Monthly Archives: August 2010

Another Roger vs. Rafa final at the US Open?

Tennis player or not, this week and the next you’ve got to watch. Like boxing, it’s one on one. Like chess, no coaches are permitted. Like badminton, it’s just the net standing between you and your enemy. That’s tennis. And, beginning yesterday until next Sunday, every night on our TV screens (Balls channel for my SkyCable) it will be the 2010 United States Open.

Of the four tennis Grand Slam events, the U.S. Open is the only one I’ve watched. Live. That moment was a long time back—11 Augusts ago—but it’s a memory that will forever be embedded in my brain’s Seagate hard drive.

The U.S. Tennis Open, like many things American, is boisterous, intense, screaming loud and, with 1.7 million dollars to the men’s and women’s singles champions, loaded with $$$. Unlike Paris where the court surface is red or at Wimbledon where it’s green grass or Down Under in Melbourne where the atmosphere is shirt-less-relaxed, at this Open it’s New York City—the most energetic metropolis on Planet Earth.

Why is tennis so attractive a sport? (I know plenty from Cebu, non-tennis-players, who watch all the majors without fail.) The reasons are plenty:

Tennis is easy to understand. Though the scoring, at first, is puzzling, it’s not as complicated as, say, the NFL or cricket.

Tennis celebrates both women and men. Think about this important point: How many sports glorify women and give them equal billing? Basketball? Football? Boxing? Baseball? Nah. In tennis, women are equals—in prize money, in scheduling, in most-everything. At times, as in the case of one Maria Sharapova, she’s more photographed than Ivo Karlovic.

Reason No. 3 why this game is loved: Tennis is individual. Single stars become superstars. Tennis is mano-a-mano; One vs. One. While most of the sports revolve around teams, in tennis (excluding doubles), it’s Serena vs. Venus, R & R, Clijsters against Henin, Borg-McEnroe, The Pete and Andre Show.

Like American Idol, one winner—not one team of 12—emerges as champion. Like the Academy Awards, there’s only one Best Actor—the same with this U.S. Open, only one Best Player will carry that metallic trophy on Sept. 12.

With this 2010 Open, the question is, will the American Idol be from Denmark named Caroline Wozniacki? I know, I know… Caroline who? She’s the top-seed? Yes. An admission: When I saw the seedings report and read her name atop the list, I was astounded. Where’s Serena? And Kim? V-Williams? Well, it turns out either they’re injured or are not as good (Wozniacki won 14 of her last 15 matches.)

Among the men… Will Andy Murray finally win one for Great Britain? Two weeks ago, he beat Roger F. in the event name for the Swiss—Rogers Cup. I won’t be surprised if the 6-foot-3 Scot wins in NYC.

Rafael Nadal? Though he’s performed subpar the past month (losing to Baghdatis), let’s not forget this fact: RN won the last two Grand Slam titles. Plus, he’s hungry for a New York cheeseburger. Already owning eight Majors, the only Big One he hasn’t digested is the Big Apple. But, perplexing to many because he’s won both on the slowest of surfaces (clay) and the fastest (Wimbledon), we ask why he can’t win more at the medium-paced hard-court. To which I reply: because the hard-court, as its first name explains, is hard. By “hard,” meaning the surface is rocklike and stiff—the worst type for Rafa’s 24-year-old knees.

How about the GOAT? Can the man universally-acknowledged as the “Greatest Of All Time” win his sixth Open? Based on statistics, the answer is more than “Yes;” it’s “How-Dare-You-Pick-Anybody-Else-But-Roger.” For, if we study history, not only has this father of twins won five of the last six NYC trophies, but Federer’s triumphed in 41 of his last 42 matches there.

Which brings me to the asterisk attached to Roger’s resume: his record against Rafa. It’s 14-7 in favor of the Spaniard. Nadal has won six of their last seven sword-fights and their past three Grand Slam finals. Which makes their final showdown a perfect “New York, New York” ending, right?

Doc Reel transforms into the real Ironman

To the ordinary species—that includes you and me—swimming 1.9 kms., biking 90K, then running a 21K is crazy and impossible. It takes a body made of iron—plus a brain that’s ironclad—to finish the Ironman 70.3. One such man is Dr. Raymund Reel Bontol. A marathon runner with the physique of a Daniel Craig, Doc Reel joined the Cobra Ironman 70.3 event in Camarines Sur last Sunday.

Among those representing Cebu included last year’s top Filipino finisher, Noy Jopson. Also joining were Elmo Clarabal, Ralph Martin Sios-e, Eugene Sanchez, Trino Trasmonte, Ralph Arche, Tyrone Tan, Kristian Cabahug, Frederick Pahanonot, Jose Ricardo Dizon, Siegfred Zarex Tura, Bro. Carlo Bacalla and Cleve Villanueva.

Dr. Bontol, 31, was part of TEAM REBORN, which included Tenggoy Colmenares, Jung Cases and Annie Neric. Here’s “A Test of Faith,” Doc Reel’s real experience…

“My legs had over three years running experience when Noy Jopson convinced me to join the Ironman. He taught me swimming and cycling techniques necessary for long-distance triathlon. Despite my panicking during the swim and weakness on the bike, I was always atoned by my running skills. In every race I pray that I reach the run leg for me to be assured of the finish.

“Training was not easy. No wonder Noy is a great athlete. TEAM REBORN trained with him 12 weeks prior to the Cobra Ironman race and we were always drained after every session. He is strict. We never let Noy see us slacking off. Disciplines include swim training, cycling, running, gym-training, core training, yoga/Pilates sessions. Hot weather in Camsur was expected so we trained at least twice a week at noon.

“Unpredictable moments are common in multisport races. I suffered from colds and cough two weeks before race day. It was getting worse. I also started having loose bowel movements five days before the race—which made it difficult to hydrate and carbo-load. I was getting anxious and panicky. I loaded myself with all types of medications and prayed to be healthy.

“It is a custom for Cebu Executive Runners Club (CERC) members to attend mass a day before the race. I had to thank God for all His blessings—plus it was the perfect time to ask for good health. With fellow Team Reborn and CERC member Annie Neric and her husband, Jet, we attended mass. With my condition, I prayed hard that I would survive the race.

