Monthly Archives: January 2013

Smashing! The Oz Open + Davis Cup

If you’re a tennis fan… last week, this week and next week are tennis heaven moments.

Monday last week, the Australian Open began. It’s the first Grand Slam tournament of 2013. It’s Down Under. It’s 41 degrees of scorching heat. It’s the blue court swarmed with shirtless, screaming fans. The only “negative” in Melbourne is the absence of one man: Nadal, Rafa. But the Three Kings are still present: King Roger, Mighty Novak, and Olympic gold medalist Andy Murray.

Among the ladies, Maria Sharapova is forever blonde, sexy and screaming. The 6-foot-1 poster girl of the WTA Tour will be hard to beat. Now that Serena Williams is out, I hope Maria (the ex-girlfriend of Dr. Nonito Narvasa) wins.

If there’s one major I’m itching to visit, it’s Australia. The continent is nearby. The tickets — unlike Wimbledon — are affordable. I remember, years back, staring at the photos shown to me by Atan Guardo in Rod Laver Arena. Same with Ernie Delco. These two Cebuano friends have seen the tennis Wizards of Oz. Hope to do the same soon — while Roger’s still (unlike Rafa) healthy.

The Oz Open lasts for two weeks. It ends this Sunday with the men’s final. How about next week?

SYRIA. It’s Davis Cup week. All around the globe, nations will compete in this annual country-vs-country meet. The Philippines? We’re hosting it. Where?

Where else but our very own, Cebu. Plantation Bay Resort and Spa will, for the third time, host the Davis Cup tie, this time called “Philippines versus Syria.”

In 2011, we faced and lost to Japan. Later that same year, we faced and lost to Chinese-Taipei (Taiwan). Will next weekend — February 1 to 3 — be different?

Let’s watch! Entrance is free. No kidding. Yes. All you need to do is to trek over to Mactan island, meander inside the world-class lagoon near Marigondon, and sit at the comfortable blue seats that surround the gray court.

Even better news: It won’t be hot. If you were present in the two previous DC events, you got burned. Because, with Cecil Mamiit as stalwart, we wanted to burn the opponents with our summer sun. Not this time.

This time, the first match will start at 3:30 P.M. Very comfortable. The schedule is as follows: On Friday (Day 1, February 1), it will be two singles matches, best-of-five. On Saturday, it will be the lone doubles match. On Sunday, it will be the two reverse singles matches.

Tennis lover or not, there’s no excuse for you not to attend. The Davis Cup — alongside another Azkals exhibition, the Ironman 70.3 and Xterra triathlons, the Cebu Marathon — is one of the year’s biggest sporting events. It’s international. It’s one on one. It’s right here at home.

Can we win this time? Yes. First, we have home-court advantage. This “tie” (in DC parlance, an event is called a “tie”) was supposed to have been held in Syria. But we know all the gunfire and bombings on-going there. So, it’s here. Two, the Syrians are not as formidable as the Japanese or Taiwanese. Three, there’s that loud, Sinulog-type Cebuano cheering. (For those who watched the PHL-Taiwan event, you’ll recall that some Taiwanese business owners here brought a “hakot” crowd — their employees — to cheer for Team Taiwan. This time, I doubt it there’ll be much cheering from Syria.)

Our players: Treat Huey, Ruben Gonzalez, Johnny Arcilla and Onyok Anasta. They’re familiar faces. Which is good because they’re familiar with the slow clay-court of Plantation Bay.

Team Philippines is expected to land at the MCIAA this Sunday. For the next several days, they’ll practice. On Wednesday night, it’s the official, by-invitation-only Welcome Dinner, participated-in by the ITF officials, the players, their coaches. On Thursday, the draw — who will face who — will happen. And, of course, on Friday, the fireworks — not by Dragon Fireworks, not in SM or in Ayala, and not at night — the tennis fireworks using rackets as weapons and yellow balls as bullets, will commence at 3:30. Go, PILIPINAS. See you there!

