Yearly Archives: 2011

Prayers for the New You this 2012

Rev. Billy Graham, spiritual adviser of many U.S. presidents, wrote this beautiful prayer. May these words guide all of us beginning today and for the rest of 2012…

Our Father and our God, as we stand at the beginning of this new year we confess our need of Your presence and Your guidance as we face the future.

We each have our hopes and expectations for the year that is ahead of us—but You alone know what it holds for us, and only You can give us the strength and the wisdom we will need to meet its challenges.

So help us to humbly put our hands into Your hand, and to trust You and to seek Your will for our lives during this coming year.

In the midst of life’s uncertainties in the days ahead, assure us of the certainty of Your unchanging love.

In the midst of life’s inevitable disappointments and heartaches, help us to turn to You for the stability and comfort we will need.

In the midst of life’s temptations and the pull of our stubborn self-will, help us not to lose our way but to have the courage to do what is right in Your sight, regardless of the cost.

And in the midst of our daily preoccupations and pursuits, open our eyes to the sorrows and injustices of our hurting world, and help us to respond with compassion and sacrifice to those who are friendless and in need. May our constant prayer be that of the ancient Psalmist: “Teach me, O Lord, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end” (Psalm 119:33)…

As we look back over this past year we thank You for Your goodness to us—far beyond what we have deserved. May we never presume on Your past goodness or forget all Your mercies to us, but may they instead lead us to repentance, and to a new commitment to make You the foundation and center of our lives this year.

And so, our Father, we thank You for the promise and hope of this new year, and we look forward to it with expectancy and faith. This I ask in the name of our Lord and Savior, who by His death and resurrection has given us hope both for this world and the world to come. Amen.

SPORTS. My personal prayer for each of you, dear readers, is this: That we live healthier lives this 2012. To be specific, we need to spend more time taking care of ourselves. In even simpler language: we need to exercise more.

Everybody is busy. Yet, every body needs to get busy. Every body needs to sweat. Every body, despite our busyness, needs to undergo daily physical stress.

I’ve known this all my life and I’ll live with this tenet until my last breath: the more time I spend biking, running, playing tennis or badminton, swimming, or merely walking, the better I feel. My mind clears. Doubts are erased. A smile spreads across my face. Energy is restored.

I wish and pray that, for all those who’ve been dreaming of joining their first 5K or crossing that 42K marathon finish line—that this year, 2012, the Year of the Olympics in London, be that year.

Don’t delay. Don’t procrastinate. Spend the most money you can on sports—enrolling in that fitness gym, purchasing those Nike shoes, buying that elliptical machine. The more expensive, the better… you know why? Because you’ll treasure and use it more. And, the more you use these fitness gifts, the healthier you’ll become.

Run. Join the Cebu City Marathon next Sunday. Swim. Bike. Join the XTERRA this March or the Ironman in August. They’re all in Cebu. The Cebu City Sports Center? In a few months’ time, it will reopen with a brand-new rubberized track oval. Step on it.

Here’s what’s important: Allocate 30 minutes of each day’s 24 hours to sports and fitness. The more time, obviously, the better. I guarantee you: you will never regret these moments you’ve set aside for yourself.

Make this schedule part of your daily routine. Like bathing before going to work; like eating breakfast, lunch and dinner; like going to sleep… make this “sports time” a must-do, part-of-my-daily-schedule portion of your life. This is my wish for you.

Happy New Year. Happy New You.

Sports Wishes for the New Year

Boying Rodriguez: 1) Fred Uytengsu invited Lance Armstrong to the XTERRA—I hope he can make it! Wow! 2) A successful Cobra Ironman Triathlon this August. As of today, 1,200+ registered coming from 40 countries! 3) I hope I recover from all the holiday eating and have a decent time in the Cebu Marathon!

Rico Navarro: I pray that the sports industry be united to push Cebu as the country’s sports capital. This covers a lot of ground from: all sports stakeholders to have the same mindset; competent hosting of events; having the most competitive athletes in all events; and having all sports/events/local NSA’s taking a united stand for all their activities.

Al Mendoza: For Pres. Noynoy to chase the masterminds of the illegal loggers that triggered deaths at the height of Sendong’s fury up to the ends of the earth. For the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight not to push through. For me to visit Liverpool, England, the birthplace of The Beatles.

Igi Maximo: To represent Cebu and race for my country in the 2012 Asian Junior Cycling Championships in Malaysia and the World Juniors in Netherlands. To be an example to the youth that being a student-elite athlete is possible. That schools would support cycling and include it in their varsity program.

Cecil Mamiit. 1) Wishing a lot of luck and success to the young tennis players with a lot of motivation and inspiration to be the next tennis hopeful to really represent the Philippines in whatever level or opportunity given to them. 2) Wishing a greater number of supporters that will be new to give help to fund or volunteer work to put tennis in a higher level with greater number of players and coaches… which we can call a great supporting cast for tennis. 3) Wishing health and guidance to a lot of the Philippine athletes to really make a possible push for Olympics.

Graeme Mackinnon: 1) That the AZKALS v CF Madrid, DILI KAMO NAG-IISA game at Rizal on Jan. 7 be a success in raising funds for the victims of Sendong. 2) That the 2012 Olympics be controversy free and be a TV fans paradise. 3) That GLOBAL FC will take out the UFL League in Manila.

Mike Limpag: Another semis stint or two for the Azkals in the Challenge Cup and Suzuki Cup, another slam or two for Maria Sharapova and I hope to run a couple of 21Ks and my first marathon.

Brian Lim: 1) Sports Tourism in Cebu to grow – emerging sports such as rugby, flag football, airsoft, electronic sports, mixed martial arts, water sports. 2) Get a multipurpose field built – For emerging sports to practice along with traditional sports. 3) To carry out the Great Cebu Sports Festival.. drawing attention to Cebu as a sporting destination.

Jean Henri Lhuillier: Wishing the best for the Philippine Tennis Academy (PTA) and that these players play to the best of their ability… to the success of the Davis Cup team. Wishing that the Cebuana Gems win the 2nd season of the PBA d league.

Yong Larrazabal: 1) That Filipinos would love the Phils. even more by stopping illegal logging, illegal poaching of its wildlife and destroying/wasting our natural resources. 2) That Cebu would regain its spot as the no.1 city in terms of quality of life, Sports and Medical Tourism. 3) That only 1 run be allowed every Sunday in Cebu so as to build a strong camaraderie among runners and not to induce divisiveness.

Noy Jopson: Cobra Ironman 70.3 offering Kona slots again. My wifey Amale improving at least 18 seconds on her 3:46.17 Marathon PR and qualifying for Boston. Our new The Brick Multi-Sport Store at the J Center Mall fulfilling the needs of the Cebu Triathlon community.

Samsam Gullas: Filipino unity. Fighting together, not against each other for one common goal. Everyone will do their part to help out in the recent flooding in Cagayan, Iligan and Dumaguete. Pacquiao fights Floyd and knocks Floyd out. Double championship for UV basketball.

Guy Concepcion: That Lance Armstrong joins the XTERRA Phils. in Liloan. That all participants have a good/safe race in XTERRA and Ironman 70.3 Phils.

Jack Biantan: Pacquiao vs Mayweather fight to push through. More success for the Azkals. Gold medal finish for the Phils. in the London Games.

Jesse Bernad: That leadership in the Philippine Amateur Baseball Association be resolved so that baseball can move on with newer programs. That local leaders continue to support baseball/softball with tournaments and provide an adequate playing field. That Cebu shall send the best team to the 2012 Little League Baseball and Softball Philippine Series.

Ricky Ballesteros: To finish the newly-refurbished track oval before March. Cebu Sports Museum and Hall Fame to complement the Cebu City Sports Center. Host the Palarong Pambansa or any international competition.

Michael Aldeguer
: 1) For all the Filipinos to unite for the good of our country. 2) Philippine Boxing to bring more pride and joy to the Filipinos all over the world. 3) AJ Banal and Milan Melindo to fight for World titles as both are WBO rated #1 and #2.