“Race Day: I was up by 2:30 a.m. and started my usual race day routine. Ensaymada and banana for breakfast followed by medications including my daily FRS energy supplement. The trip to CWC lasted 10 to 15 minutes and I spent it thanking God for the opportunity to fulfill a dream. I prayed for a strong will and body. Everything except my uniforms and water bottles were checked-in so all I had to do was wait for gun start. After final preparations, Team Reborn rounded up and started a prayer. We then wished each other good luck…

“GO! With poor visibility in Lago del Ray, it was predictable that I panicked during the swim leg. ‘God,’ I prayed, ‘please help me finish the swim leg.’

“Out of the water I then proceeded with the bike leg. Despite the course being traffic-free, cycling accidents happen. Whenever I can, I prayed the rosary—a practice I kept while running marathons. After pedaling 90 kms., I was now in my comfort zone. However, running 21 kms. under extreme heat after swimming and cycling is not easy. Cramps and dehydration set in while muscle fatigue ruin your running form. After two loops of the run course, the finish line was visible. ‘Three kilometers to glory!’ I told myself. With friends cheering and the booming voice of the announcer, my heart beat faster.

“Then suddenly, everything was a blur. Next thing I knew, I felt the finish line tape in my hands. The surge of emotions was overwhelming: relief, happiness, fulfillment and gratitude. I finished strong in five hours, 39 minutes. All my prayers were answered. As I victoriously raised my fists up high, I thanked God for giving me a perfect race.”

Philippines vs. The World: Don’t miss this battle!

Michael Pastrano Aldeguer is the president of ALA Promotions. ALA, of course, is Antonio Lopez Aldeguer. The father-and-son tandem has organized a real-life, better-than-the-reel-movies blockbuster: “Philippines vs. The World!”—that’s this Saturday at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino.

“This is our biggest promotion since ‘The Moment of Truth’ with Gorres vs Montiel in 2007,” said Michael Aldeguer. “To put together world-rated Filipino fighters and a former world champ in one card is not easy. Plus, bringing four foreigners with good records entails a huge budget. But this is the plan of ALA Promotions and ABS-CBN—to bring world-class boxing here, in Cebu, which is RP’s boxing capital—just like Las Vegas is to America.”

Who are fighting? There’s Florante Condes vs. Sofyan Effendi (Indonesia). There’s Jimrex Jaca vs. Pipino Cuevas, Jr. (Mexico). Milan Milendo fights Jin Man Jeun (Korea). And, Rey Bautista is against Alejandro Barrera (Mexico). With BoomBoom, if his opponent’s second name sounds familiar, that’s because Alejandro’s cousin is Marco Antonio Barrera.

“It will be star-studded,” said Michael. “It’s hard to say which fight may steal the show but, for one, BoomBoom’s fights are always exciting. The fans know that anytime, BoomBoom can knock-out his opponent—or that he himself could be knocked-out. Alejandro Barrera is a former WBC and NABA champion who holds a record of 20 wins (13 KOs) with only three losses.”

As to the other fights, Michael adds: “Milan will be fighting Jin Man Jeon, a Korean champion rated # 4 in the OPBF. This will be exciting because Koreans come to fight just like Big Yoo (AJ Banal’s last opponent). Milan loves to brawl.

“Jimrex is against Pipino Cuevas Jr., the son of the legend who fought Tommy Hearns. Cuevas is a knock-out artist; in his 14 wins, he had 12 KOs. Jimrex comes to fight so whoever throws the first big punch will win by KO.

“The fans will be excited to watch Florante Condes in his comeback fight under ALA Promotions. He is a former world champion and one of the biggest punchers in boxing. He has the power like Manny Pacquaio.”

Back to B-B-B, this Saturday will be crucial for the Candijay, Bohol-native. “BoomBoom has gone through adversity. Not many know that he was fighting injured the past years. When he lost to Heriberto Ruiz last Nov. 2008, we found out that he had a rotten bone in his left wrist that needed major surgery. He came back last Oct. 2009 but after he knocked-out his opponent, he felt the pain again. His last fight was in Dubai last April which he did not feel any pain. BoomBoom had a good training camp for Barrera. He knows that this is his biggest test… if he has what it takes to be a world champ.”

On this World Champion topic, I asked Michael about ALA stable’s No.1 warrior. “We are very proud of Donnie Nietes. He has gone through a lot. He started as a janitor at the ALA gym. Through hard work, he made it to the top. He drives his own car now and lives in a three-bedroom house. Donnie made history last Sunday when he won in Mexico making him the only Filipino to win three world title fights in Mexico against Mexicans.

“We took the risk of fighting in Mexico for the chance to make history. We knew Donnie could do it. He had the mental toughness. He himself wanted to fight in Mexico to prove a point. He deserves all the attention now because he is such a humble person. Not many know that the Philippines has only two world champs: Nietes and the great Pacquiao.”

Finally, I asked about everyone’s sentimental favorite: Z Gorres. “He’s doing very well. It’s a miracle where he is now after what he has gone through. The support of the Filipinos worldwide was overwhelming. Z once told me that aside from his family, he now understands his reason to live: he has inspired people. Z is one of the nicest guys and he deserves a second chance to live.”

Back to this Saturday’s festival: Boxing fan or not, you must watch. For this event can happen only in the “Las Vegas of the Philippines.”

Reviews of the past two Sunday runs

I joined the 5th University Run at the Cebu Doc campus in Mandaue the other weekend and, two mornings ago, the Aboitiz Race To Reduce Challenge 2010.

How would I rate both? Very good. Compared to four years ago when I started, today’s races have vastly improved. Yet, I will cite a few “Needs Improvement” comments. But before that, the good news: On the two essential ingredients for a successful road run—Safety and Hydration—both races scored an “A.”

At the University Run, there were a multitude of water stops—plus Gatorade—as volunteers offered the most thirst-gratifying liquid. Same last Sunday. Unlike several events in the past when water was inadequate, it wasn’t like that with the Aboitiz Race (except the Gatorade; I never drank a sip as they ran out along the route.)

Safety? To me, the Cebu Doc run is the safest. Located around a loop surrounding the campus that’s blocked from vehicular traffic, this route is ideal. Same with Aboitiz: I noticed plenty of marshals and policemen manning the intersections of the 21K. Kudos!

UNIV. RUN. Here are more good points: The personalized bibs. This was a first. Imagine your name (“SIMON”) pasted on your chest? Two, providing participants the choice of either a singlet or shirt. (I suspect many of us have a foot-tall pile of singlets at home.) Three, Nature’s Valley and Fit ‘N Right food/drinks at the finish.