Bakbakan Na! Watching URCC 8 live

Blood gushes from the eyes. It streams down and reddens the chest. Arms are twisted and mangled. A kick flies and strikes the face. Elbows punch. Knees slam. An overhead strike bats the face.

All of these slambang action and more I witnessed last Saturday. It was the 8th edition of the Universal Reality Combat Championship (URCC).

If you find boxing to be gruesome, watch mixed-martial arts (MMA). It’s brutal. It’s savage. It’s boxing + kicking. It’s two shirtless men hugging and grappling. If boxing employs fists, MMA utilizes plenty more: You can choke, wrestle, do a round-house kick, knee the enemy’s stomach. It’s a complete arsenal of weaponry.

Justin Uy is the owner of J Centre. His ballroom was the venue three nights ago. It was noisy. The band Power Spoonz opened the evening with an electric-guitar screaming rendition of the Pambansang Awit. It was the first time ever I’ve heard our national anthem sung heavy metal. Remember Martin Nievera’s controversial singing years back? Ha-ha. That was for pre-schoolers; this one’s for head-bangers. “A case will be filed on them because of this!” joked my seatmate, Atty. Jingo Quijano.

URCC is loud. The ring announcer screams. The background music is not Rocky’s “Eye of the Tiger,” it’s ear-piercing noise. That’s because the crowd at MMA is much younger, wilder, more beer-drinking than those who visit the ALA Promotions contests.

There were eight fights last Saturday. Scheduled to start at 8 P.M., the fireworks began past 9. We ended way past midnight.

Sitting on ringside’s second row, we were six: Jingo and his wife, Judge Czarina Quijano; Edri Aznar, Arni Aclao, my brother Michael and me. We sat 12 feet away from the ring. It was close. Too close that we could see every stab and cut.

Impressive? Alex Abraham — named “The Pilot” because, in real life, he is a pilot — was amazing. Hailing from Seldef MMA Cebu, he needed only minutes to extinguish the enemy.

Another one was Vaughn Donayre. His family name alone, sounding like our world champ, would send shivers to opponents. He was muscular and, with an armlock maneuver, dispatched of his rival.

Jimmy Yabo, with one punch to the head, knocked-out Lorde Rey Yamit. The latter’s fall to the ground was Manny Pacquiao-like; he collapsed straight and had to be revived.

The night’s main event? Oh no. It was one of the worst endings I’ve seen in my many years of watching (mainly boxing) fights. With just seconds into the first round, Cebu’s very own Cary Bullos punched his opponent, Hideo Morikawa. The Japanese staggered for a second or two. Would you believe, the referee — Christian Wong from Manila — called the fight over. Just like that. In 59 seconds. When, moments after when Bullos attacked, the Japanese stood up fine.

The referee meant well. “The eyes of the Japanese rolled and he looked dazed. Safety first,” said Renault Lao, the event organizer. True. You’d rather err on the side of safety than have a “simba-ko-lang” tragic situation — but that ending by the referee was too fast, too soon. It could have continued. It should have.

“The Prince” (Cary Bullos) wins. I guess, given their size disparity, with the Japanese much smaller than our Cebuano, it was just a matter of time. But the ending was disappointing. It wasn’t anywhere near the “Main Event” billing.

Back to the URCC rules, you know what shocked me the most? That each round lasts 10 minutes. Yup. While boxing has three-minute rounds and the UFC has five-minute rounds, the URCC has 600 seconds. That’s tough. If you’re not in excellent shape, you can’t be “saved by the bell.” Though there are only two rounds per fight — 10 minutes of nonstop-hell is merciless.

This is what makes MMA different. It’s ruthless. It’s loud. It’s wild. It’s the new generation boxing. It’s kicking and wrestling. It’s elbows and knees. It’s the Pambansang Awit, heavy-metal style.