Miami will win the 2012 NBA Season

It’s Showtime! After a 149-day lockout when the NBA season was expected to vanish, it’s back. Yes. It’s Christmas — the most joyous time of the year! What a day to start playing ball. What’s in store for 2012?

“Heat will definitely win the East,” proclaimed Gerald Anthony “Samsam” Gullas, the team manager of the University of Visayas Green Lancers. “And, with his improved post game, the runaway choice for MVP is LeBron James.”

For a diehard Kobe Bryant fan, Samsam’s prediction is all-confident. “LeBron will shine in the biggest stage and earn his first ring against anyone who comes out of the West. He will now be called Mr. Dollar because he has now 4 quarters. Last year, 3 quarters and 75 cents ra. Haha!”

In the Dec. 25 game between the Heat and the reigning champs, Mavericks, Mr. Gullas was proven right: LeBron scored 37 points. In a game that had Miami leading Dallas by 15 after the 1st quarter, 21 at halftime and 35 in the 3rd quarter, Miami won the Christmas contest. (One play – it’s on YouTube — was spectacular: LeBron tossing an alley-hoop pass to Dwyane Wade for a slam.)

This NBA season will be electrifying. In a Sean Gregory article entitled, “Welcome Back, Basketball: Five NBA Stories To Watch,” a league executive, Tony Ronzone, was interviewed. Here are the five stories…

ONE, the shortened 66-game season. Instead of the usual 82 games, every single ballgame is important. “‘It reminds me a little of Europe, where every game, you can’t lose,’ says Ronzone. ‘Lose two games, and getting to the playoffs becomes that much harder.’ The schedule also included a multitude of back-to-back games for teams: the Lakers, for example, play four games in the first five days of the season. Weary legs mean more playing time for guys you’ve never heard of.”

TWO: Chris Paul joining Blake Griffin in Los Angeles. In the NBA Finals, it might be Miami vs. LA. But, no, it’s not the Lakers — but the Clippers. “Expectations for the morbid franchise are higher than ever,” wrote Sean Gregory. “‘Showtime just went from purple and gold’ – the Lakers – ‘to red and white,’ says Ronzone.”

THREE, the Heat from Miami. Like Samsam, Mr. Ronzone believes Miami will win. “‘They will definitely be better,’ says Ronzone. ‘It will help that the media attention won’t be on them from day 1, like last year.’ In a season with a tiring schedule, the young and hungry will survive. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh are veteran players, but only Wade is pushing 30 (he turns 30 on Jan. 12).”

FOUR: “Spur of the Moment,” wrote Gregory. We seem to forget that the San Antonio Spurs, beaten in the first round by the 8th seeds, Memphis Grizzlies, finished with the best regular season record in the West, 61-21.

“You get the sense this is the last year for the Spurs to muster something,” says Ronzone. “They seem to be saying, ‘OK, let’s give it all we can.’”

Tim Duncan is 35. Manu Ginobili will turn 35 this summer. Will this be their last hurrah? “A condensed schedule could hurt older teams – their legs tire out more than others,” wrote Gregory. “However, the shortened training camp may favor teams with an established chemistry, like San Antonio. And remember: in 1999, the last lockout-shortened season, the Spurs won it all.”

Samsam Gullas comments: “Whomever wins the West solely depends on how good the Clippers are or how improved the Thunder are.”

FIVE, watch for Ricky Rubio. This Spanish star is the rookie to watch. Only 21, he was the fifth overall pick in 2009. He postponed his jump from España to Estados Unidos but now he’s with the Minnesota Timberwolves. (His resume includes being the youngest ever to play in the Spanish ACB League — at 14 years old.)

“He’s the kind of player you’re going to want to watch,” says Ronzone. “Players want to play with him. He makes guys around him better. He has that soccer mentality, where the assist is just as important as scoring the goal.”

Imagine a soccer-loving Spaniard wearing hi-cut sneakers?

This Christmas, here’s one more reason to celebrate: The NBA is back.

No joke, 2011 is the ‘Year of the Djoker’

If you follow men’s tennis, you usually belong to either of two factions: Team Federer or Camp Nadal. Well, not this 2011. This year was solely dominated by Novak Djokovic.

He won 92 percent of all matches played (70 of 76). He earned a record-breaking $12.6 million in prize money. Out of the four Grand Slam trophies, he lifted three: Wimbledon and the Opens in America and Australia. In the first half of 2011, he was unbeaten in 43 consecutive matches.

And, in the best statistic that I researched, against Rafa and Roger, he was 10-1. Against the Spaniard, he won six of six. Of R & R, Djokovic said: “They have been the two most dominant players in the world the last five years. They have won most of the majors we are playing. So sometimes it did feel a little bit frustrating when you kind of get to the latter stages of a Grand Slam. They always come up with their best tennis when it matters the most.”

What change paved the way for the 24-year-old Novak to annihilate his two rivals and emerge as No.1? His mind.

“It’s a process of learning, a process of developing and improving as a tennis player and just finding the way to mentally overcome those pressures you have,” he said. “I always believed that I had the quality to beat those two guys.”

Novak is scary because he has no fear of the top players. In the most memorable shot of the season, he was down two match points to Roger Federer at the U.S. Open and, instead of playing if safe, he drilled one forehand return-of-serve for a smashing winner. He beat the Swiss. He beat the Spaniard. He won New York.

“I had an unbelievable year,” said Novak. “Nothing can really ruin that. I will always remember this year as the best of my life.”

As to the question whether he can repeat one of the greatest years in tennis history, he says: “This year’s success gives me a reason to believe that I can win again. Why not? I think it doesn’t make any sense to be anything other than optimistic. I need to believe in my qualities and my abilities and I need to believe that I can repeat the success.” That’s the mentality of a champ.

The experts, what do they say? Bruce Jenkins of Sports Illustrated: “I can’t see him repeating such a surreal winning percentage, but it’s entirely possible that he could win three majors again.

Jon Wortheim, my favorite tennis writer, comments: “Barring injury, which, granted is no small conditional — there’s little to suggest he can’t sustain this level of excellence. His game translates to all surfaces. If one component of his game fails him, he has plenty of other weapons at his disposal. His fitness, once so shaky, has, with great abruptness, become an asset. He’s younger than the players who pose the biggest threat and, right now anyway, he is swelling with confidence.”

ANDY. Looking ahead to 2012, I’d like to see Andy Murray finally win a major. A Grand Slam runner-up three times, it’s hard to see him not winning that major trophy. The perfect place for him to triumph? Wimbledon. Then, months after, with the Olympics still to be played at Wimbledon, he repeats as the Olympic gold medalist. If his fellow Scot Rory McIlroy can do it for golf, why can’t he follow with tennis?

RAFA? While losing six of six to Novak (all in the finals, including Wimbledon and the U.S. Open) were painful, the medicine that erased the hurt was winning the Davis Cup for Spain a few weeks back.

ROGER. Already 30 years old, he had the best finish this year, winning three straight indoor events, including a 6-3, 6-0 embarrassment of Rafa in London. Not bad for the daddy of twins Myla Rose and Charlene Riva.

Cebu City Marathon: Deadline of Registration

The date “January 8, 2012” is near. That’s the Sunday when thousands of runners — from all over the globe, including dozens and dozens of foreign visitors, some Kenyans and Ethiopians — will be participating in the all-awaited CCM.

Today, after over two months since the registration doors have opened, the booth at the Active Zone of Ayala Center Cebu will open for the last time. Today, December 15th, is the last day for registration.

www.cebumarathon.com

Hurry! In the same way that you hurry to the finish line, you’ve got to make sure to join this once-every-365-days event. The Cebu Marathon — jointly organized by the Cebu City government, ASAP Advertising, and the Cebu Executive Runners Club (CERC) — promises to be one of the most festive marathons in Cebu and our entire Philippine archipelago.

Timed exactly seven days prior to Sinulog, you run not alone but amidst a sea of Pit Señor paraphernalia: buntings flying above your head, drum beats deafening your ears, the images of the Señor Sto. Niño crowding the streets of Sugbo.

