For now, he’ll have to do more. More weeks of therapy. More time with Elin. More time away from the public and our tsismis-filled minds. And, when he returns, he’ll have to do more: win more major trophies to remind us of his greatness–and to catch up on his pal Roger Federer who now has 16 Grand Slam titles versus his 14.

Go on, be a Tiger? Uh-uh, says Jasmin.

Z is the world champion of life

Manny Villaruel, the sports editor of The Freeman, wrote it best in his eloquent and impassioned story last Tuesday entitled, Welcome home, Z ‘The Dream’ Gorres: “He was loved by fans for his being a gentle, humble and unassuming person. Following his miraculous recovery from a serious head injury he sustained in a fight that ended his boxing career in November last year, Cebuano fighter Z “The Dream” Gorres drew global attention and has gained, without doubt, more love and adoration.

“And after several months of staying away from home, a proud Filipino nation, the Cebuano community in particular, welcomes back its beloved son, who has since become a symbolic figure of true courage, immeasurable fighting spirit and strong faith in God…

“He may no longer have the physical capacity to achieve his dream, but Gorres can consider himself greater than a world champion for winning the biggest fight of his life.”

Zeta Celestino Gorres arrived home two days ago. At the Patio Isabel luncheon hosted by Antonio L. Aldeguer, the sports mediamen had an up-close look at the boxer nicknamed “Buchoy.”

How does he look? Can he talk? Move? He looks phenomenal. I gripped his right hand. He didn’t just shake hands with me. He gripped it right back. Firm. Tight. A powerful, forceful grip we engaged in for a few seconds.

Z with Edito Villamor (left) and Jun Migallen; standing: John P., Mike Limpag and Edri Aznar

Talk? Yes, he can. In fact, Z has become funny. Very funny. When one of his lady friends asked whether he still remembers her, he paused for a few moments as everyone awaited and, in all seriousness, said, “Wala ko kaila nimo kay ni-gwapa ka (I didn’t recognize you because you became prettier).”

The girl laughed. I did. So did the others. Z smiled.

Z smiles. When he saw his children, he smiled. When he thanked the Aldeguers and the man who took care of him in Las Vegas and accompanied him all the way to our land, Dr. Ben Calderon, he smiled. When he was met at the airport by dozens and hundreds of fans and friends and fellow fighters, he smiled.

Z cried. For he was not a world champion. He won’t be; he’ll never be when he fell to the floor that Friday November the 13th evening. He did not bring home to Mandaue the gift the city awaited: a glittering boxing belt.

But he did more. Much more. For who, but a returning and healthy Z Gorres, could have commanded a convoy of more than 50 vehicles that greeted him at the airport and paraded the streets of Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue and Cebu?

Not MP. “Even Pacquiao did not attract that many cars who joined the welcome,” said Manny Villaruel, who was one of the many who trooped to the Mactan airport.

Z is no world champion. But he did more.

Pa,” he told Antonio Lopez Aldeguer upon his return. “I’m sorry na dili ko ma world champ,” he said, calling Mr. Aldeguer “Pa,” having grown-up in the Aldeguer household and become like a younger brother to Chris, Michael and Jay. “You’re more than a champion,” ALA whispered to him. “You have touched people’s lives.”

Perfectly-said. For isn’t touching people’s lives our ultimate life goal? Isn’t it far nobler an achievement that just being one of boxing’s top-ranked?

Z’s last 90 days have grabbed more attention than almost any other in the boxing community. In Las Vegas, says Dr. Ben Calderon, these past three months have seen a multitude of articles devoted to Z’s condition and his fight for life. “The morning we left for the Philippines,” said top Internist in Nevada, “there was a story on the Las Vegas newspaper about Z.”

The story of Z has inspired the world’s boxing capital to finally enact a bill to help boxers. “Imagine, the medical expenses of Z amounted to over $500,000 and the insurance was only $50,000?” said Michael Aldeguer. “Because of the proposed ‘Z Gorres Bill,’ the insurance, for major and world title fights, will possibly be increased to $1,000,000.”

Thanks to Z. Thanks to his near-death experience. Thanks to his new life. Welcome home, Buchoy.

Rotary + Sports = active, energized Rotarians

“Rotary is a worldwide organization of more than 1.2 million business, professional, and community leaders,” says the official website, www.Rotary.org. “Members of Rotary clubs, known as Rotarians, provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world.

“There are 33,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas. Clubs are nonpolitical, nonreligious, and open to all cultures, races, and creeds. As signified by the motto Service Above Self, Rotary’s main objective is service — in the community, in the workplace, and throughout the world.”