Needs Improvement: The bib. While personalized was unique, the use of paper as material was a mistake. In my case, after only 10 minutes of sweating, the paper succumbed to what paper succumbs to whenever mixed with water: it crumbled. Two, late start. While the race started on time at 6 a.m., I believe (for 10K and longer races) a 5:30 or 5:45 start is better—there’s less sun, less suffering. Three, an estimated 3,500 participants joined—many Cebu Doc students. But, as you know, their 3K was a 3K Walk. And so, runners couldn’t run straight but had to zigzag, weave, snake-run.

ABOITIZ. The Good: Timing chips. Two, the Sun.Star advertisement—a first! I’m sure every participant bought a copy yesterday. Three, the presence of Monchu Aboitiz. When I arrived before 5 a.m., the Aboitiz CEO was there. How many leaders are willing to disrupt their Sunday morning sleep to join? Same with Txabi Aboitiz. Which brings me to the weather. Said Txabi in our brief chat after the race: “We asked for the rain to pour at exactly 3 a.m. just before the run!” Yes. At 3:30 a.m., just an hour-plus before the start, rain drenched Cebu. But, as God planned it all along, the downpour cooled the road, readying the asphalt to be trampled upon by 2,500 pairs of shoes. We ran in perfect weather.

More good points: the masseurs who softened our stiffened leg muscles (for free)… the instrumentalists on-board a pick-up that moved around the route to regale us with reggae music… the flat/fast course… the breathtaking sunrise view along the SRP at 5:40 a.m… the sponges to cool our overheating bodies… the fire truck near SM that sprinkled water… these were super.

Improvements: First, the race pack, which contained no route map. (I had to scour through the Aboitiz website the night before.) Two, the late start. Advertised to begin at 5:15, we started at least 15 minutes late. Three, no countdown. With my companions at the starting line—Michelle So (now a certified half-marathoner!), Roy and Dr. Rosan Trani, Joel Garganera, Dr. Albert Santos, Dodong Sulatre—we waited for that adrenaline-inducing announcement: “ARE… YOU… READY?! TEN… NINE… EIGHT…”  Instead, we were startled when—bang!—the gun fired without warning. Four, no kilometer markers. (To race organizers: why not have one set printed then reuse them for each race?) Five, no clock at the finish. I did not wear a watch because I planned a relaxed run. At the finish line, I looked up to check my time—but there was no clock. Then I asked the people at the finish… nobody knew. Finally, I discovered my time yesterday—thanks to that two-page Sun.Star spread.

Chester Cokaliong and the Dragons of CEC

Twelve months ago, there was a catastrophe. The Cebu Eastern College high school basketball team played the University of Cebu and lost—not by a mere 19 points, but with the score, 159-28. That’s a 131-point disaster. Days after, an even worse hurricane pounded: Against UV, the CEC squad was massacred, 178-23. That 155-point deficit was the worse mutilation in Cebu basketball history—possibly in this whole rotating universe.

“This is humiliating!” I complained in an August 2 article last year. “Cebu Eastern College, a highly-reputable school, has been transformed into a laughingstock.”

Well, look who’s laughing now… Last Thursday, the CEC Dragons were once more fed to UC but—Ripley’s Believe It Or Not—from a 131-point loss last year, they beat their tormentors, 96-77. Computing both games, that’s a turnaround of 150 points! Now, that’s a Ripley’s story.

“This turnaround started right after those embarrassments,” said Chester Cokaliong, the three-point king of Cebu and one of our most august of basketball stars. “Last year, the CEC school officials came for a meeting at my office in Cokaliong Shipping. We met at the boardroom. Everyone was there: the principals, important faculty members, the alumni, Jefferson Go, Samuel Sia, Wilson Yu, and the leader of the group, Frederick Ong, Jr.”

Hounded by humiliation, they wanted change. And who else can the school turn to for a turnaround but their most passionate alumni?

“When we met, they asked for a three year program,” said Chester. “I said, ‘No, that’s too long. If we’re going to improve, we’re going to have to get the best now.’ At first, the group aimed to reach the semis this year. Dili ko mosugot. Ayaw. If you want help, we have to go all the way. If we’re going to spend, let’s aim for the top.”

And so Mr. Cokaliong, armed with the backing of the school, the CECABA, team manager Samuel Sia, Wilson Yu, and the alumni, went into action mode.

“First, we scouted for a good coach,” he said. “Now, we have an excellent one named Jerry Jaranilla. We got him from Iloilo. I told Jerry, ‘You can ride the Cokaliong boat plying Iloilo anytime you want.’ If your family wants to come to Cebu, they can. Sakay siya sa iyang gusto. Walay gasto. Then we scouted for players. We paid for all the expenses. We went to Davao, Bacolod, others, to pick the best. Free sila tanan. Board and lodging. Scholarship. Plus, we added a bonus: all children will learn Chinese. Actually, what we did we just adopted from other schools. But we tried to do more. Ato nalang ni haguan, I told our group. If the other schools can do it, we can.”

How much is Chester spending? Each month, he and Frederick Ong, Jr. split in half the bill of P50,000. How much total have you spent so far? I asked. “Almost P300,000,” he said.

That’s not all. For each tournament win, the coaching staff gets a one-month bonus. And, as example of his generosity, after last Thursday’s win over UC, in mid-court he approached the boys and told them that if they reach the semis, he’ll give each of them a brand-new pair of shoes.

With this funding and dedication, CEC has been transformed from chickens to dragons. In five Cesafi games thus far, they own a league-leading scorecard of 4-1. They’ve beaten Sacred Heart School-Ateneo (87-70), USC (88-68), USPF (87-73) and UC. Their only loss was against UV, 81-76. CEC is a shoo-in for the semis and, if they continue their strong play, will likely meet UV in the finals.

Now, this “Comeback of the Decade” story can easily be defined by one word: money. That’s true. The Chinese community has plenty. And this is the primary reason the team has rebounded. But, more than Pesos, this is about a bigger P:

Pride. It’s about the alumni and faculty disallowing the good name of their school to be tarnished. It’s about rising from defeat. It’s about triumph from humiliation. For, as Chester told me two nights ago, “The lesson for all of us is this: You can achieve anything… as long as you put your heart into it.”

Edward Hayco: Our Rotary speaker

Call me biased for sports but, in my seven years with the Rotary Club of Cebu West, I heard our best speaker talk last Tuesday. He’s a Guinness World Record holder. He’s convinced an estimated 30,000 children—many out-of-school youth from the barangays—to transform their lives through sport.

