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…”

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