The Cebu Marathon is the Sinulog Marathon. It’s our very own. Plenty of freebies await the participants. For the brave 42K runners, a Suarez-made finisher’s medal with three mangoes will be laced around your neck once you reach the finish line. Why three mangoes? Because mangoes, obviously, are Cebu’s native and most popular fruit; and three mangoes because this is the third 42K CCM.

“This will be the last of the mango-medal series,” says race organizer Meyrick “Jacs” Jacalan, who personally designed the popular medals. Next year? The lechon medal? The otap design? Let’s see. But, for next month, it will be three mangoes.

All participants — 5K, 21K and 42K — will receive a New Balance sleeveless singlet. These can all be claimed during the Race Expo from January 4 to 6.

As bonus to the 21K and 42K participants, all who cross the finish line will be get Finishers Shirts. All for free. With the 5K run, this will have a brand-new route for 2012. Instead of the JY Square to UP Lahug route, thousands of runners will turn left from the Cebu I.T. Park then proceed to the Cebu Business Park. From there, they’ll run up Parklane Hotel, climb up Escario St., turn right towards Lahug then back to the Cebu I.T. Park. Register today!

To all those who have already enlisted themselves, visit the website, www.cebumarathon.com. Check if your name is officially on the list. It’s also a good opportunity to be reminded of the activities leading to the Sunday big event.

On January 6 — that’s two nights before — it’s the Pre-Race or Carbo-Loading Party. This will be held at the same sprawling and refreshing venue as the past two years: The Terraces of Ayala Center Cebu.

Speakers will provide last-minute tips. A band will perform. Final instructions will be explained. It’s also that all-exciting 36 hours prior to race day when fellow runners will converge to talk and swap stories.

From my own experience, having joined three 42K races (Hong Kong, Singapore and Quezon City), few moments in life are as bone-tingling and heart-pumping as the 48 hours leading to the race. You eat pasta. You relax your legs. You quiver with a mixture of anxiety and excitement. You prepare your gear. Your shoes are sleeping, ready for the 40,000 steps on the asphalt and cement roads.

I once asked Jesse Taborada, the former president of our organizing group, CERC, which was more difficult, the 42K marathon or the 50K/65K ultramarathon? “The 42K,” answered Jesse, a veteran of 11 marathons/ultramarathons, the most recent of which was the other Sunday’s Singapore Marathon. “With the ultramarathon, unless you’re an elite or competitive runner, there’s a lot of walking. There’s no time pressure. Not in the 42K. You’re pushing yourself. If you’ve got a previous 5:15 PR (personal record), you’re targeting a sub-5. That’s added pressure.”

To all who have registered… Godspeed. To all who have yet to enlist… hurry!

The Captain of the University of Champions (UC)

Three weeks ago, I stepped inside the office of Atty. Augusto Go. The room was spacious. Leather seats rested comfortably. Portraits of the young Gus Go decorated the walls. A 32-inch Samsung TV flashed images beside his cavernous, all-hardwood desk. Papers were stacked. Books adorned the cabinets.

Atty. Go was wearing his usual office attire: short-sleeves shirt. He was also wearing a smile. The reason? Plenty. His University of Cebu (UC) had just been declared, thanks to a heart-stopping Game 5 victory over the Southwestern University (SWU), the winners. UC was the University of Champions. Champions in the Cesafi last year, they repeated again this 2011 season.

“Basketball is important for UC,” said Atty. Go, a huge fan of the Los Angeles Lakers. “Basketball is the game that everyone follows.” But UC is not all basketball. One of the largest educational institutions in the country—in a few years’ time it will exceed 50,000 students—UC focuses not on one sport but on all sports.

That morning when we talked for nearly half an hour, his Arnis team members, gold medal winners in another major event, were waiting outside his office. Also standing outside his office lobby were tall trophies.

“Sports is important,” he said, “but education is even more important. We never compromise the studies of our students for sports.”

One example, he narrated, was when a foreign student was once “imported” by UC. A photo-op was taken inside Atty. Go’s office. It turns out, the handshake deal was not formalized because weeks after, that student revisited UC’s officials and asked for more money. He requested that UC match the higher “asking price” of another university.

“I said no,” Atty. Go explained. “We’re not in it for the money.” The player moved elsewhere.

Junemar Fajardo? The 6-foot-10 MVP who’s been the best Cebuano collegiate player the past two seasons? “He came to UC because of our Maritime program,” said Gus Go.

On their Maritime program, the UC owner was at his most excited. “I’m happy to say that UC is the biggest maritime school in the world that caters to foreign companies,” he said. “Each year, we have 15,000 applicants and we accept only 500 scholars per campus. With our four campuses, that’s 2,000 students. They get free tuition, uniforms and more. Plus, when they graduate, they’re eligible to get as much as $6,000 salary per month.”

I knew UC was huge. I also knew that UC excelled in maritime education. But it wasn’t until the first-hand explanation of the founder that I understood their impact.

“Thirty percent of the world’s seafarers are Filipinos,” he said. “By the end of the decade, that will increase to 50 percent.” Today, roughly $16 billion is pumped into the Philippine economy, thanks to our modern-day heroes, the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).

“John, would you believe,” said Atty. Go, “that out of the 12 million OFWs, only 500,000 are seafarers… yet they account for 30 percent of the entire $16 billion that enters our economy. That’s the financial impact of the seafarers.”

While speaking, Atty. Go was animated. Given that UC is the world’s biggest, you can imagine the impact he’s making to thousands of people’s lives. “Many who come to us are poor,” he said. “For them to be given full scholarships then work for very high paying jobs, that makes happy.”

Fulfilled. Yes. That’s the word I’d best describe Augusto Go. His work ethic, still reporting to the office daily and commanding his vast empire of schools and businesses, is outstanding. Best of all, I was amazed at his intellect and memory. He recited to me the names of every single foreign company that’s linked with UC. He even enumerated the names of the key officials who landed in Cebu to formalize deals with him. In business parlance, that’s being “hands-on.”

Like a ship commander, he steers the University of Captains.

(Note: Read my October 13, 2010 story about Gus Go here.)

2012: Year of the (Water Dragon) Triathlete

According to the Chinese Zodiac, next year will be the Year of the Dragon. It will run from January 23, 2012 until February 9, 2013. The exact name? Year of the Water Dragon. This terminology is fitting because in 2012, water will be the leading and predominant form of sporting events.

While running has blossomed into an every-Sunday event the past three years, another sport will become so popular that thousands will dive into this exercise. It’s called triathlon and it involves swimming, biking and running. Next year, an astounding two mega-triathlon events will happen in Cebu.

First, the XTERRA. This is the off-road version and will be held in Liloan. The Start/Finish line is at Amara with the race passing through Porter Marina and Papa Kit’s.     “Instead of one XTERRA race in March,” said race organizer Guy Concepcion of Sunrise Events Inc., in his email a few days ago, “it will be an XTERRA Weekend (trail run on March 17; XTERRA full distance triathlon and XTERRA Lite on March 18). The XTERRA Lite will not be a Maui qualifier. It is a shorter distance race to encourage mountain bikers who have not yet mastered swimming and/or running.”

XTERRA is not a Manila or national sporting brand—it’s a world-recognized event. Right here in Cebu. Added Guy: “This past September and October, Lance Armstrong joined the XTERRA USA Championship and the XTERRA World Championships as his first triathlon races in 20 years. As you may know, Lance Armstrong started off as a triathlete before focusing solely on cycling, and the rest is history. Imagine, of all the events he could join after retiring from cycling for good, he chose XTERRA. And he was quoted re: XTERRA:  ‘… it’s cool to come out here and test yourself, and also just support a sport that I think is really cool.’

Does this mean that, like Kobe Bryant and David Beckham arriving in Manila, the 7-time Tour de France champ, Mr. Armstrong, might land in Cebu this March? Abangan.

(Jim Urquhart/AP)

The second “Year of the (Water Dragon) Triathlon” event is the Ironman 70.3. Wow. This is overwhelming news. This is terrific for Cebu, painful for Camsur. This was the one event that made Camarines Sur popular. Now, after three years, it’s taken away from them. In August 5, 2012, it will be held in the cities of Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue and Cebu. The start/finish line is reportedly at the Shangri-La Resort and Spa in Mactan.