Two nights ago, Edward Hayco spoke. He explained his love for dancesport, his passion to help the needy, his programs for the Cebu City Sports Commission. No doubt, our Rotary members—the attendees last Tuesday included Maxwell Ahyong, Lenton Beltran, Fabby Borromeo, Camilo Ceniza, Andrew Ching, Oscar Chua, Benjie Cimafranca, Toto Cupin, Ben Dapat, Ruel Dihiansan, Nilo Domingo, Romy Dy Pico, Maxwell Espina, Jimmy Lao, Wally Liu, Ronnie Medalle, Nonito Narvasa, Ray Patuasi, Fritz Quiñanola, Caloy Santos, Johnny Siao, Alvin Tan, Justin Uy and Wilton Uykintian—will help our new Sports Chairman.

Ed Hayco (center) with Wilton Uykingtian (our Rotary District’s Senior Asst. Governor) and John P.

An Ironman woman named Annie

If you exercise at the Holiday Gym & Spa or have been running 10K races the past 36 months, then you know Anna Maria Neric. Tall, mestiza, and extremely robust and slim, she’s finished three 42Ks (best one in Condura with a 4:47 time).

This Sunday, Annie Neric will do more than run—she’ll compete in the Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3. Yes, an iron-willed woman joining the Ironman. That’s Annie. Although she’s completed two short-distance triathlons before, this one is difficult. How painful? The “70.3” refers to 70.3 miles, spread out with a 1.9-km. swim, 90-K bike, and a 21.1-K run. That’s tough. So is Annie.

“I’ve gained confidence after my experience in the relay last year,” she said. “With more running, biking and swimming, I told myself I’m ready. I was convinced by Coach Noy Jopson to join the individual event this year.”

Training for CamSur was laborious. “I had difficulty in biking because I was used to indoor cycling,” said Annie. “I fell twice before getting used to riding a road bike. I had a hard time using biking shoes with cleats.”

TEAM REBORN is Annie’s group and they’re led by Ironman champion Noy Jopson as mentor/coach. Her other teammates are Dr. Raymund Bontol, Tenggoy Colmenares, Sef Miller and Jung Cases. “Our team started serious training only last May. Our schedule involves brick trainings and simulation trainings. We go to Shangri-La to swim; road bike from Liloan to Carmen. I continue to join runs in Cebu and Manila.”

TEAM REBORN: Jung Cases, Annie Neric, Raymund Reel Bontol, Joseph Miller, Tenggoy Colmenares and Noy Jopson

Why join the Ironman? “Because it’s a prestigious competition and I’d like to experience competing with the pros. It helps me determine my limits,” said Annie, now 45 years old. “This is the ultimate. It keeps me young. It’s FUN! I also get to meet friends and gain new ones. My husband Jet will be there and I hope he can join next year. I hope my two sons will join me someday.

“I want to be an inspiration to the wives and mothers. In turn, they can be inspirations to their families and friends to pursue a life of healthy living. And to the single and younger ladies, I hope to be a good role model. I got into sports in my early twenties doing aerobics. Being a triathlete does not happen overnight. The earlier one starts, the better. It takes getting rid of the unhealthy lifestyle. It’s a change of lifestyle – a healthier one!”

This training more difficult than the marathon? “Absolutely!” she said. “I had to train in three sports: swim, bike, run. To train for a Triathlon, you need discipline, patience and time management skills. You also need to invest as each event has different equipment. I always think of it as an investment on my health.”

Finally, when I asked Annie if she’s intimidated with the swim portion (considering last year’s incident), she said, “I’m a bit scared but I just need to relax and focus on my strokes. Like what my coach tells me, you can do any stroke just make sure you don’t drown. I also know they have more marshals. For this triathlon, I plan to be a finisher (eight hours cutoff) but doing my very best. Even if I come in last… I would only be the last winner!”

On the Aboitiz Invitational, two more observations

Cebu’s most heralded golf competition that lured an All-star cast may have concluded last Friday, but the positive chitchat continues to reverberate. Following Bayani Garcia’s detailed assessment two days ago are two more commentaries: from Frederic Chiongbian, a two-time marathon runner who also walks the golf course, and from Sebastian Lacson, the man representing Aboitiz Equity Ventures (AEV) who was most visible last week. Here are their observations…

FREDERIC CHIONGBIAN: “The last time Cebu Country Club hosted a pro tournament was sometime 2003. This was the Philip Morris, First Gentleman’s Cup. So this was indeed an honor. This leg put Cebu on the map. If my numbers were right, we had 80 pros including Angelo Que, Juvic Pagunsan, Frankie Miñoza, Artemio Murakami, Marvin Dumandan and most notables in Phil. golf.

“I had the opportunity to play with a few of the touring pros the week prior: with Phil. Open champion Elmer Salvador, Anthony “Tonight” Fernando and Orlando Sungcad, one of the tour’s longest hitters. It’s one thing watching them from the sidelines, it’s another thing to be playing in the same flight. Believe me when I say that they can make playing golf look easy… I believe that credit is due to ICTSI, Aboitiz and PGT. And to Clifford Celdran and his team for getting the course into wonderful shape.”

BASTI LACSON, Chief Reputation Officer of AEV:

Why did Aboitiz do this golf event? “When the opportunity to bring the Philippine Golf Tour to Cebu came to out attention we immediately grabbed it, keen on bringing an event of this caliber to Cebu for all of us to enjoy and be part of. Also, we had heard what a wonderful job the PGT does of its events, so we were confident enough to attach our brand, of which we are very protective, to the Invitational.”

Before the tournament, did you know that ALL the top players (including Frankie Miñoza) were joining? “We knew the attendance was going to be good, but little did we know it would be THIS good. The timing of the event could not have been better, it comes at a lull in the Asian Tour so many of the Filipino pros active in that tour had the chance to be with us. Miñoza confirmed in the 11th hour, which was good because his presence ensures a crowd. The younger golfers have also developed a following. The pros have many friends in Cebu—one can tell by the convivial socialization between the pros and Cebuanos at the verandah after the matches. This may have helped get such a fine turnout.”

How happy are you with the outcome? “Ecstatic. The Aboitiz Invitational achieved success on various fronts. The pros experienced an appreciative gallery that came in numbers enough to get one pro to concede this was the biggest crowd of the PGT save for the Phil. Open. The turnout demonstrates how the Cebuano appreciates athletes who work hard honing their skills. The amateur participants in the pro-am, along with the amateurs who played astride the pros, got to enjoy the rare opportunity to golf with the country’s finest. And the sporting fans who followed the tournament enjoyed a festival of fine shot-making right in the heart of the city.”