Here in Cebu, there are a total of 26 Rotary clubs and, starting Sunday, one of the highlights will commence… The Rotary Week.

RUN. To give the Rotary Week, literally, a running start will be the “2ND ROTARY RUN” this Feb. 21 (Sunday), at the SM City. Founded by Andrew Jimenez last year (Andrew has since relocated to Sydney, Australia), it is now jointly handled by two running buff Rotarians: Kenneth Casquejo (the past president of the Rotary Club of Banilad Metro) and Jet Neric (my fellow Rotarian, and our secretary, at the RC of Cebu West).

“The run,” said the chairman, Kenneth Casquejo, “will cover the following races: Kiddie Dash (8 to 12 years old-400 meter dash/7 below-200 meter dash), 3K Fun Run (Open to Non-Rotarians), 7K Open & 15K Open and Executive Division Races. More than 1500 runners are expected with the support of the big family of Rotary District 3860.”

Cash prizes, trophies and medals will be awarded to the Top 10 finishers per category. Special awards will also be handed out to the biggest Rotary delegation, the biggest Non-Rotary delegation, the oldest/youngest runners, the best running couple, the best running family and the best in costume.

Adds Kenneth: “On top of promoting Rotary and a healthy lifestyle, joining the race is an opportunity to contribute to the End Polio Now, a program of The Rotary Foundation to eradicate polio worldwide.”

This event is jointly organized by the RC of Banilad Metro and the RC of Cebu West (headed by my club’s highly-progressive and enterprising president, Romy DyPico). Registration is now going on at the PSC office (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) in Abellana, Toby’s SM City, Colette’s Buko Pie SM and RUNNR in Ayala. Registration Fee is only P150 and the deadline is this Thursday. See you there this Sunday, 5:30 a.m., at the SM North Parking Area.

BOWLING. The “Rotary Week Fun Bowling Tournament” is next Tuesday, Feb. 23, and is open to Rotarians and their family members. Venue is at the SM Bowling Center and the competition starts at 7 p.m. Prizes await the… Team Champion, 1st, 2nd, 3rd Runner Up, Highest Single Game, Biggest Delegation. The hosts are the clubs of Central Mactan and Cebu Fort San Pedro. For more details, contact RC of Central Mactan PP Udo Pelkowski at 09172791907 or udopelkowski@hotmail.com.

GOLF. Open to Rotarians and non-Rotarians, the Golf Fellowship is next Wed., Feb. 24, at the Mactan Island Golf and Country Club. Tee off time is from 7:30 to 11 a.m. Registration fee is P1,500 and, to join, call Fe Escaño at 0927-4132923 or 0922-7862681. Host club is the Rotary Club of Cebu Port Center.

ROTARY WEEK. Chaired by Rotarian Ricky Poca with Lilu Aliño as the PR Chair, the Rotary Week (from Feb. 21 to 28) will also include these non-sports activities: Holy Mass on Feb. 21 at 9 a.m. (SM City)… Humanity In Motion Exhibit (from Feb. 21 to 28) at the SM City Northwing… A Dog Walk and Veterinary Medical Clinic on Feb. 21 (SM parking area)… On Feb. 24, an Immunization Day at the Brgy. Ermita Multi-Purpose Hall (headed by RC Banilad Metro)… On Feb. 25, a Voter’s Education program (spearheaded by the RC of Cebu) at the USC Main Campus from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m… A Rotary Chill-out Nite at The Terraces of the Ayala Center on Feb. 25… And, on Feb. 27, a Grand Fellowship at the Capitol Social Hall.

Enjoy ROTARY this coming WEEK!

The 3Rs formula for love

At the 2008 Singapore Marathon

Some prefer a candlelight dinner in Shangri-La. Some “say it with flowers.” Others lavish their spouse with a tiny box, inside of which is a stone that glitters. Some opt for a kiss and an “I love you” whisper. Others, a picnic in Tops or, as our governor herself joked, a stroll inside Plaza Independencia.

Roy and Rosan Trani, two of my closest friends the past three years, prefer a different version of February 14. This Valentine’s Day, they’ll awake at 3:30 a.m. to spend the next waking hours together. Two feet apart. Two feet bouncing. Running.

“Our married life is a ‘wonderful gift’ from HIM, with all the good things we received and material blessings we built through the years,” said Roy. “And now, HE has given us the opportunity to be running together at least once a week (every Sunday), joining full marathons (here and abroad) at least once a year, and more importantly, being a role model to our kids, on how couples (parents) should live and love each other!”