Lance Armstrong is the Big C: Big Cheater

Oprah Winfrey has interviewed everybody famous from Michael Jackson to Charice to Barack Obama. But, to the 58-year-old billionaire who is considered “the world’s most influential woman,” there is no bigger TV sit-down than the one that will air tomorrow 10 A.M. (Philippine time) over Oprah.com.

Did he or did he not? The answer is obvious. He did. He did inject drugs. He did lie. He did “pass” 500+ tests to never test positive of PEDs. He did harass and threaten anyone who questioned his “clean” life. Now we know: Lance Armstrong, once the most iconic and revered of human beings, is no chemical-free Ironman.

“It was like a world crashing on top of me,” said Oscar “Boying” Rodriguez, one LA’s biggest fans in Cebu. Boying has not only worn the yellow Livestrong band for a decade, he also wears Oakley, Giro and the Livestrong Edition Nike — Lance’s complete battle gear.

“At first, I refused to believe the allegations. Maybe because he had inspired a multitude of people, most especially cancer patients including a close relative of mine,” said Boying. Every one of Lance’s seven Tour de France wins, including his triathlon and mountain-bike triumphs, Boying followed. “I dreamt and imagined I was riding shotgun on a bike behind him! Then the USADA report came out. I was still hesitant to believe it. But when he was stripped of his titles and when Pat Mcquaid of UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale), the world governing body of which I am a member of (being an International Commissaire for MTB) confirmed the finding of USADA, it was a reality that slowly sunk in.”

Boying calls Lance’s fall a “crash.” But, ever his lifelong supporter, Boying adds, “I think he deserves a second chance!”

Chris Aldeguer, another lifelong biker and Lance fan, is less apologetic. The owner of Vellum Cycles, Chris knows the inner workings of the cycling community. He says that it’s no secret how most take PEDs.

“Maybe Lance was really the fastest guy in the Peleton but he certainly did not deserve any of the wins. It was right to strip him of his 7 Yellow Jerseys,” he says. “I believe Lance totally mismanaged this crisis. People may forgive him if he admitted and apologized using PEDS during the Tour. Not only did he constantly deny, and lie about it, he attacked and threatened those who accused him. He was very arrogant about it. I believe this case hurts the Livestrong Foundation and the Cancer community even more than it damages the Sport of Cycling. His mainstream status brought this negativity in the limelight.”

True. If we look back in history, plenty of drug cheats were caught. Ben Johnson. Marion Jones. Barry Bonds is accused by everyone. But none of them carry a higher moral stature than Lance. Only now, when he’s got no helmet to cover his face, is he confessing to Oprah.

Jonathan “Maxi” Maximo agrees with Chris Aldeguer in how excruciating the 21-day, 3,360-km. event is that’s the Tour de France.

“Multi-stage cycling is such a difficult race that if you want to contend for the podium year in year out, you have to be like Incredible Hulk!” says Maxi, whose son Igi is a national-caliber junior cyclist.

“How about for TdF organizers, who make the race extremely hard, to put up separate categories for dopers and non-dopers? That will level the playing field!” Maxi joked. “Seriously, Armstrong’s admission will be good for cycling in the long run. It has opened our eyes to the reality. In fairness to LA, I support his Livestrong Foundation. I had the opportunity to race in Seattle for the Livestrong Challenge. I believed in their cause. It has helped my mom battle and survive the big C.”

This is a sad day for sports. It’s a sad day for honesty. For with Lance, though he’s helped raise over $500 million to fight the Big C, he will be forever remembered for another Big C: Big Cheater.

Michael Aldeguer: ALA to invade the US, Europe

The president of ALA Promotions was my former high school basketball opponent. Trim and fit, he jogs five times each week in Cempark (“I make my business decisions when I run,” he says). The son of Antonio Lopez Aldeguer, he has followed his dad’s passion for the “Sweet Science.” Here’s my Q & A with MPA…

ALA GYM AND ALA PROMOTIONS, WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE? ALA GYM is an organization that scouts, trains and manages fighters while ALA Promotions Inc. is a promotional firm that stages international boxing events and showcases the Filipino fighters and other fighters worldwide. The goal is to be a global promotional giant just like Top Rank in the US and Zanfer of Mexico.

