Monthly Archives: February 2012

Five reasons why I love Running

First, the convenience. All you need is a good pair of running shoes and you’re off and running, literally.

Compare this with our experience yesterday. About 30 of us trooped near the lighthouse of Liloan at 7:00 A.M. to have a test bike run on the upcoming XTERRA race. From our homes, we loaded the bikes unto various vehicles. Helmets, gloves, water bottles, biking shoes — we prepared them all. Biking is fun. But it’s also a “production number.”

Running? It’s simple and pure. You can run early morning or late at night. If it’s raining, you can hop on the treadmill. When you go on a trip, it’s easy to pack a pair of shoes and discover the sights of Singapore or Cagayan de Oro by foot.

TWO. I don’t think any form of exercise beats running. On average, you burn 600 calories per hour of running. Just look at the physique of the runners. They’re lean, slim, fit. Here’s a guarantee: If you run four times each week, you will lose weight.

My favorite example is Steve Ferraren. He used to weigh 228 lbs. He could barely complete one round in the Abellana oval. But, through determination, he pushed one leg in front of the other and, now, he’s lost 83 lbs. and is one of the fastest runners among the Cebuano executives. His 42K time: 3 hours, 43 minutes.

THREE, I enjoy the company of friends while running. I recall training for the Singapore Marathon with our Cebu Executive Runners Club (CERC) group. We’d run 20 to 30 kms. and, the entire way, I’d be chatting with friends like doctors Vic Verallo or Albert Santos. Running is a time to bond with friends.

Councilor Edgar Labella’s favorite motto is this: “If you run alone, you run fast. But if you run with a group, you run far.”

Want to become a long-distance runner? Find a group of friends and run together. Especially when you’re training for a 21K or a 42K, when hours on the road are a necessity, it’s important to run with friends. Time passes faster and the experience is more enjoyable. Running is the “Facebook of Sports.” It’s social sport.

My mom Allen, looking 40-ish but already a Senior Citizen cardholder, has convinced her teachers at Bright Academy to join her running. Every Friday afternoon after school, they circle the campus as a happy, smiling group… running together.

To me, running as a group is the same as a barkada in a bar gulping San Mig Light and talking for three hours. It’s hours of quality time spent chatting with friends while getting fit!

FOUR: the opposite of No.3, it’s your time alone. Said the great Jesse Owens: “I always loved running…it was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs.”

FIVE: There’s that next goal. I cannot find this in any other sport. I’ve swatted the badminton shuttle cock, competed nationally in tennis, biked to Ayala Heights and done numerous other sports, but none compare to running.

What I mean is this: We all start with a 3K or a 5K. After, as your body gets fitter, you attempt the 10K. Then, months pass and you do a 15K. Then, the half-marathon. And, for the brave, the ultimate challenge: 42.195 kms.

In running, there’s always that next race, that farther challenge, that bigger medal. In fact, the 42K has been eclipsed in Cebu today by the 50K.. 65K.. 100K. Atty. Haide Acuña finished the 160K! And, just last weekend, Joel Garganera ran 100 kms. in mountainous terrain and freezing-cold weather in Hong Kong.

Of running, the actress Sasha Azevedo sums it all up: “I run because it’s my passion, and not just a sport. Every time I walk out the door, I know why I’m going where I’m going and I’m already focused on that special place where I find my peace and solitude. Running, to me, is more than just a physical exercise… it’s a consistent reward for victory!”

The 30th SAC-SMB Cebu Sports Awards

The Academy Awards is this Sunday, Feb. 26. It’s that once-a-year moment when all the stars of Hollywood gather and coronate the best of 2011. It’s the same here in our city. Only, this time, it’s sports. Timed just six days after The Oscars, Cebu will have its own version of recognizing the who’s-who of superstars.

Called the 30th Cebu Sports Awards, this event is held every February or March in honor of the previous year’s top sportswomen and sportsmen. Each year, ever since the awarding started in the 1980s, two groups combine efforts to celebrate this event: the Sportswriters Association of Cebu (SAC) and San Miguel Brewery, Inc. (SMB). SAC and SMB will, once again, host the 30th Cebu Sports Awards next weekend — that’s on March 3 — from 3:30 to 6:30 P.M. at The Terraces of Ayala Center Cebu.