What does this mean? Many runners will swim. Many swimmers will bike. Many mountain-bikers will do road cycling. This is a tremendous victory for Cebu.

ACCIDENT. Dr. Raymund Bontol sent me this text message yesterday: “Good day, I have sad news. I was in an accident yesterday during my bike ride. A speeding motorcycle overtook me from behind and to my right side then hit me causing me to crash. My helmet and shades broke in two and I have stitches in my face and many abrasions in my hands and body. I did not lose consciousness and was immediately brought to the hospital by my mom.

“With God’s blessing, I am fine and healing. This made me open my eyes to the poor laws we have for road safety. The speeding motorcycle was said to be driven by a topless man and he was believed to be drunk. He had no helmet, too. If only our laws would be more strict regarding road safety then accidents would be less for us cyclists or pedestrians. We never caught the motorcycle because the witnesses helped me to get out of the road.”

The case of Dr. Bontol, a super-fit marathoner/triathlete, is not the first involving reckless motorcyclists. There have been thousands. Another almost similar accident involved a good friend last month. While biking near Carcar, a motorcycle driver made an unexpected U-turn that caused him to crash and be hospitalized.

“I hope we can impose better laws regarding road safety,” said Dr. Bontol. “Motorcycle drivers are sometimes disrespectful and to think they demand the same space as cars. And yet they can’t even respect pedestrians and cyclists.”

Raymond Garcia watches Manny

Over two weeks ago, we witnessed Rep. Pacquiao’s controversial win against Mr. Marquez. We saw it on TV.

Atty. Raymond Alvin Neri Garcia watched it live. He not only saw the actual scuffle, he also visited the pre-fight festivities at Vegas.

“I was amazed at the number of people attending the weigh-in,” said Atty. Garcia. “Capacity of MGM Grand is 15,000 and about 7,500 attended. I estimate about half were Filipinos. Free entrance.”

The fight itself? “I had to pay $1,300 for a ticket I bought two months before,” he said. “It was worth every penny considering it reached 12 rounds. Once in a lifetime experience which fulfills one item in my bucket-list.”

What made the battle very pro-Marquez was the crowd. “About 70 percent of those who watched were Mexicans. That’s why the punches of Marquez were highlighted; the diehard Mexicans would scream as he’d connect with each punch.. and you could hear the boos and ahhs when Manny was declared the victor.”

Two other highlights in Raymond’s trip. One, his visit to the Wild Card Gym the Tuesday after the fight. He got to interview Freddie Roach. “It was an ‘off night’ for Manny, Roach admitted. In his own words, Roach said: ‘They didn’t do too well.”

One more unforgettable experience: His meeting Mike Tyson. “He was in one of the restaurants at the MGM Hotel. He was having pictures and signing autographs. I queued up for a photo and interviewed him. Said Tyson: ‘Pacqiuao will win big time but as to what round, I can’t tell.’”

Atty. Raymond, now back in Cebu, visited his brother, Dr. Jerald Garcia, in Hawaii. He flew to Las Vegas then drove to California and stayed there for two weeks.

“I was with Mark Dy and his wife Davely,” he said. “Also there was Chris Go, the owner of Prince Warehouse, who is taking his Masters in San Francisco. A lot of Cebuanos toured me around including Ronnie Seno and wife Malu. I stayed with them in L.A. Other Cebuanos included Paul Miaga, dad’s (Alvin Garcia’s) protocol officer when he was mayor, and Jovi Cabigon, dad’s executive assistant.”

CITCI’s aces Ken Salimbangon and Nestor Toledo

There are thousands of tennis fanatics in our island of Cebu. Many watch Djokovic, Roger, Murray and Rafa on TV. Plenty, each morning or evening, step on the clay court to slice backhands, swing volleys and caress drop-shots. A rare few, like Ernie Delco, Marichu San Juan and Atan Guardo, have visited a Grand Slam tournament and seen, in the flesh, Serena and Venus. Many enjoy tennis.

But none compare to Ken Salimbangon and Nestor Toledo. These two are buddies. They’re parents of junior tennis players. They play tennis, too. But their biggest achievement: building a facility that is the first of its kind in our Central Visayas island:

Cebu International Tennis Centre, Inc. That’s the name. It’s located in Consolacion, just meters before the soon-to-rise SM Mall. Nicknamed “CITCI,” what’s in this venue? Eight tennis courts. That’s plenty. While most of our clubs here have one, two or, the most, three rectangles, CITCI boasts of four clay-courts and four hard-courts. This is major, major—times eight—good news for tennis lovers. Because in the past, especially for junior tournaments, while we’ve had to spread the venues to, for example, three locations (Cebu Country Club, Casino Español, and Baseline) just to accommodate the huge turnout of participants, this time, it’s just one site: CITCI.

“This is our dream realized,” said Ken Salimbangon, who plays singles almost each 5:30 A.M. “This is the venue that Cebu has longed for. And this is open for all Cebuanos.” Adds Nestor Toledo, a tennis buff who also runs the 42K: “We have clinics, tournaments and soon, a tennis academy. We’ll train young children and older adults—all types—from beginners to advanced.”

Ken and Nestor used to play at Sancase Tennis Club in Mabolo. Their children used to train at the every-weekend training camp. But when Sancase was closed down, they asked, “Where to?” They searched. After meeting with a group of tennis pros from Hong Kong and requesting for some used balls and racquets, they next met with the officials of the Municipality of Consolacion, led by Mayor Nene Alegado.

One first step led to another until Ken and Nestor were able to convince the Consolacion Tennis Club to allow them to help the facility. They refurbished the courts. They convinced Cebu’s top trainers to teach. And, best of all, they partnered with Hong Kong.

OTR stands for On The Rise. It’s a tennis academy famous in HK. OTR – Tennis Asia, led by its three founders—Graeme Foster, Adrian Montesinos and Jason Sankey—forged an agreement with Ken and Nestor. Together, they formed CITCI. Ken and Nestor took care of the court rehabilitation, the local coaches and the recruitment of players. The Hong Kong trio helped with the coaches training, donated balls and rackets, and raised funds for CITCI’s hard courts.

“We’ve sent over 250 rackets,” said Graeme. But much more than that, they raised over P2 million to help fund the blue-green-colored courts in CITCI.

I attended yesterday’s formal launching and the courts were impeccable. They’re neither too fast nor too slow.
PHL No.1 Johnny Arcilla attended. As the guest of honor together with Consolacion Vice Mayor Aurelio Damole, Johnny beat Hong Kong’s Jason Sankey in an exhibition match on Court No. 6.

CITCI is our version of Rizal Memorial in Manila. It’s our one-stop-shop facility where large tournaments can be organized. Training camps? No problem. CITCI’s seven full-time coaches—six of whom have been sent to OTR in Hong Kong for hands-on training—are in “ready, set, serve” mode.

Ken and Nestor have to be applauded. Faced with a problem (Sancase’s demise), they transformed it into an opportunity to realize a dream. Passion. Action. Love for children. Love for tennis. The spirit to pursue one’s dreams. All these Salimbangon and Toledo possess.

To the new Center Court of Cebu found in Consolacion, here’s to many aces, forehand winners, and backhand down-the-line shots. Who knows? A newborn Roger or Rafa might emerge in CITCI.

Yayoy and the rise of the Cobras

I had a lengthy phone conversation with Cebu City Councilor Raul Alcoseba yesterday. No, our talk did not delve into politics. And, no, I did not ask the three-term councilor if he’s eyeing a congressional seat in two years’ time.

We talked basketball. If you recall, Coach Yayoy joined the CESAFI tournament for the first time. He led the Cobras collegiate team of Southwestern University. In just his first season, he transformed a previously unrecognized SWU team into a title-contender.

What happened this 2011? SWU lost their first two games. At that point, the critics barked on Yayoy and his prediction of the Cobras biting and unleashing venom. Naysayers laughed. But, as each game and week and month progressed, the Cobras turned lethal. They won. At the end of the First Round, they had a positive win-loss record. In the Second Round, they swept the enemies to score 6-0. They beat UC. Then, in a twice-to-beat scenario against UV, they lost the first game. Finally, they rebounded and won the decider in a lopsided (and, yes, controversial) manner.