Would this be an annual event now for Aboitiz? “I sure hope so!”

Why the involvement of Aboitiz in sports? “The Corporate Social Responsibility agenda of Aboitiz is focused on three main areas, and sports development is not among them. Yet Aboitiz is not a stranger to sport. For instance, with the Aboitiz Sports Field, AboitizLand provides a venue for many outdoor sporting events. The Aboitiz Football Cup, which has been running for many years now, promotes football among the young. The Aboitiz Run on August 22 is a wonderful activity initiated by fellow Aboitiz team members. The run embodies the Aboitiz brand promise of Passion for Better Ways by pushing the envelope and bringing innovation into the running craze, like having timing chips as a minimum, publishing all participants’ names in the newspaper the following day, massage for finishers…”

Dan Mastous reports on the 2010 Tennis Hall of Fame

Each year, Dan Mastous, a tennis aficionado from the U.S. whom I’ve known for many years now since he visited Cebu several years back, never fails to attend the Tennis Hall of Fame Awarding. Here’s Dan’s email report to me a week ago…

This year’s Hall of Fame crop was a group that, although relatively unknown may have (collectively) the largest Grand Slam title total in Hall of Fame induction history. In all the five main player inductees have 72 grand slam titles and 309 major titles to their names.

Inducted as modern player Hall of Famers this year were the doubles teams of Mark Woodforde/Todd Woodbridge from Australia and Gigi Fernandez (USA/Puerto Rico)/Natasha Zvereva (Belarus), and as a Past Champion, Owen Davidson, also from Australia.

Also inducted as tennis contributors were Brad Parks who was one of the founders of the wheelchair tennis tour, and Derek Hardwick who was chairman of the British Lawn tennis associate when it was decided to open it to professional players, thus helping usher in the modern age of tennis.

Many question the logic of inducting doubles “specialists” into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. No one can question the numbers. It helps that all four modern players also reached at least a Grand Slam semifinal, and were ranked in the top twenty as singles players (Zvereva peaked at no 5, and was an 0/0 looser to Steffi Graf in the 1988 French Open final). But at doubles they were special. They were a collective 2807 wins to 475 losses. That’s an 83% clip. As a comparison, all time great and future Hall of Fame locks Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have each posted a 76% winning clip, and Pete Sampras won just under 71% of the time.

Here is the tale of the tape:

Owen Davidson kicks in with 11 Grand Slam Mixed Doubles titles, mostly with Billie Jean King. He is the one of a small group to have won the Grand Slam in mixed doubles, winning all four titles in the same year.

Doubles is an integral part of tennis now and historically. In the past, many of the greatest singles players also played doubles, John McEnroe being the clearest example along with Martina Navratilova.  Doubles is by far the most common form of tennis in the recreational area, and requires every bit the skill and talent that singles does. It is the poor step child now only because the media doesn’t give it the focus that singles gets. It’s treated as a specialized sport and a team only gets press when they are either very dominate, like the Bryan Brothers, or wacky, like the Murphy Brothers.  Why that is, I don’t know. The International Tennis Hall of Fame has taken at least a step in the right direction by recognizing some of the all time great doubles teams. As an avid doubles player, I welcome this induction and hope more doubles players can be recognized for their skills in the same way as singles players do.

On a side note, it was only due to some international political negotiations that Natasha Zvereva was able to attend. Apparently there is a VISA restriction on Belarusians in the United States. She was given an exemption, possibly due to the fact that she doesn’t look too much like a terrorist.

Next year it will back to normal with Andre Agassi eligible for induction in July 2011. Book your tickets quickly. Videos of the acceptance speeches can be seen here:

Bayani Garcia scores the Aboitiz Golf an A+

Judging from the legion of spectators that swamped the Cebu Country Club last Friday—there to see the likes of Frankie Miñoza, Artemio Murakami, Angelo Que, Juvic Pagunsan and Jay Bayron, the eventual winner who carded an 11-under and pocketed P200,000—the Aboitiz Invitational was a monumental success.

Bayani Garcia, the reigning CCC champion, joined. He displayed the widest of smiles two afternoons ago—thanks to his marvelous performance over 54 holes. In a Q & A yesterday, here’s our Cebu hero…

How confident were you competing with the best? “I’ve been preparing for quite a while now so I was confident. It was great to play with and against the country’s best pros and amateurs. Anytime you get to play with the ‘All-Stars’ of Philippine golf… it’s always a treat.”

Any extra pressure being the CCC champion? “Not at all. I came into this tournament with no expectations and with nothing to lose. My family, the club and everyone gave me their full support. Sure, it was my home course and I was club champion but I just told myself to have fun, relax and relish this amazing week because the opportunity to play the cream of the crop comes very rarely.”

With scores of 72, 71 and 74, you finished at 1-over and almost won (by just two strokes) the Low Amateur Award among the non-pro golfers. How did you rate your game? “I was more than pleased with my performance. About a month ago, I joined the Apo Leg in Davao. It was my first time to join a pro tournament and, I must admit, the pressure was there. I missed the cut. The Davao leg was a gut check for me.     And so entering this week, my sole objective was to make the cut. I knew I had a good shot of coming close (maybe 3rd to 5th) at low amateur since my local knowledge of the course would be a luxury.

“When I made the cut and saw that I was in a good position to win low amateur, I felt like I was dreaming. How in the world did I get myself in this situation! I thought. I just focused, concentrated and gave it my best in every shot. It would have been great if I won but it was not meant to be.

“There were about 30 amateurs; eight from our CCC PAL team: Carl Almario, Eric Deen, Charles Hong, Jovi Neri, Gen Nagai, Marko Sarmiento, LJ Go, and myself. After the second day, it was Carl and I who were left.”

Who were your closest friends who joined? “I knew most of the pros and amateurs, dating back from the PAL tournaments and the Philippine Amateurs. There were a few pros who stayed at our home. The pros I bonded with were Marvin Dumandan (Aboitiz 3rd placer and a 2-time winner on the Phil. Golf Tour), Jerome Delariarte (multiple PGT winner and Asian tour member), Anthony Fernando and Louie Dacudao.

“It was great bonding with these pros. Not only are they role models on the course, they were great people to hang around with. It was good seeing their lighter side. We also had a great time hanging out after, dining in Cebu-based restaurants then having a few drinks at home before retiring early.”