For ALA Promotions, we had a successful 2012 except for the Genaro Garcia issue, as the TV ratings consistently reached new heights never seen before, overtaking the popular showbiz shows (consistently in the #1 position in daytime TV every time Pinoy Pride is aired). The key moments last year were the two events in Manila: the June event in Resorts World and the first boxing event in the SM MOA Arena in October. They gathered respectable crowds, more than what we expected. It was the first time in Manila in years that ticket prices for a boxing event were sold that much. The most expensive tickets were the first to be sold out.

For ALA gym, it was a successful year except for the Banal loss. Donnie held on to his crown and is now the longest-reigning Filipino world champion and could be the second longest Filipino world champ in history next to flash Elorde. Boom Boom had his best year injury-free. Milan made a name for himself with wins against named opponents. Jason Pagara had a sweet revenge in knocking out Rosbel Montoya; the rise of Genesis Servania in knocking-out former world champ Genaro Garcia in Manila and Rocky Fuentes winning and defending his OPBF title in Japan.

PLANS FOR 2013/2014: To stage more events, bigger fights with bigger name opponents. We have been working in bringing the Pinoy Pride series to the US. Hopefully, it will happen late this year in San Diego, CA and in the Middle East. In 2015, we are looking at staging events in Europe. Also, we did over 70 shows last year and are looking at over 100 events this year. Our TV partner ABS-CBN and sponsor Asia Brewery Corp. want more shows.

DONNIE. The Nietes vs Fuentes will be the start this year as Moises Fuentes is the WBO 105lb World Champion and will go up in weight to challenge Nietes. In his last fight, Fuentes knocked out Puerto Rican legend Ivan Calderon. This could be the toughest fight for Donnie. We hope to stage the fight here in March but the negotiations have not been easy with Zanfer, the biggest promoter in Mexico who handles Juan Manuel Marquez. They want the fight in Mexico. With Marquez’s win, Mexico Boxing is at its peak which means they have the power now.

TOUR. The ALA Stars Provincial tour was conceptualized to give chances to different provinces all over the country to watch international boxing live and to see their idols in flesh not just in TV, it is also our way of thanking the fans for making “Pinoy Pride” a top rating TV show

AJ BANAL. He’s one fighter who has been in the microscope since he was 16 when GoldenBoy signed him up and at 17 he fought in the undercard of the biggest fight in history Mayweather vs Dela Hoya since then the expectations were higher not allowing Banal to grow into his own. At 19, he fought for a world title and lost in front of his hometown fans, which was a traumatic experience for him,after four years we all thought he got over it but again it turned out to be the same thing all over again. Banal is only 24 and is still young, its up to Banal if he can comeback or not, Just like Villoria, he was knocked out by Carlos Tamara 3 yrs ago and is back now at his best at 32 yrs old.

WHO TO WATCH. Milan Melindo should have a title shot this year and we hope to get some big names for him. Genesis Servania needs a break out fight, Jason Pagara has shown Maturity, Rocky Fuentes and Jimrex Jaca is ready for a title shot.

POTENTIAL. Young fighters Prince Albert Pagara and Melvin Gumban from the ALA gym but we also have potential young stars fighting under ALA Promotions but from different stables.. Undefeated Arthur Villanueva and Merlito Sabillo, Lorenzo Villanueva, Marlon Tapales with more young fighters joining us soon.

UFC? I am not so familiar with UFC and MMA but I know its gaining ground. Still, I believe boxing will always be what it is because of its history and tradition. No question UFC has a brilliant promoter in Dana White but boxing has Bob Arum. The problem with boxing is politics. Take Golden Boy and Top Rank, they refuse to make the big fights because they can’t work together. It destroys the sport.