The 28th edition with Z Gorres and Antonio Aldeguer

What happens during the Sports Awards? The best of the best climb the stage to receive their plaques or trophies. You’ve got names like world champ Donnie Nietes, chess Grandmaster Richard Bitoon, weightlifter Christopher Bureros and cyclist Niño Surban, among many others. You also have first-time awardees like Millette Chiongbian (who conquered the 2011 Boston Marathon) and Leon Panoncillo, the WBO top honcho.

And, of course, there’s that one person who’ll be adjudged the “Sportsman Of The Year.” He or she is that individual whom the sportswriters — the ones who decide on the awardees — feel contributed most to sports in 2011. Who’s the Sportsman of the Year? That secret — and the Athlete of the Year — will be unveiled on March 3.

The Awards are divided into three categories. There’s the Citation Awardees, many of whom excelled in the national and local scene. There’s the Major Awardees, most of whom performed best in major national or even international events. Then, there are the Special Awards; including a Posthumous Award given to the family of the late long-distance runner, Melinda Ponce.

Join us next Saturday! Admission is free. (Note to all awardees: see you at 3 P.M. on March 3; for further details, call Sandy at 4161122 local 100 or at 0917-6244853). The list…

MAJOR AWARDEES: ATHLETICS: Julius Nierras. ARCHERY: Dondon Sombrio. BASEBALL/SOFTBALL: Roel Empacis, Jonas Ponce, Darius Bacarisas, Jerome Bacarisas, Jasper Cabrera, Ben Maravilles, Oscar Bradshaw. BASKETBALL: UC Webmasters, UV Baby Lancers, Gregory Slaughter. BILLIARDS: Rubilen Amit. BOWLING: Ronnan Barredo, Alexis Sy. BOXING: Donnie Nietes, Leon Panoncillo. CHESS: Richard Bitoon. CYCLING: John Mier, Niño Surban. FOOTBALL: Don Bosco Technology Center HS team. JUDO: Kiyomi Watanabe. KARATEDO: Orencio James delos Santos. RUNNING: Mary Grace Delos Santos. SCRABBLE: Teodoro Martus. SWIMMING: Beariza Roble. TAEKWONDO: Glenn Lava. TABLE TENNIS: Richard Gonzales. WEIGHTLIFTING: Christopher Bureros.

CITATION AWARDEES: ATHLETICS: Irene Baluran,Ernesto Ybañez. AUTOCROSS: David G. Lim. BADMINTON: Banilad Elementary School, UC high school team. BASEBALL/SOFTBALL: Jesse Bernad. BASKETBALL: Britt Carlo Reroma, Jerie Marlon Pinggoy, Dawn Hynric Ochea, Aldrich Ramos, Julio Sy Jr, SHS-Ateneo Passerelle champs, June Mar Fajardo, Andres Paul Desiderio. BEACH VOLLEYBALL: Apple Eve Saraum and Erika Camille Verano of USPF. BOWLING: Cebu Tenpin Bowling Association. BOXING: Milan Melindo, Rey Bautista, AJ Banal, Rocky Fuentes, Sammy Gello-ani. CHESS: IM Kim Steven Yap, CEPCA, Jack Tepora, Daryl Pucdol. CYCLING: Luis Maximo. DRAGON BOAT: Luis Ansag. DANCESPORT: Dancesport Team Cebu City. FOOTBALL: Jun Santillan, Jose Paolo Aragon Pascual, Oliver Colina, Glenn Ramos, Don Bosco Technology Center elementary team. GOLF: Lloyd Jefferson Go, Gio Gandionco. GYMNASTICS: Carmelli Garrovillo, UV team. JUDO: Eichi Yahata. KARTING: Jette Calderon. MMA: Johnlery Cañiga. MOTOCROSS: Jon Eleazar Adlawan. PENCAK SILAT: Marnel Dimla. RUNNING: Merlita Arias-Dunkin, Bayani Alvarez, Emily Chiongbian, Mary Joy Tabal, Mendel Lopez. RUGBY: Noel Flowers, Rose Mae Lanticse, Marie Antonette Gambito, Madille Salinas, Blessie Kate De Los Santos, Aiumi Ono, Eloisa Jordan, Mae Ann Ubaub, Ann Kristine Mae Layumas and Jessica Filoteo. SEPAK TAKRAW: Rhey Jey Ortouste. SWIMMING: Anthony Linn Navarro. TABLE TENNIS: Daniel Jay Tormis. LAWN TENNIS: Jacob Lagman, Arthur Craig Pantino, Cebu International Tennis Centre, Inc. TRIATHLON: Noy Jopson, Rochelle Tan, Lorhiz Echavez-Lopez.

