Monthly Archives: April 2013

Gio on Guan: If a 14-year-old can, Why can’t I?

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Golf is an old man’s sport. That’s what we know. That’s what we think.

Jack Nicklaus won his 18th major at the age of 46. Jerry Barber, a former PGA Championship winner, played a PGA Tour tournament (the ‘94 Buick Invitational) — at the age of 77!

That’s before. In this era of Instagram, Twitter, Galaxy S4 and Guan Tianlang, it’s all young and new.

You’ve read of Guan two weeks ago. At 14 years old, he became our planet’s youngest human being to have made the cut in a major championship. “It’s frightening to think that he was born after I won my first Masters,” said Tiger Woods, now “old” at 37.

Golf today is about the youth. Ask Jovi Neri. The young lawyer’s jungolf program at the Cebu Country Club has cultivated dozens of champions.

Miguel Tabuena barely lost (sudden death to Jay Baryon) in yesterday’s ICTSI Camp John Hay Championship. He won an event the week before. He’s only 18.

Angelo Jose “Gio” Gandionco is another young phenom. The son of Opep and Cora Gandionco, Gio is now enrolled under a golf scholarship at the Santa Clara University in California.

A multiple Philippine junior golf champion (and major awardee during the 31st Cebu Sports Awards), Gio spoke about his co-golfer from China.

“I played with him (Guan) in a practice round for the Callaway Junior World Championship in Torrey Pines last July,” said Gio, who’ll turn 18 in June. “For him to make it to the Masters at 14 and to make a cut is such a huge accomplishment for him and for the junior golfers in Asia. I was really amazed with the way he played the game, especially knowing that he had won the Junior World in a younger age division the year before by I think more than 10 strokes.”

Gio is motivated by Guan’s achievement. If a 14-year-old can do it, says Gio, why cant I? “My teammates and I talk about him and we were all shocked to see Guan performing well considering the pressure he was going through.”

Adam Scott — 18 years older than Guan at 32 — is another hero Gio admires. After last year’s collapse at the Open Championship, Gio expected the Australian to rebound. Adam Scott did — winning The Masters. “He has always been one of my favorite players,” Gio said. “He has a great swing and maintains his composure throughout the whole game.”

COLLEGE. Our talk shifted to his collegiate freshman year living in America. Thus far, with the Santa Clara U. team, he’s competed in Washington, Arizona, Oregon, all over California and even in Mexico.

“Traveling to different places, playing golf and meeting new people is always fun especially when you’re with a team,” Gio said.

Santa Clara is a private (non-profit) Jesuit school based in Silicon Valley — the “world’s technological capital” that houses Google, Apple and Yahoo! Gio calls the school “not too big or too small” (about 5,000 undergraduate students and thousands more in grad-school).

In golf, they were seven players (now down to five because one quit and another didn’t reach the required grade point average to play as a student-athlete).

“I have qualified and played on the traveling team for each tournament this year,” Gio reports. “I have had 3 top 20 finishes, two of which were in the last tournaments of the year. I made a pretty good finish in our West Coast Conference Championship just last week being the only one from my team to get a 2013 All-West Coast Conference Honorable Mention.”

Gio’s schedule is all academics and golf: “MWF, I have class from 8-12 then golf practice from 1 to when ever it gets dark (which is about 6-7pm),” he said. “On Tuesdays and Thursdays, my team has 6am workouts followed by class from 8-2 then golf practice when it gets dark.” During his slack time, Gio studies and plays another round of golf on Saturdays. On Sundays, he rests.

“Being a Student-Athlete isn’t all easy, it takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice,” he says. “It takes time and effort to practice golf and study regularly especially if you’re traveling every week. But despite the hectic and busy schedule, I am still able to maintain my grades.”

The 2013 Cebu Horse Congress and Festival

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A “Horse Congress?” Ha-ha. It’s true. (And I thought only members of Congress did the horsing-around!)

Anton Quisumbing — whom I’ve known for decades since he and my brother-in-law, Jake Mendez, and a group of others co-founded CEOBSA — is back with the annual sporting event.

It’s the 3-day horse show and competition with over 180 participants from Davao, Bukidnon, Cagayan de Oro, Dumaguete, Bohol, Clark, Masbate, Bacolod and Cebu.

“I coined the name, The Cebu Horse Congress and Festival, since it is the biggest gathering of horses, associations and clubs from all over the country,” Anton said.

There will be plenty of activities starting tomorrow until Sunday at the South Road Properties (SRP), at the vacant lot right beside the St. Pedro Calungsod Templete.

First, the races. There will be three types: the Barrel, the Obstacle and the Traditional Oval.

“Horse-racing has always been a favorite spectator sport. Unlike motor (car or bike) racing, the horse is only 1 horse power! And this where the H.P. of the engine derives it’s name from,” Anton said.