SWU faced UC in the finals. Again, they were down. Game 1 they lost. Game 2 they lost. Nobody had ever recovered from a 0-2 score-line. But, minute after minute, SWU recovered. They regained their confidence. They won Game 3. They won Game 4.

“This whole season,” said Coach Yayoy, “has been one of downs and ups for Southwestern. We were down in our opening two games. We came back. We were down against UV. We won. We were down 2-0 against UC.”

Win? Did SWU steal that victory, like a Pacquiao over Marquez, in Game 5? No. The fairy-tale ending did not happen. Still, what an amazing, roller-coaster-like, near-championship-victory for the Aznar-owned squad.

“As each game progressed,” said Alcoseba, “more and more fans went to watch SWU. We were not this popular before. Not until this year.”

The reason? “We’re the underdogs,” he said. That’s true. Don’t ordinary followers often gravitate towards cheering for the ones not expected to succeed?

UC is a giant. I’ve coined the nickname for them: University of Champions. They’ve been—and are—winners not only in basketball but everything from athletics to tennis to swimming to name-the-sport-and-UC’s-won-it. One of the Philippines’ largest schools (they’ll soon surpass 50,000 enrollees), UC is a behemoth in sports.

SWU? In volleyball and others, yes. But not in CESAFI basketball. Not until this 2011. Back to Game 5: SWU won it…. Almost.

With three minutes left in the season, they led. It evaporated. With Pao’s double three-pointers, it disappeared. “Inexperience,” Yayoy calls it.

Still, the season was a success. “The support of the SWU management was all-out,” said the coach. Specifically, Maris Johana Aznar Holopainen, the chairperson of the Board of Trustees; Annette Alfonso Almario, treasurer; Andrew Aznar, team manager; and, my good friend and an impassioned sportsman, SWU’s athletic director, Ryan Aznar.

One name also emerged in our phone conversation: Michel Lhuillier. Though not an owner of the team, thanks to his over 25 years of close ties with Mr. Alcoseba, M. Lhuillier supported the SWU team in many ways. The uniforms. Extra support when they reached the finals. And, most of all, Michel funded the TV coverage on SkyCable.

“Showing the games on TV was important,” said Alcoseba. “The Cebu Coliseum was over-capacity. More wanted to watch but could not be accommodated. The airing of the games gave plenty the chance to see this season.”

This season, of course, turned out to be one of the 11-year-old CESAFI league’s most enthralling. Both the high school and the collegiate finals reached the precipice—the Game 5 finale.

“Our season is not finished yet,” Alcoseba said. On Nov. 27, both UC and SWU will play in Ormoc. They’ll face the Mindanao and W. Visayas champions, respectively. If both win, they’ll meet again on Nov. 28. The winner? That team will represent Vis-Min in the Phil. Collegiate Champions League in Manila.

Game 6, UC v. SWU? Abangan.

Now we know: Pacman is not Superman

(Steve Marcus/Reuters)

Why do we feel so disappointed? First, our expectations were too high. KO by Round 3!!! Not farther than the 6th!! Round 10… the very, very latest!

Everybody anticipated a knockout. The bout wasn’t even about Manny winning or losing—that would have been a stupid question when you pit the world’s No. 1 against a “senior citizen.”

Prior to fight night, Manny was already declared the victor. The only question was, “Which round?” Anything less than a knockout—even a 12th round unanimous decision—would have been labeled a failure. Boy, were we shocked last Sunday!

We have been spoiled by Manny. We have grown accustomed to the machine-gun-like, rapid-fire, all-offensive barrage by MP. We saw how he trounced Oscar. We witnessed his mauling of Hatton. Margarito? Wasn’t his face bloody Mexican red? Same with Diaz? And Barrera? And everybody else since 2008? Yes, yes, yes, yes.

For with Manny, he has set the highest standards of pummeling and hammering and battering enemies. He has spoon-fed us, each time, with Michael Jordan-like performances.

He’s not Michael Jordan. He’s human. He doesn’t fly. He may be SuperManny but he’s no Superman.

Are these absurdly high expectations of Manny justified? Of course. He’s Ring Magazine’s P4P best. He’s the 10:1 favorite. He earns P1,300,000,000 per bout! You don’t pay someone that much gold without expecting the most golden of performances. And hasn’t Manny wowed us for over three years? Last weekend was his 15th straight win. Think about that. 15-0. That’s unheard of in this one-on-one, all-contact sport like boxing. You win some, lose some. Not Pacman. He wins and never loses.

He should have against Marquez. Conduct a survey among friends or boxing experts and the conclusion is similar: the judges were cross-eyed. Were they viewing a different game? Wasn’t it obvious?

This is what’s unique about boxing. I’ve said it before and I’ll print it again: Boxing is subjective. (The Olympics is worse; remember Onyok?) What my two eyes see is different from what you see… is different from what the front-row judges see.

But what we clearly saw was a different, almost-lousy Pacquiao. Here’s an interesting revelation: I don’t recall, even once, Manny connecting on a solid, powerful punch. Not once. For sure we’ll watch the replay but, based on recollection, there was not even one shot that staggered and wobbled Marquez. Right? Unbelievable. So un-Manny.

But, you know what? If you think back on his Mosley bout last May, didn’t we witness traces of the same? Manny then wasn’t impressive. Sure, Mosley backpedaled and ran the 42K inside the ring. But Manny was not the same aggressor as before. He did not assault and bombard Mosley.

Same with two days ago. He did not besiege J-M-M like he did Miguel Cotto. He did not jump and pounce on him. Yes, he bobbed left and right. Manny The Gladiator was left sitting in his Batasang Pambansa office. Instead, he was Manny The Tentative.

FLOYD. Which brings us to Mr. Mayweather. Is there a person who laughed and celebrated more than Floyd? The way he mauled Marquez in their September 2009 clash versus last weekend… you’d think Manny is no match against Money.

True. In fact, with that subpar showing, I’d declare that the No.1 pound-for-pound title be switched places… from Manny to Money. At least, for now.

Not that I like Mayweather. Everybody detests him. But against the same Mexican in the same weight, the American beats the Filipino. So, you can imagine the even-more-bloated ego of the already-egomaniac Floyd. Which brings us to a point that has circulated the rumor circles: Now that Floyd The Counterpuncher thinks he can easily beat Manny, will he say yes to May 2012?

Yes. And what a finale that would be for Pacquiao. Erasing the doubts of his loyalists, he reemerges for one final duel and silences the loudmouth. Then he retires. That will be a Michael Jordan moment.

Samsam: the same Gullas as Eddie, Dodong

Few Cebuanos possess the combination of humility, riches, stature, and longevity as the Gullas brothers, Eduardo and Jose “Dodong.”

One such successor is Gerald Anthony “Samsam” Gullas, the son of Didi and grandson of Rep. Eddie.

For the past three years, he’s been the team manager of the family-owned University of the Visayas basketball teams. His UV collegiate squad? Shocking to many, they lost. It was the second straight year that the 9-time CESAFI champions were defeated. The start of the end of the UV dynasty? Not so fast. Because in the high school division, the Baby Lancers emerged victorious, besting Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu in their Game 5 clash last Wednesday, 85-82.

Of that come-from-behind win, Samsam said: “I have to admit, when Sing hit three 3 pointers to end the 3rd quarter to make the Ateneo lead at 10, I wanted to get out of the coliseum. That is why I’m so proud of my boys. They persevered and truly showed what a Visayanian is all about. We fight when the odds are greatest, and when their team manager started to quit, the Baby Lancers didn’t. When I thought it was all over, they showed poise. Truly one of the best feelings in the world. It also helps that this is the first high school championship under my watch.”

UV was not expected to win the gold. Ateneo and CEC were the favorites. “We came in as the underdogs which makes this championship sweeter,” said Samsam. “Just like my Papa Eddie, I always root for the underdog. So to see the Baby Lancers overcome all the odds, makes this the best championship I’ve been a part of, including the college level.”