C. Aldeguer launches Fish18 Sport + Vellum

Dan Brown will arrive in Cebu. No, he’s not that Dan Brown, the author of The Da Vinci Code. He’s a triathlete. And, no, he’s no ordinary biker, runner, swimmer. He’s a 15-time Ironman finisher. He placed 8th in the Hawaii Ultra Man Championships — an unbearably strenuous race involving a 10K swim, a 421K bike and an 84K run. He’s also the current national coach of the Philippine Triathlon team.

Mr. Brown will visit Cebu on Thursday to update this soon-to-be “triathlon capital” (with the XTERRA and Ironman 70.3 landing in this island) and to unveil a partnership that will involve Chris Aldeguer and his newly-relaunched brand: Vellum bikes.

What’s Vellum? “Vellum is a special kind of paper,” Chris Aldeguer said. “We thought the name was appropriate because our bikes are mainly made of carbon fiber and, just like paper, this material is very light in weight.  We also liked how it sounded. Fast and Aggressive.”

With his return to competitive triathlon, Chris also formed Fish18 Sport. “Years ago, I planned to form a competitive Triathlon Team if and when I decided to go back to racing,” Chris said. “I wanted to gather a group of Triathletes that share the same philosophy and approach. That philosophy is to Race. To Compete. I believe it brings the best out of each other during Training and Racing. So, last December, with the help of Michael Flores, my partner in Vellum, we formed the team; sponsored by and called Fish18 Sport with Vellum, K-Swiss and GU as major sponsors.”

The six members: Chris Aldeguer, Leo Oracion, Eugene Sanchez, Michael Flores, Franz Baguio and Gerrie Calinawan.

“The selection process was easy,” said Chris. “Leo Oracion needs no introduction. Other than being the first Filipino to climb Mt. Everest, he has won a lot of Triathlon Races and competed several times internationally. Though he is identified with climbing Everest, and being an Adventure Racer, Leo is a successful Elite Triathlete.

“Eugene Sanchez has been doing Triathlons for nearly 12 years. He is very competitive and very accomplished. He is known to be the King of Pain.

“Michael Flores, a VIP of Cebu Cycling, is probably the top cyclist of the Team. He brings in the energy and intensity during our Training Rides and is making a comeback to Triathlon. He is also the Team Manager.

“Franz Baguio is an up and coming Triathlete. He was the second best-performing Cebuano in last year’s Ironman 70.3 in Camsur behind Gerrie Calinawan.

“Gerrie Calinawan, I believe, is the top Cebuano Triathlete today. He was still a junior when I last raced against him 10 years ago. His potential is extremely high and I believe he can be one of the favorites to win or podium among the Filipino Elites in the Ironman 70.3’s near future.”

I interviewed Chris about biking. Why is it so much more popular today? “Huge difference (now vs. before),” he said. “We can’t compare it. There are so much more people riding bikes these days. You see a lot of Mountain Bikes, Road Bikes and even Folding Bikes. The Bicycle events and races have not grown, though. It still is far from being mainstream. But what has grown are the number of recreational riders. Now, you see a lot doing the night rides in Busay, Mountain Biking in Maria Luisa, etc. Mountain Biking has always had a mix of both Recreational Riders and Serious Riders, while Road Cycling were always more of the Hardcore and Competitive riders. Today, there are tons of new and recreational guys on their road bikes. It’s unbelievable.”

Aldeguer cites three factors for the popularity of biking.

One: more people are health-conscious and cycling is a terrific form of exercise. Two: The running boom has led to a cycling/triathlon boom. “The runners either add cycling to their training or they shift because of the wear and tear and injury from too much running,” said Chris. Three: the bike shops. More bikes and parts are now available. Said Chris: “These shops are now in strip malls that are easily accessible to customers.”

