Monthly Archives: September 2010

Anton, Choming and friends in Singapore’s F1

Charles Osmeña, Jude Flores, Jeffrey Uraya, Anton Villacin and Choming Marques departed the country last Wednesday. They arrived home six days later. The all-boys excursion? The Singapore Grand Prix.

“This was my third Singapore F1 race,” said Anton Villacin, a Formula One diehard and member of the BMW club, BimmerCebu. “The nice thing about this race, aside from its being near and Cebu Pacific offers affordable rates, is that it’s a street circuit and a night race—the only one in the calendar.”

For Choming Marques, it was his second F1 visit to the Lion City. “This year, we came back to catch a glimpse of Michael Schumacher,” said Choming. “During practice, the commentator said on the loudspeaker: ‘Michael Schumacher is the Best Rookie in this race!’ We laughed.” Schumacher’s attendance—his first in Singapore—made the race bigger. “Bigger attendance, bigger production in and outside the race track,” said Anton.

“The guy we went to see this year,” said Anton of M. Schumacher

The race-day experience? “It was phenomenal. We went to the track early at 4 p.m. and, to our surprise, the track was packed! (Last year, we went at 5 and were still able to find a spot.) This year we had to fight through the thick crowd to reach the railings,” said Anton. “We got Walkabout tickets which means we don’t have designated grandstand seats but we can stand by the rails. We had to endure the pain of standing from 4 to 10 p.m. but it paid of as we saw Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa and Vitantonio Liuzzi pass right in front of us.

“Since we were just meters from the track, I could feel my chest vibrate as the cars passed… their engines were loud. I could hardly hear myself after the race! After the race we walked around the track for picture-taking; I was able to pick up some carbon fiber debris from Kamui Kobayashi’s BMW Sauber!”

“Walkabout tickets are preferred by hardcore fans or photographers because you’re closer (only five feet from the fence). In the race itself, Alonso started in pole position followed by Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton. This had to be one of the most exciting races… the safety car coming out many times and Team Lotus’ car catching fire. Webber and Hamilton also collided which took Hamilton out of the race,” said Choming.

“That’s when we saw Hamilton pissed; he threw his steering wheel like a boomerang! As the race went on we were still on our feet leaning on the fence…  our patience paid off when Hamilton walked right in front of us! We got pictures. He didn’t seem happy at all. To think I also got a picture of Massa the day before when his car spun out during qualifying! In the end, Alonso won and everyone did victory laps which was slow, so we got to see the drivers wave to the crowd.”

The race wasn’t all about cars. It was also about the pre- and post-race parties. “There were support races (Formula BMW Asia, Porsche Cup),” said Anton. “We checked out Missy Elliot, Mariah Carey, dropped by the Freestyle Trial Bikes and stayed throughout DJ Tiga!” said Choming. “There was so much going on all afternoon till early morning, even as you walk around the different zones buying food, drinks or more shirts (he-he). You’ll also be enjoying the night skyline of Singapore. You have to remember the track is in the city; we were amazed with the Sands Hotel and its Sky deck.”

Anton added: “If you’re a fan, it would be nice to watch the race live at least once. The experience got me hooked. The energy on trackside is phenomenal. It’s about the total experience. You get to see things you don’t on TV: food stalls, music stages, F1 merchandise stalls, vintage cars display, race simulators where you can try for free, sponsors’ booths, video walls and giant TV screens, and you see F1 fanatics complete with costumes of their teams.”

“As a bonus, if you’re lucky, you get to see celebrities,” said Anton. “I almost had a chance to shake hands with one of the most ‘inspiring’ figures, Sir Richard Branson (cars & girls baby!), but when I bumped into him in Clark Quay, I froze…”

Would you highly recommend the experience to other Cebuanos? I asked.

“Definitely!” Choming replied. “I heard from other people that Singapore comes alive during race weekend, more events, more people and more money to spend if your not to careful, It may seem very expensive to experience an event like this but if you plan ahead you can get great deals on the flights, hotels and if you know the Right people Great Food!! thank you DJ B for pointing us to the very best Hainanese Chicken!!”

Answered Anton: “I would highly recommend the experience to cebuano F1 fans at least once. For us, this is the cheapest and most convenient F1 race in the calendar. Take advantage of early booking rates from airlines and hotels. And since it is a street race held in the middle of the city, you get to watch the race and shop at the same time. You can even bring your family along and they can go shopping at the huge malls surrounding the track while you and your buddies watch the race. It would also help if you know someone from there to act as your tour guide to the best shops and authentic foods around the city. Thanks to DJ B (Zouk resident DJ) for bringing us to the authentic hainanese chicken rice restaurant, the best I have tasted ever!”

Cebu: the volleyball capital of the Philippines?

Thanks to our lady governor, Gwen Garcia, the sport of volleyball is no longer a game played between six against six. It’s now thousands—of setters, blockers, servers… all tossing and spiking that ball around the province of Cebu.

“This year is the biggest GUV Cup ever,” said Antonino “Jun” San Juan, Jr., the president of the Cebu Volleyball Association (CEVA). “We have 74 teams and, quoting former PSC Chairman Butch Ramirez two years ago, he said, ‘The Gov. Gwen Garcia Unity Volleyball Cup is the biggest volleyball tournament in the country.’”

Yes it is. With 34 teams among the men and 40 in the women’s division—multiply those figures by 14 players per squad—and you’ve got over a thousand athletes representing Cebu’s 42 municipalities and seven cities. That’s remarkable. That’s widespread.

Gener Dungo, the Philippine Volleyball Federation (PVF) Vice-President (and, by November, the PVF President), was impressed. During the Opening Ceremony of the 6th GUV Cup last Saturday at the Mandaue Sports Complex, he said: “During the congress, I heard a lot of success stories of volleyball in different countries. In some countries, their government gives full support for the volleyball events, but I didn’t expect that there is one province in the Philippines that religiously supports volleyball and that is the Province of Cebu. Having seen this big event, the PVF will document and report this to the Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC) and Federation International De Volleyball (FIVB) so the worldwide volleyball community will recognize this kind of tournament.”

“Mr. Dungo announced,” added Jun San Juan, “that the Cebu province is now ‘The Volleyball Capital of the Philippines.’ It was indeed a big WOW-moment for us!!”

With a prize money of P100,000 to the GUV Cup champion and P20,000 to each of the six Cluster champions, this Sept.-to-Dec. tournament started by then-CEVA president Glenn Soco has vastly improved since its inception six years ago.

“When we started in 2005, we had participants who were ‘ahead in years.’ Some were municipal employees asked to join by their mayor just to have a team. But now, they’re getting younger and we have players as young as 11!” said Jun San Juan.

“I’m proud to say that the GUV Cup has paved the way for undiscovered athletes to be given the chance to show their capabilities. We have young players who started out in the GUV Cup and ended up with an offer for scholarship in big universities/colleges. It’s hitting two birds with one stone—their extraordinary talent has been discovered AND they are given the chance to attend college.”

Other improvements this 2010? “We made adjustments with the format and introduced city clusters last year. The municipal teams felt they they had a little chance against the city teams since they were much stronger. So we had City and Municipal Cluster GUV Cup Champion,” said San Juan.