“To watch the horse and rider maneuver thru the obstacles, you will be able to see the seasoned riders and horses flawlessly and effortlessly.”

Here’s how the event will look like: Two riders of the same handicap (level) will race through a course (mirror courses); then, they switch after the 1st heat.. total of two heats per rider.

They’ll also offer the following classes: Class A (big horses), Class B (medium-sized horses) and Class C (“Bisaya class,” Anton says). “Very fun to watch,” he adds.

In the Barrel race, there are further divisions: expert, intermediate, novice, youth, auxiliary, royal and kiddies. There’s room for all horses and competitors.

The president of the Philippine Horsemen’s Federation, Anton explains that this weekend will not be all about horse-racing.

There’s also serious horse-talk. Expert speakers have been invited to talk about a variety of topics. For example, said Anton, “Horse-shoeing technicians from abroad will lecture about modern ways to shoe your horse.”

Also, as part of their advocacy, there’s a Program that allows Vet students to enroll and apply the 1-week activity as part of their Clinics, which is part of the Vet-med curriculum.

Topics, listed by Anton, include the following: (1) Horse handling/transport from Pier to venue thru a trailer or livestock transporter; (2) Animal health management before/ during and post event; and (3) Processing of travel documents and inspection of papers/ permits. (Dr. Alice Utlang of the Cebu City Veterinary Office is heading this weeklong program.)

Several instutitions will also be busy joining this weekend, among them: the PVMA (Philippine Veterinary Medical Association), Cebu City Veterinary and Fisheries Department, Department of Agriculture Region 7 Quarantine dept and Livestock Dept., Visayan State University (VSU), SouthWestern University (Vet dept) and more.

Thus, the term, “Horse Congress.” Spearheading this event is, of course, CEOBSA — which stands for the Cebu Equine Owners Breeders Sportsmen’s Assocation — an organization that started in 1997. Since their founding year, they’ve organized the annual Horse-racing competition.

CEOBSA is assisted by two city-led groups: the Cebu City Sports Commission, headed by Ed Hayco; and the Cebu City Tourism Commission.

“The Horse Congress and Festival will help promote sports in the grassroots and will help promote sports-tourism, eco-tourism and animal welfare awareness,” adds Anton.

Finally, and as a way of inviting the Cebuano public this weekend at the SRP, the owner of the Big Q Farm — Anton Quisumbing — says: “This is the biggest horse event in the Philippine Horsemen’s Circuit.. it is the Kick of the year. Entrance is free. Plus, for the kids (at minimal fees), there will be pony rides!”

Bye-bye, Boom Boom

Last December, it was Pacquiao. Last April 6, it was Viloria. The other weekend, it was Donaire. And, last Sunday, it was Boom Boom. Thus far, of world champs and of world-champ-wannabees, it’s been loss after loss for the Pinoys.

We know boxing — like chess or fencing — is one-on-one. Of the two gladiators inside the ring, excluding the unwated “tie” (tabla), one will win, another will lose.

Bautista? The winner of his first 23 fights, we thought Candijay, Bohol would produce its first ever world titlist in Rey. But, no. After that Marquez-on-Pacquiao-like knockout by Daniel Ponce de Leon in August of 2007, the sound of Boom Boom’s punches hasn’t been Boom-bastic.

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Should he or shouldn’t he? This “retirement” question has been answered.

Boom Boom is still young. He’ll turn 27 on June 19. His record has been impressive: After a 23-0 start, he loses to De Leon but recovers to win his next three bouts. After another loss (to Heriberto Ruiz), he rises once more to win eight straight prior to last Sunday’s fall in Davao.

Overall, his record of 34 wins (25 via knockout) and three losses (a 92 percent win-loss percentage) is sterling.

Still, a loss is a loss. And, it seems, this adage holds true for Bautista: “You’re only as good as your last performance.”

Michael Pastrano Aldeguer, the president of ALA Promotions, has spoken: “We may have seen the last of ‘Boom-Boom’ Bautista. Why should he be punished more? There’s no point. Even if he had won the fight I would still tell him to retire.”

Concern. Empathy. Good health.

ALA, the Father, Antonio Lopez Aldeguer, the man who started the most respected boxing stable in the Philippines back in 1985 — he considers his boxers like his children. I’ve known him for over two decades. I’ve known Michael since high school. The primary concern of father-and-son is — always, always — good health.

The last thing they want is another Z Gorres incident. (Weeks after Z had recovered from that near-fatal experience in 2009, Mr. Aldeguer told me that those were some of the most harrowing moments of his life.)

With Boom Boom, as Michael explains: What for? Boxing, let’s remember, is no gymnastics or ballet. Boxing is a brutal, rib-breaking, jaw-collapsing, mind-bleeding sport.