PACMAN. Manny will have to evaluate himself if he can focus on boxing 100%; if not, he should retire. It’s a demanding sport. Marquez knocked Manny out because he was 100% focused and Manny was not. Manny still has it as he was winning until he got careless and walked into the punch. It’s best for Manny to fight a tune-up first before a rematch with Marquez. He should go back to his strength training and conditioning which he didn’t do in his last fight.

The Parkinson’s disease report was unfair to Manny as the doctor did not even personally check him. Manny knows his body more than anyone but I agree with Bob Arum: have further tests in the US.

NBA? Miami Heat will win again. My best player: Lebron James.

Why there’s no other race like the Cebu Marathon

Two nights ago, I stood before an audience filled with runners. There sat an American running his first 42K. Across him was a Canadian half-marathoner. Dozens from Cagayan de Oro arrived. Victor Ting, 67 years old from Manila, previously finished a 160-km. trek. He’s joining the Cebu Marathon today. Mayor Mike Rama did not sing — he gave a speech and is running 5,000 meters at 5:30 this morning.

It was the Race Briefing and Pasta Party of the Cebu Marathon last Friday night at The Terraces of Ayala Center Cebu. Before “Mr. Acoustic” himself, Paolo Santos, strummed his guitar and four hard-core runners — Dr. Abraham Manlawe, Joel Garganera, Twinkle Ignacio and Raul Cepeda — spoke motivational words, I took the stage for my message. Here are excerpts…

Maayong gabii kaninyong tanan — to our guests from out-of-town, welcome to Cebu! This is the event’s sixth year. What makes the Cebu Marathon different? Is it the prize money, because we offer the most? The distance, because we’re the farthest? The number of participants, because we have the most? No. Some races offer more money, have farther (100K) distances, and have tens of thousands of runners.

Cebu Marathon is unique because of…

First, the timing. Our event is not held in March or August. It’s always on the 2nd Sunday of the year. It’s part of the festivities of the Sinulog — the country’s biggest festival. If the DOT says “It’s more fun in the Phils.,” during the Sinulog, “Running is more fun in Cebu!” Today, runners will see buntings and lights all over, they’ll hear the Sinulog beat playing, there’s dancing… it’s not a boring race. It’s festive and lingaw.

Second: Our land, Cebu. Our city. Our province. Our history. Eight years from now, we will celebrate the 500th anniversary of Ferdinand Magellan’s landing. Cebu is that historic. We are considered the oldest city in the country. For the 21K and 42K runners: you will be passing through some of the most historical sights in the country. First, we start  at the Cebu I.T. Park, the city’s premier business district. Then you pass along the Provincial Capitol, Osmeña Blvd., Fuente Osmeña, Colon St. (the country’s oldest), Sto. Nino Church. My favorite spot? Running in-between the Magellan’s Cross and the City Hall. Next, Malacanang sa Sugbo, Plaza Independencia and, possibly the only run to do this nationwide… underneath the Tunnel. Then the South Road Properties.

We have the best route of any marathon in the whole Philippines! Maybe one of the best in Asia.

Third reason: the people, the Cebuanos. We have a genuine partnership between the public and private sectors. The city government is giving the total cash prize of P389,500. We have the support of Ayala Center Cebu, Cebu I.T. Park, New Balance, Globe, Pocari Sweat and Nature’s Spring. The support of the Talisay City officials, DPWH, CITOM, TODA and the SRP are crucial.

VOLUNTEERISM. The men and women behind this event are not being paid. You know why we’re helping? Because we ourselves — all of us at the CERC — are marathoners. And many of us have travelled all over the world — from Chicago to Paris to Hong Kong to New York to Amsterdam — to join marathons. And if not also for the volunteers in all cities in the world, then we would not have been able to join.

We are giving back. This time, to you. We want you to experience the pain(!) and satisfaction of finishing a 21K or a 42K. It’s a moment you’ll treasure forever. In the streets this Sunday (today), don’t be surprised if you’ll see doctors, lawyers and top businessmen giving you a massage or a cold drink at the sidewalk.