“This year, we decided to go back to our original format and just have one GUV Cup Champ for the Women’s division and one for the Men’s. The reason is that, first of all, three of the cities (Naga, Bogo and Carcar) were reverted back to municipalities based on the Supreme Court. This year, we have allowed our participants to recruit two imports per team in order to level the playing field. We even have imports coming all the way from Manila.”

Finally, I asked the CEVA president about volleyball’s popularity today. How does it compare to years back? “The last time we produced exceptional volleyball talents was from the years 1978 to 1983 when six of the Women’s National Team were from Cebu,” he said. “They were the champs in the SEA Games. After that, volleyball became dormant. CEVA is grateful for Gov. Gwen who revived the popularity of the sport by actualizing GUV Cup. Now, we are getting back on our feet to put Cebu back on the map of celebrated volleyball players. We aim to produce athletes who not only will make it big here locally—but also in the national and international arena.”

Painless surgery, thanks to Doctors San Juan

Greg Rusedski, the former world No. 4 tennis star, once said, “The downside isn’t really injury, fear of injury, or the process of fighting injury. The downside, the very worst thing in the world, is surgery.”

True. False. I had surgery last Wednesday. Yes, I tried to avoid being cut open by a knife, but no, it wasn’t “the very worst thing in the world.”

Sports breeds injuries. This we know. If you swim, run, kick, spike, and rebound for hours and hours each month, chances are—apart from sporting a slimmer waistline—some type of injury will befall you. I’ve had my share. Knee soreness. Plantar fasciitis. The Iliotibial Band (ITB) Syndrome. I’ve experienced those. So, I’m sure, have you—if you’ve pushed your body to run faster, jump higher, smash harder.

I smashed too hard. After playing tennis for 24 years, my shoulder cried foul. “TIME OUT!” it screamed. Overuse, lack-of-stretching, little-rest-after-serving—whatever you call it, my shoulder got injured. I rested. Put ice. Paid for therapy sessions. Swung a lightweight racket. Nothing worked. The pain persisted.

I couldn’t undress tight-fit shirts without Jasmin’s help. Scratching my back? My daughter Jana would have to relieve the itch for me. Sleeping on my right side? No, no. That elicited midnight pain. As to my wristwatch, I’ve always worn it on my right—now it’s on my left.

And so, after several do-it-myself remedies that failed, I visited Cebu’s sports medicine guru, Dr. Jose Antonio “Tony” San Juan. Three years ago and hobbled with a knee injury, it was Doc Tony who fixed the problem. An ITB injury from running? It was Dr. San Juan who came to the rescue. So, once again, I visited his Chong Hua Medical Arts (Cebu Orthopedic Institute) clinic two months ago.

Dr. Tony San Juan, though still youthful at 41 years of age (and who sports an 8-handicap in golf), has vast medical training: He studied at the UP College of Medicine then continued his education (Fellowship Training) in Joint Replacement Surgery and Arthroscopic Surgery/Sports Medicine at the Flinders Medical Center/Repatriation General Hospital in Adelaide, South Australia and at the Univ. of Cincinnati Medical Center in Ohio, U.S.A.

Within minutes of inspecting my shoulder, he spotted the problem: subacromial impingement (the tendons of the rotator cuff muscles became irritated and inflamed—no thanks to serving and overhead-smashing from tennis). Dr. San Juan advised that I get an MRI but speculated that the best solution might be surgery. As he rightly predicted, the MRI results confirmed his assessment and so surgery (subacromial decompression) was scheduled.

I arrived at Chong Hua at 6 a.m. last Wednesday. After a series of tests, by 10:15 a.m., I was wheeled inside the Operating Room. Dr. Teodulo “Totoy” San Juan, the father of Doc Tony, met me first. He was the anesthesiologist. The father-and-son tandem made the perfect team. Within seconds after being injected anesthesia, my eyes shut and my system slept.

I woke up at 2:30 p.m. Thanks to the anesthesia that was attached together with the IV, I felt no pain. The cut on my shoulder was two inches long and the surgery lasted no more than 70 minutes. I left the hospital the following noon—on Thursday—with the lump that had protruded on my shoulder now gone.

The next day, Friday, I was in Perpetual Succour Hospital with Dr. Jorgen Lim for the therapy. Thanks to Rhoda, the physical therapist who assisted me, I had both Cryo- and TENS therapy plus several static exercises. I was able to lift my arm above my head—amazing the quick recovery of our body! Said Dr. Tony: it’s important to get the muscles moving as soon as possible to hasten the healing.

In a month or so, said the doctor, I’d be able to start running/biking and, in three months’ time, can begin swinging that Babolat racket—all thanks to doctors San Juan and San Juan and a procedure called surgery that, so far and contrary to Rusedski, has become “the best cure for pain in the world.”

Injured and throbbing in pain? Read on…

Here’s an article on Injuries I first published last April 2009….

Dr. Jose Antonio San Juan is one of Cebu’s first-rate doctors to visit when you suffer a sports-related affliction. I should know. In the past two years of long-distance running, I’ve suffered knee soreness, cramps, plantar fasciitis, muscle aches and, the most painful one that got me limping during last year’s Hong Kong Marathon, the Iliotibial Band syndrome.

Who do I consult? Plenty of friends, I ask. And, unanimously, they supply me with a three-worded answer: Tony San Juan.

Trim and robust at 40 years young, Tony played soccer, basketball and swam competitively in high school. These days, he prefers to swat the badminton racquet and swing that 7-iron in this game of Angel Cabrera. (Tony’s handicap is an impressive 9.)

Trained at the UP College of Medicine, he went on further studies (Fellowship Training) in Joint Replacement Surgery and Arthroscopic Surgery/Sports Medicine at the Flinders Medical Center/Repatriation General Hospital in Adelaide, South Australia and at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center in Ohio, USA. At present, he is a partner of the Cebu Orthopaedic Institute at the Chong Hua Medical Arts Center.

I exchanged Qs & As with Dr. Tony SJ. Here’s Part 1:

Why do we get injured?

“In sports, injuries are generally classified into two: TRAUMATIC and OVERUSE. Traumatic injuries are what you may commonly call your sports accidents. By their nature, it is hard to say when, how, where and to whom it may happen. Whether you are a weekend warrior or an elite athlete, a fitness buff or the most conditioned triathlete, we will all eventually have some form of traumatic injury.

“These injuries may happen even if you have the ideal equipment, the ideal playing surface, the ideal preparation or conditioning. In short, this injury is unpredictable and hard to prevent compared to overuse injuries. The more common traumatic injuries are sprains (injury to the ligament that connects bones to each other), strains (pulled/torn muscle), contusions (bruising/swelling because of direct trauma to an area) and fractures (think Lance Armstrong recently breaking his collarbone).

“Overuse injuries may happen in the course of preparing for a sport or while actually participating in the sport. They happen because of poor conditioning, improper training regimen or techniques, improper equipment and simply “overdoing” it—not following the limits you had set for yourself and what your body can take.

