Monthly Archives: October 2011

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.

Ahas snakes past the Mexican in Bacolod

Boxing is subjective. It’s unlike soccer where a 1-0 score is counted when the ball whisks past a goalkeeper. It’s different from the 100-meter dash when a Usain Bolt extends his chest, clips the tape, and raises his Jamaican hands in a WR time of 9.58 seconds.

In boxing, unless one man doesn’t stand after 10 seconds or unless a white towel is thrown by a corner-man, it’s decided by people. It’s subjective.

Last Saturday night, I watched the Donnie Nietes vs. Ramon Garcia Hirales clash. I wasn’t inside SM City’s Cinema 7 or watching at home via PPV. I was, literally, eight feet away from the ring. Beside me were Meyrick Jacalan, Salven Lagumbay, Edward Ligas and Mrs. Lou Pastrano Aldeguer, the wife of the man whose initials bear this event, ALA. We were at ringside. Front row.

I’ll be honest. I thought Nietes lost. Though I did not keep a round-by-round scorecard, my general sentiment was that the Mexican won. Maybe because I summarized the fight as one whole movie—not scoring per 3 minutes—and based my gut feel on Donnie’s exhausted and worrying state from Rounds 6 to 10.

When the judges’ scores were being read, I was standing beside the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) chairman, Monico Puentevella. After the announcer said, “The winner by unanimous decision… and THE NEW…,” I looked at Monico and we both expressed puzzled faces. Slowly, we started to clap.

Of course, many disagreed with me. Talking to Sylvan Jakosalem by phone upon exiting the La Salle compound, Jack (who was together with my dad Bunny and Jingo Quijano here in Cebu) was sure it was the Bacolod native who won in Bacolod. “Garcia missed a lot while Nietes was very accurate,” he said.

Speaking to others after the fight, several arrived at this conclusion: Rounds 1 to 5 were for Donnie; 6 to 10 were for the opponent; 11 and 12 went for Donnie.

Which brings me to the judges. Of the three, it was the Pinoy who was the fairest. He scored it 115-113. The man who’s supposed to be biased was the most impartial. This is laudable. As to the two other (American) judges, their 118-110 and 117-111 scores were unbelievable. What kind of batchoy did they eat?

BACOLOD. The crowd in the City of Smiles is not as vocal or “bugal-bugalon” as the Cebuanos.

TUMBAHA! BIRAHI, NIETES! ATAKIHA!! PIRDIHA! SULUNGA!!!

Knock him out! Hit him! Attack! Beat him! Charge! Those were the many shouts I overheard. Still, they’re not as blunt (no booing) as us, Bisdaks.

What I enjoyed most about the battle? Rounds 1 to 5. “This is the best fight I’ve seen live,” I told Jacs Jacalan, seated to my left. It was. The key word “was.”

Because sadly, after Donnie was spanked by a head butt on his right forehead, he languished. He wilted under the relentless attacks of Garcia. He back-tracked. His legs wobbled. His knees were bent. Donnie’s face, in those rounds 6 to 10, looked distressed. This was unlike the Mexican’s which hardly a scar.

I know TV viewers have the benefit of up-close coverage and slow-motion replays, but nothing beats live action—especially if you’re a few feet away.

You inhale the sounds of body blows punched. You see red blood flowing, as we did in another head butt inflicted on Donnie. You notice the slippery blue surface. You hear the Spanish screams of Team Mexico. And, best, you get showered by cold water and, at times, spitting—like we were close to being sprinkled, sitting behind Garcia’s corner.

In the end, what made Nietes victorious was The End. These were rounds 11 and 12. No one will dispute that these belonged to the former janitor from Murcia. The crowd, sensing that their province-mate was softening, shouted, “NYE-TES! NYE-TES! DO-NI!”

In an I’ll-give-it-my-all-bahala-na 11th Round moment, Donnie unleashed a blitz of bombs and strikes that revitalized his wilting body. We stood. Donnie stood. We clapped. Donnie walloped. Bacolod’s snake, trampled upon and diluted of strength, bit back and spewed its Ilonggo venom.

Donnie, AJ and the Masskara

BACOLOD CITY—This place where I spent my life’s first 14 years, commonly known as “The City of Smiles,” has a different nickname for me today: “The City of Ma-namit na Pagkaon (Good Food).”