As to his UV college team, who was criticized when, in their last game against SWU, the players resorted to dirty tactics, Samsam exhibits the trademark Gullas humility: “For the record, I am not proud of what they did. It was uncalled for and it is not the morals, values and principles we teach our students at UV. The game against SWU must be the lowest point since I took over as team manager; that is why we suspended our players and in behalf of the university we are very sorry to everyone. As happy as I am for the success for our high school team, this cannot overshadow what happened. That is how much we regret what happened.”

Basketball dribbles like the heartbeat of the 26-year-old Gullas. He plays almost daily, practicing with his varsity teams (“pugong sa edad,” he says). He counts on James Yap and Mark Caquiao as his PBA idols. NBA? Kobe B.

But they pale in comparison to his true idol, the man we simply call “Eddiegul.”

“I’ve been with Papa Eddie since I was three months old,” he said. “Ever since, I have been living with the best role model I could hope for. But as much as I try to be like him, that’s impossible. Papa Eddie is the most amazing and remarkable guy I know; he’s incomparable. He’s the type of guy that comes every 1000 years. Even with all he has accomplished, he still is the most humble guy I know. That’s one in a million nowadays. He’s my idol, my mentor, my life, my inspiration, my grandfather and my everything all rolled into one.”

Does his grandpa teach him basketball tips? “Papa Eddie is old school. He hates the isolation and one-on-one plays that NBA and PBA teams run today. So every time ‘mag binuhaya ko,’ he always tells me, ‘The ring is not your teammate Sam, why do you keep on passing to him?’ Papa Eddie always calls me a ‘points guard,’ not a point guard. So if ever there’s something he tells me to do more often, it’s pass the ball. Haha.”

As to UV college and their quest to reclaim from UC the trophy? “It’s all about recruitment, recruitment, recruitment,” he said. They need to tap more contacts in Mindanao and Luzon. “The good thing is, after everything that has happened this year, the UV administration has given their full support. I believe we will have a good year coming. Let me correct that, I know we have a good year ahead of us!”

Finally, with my last query… Samsam’s reply: “Pacquiao in less than 3 rounds.”

Pacquiao loses; UC is the Univ. of Champions

No, the above-mentioned title is not a premonition of this Sunday morning’s bout. It’s about a Mr. Pacquiao who, despite being the best, came up short.

The game transpired two nights ago. It was the finale Game 5 between the Southwestern University and the University of Cebu. The title: collegiate men’s basketball champion of the CESAFI.

Pacquiao, first-named Rene, was the top-scorer of the SWU Cobras. He contributed 19 points. In the previous Game 4, he again scored the most: 15.

Last Tuesday night at the Cebu Coliseum, with 150 seconds left in the ballgame, Pacquiao drilled a long jump shot to even the score, 54-all. But while the SWU fans screamed and fist-pumped, that was to be their team’s last point of the year 2011.

Edward Pao, in a sideways, awkward jumping position, hurled the leather ball from beyond the 3-point line and, swoosh, it mercilessly entered. Score: 57-54. Ball possessions exchanged and, in the end, UC were declared the 2011 champions. The final tally: 60-54.

Painful. I watched the Cobra fans shout their loudest. Though UC is owned by Atty. Gus Go who, in turn, owns Cebu Coliseum, the spectators cheered louder for SWU. Maybe because they were the underdogs and nobody expected them to be near victory.

SWU was so near victory. With 3:49 left in the game, they led 51-47. With less than three minutes to go, the Cobras led, 52-49. Yes! With less than 180 seconds remaining in the entire CESAFI season, SWU led by three….

But, never mind the lead. Never mind the loud cheering… “LET’S GO COBRAS, LET’S GO!” “D-FENSE!” “GO, PACQUIAO!” (One placard even read: “Pacquiao: Pang Las Vegas ang move mo!”)

With each tick of the clock moving closer to an SWU win, my thoughts returned to last year. Remember the improbable victory of Cebu Eastern College? When CEC was beaten by over 100 points in the previous season and returned to win the 2010 title?

I thought SWU would achieve the same. Never-before-winners until the entry of Cebu’s best ever, Coach Yayoy A.—and down 0-2 to the defending champions—was this going to be another Yahoo! moment for Cebu basketball?

In the end, it wasn’t to be. As Councilor Alcoseba relayed to me in our talk last week, his team’s problem was this: they could not finish off the lead. Sadly, he was proven right again. The veterans won. In the end, the Cobras could not unleash their venom.

Junemar Fajardo, whom I saw held scoreless in the 3rd quarter, scored 12 points (of his total 23) in the 4th quarter.

But it was Edward Pao’s two 3-pointers in the last minutes that provided the season-ending heroics.

Coach Yayoy Alcoseba, whom I saw after the game when he climbed the stairs heading towards their dugout, was mad. He and his team were so close… yet lost the grip in the final seconds. “I told them to guard Pao!” he said. “I told them to forget Fajardo in the end… to guard Pao and not let him shoot!” His boys did not follow. UC wins.

The crowd? Unbelievable. I’ve never seen a more boisterous and tighter-packed Cebu Coliseum.

Mayor Mike Rama—unknowingly and without malice, wore yellow, the color of the eventual winning team—was seated at ringside. But, on plenty of occasions, the mayor stood up, walked to the crowd, requested them to push back. He took the microphone once and mandated: If the overflowing crowd does not clear the sidelines, the game will stop.

VIP section spectators all stood up. Yellow and red long balloons danced. Drums shook the derelict stadium. The atmosphere was tense and electrifying; the crowd engulfed the rectangle floor. On a few occasions, the free-throw shooter was requested to pause because fans overcrowded and climbed the back of the goal post. It shook the ring.

UC? While I nicknamed UV, during their 9-year reign, as the University of Victory, it’s time to entitle UC, whose giant population exceeds 44,000, as the University of Champions.

SWU? Sayang. Winners. Unta.

Pacquiao? Don’t worry. He’ll win this Sunday.

Live at the Hoops Dome: Petron v. Alaska

Never mind the torrential rain and the bumper-to-bumper traffic last Saturday night heading towards the old Mactan Bridge, I traversed the main island and hopped towards Lapu-Lapu City.

The destination? Hoops Dome. The occasion? “Fuel” against “Milk” when the Petron Turbo Blaze Boosters faced the Alaska Aces.

Entering the 8,000-seater Hoops Dome right before the end of the First Quarter, the entire arena was filled. It was bumper-to-bumper seating. The fully-air-conditioned stadium was cool and warm. It wasn’t Cebu Coliseum-warm; yet, because of the jampacked setting, it wasn’t as cold as the SM Cinemas.

Alaska and Petron are two of the league’s most famous teams. The 25-year-old squad named Alaska, owned by the Uytengsus of Cebu, is the owner of 13 PBA championships—including a rare 1996 Grand Slam. Recently, the Aces were made famous by the abrupt departure of Coach Tim Cone, who’s led his men for the last 22 years (he still had years left in his contract before he moved to B-Meg Llamados). Shocking? Absolutely.

Petron? They’re the reigning champs. In the last conference, they were underdogs against Talk ‘N Text. Aiming for a Grand Slam, TNT was denied the feat by Petron and Coach Ato Agustin.

Last Saturday, what made the battle a must-watch was because this was a bearing game. Unlike previous exhibitions, when players wouldn’t jump their highest, this time, it was for real. Petron was on a three-game losing streak; Alaska lost five of their first six games. A Cebu victory was all-important.

What happened? Arwind Santos of Petron was unstoppable. The Mark Magsumbol lookalike reaffirmed his MVP status; he’s lanky, quick, confident, well-rounded. I call him Spiderman. He pivots. He blocks shots. He fires the bulls-eye on that three-pointer. He’s the best man on the parquet floor.

I liked LA Tenorio of Alaska. Diminutive at 5-foot-8 (compared to the 6’8” Jay-R Reyes), he would sprint from baseline to baseline looking like Ronnie Magsanoc. My only complaint? He’s not offensive. Not until the last few minutes did he shoot. Yes, a point guard’s first role is to pass—but when you’re a spitfire like LA, you’ve got to contribute.

By half-time, Alaska led, 44-43. Yes. I hoped they’d win. But, it wasn’t to be. The entire second half was Petron’s.