“These kind of injuries are preventable in that if you have trained, conditioned and equipped yourself properly, the likelihood of getting injured during the event is significantly less compared to someone who wasn’t as prepared. Most overuse injuries are sport specific.

“For tennis buffs, there’s the tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) and subacromial impingement (shoulder); for golf aficionados, there’s the golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis; for teenage boys into basketball, volleyball or soccer, there’s Osgood Schlatter’s disease (knee) and Sever’s disease (heel); among runners, there’s the iliotibial band syndrome/ITB (knee); just to name a few.

“The best way to find out what your injury is to see your health professional be it your family physician, your internist, your rehab specialist or your friendly orthopaedic surgeon.”

What are the best ways to prevent injuries?

“Proper conditioning or preparation, using appropriate equipment and using equipment properly, employing proper techniques and “knowing your limits” (i.e. remember the ad with the slogan “I am Tiger Woods!”? Well, it’s a goal for excellence but we have to realize that there can only be one Tiger Woods.)

“As we mature (he-he, get older!) our body tends to be less forgiving. We get injured a lot easier and recovery takes longer compared to a kid barely in his teens. Kids could run all day long and hardly feel anything the day after. We, on the other hand, would feel aches and pains the morning after a full day of running and jumping…” 

More ‘Injury Tips’ from Dr. Tony San Juan

First published last April 2009….

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Doc Tony (2nd from right) with (from left) Ogie Laranas, Gabby Cruz and Gerry Malixi during the ‘La Salle Goes Bad!’ tournament

When I asked one of Cebu’s top sports medicine physicians what the best ways are to prevent injuries, his answers were four-fold: 1) Proper conditioning. 2) Using appropriate equipment. 3) Employing proper techniques and, 4) “Knowing your limits.”

Dr. Tony San Juan added that to lessen the likelihood of injury, one must stretch before/after exercise, make sure the shoes fit well (and they’re still in good shape; e.g. mileage of running shoes), and, he adds, “during participation in the sport make sure you employ the proper technique (think Milo BEST clinics for basketball as an example, Jungolf summer programs, martial arts instructional).”

Is cross-training advisable?

“Cross training as a sport (e.g.triathlon): As a sport, cross training is what you may consider the ultimate test of conditioning and endurance. Since it involves at least two different sport disciplines, of which preparations will entail a variety of exercises, you may consider this the sport that prepares pretty much the entire “mind and body”… the best.

“Cross training as an exercise regimen: As an exercise regimen, I am referring mainly to the use of the cross trainer machine/elliptical machine. I recommend the use of this machine because it gives you almost the same cardio work out compared to a treadmill—except that the use of the cross trainer machine is more gentle on the joints (knee, hip and back) because of what you may call the “low impact” nature of the machine. Your feet do not float in the air and impact a hard surface with the use of the machine.”

Which is better: Cardio workout or strength training?

“We engage in a ‘CARDIO WORK OUT’ mainly to improve the function of the heart to the point that it could adjust to a certain level of exercise intensity/sport participation without compromising body function (passing out). As with any work out regimen, the efficiency of cardiac function increases or improves over a period of time and not overnight. For one to be able to enjoy the benefits of a good cardio work out, one should be able to sustain the regimen and commit to it (time).

“Strength training is mainly directed at improving muscle function and bulk (arms, thighs, chest, abdomen) while indirectly providing a ‘cardio work out.’ Strength training will give you the opportunity to perform optimally in certain sport disciplines as long as you develop the proper muscle groups.

“For optimal performance in sport activities with the least likelihood of getting injured, proper conditioning is necessary. Proper conditioning consists in a good balance between a good cardio work out and strength training.”

When injured, I’ve read so much about RICE. What is it?

“RICE – this is the first line of treatment for most (not all) acute injuries. Rest, Ice and Immobilization, Compression and Elevation is mainly directed at joint injuries, sprains, suspected fractures or contusions.
“One has to rest the injured extremity to prevent further injury and insult and to allow stabilization of the injury. Ice and Immobilization is applied to control swelling and lessen the pain which are the expected immediate consequences of the injury. Compression (wrapping the injured area with an elastic bandage) is applied to control swelling as well. Because our soft tissues (muscle, fat, skin) are soft and elastic, they will swell and expand as a result of the injury. If the swelling is uncontrolled, the pressure and fluid build up can be a source of pain and it can also compromise blood flow and nerve function to the area. Elevation is enforced to encourage drainage of the fluid/swelling from the area. Proper elevation requires that the injured extremity be elevated to a level that is higher than the heart.”

What cardio sports are least likely to injure?

“BIKING AND SWIMMING – mainly because of the low impact nature of the two disciplines.”

Eugene Sanchez: My Ironman 70.3 experience

Last year, after featuring Noy Jopson (the top Filipino in the 2009 Ironman in Camsur) and, the past month, writing about Annie Neric (Cebu’s lone “Ironman woman”) and Dr. Raymund Reel Bontol, now it’s another top triathlete.

Eugene Sanchez, 37, is not your neophyte swim-bike-run athlete. He started 14 years ago when, he said, “Noy Jopson organized one in Plantation Bay… I only had one month of training and barely finished… but fell in love with the sport.”

He did not stop. Eugene finished two Half-Ironman events and plenty more which included the Sandugo Triathlon (Tagbilaran), Sunrise triathlon (Alegre Beach Resort), Fiesta Series triathlon, Everyman’s triathlon series, Manong Amon Tri, 3-15-3 series. Today, he is a member of the Sugbu Triathlon, a community of multi-sport athletes from (of course) Cebu. Here’s “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!” the first-hand account story of Eugene.

“Last August 22, I raced the 2nd edition of the Philippine Ironman at Camarines Sur, finishing 90th over 497 athletes and 23rd in my age group. It took me six months of training to prepare myself for this very challenging distance.

“The road to doing the half IM distance again proved challenging. Sacrifices had to be made; Willpower, strengthened; Muscles, hardened. The sport of triathlon is never easy. For if it was, then it would be as popular as the running boom in Cebu. Some can swim, others can bike and plenty can run but only a few can swim, bike and run. Still, triathlon can be for everyone and anyone regardless of age – as long as you are willing to sacrifice… a lot.

“Sunday becomes a 100-K bike ride with a 10K run at noon. Noon breaks on weekdays are reserved for long swims. No more Friday night-outs for me, had to wake up at 5 a.m. on Saturdays for my two-hour run, then a cool-off swim. I even missed my high school reunion because I had to wake up early that Sunday morning for my long bike ride, alone. Yes I did a lot of sacrifices but I never regretted it. In fact, it was the best decision I made on my birthday – registering for the Philippine Ironman. I could not fail… I will finish what I started and will push my body until I will cross the finish line.

“Now to the race: The swim start was difficult with hundreds of athletes trying to get their own space. Just imagine being thrown in a washing machine–that’s how I felt for the first 200 meters. As always, I start my swim with a prayer; this helps calm my nerves and eventually catch my long stroke and rhythm. The two-km. swim took me 36:54 minutes – happy to be done with the part I dread most.