Savor the Sate Babi at Bob’s. Munch on the pecho and atay at Chicken House. Salivate at Calea’s sinful desserts. There’s Aboy’s, where fresh fish squirm, ready to be gobbled upon. Pendy’s awaits hungry men while Kaisei’s fresh salmon is dying to be devoured. Bacolod is a city with a plateful of gourmet choices. Consider our itinerary here yesterday:

Jasmin and I arrived at 7:40 A.M., in the same AirPhils flight with Nia Durano Aldeguer, the wife of Chris. Also with us were Carmel Durano and Cathy Tesoro. Upon arrival at the Silay City airport, we zoomed straight for Batchoy at 21 Restaurant, where a bowl of soup, noodles and floating “utok” (bone marrow) awaited our stomachs. By noon, it was at Bob’s. Calea was next.

But we’re not here simply to gorge on food. Because while our taste buds feasted, our eyes were all-enlarged, ready for WBO’s brawl between Cebu and Mexico. All around Bacolod, the buzz here is about their native boy, Donnie. Posters adorned the airport. Billboards paraded the wide roads of Negros. At the L’Fisher Hotel, a life-size photo of AJ Banal stood at the lobby. Inside the SM City-Bacolod, where the weigh-in and public appearances were held, posters littered the mall. The taxi driver I spoke to boasted about his city’s World Championship hosting.

Bacolod, also known in Wikipedia as the “Football City of the Philippines,” is proud of boxing. Bacolod takes pride in this 9th Pinoy Pride. Bidoy Aldeguer, whose initials read “ALA” (Antonio Lopez A.) hails from Bacolod. He studied in La Salle. And that’s a major reason why this rumble is held in this Negros Occidental jungle.

La Salle? That green-colored school was my alma matter from Grade One until First Year High School. That’s eight years. I visited the University of St. La Salle campus yesterday. This was at 11 A.M. Since the front door was locked, I crept down the back door and entered the cavernous gymnasium where Nietes vs. Garcia fought last night. The La Salle Gym holds unbelievable memories for me. It was here where I played countless basketball games until Grade 7—including game-winning shots in the final seconds of championship games.

Yesterday morning, the La Salle Gymnasium was all-ready. The square boxing ring stood elevated at the center. Red carpet covered the parquet floors. Black plastic chairs sat unattended, awaiting the buttocks of their customers. The music of the Black Eyed Peas… “tonight’s gonna be a good night…” blasted from the coliseum’s speakers. I saw Dennis Cañete. The senior official of ALA Promotions, Dennis observed every corner of his performance area. “We’ve been ready for weeks,” said Dennis. “We can’t wait for tonight.”

“Tonight,” of course, was last night. What makes Pinoy Pride IX even more thrilling here is Bacolod’s festival, the Masskara. It’s happening now. This is their version of the Sinulog and, like ours, there’s plenty of celebration: Ilonggos dance and party, beer this Octoberfest is overflowing and, everywhere, you see masks (“Masskara”) of all colors and designs that decorate this city. Boxing + Masskara = bang-bang.

Here’s an interesting footnote: Just like the fight between Manny Pacquaio-Juan Manuel Marquez and the UFC this November 12, when both mega-events are happening on the same evening in America, it’s similar in Bacolod. Last night, October 8, apart from Nietes-Garcia, it was the Tribal Brawl. In its flyer, it states: “Powered by the Universal Reality Combat Championship (URCC), this is the Bold & Raw Amateur Warriors League.” It was the quarterfinals at the SM City-Bacolod. Last night. Same night. URCC vs. PP9. Amazing coincidence, right?

Ateneo Seeks 4th Straight Win Vs LaSalle in Golfest

Written by Atty. Jovi Neri

With the Ateneo community still on a high from their epic UAAP basketball win, they now look to add icing to their celebrations with a win against arch-rival LaSalle in the 10th Ateneo LaSalle Golf Classic to be held on Saturday, October 8 in the Club Filipino Golf Course in Danao City.

The participants who hail from either Jesuit or Christian Brothers’ schools are automatically part of the team event, with the players winning points for their respective schools based on their performance in their classes.

The classes based on handicaps are: A (0-11), B (12-18), C (19-up), and Open for those without certified handicaps.  Each class, except for the Open, will have a lowest gross winner who will earn 10 points for the school. There will also be 3 net winners per class winning 8, 6, and 4 points for their schools.  The winners of the Open Class will be determined by the System 36 format.