Fellow runners: it is 32 hours from race time at 4 AM on Sunday. Congratulations! Each of you here — for joining, for spending hundreds of hours on the road, for waking up at 4 in the morning to run when everybody else is asleep, for all your sacrifices — each of you here is a winner in life.

Continue to enjoy running. Enjoy Cebu. Enjoy the Sinulog. Pit Senyor!

Reminders to the CCM marathoners

To Bernard Palermo, Danny Cristobal, Wally Liu, Bernard Sia, Chris and Nia Aldeguer and the thousands of others who’ll run the Cebu City Marathon this weekend, good luck. After hundreds of kilometers of asphalt-trampling, after months of early morning-rising, after buckets-full of sweat, this is it. It’s five nights of sleep to go. Your training is over. It’s time to fully-charge your body’s batteries for the street battle up ahead. Here are a few reminders…

Website. Want to verify if you’re registered? Visit www.CebuMarathon.com. Scan through the list. If you have any questions, send an email to info@cebumarathon.com.

Late Registrants. Rejoice! Since the Dec. 23 closure of registration, we have been inundated with emails: “Can we still register?” My reply: “Why register only now? We’ve been open for two months!” Anyway, here’s the good part: We will accept late registrants for the 5K and 21K categories. Visit the Active Zone.

Race Kits. Claiming of the New Balance singlets is finally near. It’s tomorrow. But, calm your excitement. No hurry! With nearly 2,000 joining the 42K and 21K categories — plus a thousand more for the 5K — be patient. Go on Thursday or Friday, if possible. The period for claiming runs for 30 hours: that’s Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. There’s no rush. Best day to go: Friday.

Pasta Party. The Cebu City Marathon is not just a one-Sunday-morning sports program; it’s weeklong. You’ll receive discounts to Planet Sports this week. You’re also invited to the high-class, fun-infested Carbo-Loading activity. That’s 6 p.m. this Friday, Jan. 11, at The Terraces of Ayala Center. Dinner coupons to four prestigious pasta-serving establishments will be offered for sale to all CCM runners. Plus, there’ll be a live band performing and — guess what — Manila-based acoustic star/singer Paolo Santos will join the party!

Emergency Info. Reminder… When you receive your Race Bib later this week, please make sure to write the Contact Names and Numbers of those whom the organizers should call in case of an emergency.

Relax. With just five days left before race day, it’s time to slow down. It’s better to be under-trained than tired on Sunday. Drink lots of liquids. Don’t increase your food intake but take more carbohydrates when the race nears. Relax.

RACE DAY REMINDERS…

Cheaters not welcome. To anyone planning to cheat, please do not. Not only is the entire route littered with marshals, CITOM officers, policemen – plus computers to track each runner’s footsteps — what’s worse is if you get caught. How about your name being embarrassed in the newspapers? Or, being “excommunicated” from the Cebu running community? As our Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (BCBP) motto reads: BE HONEST.

No Race Number, No Entry. The organizers will be strict. Nobody but registered runners wearing official race bibs will be allowed inside the cordoned area for runners. Anybody else attempting to run (bandits, they’re called) will be courteously removed from the route.

No wheeled vehicles. Cars, motorcycles, bikes — any type of wheeled vehicles — are absolutely not allowed inside the runners’ area.

Hydration. There are a total of 13 water stations in the entire route. Each station will have overflowing water and isotonic drinks. So no need for you to carry a water belt (that will just add extra weight). Our official hydration sponsors: Pocari Sweat and Nature’s Spring!

Cheer. We ask the spectators, family members, and friends to cheer along the route. Jane-Jane, Andrew and Nica Ong and Dr. Albert Santos have finished the New York City Marathon. What’s makes it special? They say: the 2 million spectators who line the streets to cheer. So, like NYC, let’s go out and shout, PIT SENYOR!