“The bike was an easy part for me, having numerous road races under my belt. The course was relatively flat which took me 2 hours and 26 minutes for the entire 90 kilometers. I was still okay but my mind was already on the next leg, the run, which I am not so gifted at. Having a heavy framed body, the run part is somewhat difficult unless I lose 30 pounds! Before, I could do a 20-minute 5K run in a triathlon–but that was when I was 30 pounds lighter. Carrying a lot of blob surely slows you down…thanks to Mang Inasal!

“Then the run starts. It’s not easy to run a 21K, all the more when you start after a 2K swim and 90K bike. With energy reserves half empty and the sun almost at its peak, it’s tough. But run I did. I promised God that I will run the whole 21K for Him, without walking, and so I did except a little near the finish line. My quads, gluteus and every leg and back muscle were cramping at the last 1K mark. In the end, the finish line attracted me like a magnet or a moth to a light. Even when I was in extreme pain, it gave me that extra boost to cross the line. And I did in a time of 5:31:57–the 3rd Cebuano to cross the line at the Ironman Philippines.

“Now I can have my subzero beer and do a little partying. But it won’t be long, the 3rd edition of the Philippine Ironman is just a year away. So I will soon be back to what I love most: swim, bike and run. See you at the starting line!”

Japan Karate Association demo this Sunday

My wife Jasmin’s uncle, Dr. Antonio Gestosani, was in Cebu two weeks ago. He lives in Ohio. After the usual hi’s and hello’s, the first question I asked the top anesthesiologist who lives an hour away from Cleveland was, “How hated is LeBron James in your place?” His eyes enlarged, his voice amplified, his body language turned animated. “Oh, absolutely,” he said, “LeBron is the most despised person in Ohio!”

A U.S. poll, conducted by The Q Scores Company, asked the general population who they loathe the most. The answer? LeBron James—from being one of the most respected and loved of Americans—is “the sixth most disliked sports personality.”

Ouch. This is terrible news for LBJ. The good news? He’s no. 6. The top five? They’re Michael Vick, Tiger Woods, Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco and Kobe Bryant. At least, when the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers meet in the NBA Finals, Kobe’s the “badder” of the two. (I can’t wait for the NBA season to start on Oct. 26 with the first game—guess who—between Miami and the Boston Celtics.)

Added Dr. Gestosani: “Can you imagine LeBron and the Heat playing the Cavaliers in Cleveland?” Oh, my. He’ll be stoned, spat at, thrown plastic bottles. That’s a game (scheduled on Dec. 2) that you and I will not miss!

NICK TORRES. Commenting on Rafael Nadal’s victory at the U.S. Open, here’s an astute observation from tennis devotee Nick Torres: “Confidence. Will. Mental strength. Belief. Pistol Pete would have it one day but not the next. Roger had it. Supremely. Up until all the French losses started to eat him on the inside. And one day in 2008, he lost it in Wimbledon. And again this year in Flushing Meadows. This one was more telling because he lost to another player – the Joker. I hope Rafa never loses ‘it.’ But judging from the way the Spanish Armada wages war on the tennis courts, barring injuries (Rafa’s style is so brutal on his body), I’m looking eagerly forward to the next 5 years.”

JKA. If you’re interested in martial arts, troop to the Active Zone of Ayala Center Cebu this Sunday at 2 p.m., said the invitation sent to me by Boston Marathon qualifier Millette Chiongbian, a JKA practitioner:

“You are invited to view a rare exhibition of an age-old martial art. View our karatekas and get a glimpse of the winning kata that earned Cebu’s very own, Noel Espinosa, a gold in the recently-held 2010 Korean Open Intl. Karatedo Championships… Japan Karate Association (JKA) Asia Pilipinas – Cebu presents an exhibition to demonstrate the skills acquired by our karatekas in their respective levels. Performances will be given by yellow all the way to black belt and 1st to 5th dan practitioners. Karatekas from different chapters in Cebu will be demonstrating some of the basic, kata and kumite techniques to promote awareness of karate—not just as a sport but also as an effective means of self-defense.” This is open to the public for free.

SURGERY. At 10 a.m. tomorrow, I’ll undergo surgery. Having sustained pain in my right shoulder for nearly a year now, I’ll finally be put to sleep then cut open by the expert hands of Dr. Tony San Juan. I have a tennis-related injury. After serving and overhead-smashing for nearly 25 years, my shoulder screamed timeout. I joked Dr. San Juan—one of the country’s best sports medicine (orthopedic) physicians—by asking, “Can you change my shoulder so that I can serve like Andy Roddick after the operation?” He grinned. It won’t be months, though, until that Babolat racquet can be swung.

FLOYD. “Is Floyd Mayweather’s Career Over?” That question was answered by a top sports website: “The Queensberry Rules: A Boxing Blog.” Visit the site to read the expert comments (especially of our Sarangani congressman) by Tim Starks.

BOXING. One of the best titles I’ve read: “Mosley and Mora Paint A Picasso — They Draw.”

Will Michel Lhuillier finally join the PBA?

Next year, his basketball franchise will celebrate its Silver Anniversary. That’s 25 years of dribbling and scoring trophies. It will be a mega-milestone for this team labeled as “the most successful Philippine basketball squad in history”—outside of the PBA.

Will the year 2011, to celebrate its 25th birthday, be the moment when M. Lhuillier Kwarta Padala sends a remittance letter to PBA Commissioner Chito Salud with the words: “Money ready. Count as in.”?

We hope so. For Michel Lhuillier is Cebuano. He represents our land. Of French descent (he’s the Honorary Consul of France), the billionaire sportsman loves one city more than any other on earth… Sugbu.

“I’ve been offered to put up a PBA team. But it’s not for my business. It’s too expensive,” he once told me. “You need P100 million to maintain a team. Now, they’re offering me P40 to P50 million for a PBA franchise. With those amounts, I have better use of my money. I’d rather have a strong enough team that can play once-in-a-while with the PBA.”

That conversation was 10 months ago. Today, has the business tycoon’s mind changed? Yes, Cebu hopes so. Because if M. Lhuillier does enter the PBA, it will be a first. A first for a Cebu-based company to battle—on the basketball floor—the big boys and multinationals of Philippine business.

The PBA currently has 10 teams. These are Air21 Express, Alaska Aces, Barako Energy Coffee Makers, Barangay Ginebra Kings, B-Meg Derby Ace Llamados, Meralco Bolts (new team), Powerade Tigers, Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, San Miguel Beermen and Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters. Add the words “M. Lhuillier Kwarta Padala” to this list?

I called Yayoy Alcoseba. This was two nights ago. Ever the serious and disciplinarian maestro on court, he was light-hearted and relaxed in our talk. He has reason to smile. Last Sunday, his Kwarta Padala team won again. That’s nothing new. They always win. But this was different.

“That was the most difficult championship we’ve ever won,” said Coach Yayoy, who’s collected for the team hundreds of golden trophies. The Cebu City Councilor, now on his third and final term, explained how difficult it was winning the Tournament of the Philippines (TOP). “We had to go and fight in Cagayan de Oro… we had a thrilling Game 5… it was our most satisfying victory,” he said of the 78-76 tournament-ending win of the Cebu Niños against the MisOr Meteors at the Cebu Coliseum.