A total of 102 points will be at stake and the school that scores 52 or more wins the cup.  Ateneo is gunning for their third straight win after dropping their only meet with LaSalle in 2008.  Ateneo has traditionally had the stronger team thanks to the population of the Sacred Heart Jesuit alumni who are mostly Cebu-based and by default play for Ateneo.

However, this year will be an intriguing matchup since the tournament is having a new venue so there is less familiarity with the course.  Officials of both sides have been frantically calling alumni to participate to increase their chances of victory.

Apart from the two schools going at it, there is also a guest division instituted for the first time this year.  Those who did not hail from either school are still invited to join where there will be lowest gross and also multiple net winners for their class.

The tournament is presented by Cebu Landmasters Corporation. Other sponsors are: Smart Communications, Monterazzas De Cebu, Hapee, Skygo,  Radisson Blu, Plantation Bay,  Darras+Bowler Wines, Chika-an Sa Cebu, Havianas, Barbecue Joe, Papa John’s Pizza, Prince Warehouse Club, Sunstar, Freeman, and Redgolf.

Registration fee is P1,500 which includes giveaways, raffle coupon, and awarding buffet.  Interested parties may contact the Club Filipino office 2311676 to register.

A chat with Donnie Nietes and Greg Slaughter

We spoke in Ilonggo. “Ari ko diri sang September 16 pa (I’ve been here since Sept. 16),” said world champion Donnie Nietes, when we talked late yesterday afternoon.

He arrived in Bacolod City early. “Para maka plastar gid (So I’ll be prepared),” he said.

Speaking from the mobile phone of his trainer, Edmund Villamor, he sounded upbeat. “100 percent ready na ko,” said Donnie, who spoke while at the Hotel Pavilion in Bacolod. Donnie mentioned that he had been training rigorously at both the Guanzon Stable and the One On One Gym.

This Saturday’s WBO light flyweight world championship bout against Mexican invader Ramon Garcia Hirales will be Nietes’ second major battle inside the La Salle Bacolod Gymnasium.

ATENEO CHAMP. Also late yesterday, I talked to a man who, physically, is the opposite of Nietes. Because while the ALA boxer is diminutive and weighs less than 108 lbs., Greg Slaughter is a towering giant.

Stand them side-by-side and you can’t find a more interesting pair. Nietes stands 5-foot-3; Slaugher is a 7-footer. That’s a 21-inch height difference.

Mr. Slaughter did his slaughtering last Saturday, winning the championship. It’s the turn of Mr. Nietes this Saturday to win his championship.

How did you celebrate? I asked Greg. Soft-spoken and humble, he said that he and his teammates went to the Church of the Gesu. “We heard mass to give thanks,” said Greg. “Several of those graduating from our team spoke.”

Did you give a speech? “No I did not.”

When I called yesterday, Greg had just gotten home from class. “School’s still going on for two weeks,” he said. Their big celebration after Ateneo De Manila University won its fourth straight UAAP title will be this Saturday during a giant bonfire party, an Ateneo tradition.

“It’s always sweet to be a champion,” Greg added. “Every time you win, from my wins in UV to this one here in Ateneo, it feels good.”

I reminded Greg that, since he arrived in the Philippines, each year he’s played college basketball, he’s been a champ. Next season? “I don’t know,” said Greg. He still has one more season with Ateneo and, most-likely, will be back.

How about the PBA? “Haven’t really thought about it yet. Exam week is coming up so that’s my focus now.”

The good news for Cebuanos? Greg will take a weekend vacation here. “I want to visit Cebu, to go back,” he said. “I’ll be there this October.”

DONNIE. Back to “The City of Smiles” for this weekend’s Bacolod spectacle, I also spoke to ALA Promotions’ Chad Cañares.

“Donnie’s opponent is arriving at 5:30 this afternoon,” he said yesterday. “The people here in Bacolod are excited. Ticket outlets are doing well. Many are asking for the VIP tickets.”

Their schedule is packed. Today is the media day for Ramon Garcia Hirales at the SM City Bacolod. Tomorrow, it’s the public workout of the fighters, also at SM. On Thursday, it’s the official press conference. On Friday, it’s the weigh-in, again at the SM City. The judges arrive on Thursday; the referee, on Friday.

As to the Pay-Per-View (PPV) here in Cebu, Chad announced that, because of the huge demand, that instead of SM City’s Cinema 1 (which seats 800), the venue is moved to Cinema 7, with a seating capacity of 1,200.