Rotary + Swimarathon = World Record

I met Edward Hayco last Tuesday. It was Valentine’s Day. It was also Ed’s birthday. He was having lunch with Eleanor and his children at Ginza; I was avoiding the V-Day rush by having a lunch date with Jasmin.

Ed and I spoke about the Guinness world records of Cebu City. Granted that the latest (chess) will be formalized, we now have three:

1) Dancesport –largest dance class: 7,770 dancers.

2) Fireworks –125,801 rockets launched in less than 60 seconds.

3) Chess – 43,157 players in one event.

Well, ever the restless sportsman, Ed is concocting another Guinness attempt. I won’t divulge the details yet but will write about it soon.

But, for now, Ed will be happy to hear that Cebu City will be part of another WR attempt on February 25. Called the “Rotary Swimarathon,” we’ll join a global event where thousands will swim simultaneously for one hour.    April Dequito, president of the Rotary Club of Talisay – Cebu, is spearheading the project. Here’s the plan: On Feb. 25 (next Saturday) from 8 to 9 P.M. at the YMCA pool (along Osmeña Blvd.), people will take turns swimming 100 meters. Every swimmer who records that distance will be counted. And, while Cebuanos are swimming in YMCA, thousands of others worldwide — from New Zealand to South Africa to Portugal — will swim during the same hour.

“At the moment, we have gathered 50 participants,” said April. “We still need to contact different varsity teams in various high schools. We are allocating two lanes for the 100-meter swim, and the other 2 lanes are for the 25-meter relay (exhibition purposes only as not everyone can finish a 100-meter swim). PWD will also be invited to swim on a special lane.

“Only the 100-meter swim can be counted as part of the attempt to break the World Record. There are also options to swim for more than a 100-meters. Hopefully we can gather about 150 swimmers for the 100-meter swim and perhaps 50 more for the relay. The 150 swimmers would be more than enough to help contribute in the our attempt to break the world record but if we can gather more, that’s even better.”

This project is done not just to break the WR (currently at 2,533 swimmers). “At the same time, we are raising sponsorship or charging a nominal entrance fee of P500/swimmer to support the End Polio Now campaign. After 20 years of hard work, Rotary and its partners are on the brink of eradicating this tenacious disease.”

The objectives? Like the Rotary’s famous Four-Way Test, it’s also Four-fold: 1) Set a new World Record for the most number of people swimming at the same time. 2) Raise funds towards the elimination of Polio. 3) Increase the awareness of Rotary. 4) Encourage more people to swim and stay fit.

I’m joining. Want to join? Email rctalisaycebu@gmail.com.

Jeremy Lin: NBA is rocked by LIN-Sanity!

Gerry Malixi sent me this SMS message: “NYC Mayor Bloomberg approved name change: Statue of LINberty!!” Ha-ha. But what’s no joke is this true story of Jeremy Lin…

Prior to college, Jeremy sent a DVD of his basketball skills to Ivy League schools. He wanted to study in UCLA or Stanford. But they didn’t want him. Instead, he went to Harvard. Yes, the world’s most famous university has a basketball team. Lin was a stand-out for Harvard U. He averaged in double-digits and graduated with a degree in economics. His grade-point average? A high 3.1.

The year was 2010. He wanted to be an NBA star. Sadly, although eight teams watched his pre-draft workouts, none wanted Lin. Eventually, he was signed by the Golden State Warriors in July 2010—becoming the first American of Taiwanese or Chinese descent to play in the NBA.

Lin was hardly used. In the 2010-11 season, he was in the inactive list. The Warriors finally allowed him to play—but barely. Fast forward to last year… to the NBA lockout… and to last Dec. 27 when the New York Knicks recruited him. In Lin’s own words, “I was competing for a backup spot, and people see me as the 12th to 15th guy on the roster.”

In short, the 6-foot-3 small guard was a “third-string point guard” who was the team’s spare tire. This all changed when, last Jan. 20, Lin was playing for the Erie BayHawks team of the NBA D-League. On that night, he had 28 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists. The NY Knicks, star-stuck, recalled him three days later. Now, the big stage…

On Feb. 4, Lin had 25 points, five rebounds, and seven assists. NY beat the New Jersey Nets.

On Feb. 6, they won over Utah. Lin? He had 28 points, eight assists.

On Feb. 8, Lin had 23 points and 10 assists—and NY beat Washington.