Puso: the Heart of the Cebu City Marathon

The word has two meanings. In Tagalog, “puso” means “heart.” In Bisaya, it’s pronounced in a stronger manner: PU-SU!

To us Cebuanos, we know the meaning of “puso.” It’s our favorite dish with lechon. We eat puso during parties. We bring bundles to the beach. Every important Filipino-style, get-your-hands-dirty event involves this hanging rice.

“Puso is rice, yes, but it is more than that,” said an article in wayblima.com entitled, “The Art of Hanging Rice.” It added: “Puso is an integral part of the barbecue culture of Cebu, and I would go so far as to call it an art. Puso is to the Cebuano what the baguette is to the Parisian, or the bagel is to the New Yorker.”

Well-said. Why this talk of the puso? Because, after three years of the Cebu Marathon when the 42K finishers received their mango-designed medals — now the CCM medals have a different look.

Puso. Yes, if you haven’t seen the photo yet, visit Facebook or the website (cebumarathon.com) and gaze at it.

Why the puso? When Meyrick “Jacs” Jacalan, our Cebu Executive Runners Club (CERC) organizer who was responsible for the iconic mango design, thought of a different look for 2013, he rattled-off several options. (One interesting option was a lechon runner!)

The puso represents Cebu. And it will be the prized possession of all 42.195-km. finishers of the January 13, 2013 race.

Shifting to Tagalog, it also takes a lot of “puso” (heart) to run from the Cebu I.T. Park to the Capitol to the City Hall to the Tunnel to the SRP — all the way to Talisay — and back to Lahug. That takes sacrifice. That entails eating pain and suffering and offering tons of prayer when one passes the Basilica Menor del Santo Niño. That takes heart.

And so, Bisaya or Tagalog, the word “puso” is the perfect representation of next Sunday’s reward. A “puso” for the “puso” (strong heart) of the marathoner!

PRESS CON. We unveiled the medal last Thursday. When the CERC members and media personalities gathered in a long table, guess what was served in Mooon Cafe, our family-owned Mexican-inspired restaurant?

Of course, the puso. The diners were puzzled. Does Mooon now offer puso? Our CERC group — Roy Trani, Kenneth Casquejo, Jesse Taborada, Rudy Tindugan, Dr. George Evangelista, Barry Marquez, Raffy Osumo, Annie Neric and Dodong Sulatre — aware of the surprise, didn’t comment. Together with pork barbeque, we just munched and ate. Finally, when the press-con started, I joked to the group, “It’s not true that Mooon now offers puso…” Then we unveiled the medal made by Suarez Arts.

ONLY 42K? Now on our fourth year of organizing CCM (we had two Sinulog half-marathons earlier), our CERC group has decided to stick by tradition. We know plenty complain. My mom — who’s done several 21Ks and a 25K — was one of those. Why don’t the 21K finishers get medals? (All 21K and 42K finishers, though, will receive Finisher’s Shirts.)

It’s a tradition that’s started and a tradition that will continue. That’s why, as each year progresses, the number of 42K participants increases or is maintained. This year, we’ll exceed over a thousand 42K runners. We want the 21K runners of this year to aim more, go farther, train twice as much — to make that moment when the medal is draped on one’s neck even sweeter.

With every-Sunday races in Cebu today, collecting medals is no longer a rarity. Many runs offer medals. We’d like for the Cebu Marathon “puso” to be one of the most treasured of metals in your cabinet.

This, therefore, is a challenge to all runners: Go for that full marathon at least once in your life. If not next Sunday, maybe in 2014.

REGISTRATION. Since Christmas, the registration has been closed. But, beginning Wed. (Jan. 9) at the Active Zone of Ayala Center, slots will be available for the 5K and 21K. (Very limited slots might be available for the 42K; email us now at info@cebumarathon.com.)

Finally, if you’re joining, visit the website to verify your registration details. Good luck and God speed!