How would you rate this tournament? “It was a great success! Hats off to Aboitiz, ICTSI, MJ Carr Productions and, of course, Cebu Country Club. Rarely do you see all the top guns in the same field. This leg was like a major championship because of the magnitude of the star power. All credit goes to the organizers. The golf course was in excellent shape thanks to the CCC board of directors and GM Clifford Celdran.”

How big an event was this for us? “The Cebu leg has long been overdue. The golfing population here is increasing. This tournament serves as inspiration to junior golfers. It gives Cebuanos a chance to witness first-hand how top golfers in our country—and in Asia—play.

“This could be a regular tour stop; a ‘major’ in Phil. golf. Cebu has a lot of upcoming talent and these tournaments are what’s needed for these prodigies to hone their skills, gain experience and see how they size up. At the same time, the pros can offer insights and lessons to youngsters—thanks to the clinic organized by Aboitiz.”

Aboitiz and Sports: Passion For Better Ways

If you play the sport of Elin Nordegren’s husband, as hundreds of us from Cebu do, then you must escape from work today and tomorrow. Seriously, you must. You ought to sprint to the Cebu Country Club; spend one, three, 14 hours there. It’s not a waste of time. It’s valuable time spent.

The reason: The Aboitiz Invitational Golf Championship. Sponsored by the most influential and respected brand and family name in Cebu—Aboitiz—this event is a must-see, never-to-be-missed spectacle. It’s three days, 54 holes and 16,368 shots of spectacular golf.

Take my experience. Yesterday, I watched Angelo Que. If you don’t swing that 5-iron, you might ask, “Angelo who?” But if you follow this sport of Louis Oosthuizen then, surely, you’ll say, “Yes, the golf champ… Angelo Que.”

I shook his hand. Observed his phenomenal drive. With my tennis buddy Macky Michael (an 8-handicap golfer) driving the wheels of the golf cart, we caught Angelo at the 10th hole. It was 2:45 in the afternoon. Then, at the 11th hole tee mound, we watched. Wearing a white shirt, white cap, beige pants, white shoes and donning red, one-way sunglasses, the 31-year-old readied to swing from the tee. BANG! I’ve never seen anyone hit harder. Then, minutes later when we inspected his shot, in the 513-yard Hole No. 11 of the CCC, his ball landed 180 yards from the pin. Macky’s estimate: He drilled that dimpled ball 330 yards away.

Waiting near the 11th hole green (and thanks to the quick introduction by fellow Cebuano Oliver Ong), I got to shake Angelo Que’s hand before he walked to the green. “Bad luck handshake,” I call it, because while he was putting for eagle, he missed… and missed… settling for a three-putt and a disappointing par.

From Sun.Star Cebu

Toby Florendo was there. While we chatted, someone shouted “FORE!” We covered our heads. In a millisecond—smack!—the ball hit. Not Toby, but just a foot away, one of the player’s golf bags. It was funny. Scary. And, as Macky pointed out, would have made this article’s Headline News had Toby been struck.

The Aboitiz Golf is a contest you and I should watch. Why? Simple. How often do these Manny Pacquiaos of Golf visit our land?    Take Frankie Miñoza. You know him, right? Of course. Who doesn’t? Well, he’s here. Yes. No, he’s not in Japan, where he’s supposed to be playing—but here in Banilad, like he was yesterday, wearing a blue shirt and munching his snacks with Clifford Celdran and Montito Garcia after his 3-under first round.

Vying for the P200,000 first prize (out of the total P1 million) are many of our country’s best, including names we only read about in the national newspapers: Juvic Pagunsan, Artemio Murakami, Jay Bayron, Mars Pucay, and the reigning Philippine Open winner, Elmer Salvador. Another attraction who’s here is Chris Rodgers. Just last weekend, the Briton and Angelo Que finished tied for first place in Malaysia—until Angelo, our 2008 RP Open champion, beat Rodgers in a playoff.

The Aboitiz Invitational is Cebu’s first and the 10th leg of the 14-stage circuit named the ICTSI-Philippine Golf Tour. Armed with a P2.5 million budget, the Aboitizes made sure this event was first-rate.

“We were given a dozen golf balls, a Nike cap, water bottles and other items, our green fees were paid for, same with free breakfast and lunch, plus two golf carts were issued per flight and all caddy fees were sponsored,” said Macky Michael, who was in the same flight with the father-and-son Anton and Toby Florendo and pro Richard Sinfuego during the Aboitiz Pro-Am tournament held last Tuesday.

“Aboitiz is here to help sports. We love sports,” said Basti Lacson, the 6-footer Chief Reputation Officer of the Aboitiz Equity Ventures, when we met yesterday at the Country Club veranda.

Thanks to this dynamic 90-year-old company named Aboitiz, RP’s best in golf are in town. Let’s watch!

SMB’s beer vs. Alaska’s milk: Who’s winning?

The Philippine Basketball Association is the second oldest basketball league in the world, next only to the NBA. Since its inception on April 9, 1975—coincidentally, my third birthday!—it has become the most revered of games in our basketball-crazy nation.

Last Sunday, I watched. Not at the Araneta Coliseum, nicknamed “The Big Dome”—but at home. For two hours starting at 6 p.m., two of our most famous brands played ball: the San Miguel Beermen versus the Alaska Aces. It was Game 2 of the 2010 PBA Fiesta Conference. (The league has two conferences per season; this is the one where one import is allowed per team.)

In Game One of The PBA Final played last Friday, Alaska was supposed-to-be tired and weary, having just escaped Talk ‘N Text in a seven-game semifinal. It didn’t show. They beat San Miguel, 89-83. What a shocker. And for several reasons: (1) The SMB squad are the defending champions; (2) Alaska lost to them twice during the regular season (95-89 on April 11 and 85-74 last June 26); (3) Alaska had not beaten SMB in their last six tries, dating back to 2007; (4) Alaska was on a losing streak in The Finals: six straight defeats. Yet, Alaska prevailed in round one.

Then, Game 2. Two nights ago. San Miguel Beer—an original member of the PBA since 1975 and the winningest club in history with 18 PBA titles—fought to avert a 0-2 deficit. Their coach, Siot Tanquingcen, only 37 years young, deployed Joseph Yeo and import Jay Washington to produce the numbers. They did, scoring 20 apiece. But the Beermen played catch-up all night. Alaska led in the first quarter; SMB tied the game. Alaska took the lead; again, SMB crawled back. It was the same back-and-forth, see-saw pattern.. until the last minutes when Alaska—having gulped milk instead of beer—sprinted towards the finish line first, winning, 94-90.