That’s 3-for-3. And a combined 76 points in three games. (Lin didn’t even have a home of his own. Unsure whether he’d get cut by the Knicks, he slept on the couch of his teammate Landry Fields.)

LIN-SANITY! Spike Lee said on Twitter: “Jeremy, moves so sick, they need insu-Lin.” “Jeremy, hang my jersey from the cei-Lin’.” “Jeremy, the Lakers, you better be double-Lin.”

And then, on Feb. 10—just four days ago—he faced the biggest test: the LA Lakers. In a much-hyped face-off, Kobe scored 34 points. Lin? Ha ha. He bested KB by scoring 38 points. NY beat LA, 92-85.

(Andrew Gombert/EPA)

The night before their game, Kobe was asked about Lim. “I don’t even know what he’s done. Like, I have no idea what you guys are talking about… Who is this kid?” said Kobe.

The night after? Said Kobe: “He has been phenomenal… We watched some tape on him. We came up with a strategy that we thought would be effective but he was knocking down his jump shot, penetrating, and he got around our guards. It is a great story. It is a testament to perseverance and hard work. It is a good example to kids everywhere.”

Magic Johnson added: “The excitement he has caused in the Garden, man, I hadn’t seen that in a long time. When you get a spark like this, especially in a season like this, this could carry them for a long time because they needed something to happen positive. Everything has been really negative.”

Prior to Lin’s entry, NY was a disappointing 8-15. Now, after he scored 25, 28, 23, 38 and—just two days ago vs. Minnesota in another NY victory—20 points, he has elevated the Knicks into playoff contention with a 13-15 scorecard. In his first five starts, he’s averaged 26.8 PPG.

But more than points, the 23-year-old Lin has inspired our continent. “Maybe I can help break the stereotype,” Lin said. “I feel like Asians in general don’t get the respect that we may deserve whether it comes to sports, basketball, or whatever it might be.”

His parents, Gie-Ming and Shirley, moved from Taiwan to the U.S. in the ‘70s. They both stand 5-foot-6. Today, they stand tall.

“It’s humbling, a privilege, and an honor,” said Jeremy. “I’m really proud of being Chinese, I’m really proud of my parents being from Taiwan. I just thank God for the opportunity.”

Lance Armstrong joining Cebu’s XTERRA or Ironman?

Yes. I mean, yes, there’s a possibility. The 7-time Tour de France champion joined two XTERRA races last year.

What’s XTERRA? It’s an off-road triathlon with an open-sea swim, a mountain-bike ride, and an off-road trail run. Lance joined the XTERRA USA Championship in Utah last September—his first—and he placed an impressive 5th place. “At 40 years old, I guess I could have gone home and drank beer and played golf all day long,” Armstrong said. “But it’s cool to come out here and test yourself, and also just support a sport that I think is really cool.” He joined another XTERRA race in Maui, Hawaii last October; this time, the World Championship. He placed 23rd—despite crashing head-on with one mile to go on his MTB.

Will Lance join the March 18 edition of the XTERRA here in Cebu? That’s the dream scenario envisioned by the organizers, led by Fred Uytengsu, Jr., who extended his invitation for LA to visit the Philippines for the first time.

If Lance does land in Mactan and joins the 1500m swim, 30K bike and 10K run that will start/end at Amara in Liloan, it will mark the grandest-ever visit of any athlete to Cebu. Dennis Rodman played basketball in Mandaue. Ken Griffey, Jr. threw baseballs at the Aboitiz Sports Field. Davis Cup tennis stars have swatted forehands here; PBA heroes have rebounded balls on dozens of occasions. But Lance is the superstar of super-athletes.

IRONMAN. This weekend, thanks to the recent email from Lance’s lookalike in Cebu—that’s Chris Aldeguer—Mr. Armstrong will be joining Ironman Panama 70.3. This is the same Ironman race that will kickoff at Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa this August 5.

Why this shift to triathlon for Lance? Prior to riding his Trek bike, he raced in triathlons. Says Wikipedia: “At the age of 12, he began his sporting career as a swimmer… and finished fourth in Texas state 1,500-meter freestyle. He abandoned swimming-only competition after seeing a poster for a junior triathlon called the Iron Kids Triathlon, which he entered and won at age 13.” Lance soon became America’s No.1 ranked triathlete in the 19-and-under group.