Now that you’ve won again, will it be the PBA this time? “There’s a good chance,” said Councilor Alcoseba. “More than at any other period, the timing might be right this time. We have a strong team, a ready-to-play team. And the Kwarta Padala brand nationwide is getting even stronger.” Plus, of course, the significance of the 25th anniversary…

“Are you ready to move to Manila?” I asked.

“I’ll just be team manager!” he said, laughing.

I told him, “No way will Michel ask anybody else to coach his team but you!”

That’s true. From the moment the M. Lhuillier team was formed, one man was there.

“Coach Yayoy. Councilor Yayoy. Businessman Yayoy. I don’t know what to call him anymore,” Lhuillier told me before. “He’s been with me for more than 23 years. What can I say about him? I believe in him. He’s good. He’s outstanding. He has a knack for it. He feels for it. He’s so involved in the game and some misunderstand it when he reprimands players. He loves the game. He also knows all about the NBA and the PBA. In terms of scouting, he knows what positions to shop for when the team has weaknesses.”

As to The Boss’s own formula for success? Michel Lhuillier once explained to me: “I keep on trying and trying. I’ve had defeats but, because of determination, I’ve had more victories in life. It’s by trying and trying and trying that I get to succeed.”

Sir: Time to try the PBA?

Can Rafa’s Lucky 9 surpass Roger’s Sweet 16?

The word is Tenacity. It means to be persevering and dogged. The word is Determined. It’s defined as being “forceful, single-minded.” The word is Competitive. It translates to one’s being “merciless.. aggressive.. brutal.” All these words are synonyms to one name: Rafael Nadal.

Has there been an athlete as forceful? And fist-pumping, Vamos-shouting, I’m-willing-to-die-on-court-to-win persistent? Yes, Michael Jordan was intense. So was Mr. Armstrong during his Tour de Lance. KB24 is another. And, we can point to our own: Manny P. They are history’s most strong-willed of sportsmen. Add two more letters to the shortlist: R.N.

You want to know Rafa’s secret? Actually, there is no secret. We’ve seen it on our TV screens ever since he won the 2005 French Open (on his first try) as a 19-year-old. It’s called attitude. Mental strength.

“What’s my best thing?” he asked himself. “I think the mentality, attitude on court I think always was good for me,” he said. “I am positive on court, and I fight all the time. But not the only thing. Positive attitude is not only fight on court. I think I was able to listen all the time to the coach and to have adjustments and to be ready to change things to be better and to improve.”

That’s it. For while nobody in the ATP Tour possesses a more Herculean build, it’s more than biceps and triceps that enable Rafa to win: it’s brain power. Nobody, simply put, wants it more.

The U.S. Open final against Novak Djokovic? Well, the Serbian was handed plenty of favors. After a draining five-set upset of Roger Federer, Novak was scheduled to play Rafa just 20 hours later. It rained. He was given an extra 24 hours. Plus, during the final itself and while showing early signs of fatigue, it rained in the second set. Novak rested. It didn’t matter. Well-rested or not, there was no stopping the 2008 Olympic gold medalist from claiming his first gold in New York.

Now, with Rafa’s ninth major, the question in everybody’s lips is this: Can he overtake Roger’s 16? YES!!!!!! NO!!!!!! No!!!!!! Yes!!!!!! You see, in this debate, there are two opposing “R” camps. And so, the best answer to that query is, “It depends who you ask…”

Take the luncheon I joined two months ago. British Consul Moya Jackson, although nearer in hometown to Andy Murray, adores Roger Federer. Same with Michelle So. And Chinggay Utzurrum. Regardless of whatever Rafa accomplishes—even if he wins Major No. 155—their hearts are forever transfixed on Roger.

Frank Malilong, one of this island’s best debaters and a left-hander with wicked topspin shots, is, on the other camp, a Nadal devotee.

They argued. Teased one another. Everybody left Casino Español with stomach pains—not from sumptuous-food overload—but from laughing. Nobody admitted their R was weaker.

It’s the same elsewhere. Bobby Lozada, Ernie Delco and Fabby Borromeo are for Rafa; so are my Jasmin and Jana. The Polotans—Jourdan and Jingle—are for Roger; so are Emma Siao and “R” doctors Ronnie Medalle and Ronald Eullaran. This debate is two-sided.

My personal analysis? Yes, Rafa will eclipse Roger. Only 24 while Roger is 29, that five-year gap means 20 Grand Slam opportunities. Can RN win at least seven in the next 60 months? (The French Open alone he’ll win 12!)

But, you ask, won’t Roger also win more and add to his 16? Maybe; maybe not. Sure, Roger is still a threat. Had he converted on those match points in the semis, he’d have faced (yet, I believe, still lost to) Nadal. But here’s Roger’s problem: When facing the Spanish matador, his muscles melt like Swiss cheese. Their record is a lopsided 14-7 (in Nadal’s favor) and—here’s the more telling score—RF has lost six of their last seven meetings and has not beaten RN in a major since ‘007.

Still, it’s a long way to go. But with Frank Malilong as his lawyer, I wouldn’t bet against Rafa.

Harry Radaza’s ideas for a sporty Lapu Lapu

Last Thursday, I announced the rise of the HOOPS DOME. Brand-new, fully-air-conditioned with an electronic, NBA-like scoring console at the center, this basketball gymnasium located just 2.5 kms. from the foot of the old Mactan bridge seats 7,000.

Given the absence of a state-of-the-art coliseum in Cebu, this is remarkable. Plus, more than the Hoops Dome, the City of Lapu Lapu is targeting to build a new sprawling complex complete with a track oval, football field, and tennis courts.

Like Camarines Sur, the city hopes to replicate the sports tourism concept popularized by Camsur.

The man atop Mactan island’s sports program? The “Edward Hayco of Lapu Lapu City?”

He’s Harry Radaza. Newly-elected as city councilor, Harry, 36, is the nephew of Rep. Arturo “Boy” Radaza. A sports devotee whom I’ve known since high school, Harry has plenty outlined for his city.

First, the Lapu-Lapu Olympics. “The idea is to have as many events and athletes representing their barangays,” said Harry. The games involved? Basketball, Volleyball, Badminton, Athletics, Aquatics, Darts, Table Tennis, Tennis, Cycling, Triathlon and Taekwondo. “Of course, there will be a grand opening and closing complete with the lighting of the Olympic flame,” he added.

“Athletes won’t play for money but for the pride of winning medals for their barangay (plus a ‘traveling trophy’ that will be kept by the champion). There will be a race for the barangay with the most medals, too. The project is still in its infancy and the logistics and cost are big hurdles but I am confident it can be done by April 2011.”

Grassroots. That’s another focus of Councilor Radaza. “Barangay-based sports clinics are something we are looking at,” he said. “Coaches will go to the barangays so athletes can save on public transportation. I have coordinated with the AFP at the Mactan Air Base and they are willing to lend their manpower and facilities as part of their outreach program.”

Harry will also continue their successful inter-barangay basketball league that follows the home-and-away format.

Boxing? Sure. “I am trying to get donors so we can build our own ring. The city can hire boxing trainers and those interested can train for FREE. All we ask is for the athletes to give back to the program. “And, I’m also looking for an ideal site where we can put up a Recreation Center for badminton, ping-pong, darts, billiards, and chess.”