I enjoyed the game. LA Tenorio, only 5-foot-8, was savvy and alert. Arwind Santos banked several against the board. My favorite play was the one of the tattoo-laden Alaska import Diamon Simpson who, at the end of the third quarter, backed up against his defender then leapt for a monstrous, in-your-face slam of a dunk.

All these must have thrilled the most famous spectator at ringside: Miami Heat coach Eric Spoelstra, who’s in Manila to conduct basketball clinics. “I was worried earlier,” said Alaska coach Tim Cone, quoting yesterday’s Phil. Star story entitled, “Charity throws give Aces close win, 2-0 lead.” “I just felt our energy in practice yesterday was very low. But thanks to coach Eric when my players heard he’s in the stadium, their eyes grew big and said ‘wow.’ They’re motivated.”

Alaska played inspired basketball. And when the pressure intensified in the game’s dying moments, they were relaxed and composed, especially at the free throw line—making seven of eight in the last 77 seconds and, for the whole game, shooting 84 percent—an extraordinary statistic that would shame Shaq.

“We didn’t expect this,” said Cone in yesterday’s Phil. Daily Inquirer article, “Unbelievable Aces halfway through Fiesta Cup crown.” “But you know, we have played two A-plus basketball games.”

Cone, now 52 years old and the winner of 12 PBA titles for the Fred Uytengsu-owned company, is hungry for this win.

Quinito Henson of The Phil. Star, in an August 6 piece, “San Miguel’s size worries Cone,” made this excellent analysis: “(Cone)… is due for another one as Alaska has been a bridesmaid in two of the last three finals. He hasn’t captured a crown since the 2006-07 Fiesta Conference. Alaska is in its 25th finals appearance entering its 25th anniversary next season. Those numbers don’t happen to come together by accident. Are the Aces destined for a championship?”

Despite the lead, he’s not overconfident. “It’s only 2-0,” said Cone. “It takes four games to win it for a reason. I’ve lost 2-0, 3-1 and all the leads that you can think of. We have to make sure we come out and put the pressure on them… It’s definitely not over.”

Abangan ang susunod na…

Sayang! How Cebu missed a mega-chance

If there’s one magazine I suggest you buy, it’s this: “A Tribute to The Legend.” On the cover, in black-and-white, is the Congressman from Sarangani raising his boxing gloves after another victorious fight. All of 73 pages of glossy photos and innumerable facts, if you’re a Manny Pacquiao fan—who isn’t except Antonio Margarito?—then you ought to visit Fully Booked or National Bookstore to get one. We know PacMan is the greatest Filipino athlete ever—and his heroics may never be surpassed. And so I consider this P299 booklet a collector’s item—something I’ll show my grandson 28 years from now.
MILO. This weekend and the next, a total of 5,000 girls and boys will kick in sepak takraw, glide through the blue water in swimming, flick their wrists in ping-pong, score a header like Spain’s football team, and smash an overhead badminton lob. It’s back. The 15th Milo Little Olympics, like it does for two Saturdays and Sundays each August, is in Cebu. In total, 207 schools will compete for the golden medallions. Thanks to Nestle.

FACEBOOK. Having resisted joining the cult for years, I finally relented three months ago. Today, like you, I’m one of 500,000,000 users of the most widespread social network in this planet. I don’t get to visit each day. But when I do, what do I do? I scan comments and browse photos. Just this week, I’ve learned a technique to upload multiple photos (I know, I’m a FB latecomer!). And so, to all those who joined last January’s Cebu City Marathon, I’ve posted in my FB never-before-released “01-10-10” photos. Check it out.

MEGADOME. Remember the time when Gov. Gwen Garcia’s father, Pablo Paras Garcia, was our Cebu governor? And how he proposed to build the Cebu Megadome? How I wished the current Representative of Cebu’s Second District made that a reality. Imagine Cebu with a world-class stadium? That’s air-conditioned? With comfortable seats? And electronic timing devices plus a giant LCD screen hanging at the center?

We wish. This thought came to mind while sweating at last Saturday’s opening of the Cesafi. Inside the oven called the Cebu Coliseum, there’s only this good news: you exercise by perspiring as much as the basketball players you’re watching.

I can’t blame the Coliseum owners, Frederick Ong and Atty. Gus Go. They’d have to invest hundreds of millions to cool our bodies and fully-rehabilitate this derelict structure. And the all-important three letters in business—ROI—does not look good. That’s why the Cebu Megadome was essential. We had the money. Pabling Garcia had the vision. Sadly, due to critics, due to the then-Provincial Board’s obstructionist tactics, what we have is the CICC. Good. But not good enough. The Megadome would have been far more productive. Imagine PBA games between San Miguel Beer and Alaska. Volleyball contests by short-shorts-wearing Brazilian hotties. Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal (hahaha). Futsal. Badminton’s Lin Dan vs. Lee Chong Wei. Lady Gaga in concert. All possible with the Megadome. Sayanga uy!

TIGER. What’s wrong with him? After winning seven of 11 at the Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio (LeBron’s hometown), what does Mr. Woods do? He shoots a 4-over 74 in Round One and, the next day, scores 2-over. Excluding his performance last night (RP time), he’s tied for 75th place out of 81. Unbelievable. Tiger is 6th… to the last!

Is it the impending divorce? The worldwide condemnation? Maybe. One thing’s for sure: Golf is mental and what’s damaged is the tissue found between Tiger’s ears. It used to be his strength. The CPU that his body accessed like a computer to win. Now, that CPU has malfunctioned. Inside, there’s a virus. And this disease inside his brain is affecting his putting… everything. And with TW about to lose the No.1 mantle to Phil Mickelson and with him turning 35 years old this December, can he still break it? I mean, his 14 majors overtake the 18 of Jack Nicklaus? While we thought this was 100 percent sure—before a Cadillac SUV smashed a tree—now, we’re unsure. So is Tiger. Mr. Unsure.

Boy Tiukinhoy is the David Stern of Cebu

Like the Commissioner of the National Basketball Association, who has been in command of the world’s most famous dribbling league since 1984, we have our own version in this Visayan land.

Yes. David Stern is to America what Felix Tiukinhoy is to our beloved Sugbu. Both are commissioners. Both serve as leaders of other organizations on a concurrent capacity: Mr. Stern as the Chairman of the Board of Columbia University; Mr. Tiukinhoy as President of food giant Virginia Food, Inc., makers of famous brands like El Rancho, Virginia, Champion and Winner. I like the last two VFI, Inc. brands. Don’t they speak of the league that Boy Tiukinhoy is leading? Turning ordinary teams into Champions and Winners?