Joseph Yeo scored 27 points. Like Tenorio, he’s from La Salle. Eric Salamat, a hero of Ateneo, played for Alaska.

The problem with Alaska is this: nobody wants to shoot. When they neared 80-82 with less than two minutes to play, nobody wanted the ball. Lack of confidence—that’s it. It was unlike Petron who had too many options: Yeo, Santos, Miranda, Ildefonso, Cabagnot.

Alaska? Sonny Thoss was productive during the first half. Tall at 6-foot-7 (I thought he was Greg Slaughter, with the same looks, build, moves), he could have been their superstar. Could have been… because he faded. While he top-scored with 19, he could have exceeded 30.

Highlights? The one that excites the crowd most comes in-between plays. It’s the teasers. One is when a gift item is hurled towards the crowd via a slingshot. The spectators go on a frenzy. Another was a man who was blindfolded and given a ball to shoot. As expected, he missed and missed as Cebuanos laughed and laughed. One more was when two men played tug-of-war. Each was given a ball and, opposite each other, they’d push forward, trying to draw closer to their goal so they can shoot. It was fun.

The only “dark” episode happened with 7:46 left in the 4th quarter. That’s when, amidst the blazing lights and reverberating music, all of a sudden… there was a blackout. It lasted about five minutes. Boos filled the dome. Cellphone lights flickered. This was, of course, a live TV5 telecast game. Oh no, we gasped. “There was a trip-off because of the additional ceiling lights,” Councilor Harry Radaza later explained. Nothing to worry, the lights switched on but not before a fan shouted, “Gituyo sa Alaska kay pildi na sila!” With the game on, Petron cruised to milk Alaska, 86-80.

Before Floyd, Manny will destroy J. Manuel

Seven mornings from today, traffic will halt. TV sets will be switched to full volume. Church masses at 11 A.M. will suffer few attendees. The crime rate? Down to zero. Movie theaters, previously empty before noon, will suffocate with viewers. The booze, San Mig Light, will ooze. Pigs will be slaughtered by the tens of thousands as lechon sales hit record numbers. Pinoys in America, many of them our cousins, will bond, laugh and congregate in reunions.

Hotels and bars will plant large screens and be smothered by spectators. Paris Hilton will watch. So will LeBron and Kobe. Surely, the Boston Celtics team, all friends of his and now in one-season-retirement, will cheer-on their Far East friend. Barack Obama, whose photo at the White House with Jinkee we’re still awaiting to see, might watch. He said so when the Os and the Ps met at the Oval Office.

Floyd Mayweather, Jr.? Of course. Only this time, he’ll salivate at the thought that, yes, had he agreed, it could have been him in Vegas facing our Manny.

Is it true? The May 5 date—the birthday of Salven Lagumbay—proposed by Mayweather as his fight night with Pacquiao? Ha-ha. We’ve heard this before. Loud mouth talks fast, dirty, nonsense. True. His mouth fires as fast as his fists. Do we believe his newest concoction?

No. It’s a way to steal some attention from Nov. 12, 2011. You know how Floyd covets adulation. When he’s not on the ring, he’ll create noise and uproar to channel the spotlight on him.

“Same old bull…” Bob Arum said. “The way they are going about it seems like a bizarre way to go about it. If you want to put it together, you meet, you talk. You don’t just come out and say, ‘The fight is May 5 at the MGM.’ What kind of negotiation is that? So I don’t take what they said seriously.”

Seriously, Floyd’s a joke. How about the suggestion of joker Jimmy Kimmel, whose “Jimmy Kimmel Live” show Mr. Pacquiao has visited, like a habit, in his last five pre-fight encounters? His proposal: Winner take all.

When asked if this was feasible, Manny answered, “I don’t think he will do it.”

What about you? Kimmel asked.

“Of course,” Manny said.

Fabulous idea, winner-take-all. That will add to the suspense and hype. Imagine our scare? And the anxiety of Floyd? The champ wins $75,000,000 and the loser… 0… 0… 0.

That might be a first. And won’t this gravitate this contest to the Greatest Ever of Sporting Events… besting “Thrilla In Manila?”

But first, before any thoughts of the 5/5/2012 extravaganza, the focus is on next Sunday. If you recall, Pacman will be aiming for his 15th straight victory. His overall record is 53 wins, 2 draws, 3 losses. The last time he lost was in March 2005 against his fellow SMB endorser, Erik Morales.

Against Juan Manuel Marquez in their Trilogy next weekend, everybody assumes a Pacquaio victory. This is the burden of the champ. A victory by Marquez is implausible. Have you heard of anyone, apart from the Mexican’s camp, suggesting that the 38-year-old will win? Nada.

“You could see fire in his eyes,” reported Manny’s coach of 11 years, Freddie Roach. How motivated is Manny? A first in all his training camps, he’s only had a day off to rest two times. Yes. In eight weeks of brutal punishment, Roach reports that his man has rested only two days.

Overtraining? Peaking too soon? And no controversies! Nah. It reminds me of the late Steve Jobs’ commencement address in Stanford. His main theme: “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.” Pacquiao has forever stayed hungry (and, yes, foolish). His “Congressman” title did not force him to relax on the boxing mitts. His P388 million home in Forbes Park was left unused because he had to train in Baguio and L.A.

Roach adds that he’s never seen Manny train like this before. (Yes, we do hear this in every pre-fight.) “Not even when he was preparing to fight Oscar de la Hoya,” confided the 51-year-old Roach.   All this translates to a quick, lopsided, one-dimensional, as-usual, yes-we’ve-seen-this-before victory by our Pinoy. I can’t wait… For the lechon.

Weep? No, says Yayoy, as UC attempts a sweep

Never before in the 10-year-old history of the Cebu Schools Association Foundation, Inc. (CESAFI) has a team come from 0-2 down in the finals to win. Not in 2001 when the league started. Not last year when the University of Cebu (UC) won the basketball collegiate crown for the first time. Not when UV — the University of the Visayas — won for the first nine seasons of the CESAFI.

Yayoy Alcoseba will change history beginning today.

“One game at a time,” said Alcoseba. “Before we can think of a full comeback, we’ll have to win today. That’s our goal. We can only think about winning a second and a third game if we win today.”

Raul Alcoseba is not acknowledged as the most successful coach — possibly of any sport ever in Cebu — for nothing. He’s won for M. Lhuillier a thousand times. He’s won for Balls. For Cebu Doctors a long while back. For ML Kwarta Padala. For many more teams and schools in the past decades.

Can Yayoy do it again with Southwestern University? Today? Win Game 3 against the behemoth named June Mar Fajardo? And win again in Game 4? Then once more in Game 5? This is impossible. It seems inconceivable. But the most trusted man of Michel Lhuillier has always been challenged by the most challenging of events.

Today’s Game 3 is such a challenge. “In the first two games of the finals,” Yayoy said, “we almost won. In Game 1, we had a chance. In Game 2, we had another chance but lost in overtime.”

That’s true. It’s not like SWU has been clobbered by UC. In last Monday’s Game 2, they should have won. With 160 seconds left in the ballgame, his SWU Cobras led the Webmasters, 73-70. They had ball possession. A two-pointer would have given them an insurmountable five-point advantage.

But, no. They made mistake after mistake. Justin Aboude was called for traveling. In their next possession, they were called for a 24-second violation. Inexperience. That’s what Yayoy calls it.

“UC has been in the finals three straight years,” he said. “In their first finals, they lost to UV. Last year, they won it. This season, they’re in the finals again. It shows. They have composure in the end.”

SWU has to play like they’ve got no tomorrow. Which is true. If, tonight at 6:45, when the two teams clash at the Cebu Coliseum, SWU once more loses, that’s it. There’s no tomorrow. They have to give it everything they’ve got — plus, plus.

“It’s the first time our players are in the finals,” said Yayoy. “We’ve had chances. We just can’t close out the games.”

Fajardo? The nearly-seven-foot-tall center who will surely be in the PBA soon?

“We cannot stop Fajardo,” he said. “What we need to do is to stop the three guards of UC. In Game 2, each of the three guards scored double-figures. We can’t win if that happens again. We have to stop that.”