So, there. This is a comeback. This also means two chances for Armstrong to visit Cebu: XTERRA or Ironman.

CONTADOR. Speaking of his arch-rival Alberto Contador, what a contrast of fates. Just days ago, the cycling champ’s appeal of his two-year ban due to drugs was upheld by the sport’s highest ruling body, the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Contador was stripped of his 2010 Tour de France title.

Lance? The opposite. After a two-year-long federal investigation into his alleged drug use, the case was dropped and he’s declared innocent. This is huge news. One, Lance is a worldwide symbol of hope and sporting greatness. Had he been convicted, this would have told the world, “Nobody in sports can be trusted.” Two, Lance is a symbol of cancer survival. His image—and that of his good works against the Big C—would have been forever tarnished. Third, the investigators are the best. Named the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, they’re led by America’s sharpest lawyers and they’ve convicted the likes of Marion Jones and Tyler Hamilton.

And so, in this Armstrong vs. Contador “drugs” battle, the American beats the Spaniard.

CANCER. If you recall, Lance was given a 40% survival chance after testicular cancer had spread to his lungs, abdomen and brain. He lived. He biked. He won 7 TdFs. And, despite having surgery down there and retaining only “one ball,” this Superman beats me and so many others by rearing five children!

The latest good news on LA’s cancer fight? I call it the “Big C vs. the Evil C.” Lance is spearheading a campaign in California that will add an additional $1 tax (per pack) on cigarettes. Called the California Cancer Research Act, once approved, this will bring in nearly $1 billion in support of cancer research.

I call it the 4 Cs: Cycling Champ in Cancer vs. Cigarettes fight. Will Lance visit another “C” this 2012? Cebu? Let’s C.

Is Manny Pacquiao now a good boy?

The Congressman from Sarangani has always been good. He’s good at boxing—winning his last 15 bouts. He’s good at accumulating wealth—earning $20 million per 36 minutes hopping on the ring. Manny is good at strumming the guitar and singing Dan Hill’s “Sometimes When We Touch.” He’s even good at attracting many of the world’s celebrities to be Pacman fans—Mark Wahlberg, Kobe B., Paris Hilton, the Boston Celtics, and Barack Obama all count as his admirers and friends.

But, as good as Manny has been inside that boxing square and around the entertainment circles, we also know he’s been bad.

Manny gambles money. He keeps a squadron of fighting cocks. He sleeps inside the Casino with both eyes wide open. Prior to his 2007 fight against Marco Antonio Barrera, a few friends from Cebu swear by his late-night exploits inside the exclusive sanctity of the Waterfront Hotel and Casino.

Manny loves women. From Ara Mina to Krista Ranillo to Kat Ordoñez, these rumors have enriched gossip magazines like YES!—and kept Jinkee Pacquiao from sleeping well at night. Manny’s exploits make Tiger Woods look saintly.

That’s the bad. The good news? Manny is reading the Good News. Yes, I mean, the Bible. In a recent TV interview with Dyan Castillejo, Manny confessed to his sinful ways and vowed to change and become a renewed Christian.

(AFP Photo)

“‘Pagsusugal, yung pag-iinom, yung mga pambababae. Kung ano mga kalokohan mga barkada. Kung anong ginagawa diyan…’ (Gambling, drinking, women.. all kinds of vices…).. he said,” enumerating his sins in the ABS-CBNews.com story, “Pacquiao: Encounter with God changed me.”

“‘If I had died last year or in the last 2 years,” said Manny, “I am sure I would’ve gone straight to Hell. My faith in Him is there 100 percent but behind it, I was still doing evil.”

Manny relates the story of having a dream after the Juan Manuel Marquez fight last November. He was amidst the forest when a bright light stopped him with the voice, “Son, why are you going away from me?” He woke up from the dream crying and soon opened the Bible.

Translated in English, Pacquiao said in that interview: “In the old times, the Lord talked to people through their dreams. So I said, my dream is real. I have to change my life. Maybe it was God calling because he knows what’s in my heart, that I believe in Him but still do bad things, things that don’t please Him.”