PINK OCTOBER. This Sunday, it’s the yearly Pink October Run to be held at The Terraces of Ayala Center Cebu. Distances are 10K, 5K and 3K.

Me’anne Alcordo Solomon, one of Cebu’s most vibrant of Rotarians, is helping organize many of this month’s activities. To join the run and the many other activities, visit Active Zone of Ayala Center.

As the Pink October organizers would say, “Remember: Early Detection Saves Lives… Early Detection Saves Money… Early Detection Is The Cure!”

Aloha, Hawaii! Noy is the Ironman Pinoy

“I was 14 years old when I got a hand-me-down copy of Triathlete magazine from my uncle Jeng, who was the Philippine champion at that time,” said Noy Jopson.

“I was drawn to the images of the race, the lava fields, the legendary winds of the Queen K Highway, the crowd at Alii Drive as you’re about to finish the race. It’s what got me in the sport in the first place 22 years ago.”

The Ford Ironman World Championship. It’s the Wimbledon of triathlon. It’s their Super Bowl, World Cup, and Olympics. It’s happening next Sunday, October 9. And Noy Jopson is joining.

Only one other Cebuano has ever participated in this event that covers a 3.9-km. swim, a 180-km. bike ride, and a 42-km. run. That Cebuano is Fred Uytengsu, the owner of Alaska Milk and one of the country’s most influential sportsmen. Fred, who resides in Manila, is “Cebuano” because he was born here. Noy is also Cebuano. He’s married to Amale Mendezona and, for many years now, has called this city home.

The Ironman in Kona, Hawaii is exclusive. Only qualifiers (the elite triathletes) can join. Noy qualified in last August’s Ironman in Camsur.

Noy is a legend in this swim-bike-run event. He is a 4-time Phil. champion (1994, 95,1997,98), a silver medalist in the Asian Championships in Korea, and was the Philippine record holder in the Olympic Distance from 1998 to 2009, timing 2:01:04.

In the inaugural Ironman two years ago in Camarines Sur, he was the Filipino Elite Champion. Two months ago, he was 2nd overall, 35 to 39 age group—which made him qualify for Hawaii.

Next Sunday? As expected, he aims high. “I expect to have a great race since I prepared very well for this event,” he said. “I also expect to savor every moment of the whole experience.”

Noy’s goal is to become only the second Filipino in history to go under 10 hours. The reigning Cobra Ironman 70.3 Philippine champ, Arland Macasieb, holds the record at 9:48. Noy wants to be “the first one to do it in the Kona Ironman World Championships.”

His time goals: 58 mins on the 3.9km swim, 5:28 on the 180km bike and then a 3:28 marathon. His favorite discipline? The bike. “I love the technology and the feeling of speed,” he said.

A total of 14 Pinoys are joining. “There are 11 Pinoys who qualified in Camsur, all the original Camsur Podium Placers, myself, Peter Gonzales and Ferdie Catabian have qualified. Its awesome that I will get to share the journey with five of my teammates from Polo Tri Team, Ferdie, Fiona Ottinger, Larry Ocampo, Amanda Carpo and captain Fred Uytengsu who will be doing Kona for the 2nd time. There are also 2 Fil-Ams who have qualified in the US, so all in all there will be 14 Pinoys at the Ironman World Championships.”

This 226-km. distance is not new to Noy. In the only two Ironman events held here, he’s placed first (Phil. Enduraman 2003) and second (Phil. Iron-Distance 2002).

Noy’s schedule includes joining 20,000 others in today’s Milo Half-Marathon. He’ll pace with his wife Amale. “It be my last long run and we hope to run it in 1:45, which will also be my target pace for Kona on Saturday,” he said. “Tomorrow (Monday), I head to The Brick Multi-Sport Store in McKinley Hill to pack my bike in a hard case and get nutrition supplies. Tuesday after lunch I’m off to Honolulu, staying with my Tita overnight, then Kona early Wednesday morning. I’ll be back in Cebu on the 14th in time for Mendel and Lhoriz’s wedding.”

I asked Noy, What will you think about in those 10 hours of suffering in Hawaii? “I will be thinking a lot about my family back here in Cebu, my wife Amale, kids Mikele and Rafa. I’ll also be thinking about my mom, who’s been my number one sponsor over the years; my sister Joyette, cousins Pong, Redg and Ogie who are all triathletes and have all shared the journey with me. I’m so blessed to have a supportive family, I have to make it up to them big time when I get back.”