Roy, 48, and Dr. Rosan, 46, have been married for 22 happy years now. One “success formula” they’ve employed in their love-life is a simple yet proven technique that all of us should emulate: The weekly date.

Its formula is as follows = Roy + Rosan + Running. The 3Rs. “We started running together in 2003,” said Roy. “I started this sport as a hobby during the late 1990’s. But when I opted for early retirement in 2003 from a multinational company, I decided to take running as a ‘lifestyle.’ I started to run my first 10K in early 2004, while at the same time Rosan did her first 5K. We later joined the Queen City/Tri-City Runs and had our first experience of the 13K run.”

Was it difficult convincing Rosan? No, said Roy. “Her practice (as a cardiologist) made it logical… for her patients to see a “walk the talk” doctor. Telling her patients to exercise and change their lifestyles and follow her example, were some of the reasons I told her to start to run.”

Since the Trani couple activated the 3R Formula, they’ve been unstoppable. “We’ve joined fun run events in Cebu since 2005 (PHA run, Milo, Timex, DYAB, Seminary Fun Run and many more),” said Roy. “But we only do the 10K runs. I usually run faster than her and would wait for her at the finish line (that was before).”

The 42.195 km. race? “Our first was the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon in 2008. Our second was in Manila, the Milo Marathon, last July, and the 3rd was in Subic.” The next major one R & R will be running: two Sundays from today… the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon on Feb. 28. “We plan to join two to three marathons every year before we reach 60 years old,” said Roy. “Our dream marathons would be the Safari in Africa and Chicago in the U.S.”

2009 Subic International Marathon

Roy spoke of their schedule. “Since we started running together and with our friends in CERC (Cebu Executive Runners Club), we always start our Sundays with early morning runs at 4:30 a.m… doing 10k to 21K, from 1.5 to 2.5 hours. We run just about anywhere in Cebu, Mandaue, and Lapu-Lapu,” he said.

“We don’t usually talk while running. Last year in the Subic marathon, we prayed the rosary together, especially  when we passed the ‘dark roads’ in SCLEX. We just feel comfortable, ‘peaceful’ running together. It’s good to know that even during this kind of activity, your spouse is with you. Running at the same pace, in the same direction, helping each other cross the finish line.

“One time, she massaged my legs when I suffered pain due to cramps. There was also an incident that I have to wait for her make a pee stop in the middle of a highway along the route… Simple acts of caring but great memories together!”

Finally, this tip from Roy: “Would I recommend this ‘running together’ to other couples? Definitely yes! It’s more than just exercise. It has become part of our ‘love life’ because our Sundays wouldn’t be complete… it’s like going on a date, a running weekly date!”

Finishing the 21K in the 2007 Singapore Marathon

Talk ‘N Text walkout: Was it right?

The PBA was founded in 1975. Since then, of the thousands of games played the past 35 years, no team, except one in 1990 by Añejo Rum and Robert Jaworski, has ever walked out.

Until last Friday. Barely 11 minutes had passed in the first quarter when the Talk ‘N Text player Ranidel De Ocampo elbowed the head of a driving Ronald Tubid of Barangay Ginebra. The referee blew the whistle. In that Game 4 of the best-of-five quarterfinal series (with TnT leading 2-1), De Ocampo was charged with a Flagrant Foul-2 (which means “any hard contact above the shoulder”). He was ejected and would not play, if ever there was, a Game 5.

Chot Reyes fumed mad. The head coach of TnT could not accept the decision. He concluded that the referees were biased against his squad–not just in Game 4, but in all the previous games. After that foul was reviewed on videotape and the decision upheld by the referees, Reyes, having consulted team owner Manny V. Pangilinan, who was in attendance, collared his team and marched towards the dugout.

Negotiations ensued. The PBA commissioner, Sonny Barrios, pleaded for their return. Minutes passed. Finally, when it appeared that Chot Reyes wanted to play, it was too late. The PBA ruling states that any team that leaves the court is given only seven minutes to return; otherwise, they forfeit the game. Game over for Talk ‘N Text.

Two days later, the Tropang Texters reluctantly came back for Game 5 and, possibly feeling deflated, lost 113-110. Ginebra advanced to the semis and last night played (and lost Game 1 to) the top seed, Alaska Milk. In the other semis, it’s San Miguel Beer versus Purefoods Giants.