Among the dozens of sports that Harry himself played, his most memorable stint was with Flag Football. This was in 2004. “Starting the sport from the ground up, in three years’ time Cebu teams beat Manila in the Nationals for three straight years,” he said. “The Sharks, which I was with, did it first for two years followed by The Rebels of Brian Lim.”

Recently, Harry joined this popular recreational sport. “I just recovered from ACL surgery and took up running. I am planning a Fun Run in Nov. in line with our fiesta. The goal will be to invite new participants and make them realize that exercise is good for the health. We will involve the city and barangay officials to set an example.” As for his most radical idea…

“I have been doing research and propose that the city hold an International Skydiving Competition (four-man tandem). This can be done over Olango island (because of the open spaces for drop zones)—yet still be visible from the Mactan coastline,” he said. “The only other Sky-diving competition outside of the western hemisphere is in Dubai. I’ve already spoken with officials from the U.S. and they’re excited. But this might still be years away. The budget is the challenge. Also, coordination with MCIAA and the ATO since flights will have to be given a new path.

“Other events I’m studying are a paramotor competition, open water wakeboarding competition and—to be held in Olango and traversing the other islands—Adventure racing.”

Thanks to Harry, Lapu Lapu will soon be known for more than just white-sand beaches. Let’s go beat Camsur!

Quick response from Graeme Mackinnon

An hour or so after Roger Federer lost to Novak Djokovic in the U.S. Open semifinals, my close buddy Graeme Mackinnon wrote this commentary from Australia:

NY will have to wait another year… but will it happen ever?

It is 9am here and the news is just through that the rivalry of R&R will be on hold for another Grand Slam. So will Rafa open his Open account in New York and claim the biggest apple they have for tennis there. If Rafa will win I suppose the inevitable of will he overtake Roger in the number of Open wins in the future will be ignited again.

Rafa is clearly several rungs above the pretenders. Djokovic and Murray have not rattled the cage consistently enough to believe that Rafa would be troubled in the majority of games he plays against them. Only Roger we believe will give us a classic match. But given Rafa’s record (14-7) against Roger would he be shaking in his nike tennis shoes?

Again the debate of whether there are chinks beginning to appear in the armor of Roger’s invincibility will again be ignited after this weekend. Only time will tell if Roger has won his last Open tournament. Rafa (with age on his side and if he stays fit) will be as relentless as he is in his games in his pursuit of Roger’s record number of Open’s wins. But the indisputable fact will be that for those lucky enough to have witnessed both Roger and Rafa during their careers, there will be debates (another one?) as to who is the GOAT or would there be a consensus to call them co-GOATS. I think if Rafa does eventually equal or gets near either way there would be a compelling case as they are so unique in their techniques and have brought so much theater to tennis.

Interesting times ahead both on and off the court John. Now given my terrible tipping record I have most probably put the hex on Rafa and Djokovic will blow him away, but I wouldn’t bet on that either.

Regards
Graeme

In NYC, wishing for another R & R

Next to Manny Pacquiao, the two athletes I write about most often on these back pages are 6-foot-1, Nike-bandana-wearing twins: Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

At the United States Tennis Open, if both were able to dismiss of Mikhail Youzhny and Novak Djokovic in last night’s semifinals, then, once more, we’ll be treated to a drama that’s likened to Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier’s “The Championships of Each Other.”

“The Open is the only Slam where Federer and Nadal have never played,” wrote Steve Tignor in “Is It Sunday Yet?” That’s true. While the pairing have played 21 times, they’ve never faced each other in Flushing Meadows.

“New York wants a piece of this generation’s great rivalry before it’s too late, and we’re never going to have a better shot at it,” added Tignor. “We’ve seen Ali and Frazier. We’ve seen Borg and McEnroe. Even Godzilla took a cruise to Manhattan for a showdown with King Kong. Are we finally going to get Nadal and Federer?”

We hope so. For, these friends have won plenty: Roger has six Wimbledon titles, four Australian Opens, one French and five US Open crowns while Rafa has five in Paris, two Wimbledons, one Aussie Open—but zero in NYC. Talking of major/major, that’s 16 for Roger and 8 for Rafa.

“I won the other three Grand Slams rather quickly, like he did,” said Federer. “The only difference so far is that I lost two (French Open) finals before, plus a semifinal, whereas he’s never been in a final here.

“Clearly, he has a chance because he’s young enough. Having so many French Open titles to his name, let alone at his age, is an amazing accomplishment. Then again, obviously, I guess he would need to win the US Open to put himself there. He’s won the Olympics, done some amazing things. So he’ll have a shot at it, I’m sure.”

Will this shot be this weekend? If Rafa does meet then defeat Roger, the 24-year-old will achieve a feat similar in magnitude to Spain’s World Cup victory: He’d become the youngest player in the Open Era to complete the career Grand Slam.

Yet, while Rafa is hungry for this missing Big Apple bite, on paper, it’s the Swiss who’s favored. The reason: the past seven years, he’s won every match at the Open except one hiccup last year against del Potro. Mr. Federer possesses the most complete arsenal of weapons on a rectangle since tennis was spelled tenez. And this event’s hard court (DecoTurf) surface suits a player who carries more ammunition.

So, here’s the intriguing question: While many don’t argue calling RF as the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time), if he loses to RN, would that tarnish his golden stature?

Maybe. Yet, whatever the outcome, the winners are us, the fans. Time Magazine’s Eben Harrell, listing “Federer v. Nadal” atop the Top 10 Tennis Rivalries, wrote it best: “Call it the rapier versus the broadsword. The bull fighter versus the bull. For over five years now, Federer and Nadal have stunned the tennis world with their contrasting but compelling claims to be the greatest player on the planet. Federer’s light-footed movement and elegant, attacking style has, in head-to-head encounters, proved largely ineffectual against Nadal’s thumping, muscular defense. Nadal holds the edge 14-7. But Federer has a vastly superior career record — he holds an all-time best 16 grand slam titles. So who holds the edge in the rivalry is up for debate. But there’s no doubt that tennis is blessed to have two of the greatest players in history currently at the top of the world rankings.”

If this final—said Mats Wilander: “I think it’s the biggest match of all time”—does materialize, here are factors to watch for: a) How potent is Rafa’s newfound, 135-mph serve? b) Who will the wind affect more? Thus far, Roger’s been better, c) Can Rafa continue his my-forehand-to-Roger’s-backhand tactic? d) Roger’s drop-shot surprise: will it be effective? e) The mental battle—will Rafa once more have the edge?

These are my questions. Want the answer? Don’t miss the fight (RP time) tomorrow, Monday, starting 4 a.m.

Breaking News: It’s play ball in Hoops Dome!

Lapu Lapu City Councilor Harry Radaza was my brother Charlie’s high school classmate. I’ve known him for two decades. Ever since we were schoolmates at the Cebu International School, Harry was known to be the sports fanatic. Basketball. Later, flag football. Now, running—Harry has always been the hyper-active, go-go-go type.