The quick learner on the ring, he quickly changed his ways. In an Inquirer Mindanao story, “Friends say Pacquiao is a changed man,” by Aquiles Zonio, it says:

“Mayor Reynaldo Constantino of Malungon, Sarangani, a close political ally of the Sarangani representative, said that recently, Pacquiao sold a casino he operated in a five-star hotel in Manila and divided the proceeds among the affected employees.

“Pacquiao then disposed of his fighting cocks at his sprawling MP Farm in Malungon. He gave all his game fowls to his close friends. The guy is really determined to change for the better,’ Constantino said.”

In Gen. Santos City, at a place we visited during a Rotary District Conference two years ago, Pacquiao closed the J-Mix Restaurant and Bar. They used to frequent his bar for drinks and billiards. Also, said the Inquirer story, MP now keeps only one cellphone—without any password; which means Jinkee can view his messages freely.

“The power of the word of God has changed Manny,” said Jinkee. Daily, he prays and reads the Bible with the guidance of a pastor. Has Manny changed religion?

“He told me that he is still a Catholic,” said Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez. “He admitted that the one conducting daily bible service in his home is a Protestant pastor. So, I gave him a daily scripture guide and I directed a priest from a parish near his house to lead the conduct of a bible study.”

Said MP himself: “Being a Christian means accepting Christ as your saviour, your God. That is why you are called a Christian. If you remove ‘Christ’, there’s only ‘ian’ and that means ‘I am nothing.'”

Can we teach our children Harmony through Sports?

Yesterday’s article by sports editor Mike Limpag was like a Lionel Messi kick: it was direct, straight, razor-sharp.

The biggest losers in this controversy between the Cebu Football Association (CFA) and PAREF-Springdale? The children. They’re innocent. They just want to play.

Here are some questions: Was CFA correct to forfeit Springdale? When, according to Springdale parents whom I spoke to, the players were at the gate when the 15-minute extension expired? Upon seeing the players at the entrance, could they not have been accommodated and given the go-signal? (I can imagine the pain in the eyes of the children; you sprint to the venue, all-excited, and, at the last second, are denied to play. Your coach argues. The referee sticks to his ruling. Parents complain. Officials rebut. It’s all chaos.)

But, on the opposite side, wasn’t CFA just enforcing the rules? Doesn’t the rule state that you have to be ON THE FIELD on or before the 15th minute extension time? (I can imagine the referee looking at his wristwatch and, upon the tick of that 15th minute, blowing the whistle to announce the default… CFA argues that the referee was just doing his job.)

Here’s one more: Isn’t it also unfair to the opposing team to “accommodate” another team for being late, even for just a few seconds?

In all this: Who’s right? Who’s wrong? It depends. It depends on who you’re talking to.

Springdale will say: They’re biased. We were there! Why couldn’t they just let us play?

CFA will answer: Rules are rules! An extension was given and the time expired.

Here are more questions… Was Springdale’s reaction to withdraw ALL of their teams from the 14th Aboitiz Cup not exaggerated? Did they not anticipate a harsh rebuke? Did Springdale decide on their forceful “let’s-all-withdraw” act purposely to incite a fight with the CFA? Surely, they anticipated, pulling out midway through Cebu’s most prestigious football event will have severe repercussions…

Talking about “severe,” here’s one query, this time, for the CFA: Isn’t the three-year ban too harsh? Imagine banning one of the country’s most successful football programs for three years?!

Wow. How do you explain this to the hundreds of athletic and eager and active boys of Springdale? You can’t. Now, while I believe Springdale was too hasty on their “let’s-withdraw-from-Aboitiz” move, wasn’t CFA also guilty of the same? Thirty six months! Banning the children? This is preposterous.

I saw a copy of the letter from CFA President, Engr. Richard Montayre, addressed to Ric R. Ampiloquio, Executive Director of PAREF-Springdale, and, true enough, it stated a specific provision of the “3 years up to life time ban…”

First of all, this “banning for three years or more” ruling is crazy. I know, I know. The CFA Board will say… this is done to prevent teams from just brazenly pulling out. True. But here’s a question…

Why wasn’t a formal inquiry or meeting conducted prior to the tyrannical 36-month ban? I mean, how difficult is it to call together both parties and talk?

Was this not done because, as Mike Limpag pointed out yesterday, there’s a deeper, underlying conflict between the two camps, CFA vs. the Cebu Amateur Football Club (CAFC) included? I think so. Because if there was no “bad blood” between the two, this issue could have been settled amicably.