Why did MVP’s team walkout? They argued that De Ocampo should not have been meted a flagrant foul-2. (I reviewed the replay on YouTube and, true enough, the decision was questionable.) But more than that episode, TnT believes the overall officiating was biased. One specific complaint was Ginebra having been “awarded” too many free throw attempts (from Games 1 to 3, Brgy. Ginebra had 42 vs. 28 from TnT). Biased officiating, they protested.

But here’s the question: Was their form of protest the correct thing to do? From the viewpoint of the fans–the thousands inside the Araneta Coliseum that evening who only saw 11 minutes of game time to the tens of thousands more watching on TV–it was upsetting.

Dennis Guillermo, a top U.S.-based Filipino journalist, wrote in Examiner.com last Feb. 8: “There are a thousand ways to protest and voice out your displeasure against officiating or anything in general. Injustices are prevalent in the world, but let me ask you this: What about those fans who paid to see that game? What about that father who took out a couple of hundred pesos from his hard-earned money to take his son or his family to watch a game of exciting, spirited basketball? Did they deserve to be jiffed like that?”

Good point. Adds Bill Velasco of Philstar.com in his piece, “Notes on walking out,” last Monday: “A walkout upsets the fans… In this case, however, fans were treated to an abrupt cessation of what many consider a regular treat: an exciting PBA game. For those trying to jumpstart their weekend with a heavy dose of basketball action, it was a disappointment. As in any form of entertainment, spectators are often there to forget their problems, not to be affected by a whole new set of them. Fans paid good money to watch a basketball game, regardless of the internal conflict within the organizing group, in this case, the PBA. Some fans don’t really care that much who wins, as long as the game is thrilling.”

I agree with Dennis and Bill. The biggest losers, apart from TnT itself who, despite a 2-0 lead, lost three straight games (and were fined P1.25 million), were the PBA fans. TnT’s act was emotional. It was reactive, not objective. It was an outburst derived from their sense of outrage. They were exasperated.

But was their exit justifiable? No.

FIFA World Cup in South Africa

Unlike Jackie Lotzoff, Jim Akiatan, Dr. Stanley Villacin, Rachel Genco, Ariel Uy, and Chad Songalia, I’m no huge football devotee. My adulation for soccer heightens only once every 48 months. Well, guess what? That event which I never miss is coming soon… as in four months soon. It’s the World Cup! Is there anything bigger, more celebrated and glorified?

Having just watched an overdose of football the past weekend during the 7th Thirsty Cup, I’d like to pursue getting this kick out of soccer. Thanks to the internet, I researched simple FAQs for the ordinary football pupil…

The FIFA World Cup will be held for the first time in South Africa. It commences on June 11 (that’s 121 days from today) and ends on July 11th. A total of 32 national teams are playing. The most successful countries since the WC began in 1930? Brazil has won five, Italy four, Germany three, Argentina and Uruguay two apiece, and France and England once each. Interestingly, while there have been 19 World Cups in the past (and a total of 204 who attempted to qualify this year), only these seven nations managed a WC victory.

In South Africa (the first African nation to host the WC), nine cities will host the games. The game schedules this June? There are three main time slots. And since South Africa is six hours delayed from RP time, the TV schedules will be as follows (RP time): 7:30 p.m. (perfect!), 10:00 p.m. (excellent!) and 2:30 a.m. (too late!). The July 11 final, to be held in the 94,900-seater stadium named “Soccer City” in Johannesburg, will be at 2:30 a.m.–which many diehard Cebuanos will, for sure, watch. (With these favorable time schedules for us, I’m sure plenty of enterprising restaurant and bar owners will feature the games.)

Ticket prices? The average price is $139 (around P6,500). But, for South African residents, they have a special rate of tickets at only $20. How many tickets are available? Around three million tickets for the WC’s 64 matches. One-third (a million) will go to South African fans, another million to international visitors, and the third million to sponsors, teams and “the FIFA family.”

How many tickets have been sold so far? Over 2,000,000 tickets have been gobbled up in three of the five ticket selling phases. The fourth phase, coincidentally, starts today (Feb. 9), with over 400,000 available on a first-come, first-served basis (www.fifa.com/2010). This is one of the last opportunities for fans to secure tickets.

How popular is the WC? According to Wikipedia, “The World Cup was first televised in 1954 and is now the most widely-viewed and followed sporting event in the world, exceeding even the Olympic Games. The cumulative audience of all matches of the 2006 World Cup is estimated to be 26.29 billion. (A total of) 715.1 million individuals watched the final match of this tournament (a ninth of the entire population of the planet). The 2006 World Cup draw, which decided the distribution of teams into groups, was watched by 300 million viewers.”