Today, after being elected last May 10 in his first attempt, he is a City Councilor. And, what better position to give the sports expert? Of course, the chairmanship of these committees: Sports, Youth, Tourism.

“We have a brand-new stadium!” Harry announced a few days ago when we spoke.

This is significant news! For Mactan. For our province. I pressed Harry for the details. Here are the facility’s nuts-and-bolts as he explained:

“The new stadium dubbed ‘HOOPS DOME’ was conceived by Congressman Boy Radaza while he was still mayor. Being an avid basketball player, he understood the importance of sports in the community. Construction started in 2007 and the stadium will be finished this month. We are just waiting for the step-down generators.

“Seating capacity is about 7,000. It’s fully-airconditioned. Also, air-conditioned locker rooms for teams are available, same with dressing rooms for concert activities. It has a square (cube) scoreboard in the middle if you look at the center of the stadium. Built-in sound system with sound room. The floor is covered with protective blue rubber matting, when needed. We also made sure to have the standard cushioning below the floor installed according to NBA specifications. There is a stage at the far end of the stadium for events.

“Hoops Dome is located in Brgy. Gunob behind Crown Regency Hotel—just five minutes from the old bridge. We are looking to open it to the public this Oct. The annual fiesta tournament, which I organize, averages around 100 teams each year—that should be our first event. Eliminations will be held in our open basketball court at the Lapu Lapu Auditorium and the playoffs starting last week of Oct. will be held at the Hoops Dome. So basically, it will be athletes of Lapu Lapu City who will be able to use the Hoops Dome first. I am in talks for a PBA bearing game to be held sometime Nov. as one of our Fiesta activities. This will be our first major event.”

I asked Councilor Radaza: Considering that the bigger Cebu and Mandaue cities have not built a near-world-class coliseum in decades, what does this tell the public about Lapu-Lapu? How did you do it? What’s the cost?

“Of the 400,000 tourists that arrived in 2009, a huge 65% were billeted in Lapu Lapu City,” he said. “We are focusing on tourism. Now, tourists come here for the natural resources that Lapu Lapu City has to offer. Sports tourism is a new approach that Mayor Paz Radaza is supportive of and Rep. Boy Radaza has laid down the infrastructure for this.”

Harry related to me another “Headline News” which, if realized, will complement Hoops Dome. “We plan to construct a new Lapu Lapu sports complex. Facilities like a track oval, an Olympic swimming pool, a diving pool, tennis courts and more are targeted to be built at a property adjacent to the old bridge. Being the Chairman for the Committee on Sports and Committee on Tourism, I am focusing on creating unique events which can bring in domestic and international athletes. We are looking beyond PBA games. We are looking to invite international teams and to organize international-caliber events.

“Camarines Sur is a success story that is worth studying. There is no reason why Lapu Lapu City, blessed with natural beaches, cannot do the same. Marine and Aquatic sporting events are being considered now.

“The Hoops Dome roughly cost P350M. To help it generate income, I am exploring the idea of renting out the naming rights to corporate sponsors; just as they do in the US although that approach has never been done here in the Philippines.”

34th Milo Marathon: One of the best I’ve joined

Last Sunday, I participated in a road-running race. It wasn’t the usual every-Sunday event. When you’re able to gather a congregation of 23,000 pairs of feet, all stumbling and trampling on the same Osmeña Boulevard, that’s unusual—and hard-to-believe numbers. Well, despite the chaos of too many shoes, guess what: In my 46 months of running, it was one of the best-organized races I’ve joined.

Congratulations to Nestle, to Ricky Ballesteros, and to the hundreds of technical and support staff—including Joel Juarez—who made sure to uphold the exalted name of “Milo” in sports.

What made the race spectacular? The giant screen at the starting line that projected the route, videos and photos—that was one. The presence of Nestle CEO John Miller—that was another. Mr. Miller not only rendered an inspiring speech (announcing their advocacy of donating running shoes to elementary students), it was also because the CEO joined us in the 21K race—finishing in a speedy time of 2:04. Three sexy ladies wearing skimpy tops who climbed the stage for minutes of warm-up, dancing to “Waka-Waka”—that was another pre-race attraction. Then… Bang! We were off! Large speakers blasted music along several points of the route. One side of Osmeña Blvd. was closed.

(From SunStar Cebu)

Water stations in our Half-Marathon route were abundant—in my estimate, less than a kilometer apart from each station. The marshals handing water and Gatorade wore not ordinary attire but green Milo shirts. Along the South Road Properties (SRP), bananas (perfectly-sliced and perfectly-ripe) were in excess.

CITOM personnel manned every intersection. To help guide and protect the participants, bright orange cones lined the entire route. Excellent! Three “water fountains” (large hoses) poured water on our steaming-hot bodies.

And then, the UNGO group. Along the route, the Ungo Runners constructed three outposts (at the CIT U-turn, near Metro Gaisano and inside SRP) with plenty of Gatorade and supplies. Joy Polloso, Ayala Center Cebu’s top honcho, personally handed out drinks. Bikik Besavilla positioned herself near Colon St. to help. (Ungo has become a strong force for good in running. Well done, Ungo Runners!)

Finally… the Finish Area was superb. Located inside the Cebu City Sports Center, runners entered the side gate and sprinted a few meters on the track oval before crossing the finish. Thousands of students screamed and enjoyed the presentations—all making a festive ending.

Then, after you cross that finish line, you’re handed all you need: a green Milo-labeled bag with water, banana, etc. Plus—and this is a good tip for all organizers—you’re donned the finisher’s medal seconds after crossing that line. Perfect.

All-smiles at the finish were plenty: Leonardo “Jun” Angeles was super fast at 1:44 in the 21K. Benedict “Bende” Benedicto (who timed an impressive 1:56) and his wife, Mary Ann “Mat,” who finished eighth-place with a 1:59 time. Bende and Mat are now one of the fastest couple-runners in Cebu—this despite Mat only joining the running scene last March. Congratulations also to doctors Charles and Loy Tan and to Mae Ugalino for finishing their first half-marathons.

Our lone criticism of Milo? Except for the elite runners that included Noy Jopson (who finished the 21K in a blistering 1:27 and thus exited the SRP fast), we got burned.

(SunStar Cebu)

Running inside the shade-less SRP for 10 kilometers with no reprieve from the fiery sun was pure suffering. Several quit. Plenty walked. It was, simply put, agonizing and painful. (Next year, instead of the actual 5:37 a.m. start, we recommend a 5 a.m. start and to tackle the SRP route first.) Still, Milo was the best Philippine race I’ve joined (the Singapore Marathon I’d still consider tops).

Backed by Nestle and with 34 years of experience in organizing races, this was a very well-run Run.

Jealous? Scared? Yes, Floyd M, Jr. is both

Because of all the attention Manny Pacquiao is getting from ESPN, Michael Marley, CNNSI, The Queensberry Rules and PhilBoxing.com today, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is envious. He used to be the star. He used to be the P4P king. He used to be the center of the universe’s orbit.

Used to be. Because every since MP defeated Oscar-DLH, Ricky Hatton, plus the slew of Mexicans named Eric, Juan Manuel, David, Marco Antonio—Mayweather’s status as boxing’s god disappeared. He relinquished it. Lost it to a miniscule Asian who used to fight 105 lbs.