CFA could have called Springdale for a meeting and explained the possible harsh sanctions. CFA could have, “inamigo-style,” asked them to reconsider. A compromise could have been arrived at. Conflict, resolved.

Let’s play ball! would have been the happy yell. Instead, sadly, the one playing is…. drum roll, please…

Politics. Ugly, ugly politics in sports.

My suggestion? Sit down. Relax. Smile. Begin with a prayer. Look at the “bigger picture” and know that the ones who’ll suffer in this uncalled-for fight are the children.

Let’s show them that, as God-loving adults and parents, we can resolve conflicts. Let’s resolve this conflict. It’s the best lesson we can teach our children.

Tri again! Chris Aldeguer returns

The last time the youngest son of Antonio Lopez Aldeguer joined a triathlon event? In 2003. The next time Chris Aldeguer will try the Tri? Three days from now.

“It’s been nine years,” said Chris. “It’s been that long. I joke my teammates that while they had a two-month off-season, I had nine years. But it’s quite different now. I seem to have more fun. Before, triathlon was my #1 priority. My life revolved around it. This time, it’s only behind family and work.”

Chris’ dive back into the triathlon waters will commence this Sunday. On the island of Siquijor, he’ll join the Olympic Distance contest: 1500m Swim, 40K Bike, and 10K Run.

“I don’t know what to expect,” Chris said. “I feel my swim and bike are ready. That’s easy to predict. I feel I am prepared, but am not certain how fast I can run off the bike. It’s been 9 years since I last did such a transition. It’s that element that remains uncertain. I’m hoping I did enough with my training, but the absence from racing is what will make this challenging.”

In college, Chris played point guard for the USC Warriors. And, beginning 1998, he trained for triathlon. From ‘98 to 2003, Chris swam, pedaled, ran. He joined over 100 races. He was part of the RP triathlon national squad.

“Every medal I won was special,” said Chris, when I asked which event stood out. “But the highlights are the races that I won (2000 Catmon, 2001 in Danao and Batangas, 2002 in Mactan). Every race I did internationally to represent the country was special: in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, USA, and Mexico.”

Fast forward to Siquijor, ever the competitive athlete, Chris says, “I would like to podium, but I hope to at least be in the Top 5… There seem to be several fast new Triathletes. It will depend on how strong the field will be this Sunday.”

After nine years of triathlon inactivity and after dabbling in 42K races (Chris joined the Las Vegas and Hong Kong marathons), in basketball, in MTB’ing around the hills of his Maria Luisa home, why the return this Year of the Water Dragon?

(Philippe Desmazes/AFP/Getty Images)

“I always believed that I might race Triathlons again. I did not expect it to be this soon. Having the Ironman 70.3 in Cebu somehow played a part in my decision. One of the things I hated when I raced full time was the travel. I would travel several times a month to join races nationally and internationally. Now that the Ironman 70.3 and Xterra are here, it makes things easier. I know with these two races, there will also be plenty of local races. Racing locally is more fun for me.

“As a triathlete by heart, and the Ironman 70.3 coming to Cebu, it did not make sense for me not to join. A funny part of me was hoping it would not come here so I will not be forced to go back to Triathlon. But it is coming.”

Very timely, Chris’ reentry to triathlon is also marked by his return to the biking business.

VELLUM. That’s the “high-end boutique brand” of performance bikes that Chris (with Mike Flores and Eugene Sanchez) founded in 2004. But after several years, Chris relinquished his role with Vellum to concentrate on being President of family-owned Loalde.

Now, he’s back as CEO. “Being more active with Vellum is perfect timing. It’s easier to grasp the industry while I am back to racing. It gives me a better feel overall. Though I don’t think it had any influence on my decision to race again.”

As to triathlon’s popularity? Chris adds: “It actually has a downside. I feel triathlon was more pure and genuine before. Now, it is very commercialized. So many are in the sport for its popularity and image rather than the purity of the sport’s heritage and what it is all about. However, I believe the upside outweighs the downside. Because of the sport’s growth, events are now more organized and professional. There is more media coverage. The number of participants are 10 times more. With the popularity of running, the growth of endurance sports is overwhelming. A lot of runners are expected to transition to Triathlon. I think Triathlon’s growth is far from its peak.”