As commissioner of the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc., (Cesafi), he lords over universities, colleges, high schools. In fact, Mr. Tiukinhoy is so alike Mr. Stern that, very often, he, too, is called Mister Stern. And by “Stern,” I mean the real definition of the word: strict, tough, stubborn. That’s stern. Like David Stern. That’s Boy Tiukinhoy.

As Cesafi’s overseer, he has to be. You can’t be weak or indecisive if you’re the skipper. As chieftain of Cebu’s top school-based sports league, you have to be stern. Exacting. Bossy. Inflexible. At times, harsh.

Remember last year? When players were caught playing games outside Cesafi’s parquet floors? And were terminated from continuing play? Despite the school’s pleadings and clamor for mercy? Boy, he was stern. He didn’t budge. The rules, he said, are simple: They. Are. The. Rules.

In email exchanges last week, I asked Boy Tiukinhoy this: How difficult and stress-filled is the job? Considering that, in another instance last Sunday, on just Day Two of the Cesafi 2010 season, the UV Baby Lancers did not show up at the Cebu Coliseum because, they said, “we didn’t know the schedule.”

BT fumed mad. Then he said: “The toughness of the job is part of the territory.”

A sports-lover all his life, he has been the Cesafi commissioner since Day 1… when the league started in 2001. Until today… Year 10. Prior to Cesafi, there was the CAAA, the Cebu Amateur Athletic Association. He, too, for the last five years of that league, was the commissioner.

Any satisfaction you get from this work? I ask. A stress-loaded job that, in case we Cebuanos did not know, does not pay him salary, not even P10 per year? “I consider my work as CESAFI Commissioner,” he said, “as a community service without any remuneration.”

How many Cebuanos, I want to know, are willing to forgo of their full-day weekends, of weeknights, of the relaxation that comes after work, to deal with the problems of Cesafi? Only Mr. Stern of Cebu.

“It’s another world for me when I enter the coliseum which is different from the business environment,” he said. “I find the job a pleasant experience which removes whatever stress I encounter from the office.”

That’s good to hear. Here’s another good message from him: “I would not be effective without the support of the Secretariat headed by Bernard Ricablanca, the Athletic Directors, the Officers and the Board of Directors.” This means he is no one-man show. He seeks help. Encourages teamwork. Consults the Board. Another good act? From this man who, despite his diminutive size, has giant responsibilities? It’s the addition of non-sports events.

“Academic and cultural events have been part of CESAFI since we started,” he said. “As commissioner, not only basketball but also other sport events were given importance. This year, we will give even more focus on academic and cultural events.” He sent me a long list of Cesafi events that I did not even know existed: Oration, Debate, Extemporaneous contests; Math, Science, Computer, Current Events, and Spelling Quizzes. There’s a Song Solo challenge, an essay-writing contest, and—this is amazing—a Sudoko competition.

Stern? Nah… he’s sterling.

Cebu sports will dance with Ed Hayco

Michael Lopez Rama, our Cebu City mayor, is correct. So is Vice Mayor Joy Augustus Young. Same with yesterday’s assessment by my editor, Mike Limpag.

The choice of Edward Hayco as Chairman of the Cebu City Sports Commission (CCSC) is outstanding. Tasked to uplift sports among our one-million-strong city residents, Mr. Hayco has the necessary tools—and perfect dance steps—to boogie and waltz our way to gold with Cebu sports. Here’s why Ed is the right pick:

First, experience. The sport that Ed Hayco drumbeats—Dancesport—has become the pride of Cebu. For over 10 years now since he started training a handful of neophytes, the Dancesport Team Cebu City (DTCC) has reaped awards numbering hundreds, pocketed gold medals at the SEA Games, swayed foreign competitors to visit our land. Today, dancesport is hugely popular—in the barangays, at the Waterfront Cebu City Ballroom, among international dancers who rave about this city called “Cebu”—thanks to one man and his wife, Eleanor. Ed Hayco has the proven track record. He’s done it. His formula for success in dance he can duplicate in other sports. Our city, believe me, will strut to the beat of Mambo No. 5.

Two, grassroots. The often-overused term, what does this really mean? Said Ed in an interview I conducted with him last year: “Our goal (with dancesport) was to go down to the grassroots level,” he said. “And so, starting in 2003, we went to the barangays. Instead of the children coming to us at our preferred venue, we went to them. We started with a few, then we added more. We began holding free dance workshops during summer. As more children joined, summer was not enough. And so we expanded… and now include the out-of-school youth.” That’s grassroots. I’ve seen this myself. Last year, I visited the Hipodromo Sports Complex and witnessed girls and boys as young as eight years old swaying to the beat of the Chachacha, dancing the Jive. Some borrowed leather shoes, others rented skimpy dresses—all for the love of sport.

In “Dancing with Ed and Eleanor Hayco,” an article I wrote last September, I said, “For this is the open secret of Ed and Eleanor and why thousands of our youth—especially those in the inner barangays—now dance. It’s called charity. It’s called selflessness, helpfulness, generosity.”

Third, Ed is close to Mike Rama, Joy Young and is the favorite sportsman of Rep. Tommy Osmeña. This is important. For in sports, like in business, ideas are good… but become no good if funding is absent. Sports projects need pesos—thousands, millions. And, with his excellent relationships with our leaders, proposing champion sports projects—and getting funding for them—will be a cinch.

Fourth, Mr. Hayco himself is a success in business. A 51-year-old multimillionaire with entrepreneurial triumphs in the furniture industry, in food and restaurants, among many others, his connections to tap the support of the private sector—plus, his doling-out his own to help projects—are crucial.

Fifth, Ed is a terrific person. It’s hard to find a Cebuano who is more respectful, who forever-smiles, who listens, who’s humble. This is Edward Hayco. And because of this, it’s easy to see why he’s a success; why he’s able to convince company CEOs to help and to motivate the out-of-school youth to dance—because he’s a good person.

Sixth—and above all—having known him for many, many Augusts, the quality that makes Ed stand out tallest is not found in his resume of accomplishments—from having organized the 7,770-strong dancers who achieved for Cebu the Guinness World Record, or to his being the “Sportsman of the Year” of the 28th Cebu Sports Awards held last March.

His success comes from within. It’s called passion. Whatever endeavor confronts him—business, civic or sports-related—Ed Hayco doesn’t just extend a handshake to tackle the challenge. He embraces them.

Congratulations—and good luck—to our new sports chairman.