Floyd is jealous. No doubt about it. Manny is absorbing all the love and praises of America—his America—and Floyd can’t stand watching it. Never beaten in 41 fights, Junior is used to being the last man standing… while the opponent is either lying flat on the canvas or has his eyes bruised. Mayweather was forever No.1. In his division. In Ring magazine’s Pound-4-Pound analysis. Not anymore. And so he’s fighting back.

Mayweather is quarreling Pacquiao, yes, but, no, not on the square ring inside a Las Vegas casino. Floyd isn’t fighting Manny there because, as you and I and the boxing community know, one person is scared. And it’s not Manny.

Our Sarangani congressman has humbled himself. Accused of being a drug cheat—though he’s never failed a single drug test, despite the hundreds conducted through the decade—Manny has agreed to every demand asked by the American. Still, the answer is No.

“No I won’t fight you, Manny. No, I won’t damage my perfect record. No, no, no, Manny. No!” Those are the unsaid words chirping inside Mayweather’s crooked brain. How crooked is his brain? Here are some of the words he spitted out yesterday in a YouTube confession that lasted for four minutes and 20 seconds.

“Poochiao,” he called Manny. He also said he will “cook that yellow chump,” that he will “kick the midget a**,” and “cook him up with some barbecued dog.”

Can you believe those words? Those are beyond racist. Those are evil. Here’s more: On the steroids issue, Mayweather said: “This mother f**ker’s name is Emmanuel. He got a fake name, taking power pellets.”

Worse, Mayweather added: “They ain’t got to worry about me fighting the midget. Once I kick the midget’s a**, I’ll make that mother f**ker make me a sushi roll and cook me some rice.”

Are you surprised? I’m not. For those are the exact words Floyd uses behind the scenes. Only now, he’s posted them on YouTube. Floyd’s always got the most egoistic attitude. He’s always possessed the most vilified mouth. And, you know what? He’s gotten what he’s wanted now: attention.

While Manny and Antonio Margarito are out touring LA and Texas promoting their Nov. 13 embrace, Floyd has managed to steal that limelight and focus the light on, once more, himself.

Now, in the midst of this Pacquiao-Margarito media blitz, it’s he—FM, Jr.—who’s getting all this attention. Even my writing this story today—the same story/criticisms hurled by hundreds of other journalists worldwide—is testament to his “stealing the show.”

Selfish. Loud mouth. Faggot. Let’s call him whatever bad name we can find; let’s seek revenge!!! Right?

No. For even Manny isn’t doing that. Manny’s taking the presidential high road. He’s not stooping down.

Yet, the world knows. Not only us, Filipinos, because we admit bias towards our countryman, but the boxing fans—even Floyd’s fellow Americans, who should be rooting for their own—now realize this truth: Floyd’s jealous. Floyd’s scared.

If you ask me, what would be a perfect ending to this latest twist? Sure, I’d recommend for Atty. Jingo Quijano to lead the case of defamation against Mayweather and win for Pacquiao millions of dollars in damages. That’s good. But I want an even better ending.

Manny beats Goliath this Nov. 13, fights The Racist sometime May 2011 and knocks him out like he did Ricky Hatton. Flat on the floor. Eyes frozen. Body unconscious. That should put to sleep this a*%&ole!

Margarito vs. Pacquiao is Goliath vs. David

(Photo: Granville Ampong)

YouTube is one of mankind’s greatest inventions. According to Wikipedia: “In May 2010, it was reported that YouTube was serving more than two billion videos a day…”

One of those two billion videos I watched at 6 p.m. yesterday. It was a 13:23-minute clip and three men—Bob Arum, Antonio Margarito and Manny Pacquiao—spoke during the press conference two days ago in Los Angeles. What did I see?

Bob Arum, today’s Don King minus the standing hair, spoke first. He talked of injustice. He articulated how Mr. Margarito was denied justice in Las Vegas, disallowing him to fight in the “Sin City.”

Antonio Margarito stood up next. Donning a shiny black leather jacket and wearing eyeglasses that made him look like a UCLA student with spiky hair, “Tijuana’s Tornado” spoke in his native Mexican language.

Then, Bob Arum came back on stage to introduce the beloved superstar. Said Arum: “He’s now the Congressman from Sarangani… to the best of my knowledge, he’s the first professional boxer, while he is pursuing his boxing career, to be a representative of the highest parliamentary body in his country… that is a real tremendous achievement.. and he’s just starting because… in 2016, he’s going to be Vice-President and, hopefully, while I’m still around, we’re going to the Presidential Inaugural!”

Sporting a yellow Abercrombie & Fitch shirt and wearing his usual mustache and goatie, P-Manny rose from his chair and alighted the pulpit. Camera bulbs flashed. Hands collided. Applause reverberated throughout LA.

Rep. Emmanuel Pacquiao spoke. His English, despite his hurried training in the halls of the Batasang Pambansa, sounded crooked. But never mind. Because when Manny talks, his facial expression does the talking. He smiled.

“Good afternoon, everybody. Thank you. I’m here again! (smiling)”

For doesn’t Manny love to smile? And, when he does, don’t we return the favor and smile, watching our greatest-ever athlete enjoy himself on center-stage?

For that’s the originality of Pacman. While the Tysons, the Mayweathers, the Hattons wear the ugliest of frowns during press gatherings—as if there was a “Who Can Frown Best Wins” contest—with our fighter, it’s the opposite.

Manny grins. His face is no boxer’s pugilist face that will scare your 5-year-old boy. He’s the most relaxed, casual and laid-back man in this sport that demands fighters not to be relaxed, not to be casual and never to be laid-back.

Boxing is tough. It’s the most brutal and merciless of games. Blood gushing off one’s nostrils is a guarantee. So are swollen knuckles and broken ribs. Yet Manny makes it all look so easy. Effortless. As if earning $10 million on 30 minutes on the boxing ring were no sweat. (In his actual eight-week-long training camp, however, we know the reality: many would get killed following his work ethic and bruising regimen.)

With the press-conference, it was a feel-good story. Again, so unlike-boxing. Even Margarito, seated to Manny’s left while our boxer spoke, was seen amused and smiling as his enemy spoke.

And you want to hear the best part? To greet the Mexican crowd—plus Margarito, our fellow Pinoy spoke Mexican. No kidding. Though I couldn’t decipher what he said, it was amazing to hear Manny recite several words in his opponent’s native tongue.

Manny praised Antonio. He called his challenger’s fighting style “very aggressive.” He said he’s “strong and bigger than me.”

Was this a beauty pageant? A Mr. Universe contest to see who’s the kindest on-stage? No. It was Manny as Manny. That’s who he is.

Finally, the two stood up, holding the golden belt, and faced the cameras. It was a marvelous sight watching a 160-plus-pound behemoth of a man who stands an inch short of 6-foot-tall beside a baby-faced Asian who used to fight 105 lbs. But, as we know from one of the bible’s most famous clashes, the smaller yet more cunning fighter catapulted his weapon to obliterate the giant. Let’s hope for the same on Nov. 13.