Prize money? It’s huge. A total of $420 million. The semifinalists get $20 million, the runners-up, $24 million, and the champions… a mighty $30 million!

3D? Sure. Using Sony technology, FIFA have revealed that up to 25 games at World Cup 2010 will be filmed in 3D.

Funny question: In the website Southafrica.info, this query was posed: “Are there lions in the streets?” Ha-ha. The reply: “Er, no. But if you want to see wild animals, you won’t have to go far to do so. An hour’s drive from such urban jungles as Pretoria and Johannesburg, you can see lions, elephants, buffalo and hundreds more species in their natural environments.”

Finally… Nelson Mandela, speaking during World Cup draw last December, said: “The people of Africa learnt the lesson of patience and endurance in their long struggle for freedom. May the reward brought by the World Cup prove that the long wait for its arrival on African soil has been worth it… KE NAKO! It’s time.”

Why the 7th Thirsty Cup scores a kick

Football is popular in Cebu. This I learned the past 36 hours. When I entered the Cebu City Sports Center last Friday night, hundreds of pairs of spiked shoes and knee-high socks greeted my eyes. Yesterday morning, it was the same soccer-frenzy sight: girls kicking, boys sprinting towards the steel goal, coaches shouting, goalies jumping to stop a score…

The world’s No.1 sport is widespread and celebrated in the Philippines’ No.1 city. Take the 7th Thirsty Football Festival, a smorgasbord of 209 teams and 2,500 participants. All of them Cebuanos? No. Plenty arrived on our shores coming from Tubigon, Dumaguete, Tanjay, San Carlos, Iligan, Tacloban and Bacolod. Outside Manila, this event is possibly the largest gathering of footballers. My observations from the Thirsty Cup?

Football and music mix well. Who says you can’t play Boom-Boom Pow while the game is on? At the Thirsty event, hip-hop tunes scream loud from the loudspeakers. And what a fabulous idea. For today’s children are lovers of music; when their favorite songs are heard reverberating throughout the complex, it invigorates the players.

Football is best in the dark. Night games? Sure, why not. Thanks to the gleaming lights inside the Abellana grounds, darkness was transformed into daylight the past two evenings. Last Friday, the games extended until….. 11:30 p.m.

Too late for sports? Nah. As Steve Jobs proclaimed… “Think Different.” I say night games (possibly of any sport) is a superb plan. Minus the intense heat of the 12:30 p.m. sun, playing below the stars  means quicker running without squinting one’s eyes. This idea, I believe, was started in Cebu by the Thirsty event organizers: my brother Charlie, top organizer Neil Montesclaros, and the current president of the Don Bosco Alumni Football Club, Chad Songalia.

Quick Football. The concept of the “Football Festival” is unlike the World Cup games, for example, where 90 minutes are allotted per game. With this “festival,” it’s a brisk and spirited 15 minutes. After a short 7.5 minutes, the two squads change sides. This means that every second matters.

Bad? Well, yes, there’s nothing like the full game. Good? Well, yes, because more games are multiplied and everybody gets to play (especially our out-of-town visitors) in a short span of two days/two nights.

Football is for the family. I know plenty of dads who join the tournament. Their sons join, too. The grandfather of those sons watch the games. Lola brings the food and drinks. The other grandchildren come and cheer. So does the yaya. Plus the classmates. In football, everybody’s present.

Football is for the young. At the Thirsty Cup, the youngest category is the 6-years-and-under bracket. Yesterday, when I arrived at 10 a.m., I was fortunate to have met the finalists for this category. The champion team was the M. Lhuillier squad, composed mainly of children aged five and six years old. The runners-up? They were the San Roque Football Club who, upon a simple check, appeared much smaller. When I asked why, I found out that they had a three-year-old player and, unbelievably, one who was only two years old!

The MLDSF 6-and-under team with their coach (right) and Thirsty owner Bunny Pages

This, I’ve realized, is the superiority of soccer. Since it’s a team sport, one doesn’t have to possess advanced technical skills to join (unlike, for example, tennis or golf). If you can kick, you can join. That two-year-old, Marco Colina (the son of former top player Totot Colina), is the perfect example.

Football is for the once-young. Never mind if football is a highly physical (and injury-inducing) sport where, very often, elbows poke and kicks wallop and shoulders bump, one of the most popular categories is the 40-years-and-older division. The tournament’s oldest player? According to the records, there was one 61-year-old.

Isn’t this amazing? In the same soccer field of the same tournament, a two-year-old toddler kicks and runs like that 61-year-old grandfather.