The Cebu City Councilor, who’s been coaching the M. Lhuillier team for 25 years now, has never been 0-2 down. In fact, quite interesting to report it, the veteran coach has never, ever before been part of a three-out-of-five series.

“The CESAFI series is unique,” Yayoy said. “If you study the other leagues, they’re all either a two-out-of-three or a best-of-seven series. The NBA and the PBA are best-of-seven; the UAAP, NCAA and Liga are all best-of-three. It’s only the CESAFI that’s best-of-five.”

So, Yayoy has never been in this situation before. Never been 0-2 down. Never been with a youthful team in a three-out-of-five scenario.

Maybe, just maybe, if his Cobras win tonight… and, miraculously, again the next game… they might win it all. Won’t that be for the storybooks? Like CEC’s fairytale championship win last season? Amazing, if it happens.

But for Mr. Fajardo and his Team UC, that will be a tall, tall, giant, giant order.

After UV’s tumble, SWU faces giant UC

The NBA is headed for a year-long stoppage. This is sad. It’s also reflective of the American society today: it’s broken, in particular, the U.S. politics. Look at the Republicans and the Democrats. The No.1 goal of the GOP party is simple: Ensure that Pres. Barack Obama becomes an ordinary citizen by 2013. Never mind the failing economy—it’s all politics. And we thought our Mike/Gwen vs. Tommy fight is bad? Look at America.

It’s the same with the NBA. The two sides—the players and the owners—can’t agree. No one will budge. The key word, “compromise,” has been compromised.

I spoke to John Domingo, a good friend who now calls himself “Cebuano” more than “American,” about the divisiveness in the once glorious U.S.A. and he admits it. That’s why he loves Cebu. The politics and gridlock are possibly at its all-time worst there.

With the NBA, everyone suffers if the season is cancelled. The fans. The workers at the stadiums. This certainly won’t help the U.S. economy. Plus, the league’s prestige will get tarnished.

MLB. Since basketball and the NBA are nearly gone… the American sporting populace has turned to its traditional game… baseball.

The St. Louis Cardinals are the World Series champions. They weren’t supposed to be the last-game winners. In Game 6 against the Texas Rangers, they were one out away from defeat. Not once—but twice. And, both times, they escaped. That was two days ago.

Today, they’re smiling the widest of grins. Their famous coach, Tony La Russa, entrusted the pitching to a 6-foot-6 behemoth named Chris Carpenter who, at the old age of 36, previously missed entire seasons because of shoulder and elbow injuries.

The World Series MVP? David Freese. He hails from St. Louis—so the fans know him and cheered him loudly. In Game 6, he smacked the ball en route to a two-run triple in the 9th inning when his Cardinals were down to the final strike. Then, in the 11th inning, he delivered a home run to win the game for his hometown.

I’m sure Jesse Bernad watched every game and would consider this one of the best battles in a long time.

UV. When this team won nine straight Cesafi titles in collegiate basketball, I nicknamed them the “University of Victory.” That’s because UV—the University of the Visayas—was unbeaten since the 2001 start of the Cesafi until their reign was stopped last year by UC.

Now comes the ugly part.

Mike Limpag has written about it. So has Atty. Frank Malilong, a lifelong basketball and UV fan.

What the UV players did in their final game against Southwestern University (SWU) was unsportsmanlike and appalling. It was foul. Down by as much as 20 points, they turned sore losers. They complained about the refereeing. Elbows were shoved. They could not accept the reality that, for the first time, they’d be ousted in the semifinals. They were.

I agree with Frank. The next-day request for forgiveness and repudiation of its players by Sam-Sam Gullas, the owner/team manager of UV, was classic Gullas. He has the Gullas bloodline running through his arteries and the Gullas sense of humility and fair play beating in his heart.

As to SWU, again, our thunderous applause to Raul Alcoseba, their head coach who, in his first season with Cesafi—like he does in any league or event that he joins—immediately caused a winning shock.

UC or SWU? They played last night. With Junemar Fajardo still towering over the Gus Go-owned institution that’s one of the biggest in the nation, it’s hard to not bet for UC. But, remember this: their lone loss was against the Aznar-owned team. And with Yayoy calling the tactics from the SWU sidelines, that’s an intimidating figure.

CCM: ‘Feel the beat, get on your feet’

While the Spooktacular (Run For Your Life!) Race this Friday night will have runners, literally, running scared, and while the annual Citigym Half Marathon is popular because of the 21K, a much bigger event looms just barely two months away: The 2012 Cebu City Marathon.

The reason? The 42.195 km. distance. “I’ll run a 5K marathon this Sunday,” many often say. But that’s incorrect. Because a 5K Run, though enjoyable (like the Tribute Run for Melinda) is not a marathon. There is only one marathon distance and that’s 42,195 meters.

That event is happening on Jan. 8, 2012. New Balance singlets await the participants. Live, Sinulog-type entertainment will excite the runners. Water stations will flood the streets every 1.5 kms. Cheerers will shout. CITOM personnel will close the South Road Properties. A Carbo-loading Party will provide a feast for all at the Ayala Center Cebu.

Register now. If you’re got a credit card and can get online, enlist now. The rates are less expensive (compared to Nov. 20, when the “Late Registration Fees” begin). The distances are similar to the past two years: 5K, 21K, and 42K. The routes for the half-marathon and marathon will be the same as last Jan. 2011. Start and finish at the Cebu IT Park. Runners pass through Osmeña Blvd. en route to the SRP. The 5K route will be new—and to be announced at the press conference on Thursday.

What makes this race different is the timing. It’s held seven mornings before one of Asia’s loudest of parties: the Sinulog. Thus, the air is littered with confetti, the streets are lined with buntings; drum-beating music will deafen our eardrums. Our theme: “Feel The Beat. Get On Your Feet!” Find out more at www.CebuMarathon.com.

CITCI. Ken Salimbangon and Nestor Toledo comprise the one-two doubles tandem who organized the Cebu International Tennis Centre Inc.

Nicknamed CITCI and located in Laray, Consolacion, it is the only facility in this island that is home to 10 tennis courts. Yes, you read it right. Not two or four or six—but five clay-courts plus five hard-courts.

This Friday to Sunday, Oct. 28 to 30, Ken and Nestor are helping organize the 18th leg of the Cebuana Lhuillier Age Group Championship at CITCI. Open to players aged 18 years old and younger (some as young as six years old!), the event is Philta-sanctioned and many prizes await the winners. Registration fee is P300 and the deadline is this Thursday. Call now: 0922358845, 5144379 or 09229488739.

PACMAN. The Nonito Donaire fight was boring? Who said so? Not when “Manuel” Pacquiao entered the arena three nights ago. Yes. That’s “Manuel,” not Manny. The Pacquiao lookalike, who’s reportedly an airport worker from Houston, Texas, entered the stadium and had everyone snapping their flash photos.

Who was he? His name is Allan Rivera Manuel.

Wrote Larry Brown of Larry Brown Sports: “He fooled fans, security, and ushers as he walked through Madison Square Garden. It’s easy to see why—he looks exactly like Manny Pacquiao…

“Manuel is such a big fan of Manny, that he decided to make a second career of impersonating the boxer. He got a similar tattoo on his left pectoral muscle, got the same earrings, the same hair, and the same mustache and goatee. He began working out so he would have a similar build to the boxer, and he can even talk and sing like Pac Man. Manuel Pacquiao causes a scene wherever he goes, and he even had to bring bodyguards when he traveled to Las Vegas for Manny’s May fight against Shane Mosley. He really seems to enjoy all the attention, even though he makes it clear to fans that he is not the real Pacquiao.”

HOOPS DOME. I spoke to Councilor Harry Radaza two nights ago. In preparation for the Nov. 5 PBA game (not the usual exhibition but a ‘bearing’ game) between Petron and Alaska, the City of Lapu-Lapu has installed more ceiling lights. This NBA-like arena, the only one in our province, has become even more NBA-like. Looking forward to next Saturday’s Blaze Boosters vs. Aces contest at the Hoops Dome.