Prior to last Sunday, Boom Boom planned to be a world champion. Now, he has succumbed to these words said by Mike Tyson: “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.”

Still, there’s no shame in retirement for Boom Boom. His legacy is implanted in our Cebuano minds. He is one of the most famous — and entertaining — boxers that Cebu has cultivated. Donnie Nietes is the WBO Light Flyweight world champ but, if you ask any passerby from Colon to Waterfront Hotel who they recognize more, the answer comes in two resounding words: Boom Boom.

You’ve inspired many. You’ve excited many. Time to hang up the gloves, Rey.

JUDGING. I’m glad Bautista “lost.” By glad, I mean I’m happy that two judges correctly saw the fight and fairly awarded the win to Jose Ramirez of Mexico. I saw the replay on ABS-CBN and nobody would doubt the loss of Bautista. Kudos to Salven Lagumbay and Danrex Tapdasan for scoring the fight, 114-111. Imagine the ruckus inside the University of Southeastern Philippines gym if Boom Boom won?

MACAU. Is it true that Pacman will fight this October? In Macau? If so, this is the perfect chance for us to watch.

Las Vegas, Nevada is a million and six meters away from Mactan. Not Macau. There are direct flights from Manila. Or, a short 2.5 hour trip from MCIAA to Hong Kong and a quick one-hour fast-craft trek to Macau… then it’s “Ready to rumble….”

This might be Manny’s last fight. Seven years older than Boom Boom and twice a loser in his last two fights, Pacman will retire soon. If it’s in the Las Vegas of Asia, let’s go!

NBA’s First round! Who’ll get KO’d?

Ask anybody. Ask Dennis Que. Ask Kyle Kokseng. Ask anybody not named Kobe the same question and you’ll receive the same reply: Miami Heat will win it all.

LeBron & Co. are not the favorites. They are EXPECTED to win. After ending the regular season by winning 37 of their last 39 games, what else can we expect?

“They have a deeper bench this year and the Big 3 (LeBron, Wade and Bosh) are all healthy,” said Dennis Que, an avid Cebuano basketballer who not only watches the NBA on TV everyday buts adds, “My day starts when all the NBA games are finished.”

Kyle Kokseng, another close friend and the owner/general manager of Banilad Town Centre (BTC), concurs on Miami. He cites two words and three letters for the team’s impending triumph: Chemistry. Firepower. LBJ.

FIRST ROUND. The NBA Playoffs begin today. With Dennis, we did a “Que & A” on the most exciting 1st round contests:

1) 4th seed LA Clippers vs. 5th seed Memphis Grizzlies. A rematch of last year, “Both teams are evenly matched and they finished the season with identical win/loss records,” Dennis says. Expect a Game 7.

2) 4th seed Brooklyn Nets vs. 5th seed Chicago Bulls. The Nets are seeded higher but the Bulls won 3 of their 4 regular season games.

3) 2nd seed New York Knicks vs. 7th seed Boston Celtics. “Both teams hate each other and the Carmelo Anthony/Kevin Garnett drama continues. Stay tuned,” warns Dennis.

With Mr. Kokseng, I asked the same query and got this quick reply: MEM/LAC and SAS/LAL.

“LAL,” of course, stands for Los Angeles Lakers. Aren’t we all smiling that they entered the Final 16? Imagine the playoffs without the Lakers?

“They’re the NBA’s darling team,” Dennis says. “I’m sure a lot of people are happy, especially Charlie Pages. But I don’t see them winning against a superior San Antonio team and not without Charlie’s idol, Kobe.”

Kyle Kokseng replies: “All my bball friends know I’m anti-anti-Kobe, but LAL making it in is good for the sport. They have a chance against SAS. If they don’t make it, they’ll go down in 6 or 7 games.”

Speaking of “first round upsets,” Dennis thinks the Celtics have a chance against the Knicks — granted they can slow down Carmelo Anthony. (Doesn’t the entire sporting world love this “New York vs. Boston” rivalry? And, I ask, what sentimental motivation will the recent Boston Marathon bombing have on this series? I believe this will give extra impetus to the Celtics.)

As to the team that might surprise us the most, Kyle and Dennis came up with the same answer: Denver Nuggets. “They might challenge the Thunder in the Western finals,” Dennis says.

Kyle adds: “But if Dwight and Pau continue to play like they did the last 2 games, could be scary.”

FINAL FOUR. For Kyle Kokseng, it’s Miami-Indiana (“both teams play excellent defense and IND has good inside-out offense”) and Memphis-San Antonio (“MEM has best opponents’ PPG in the league, SAS – Graig Poppovich”).

Dennis Que agrees on Miami-Indiana in the East (“Miami will cruise past the Bucks, Nets; Indiana might face a tough Knicks team but will win because of their experience and depth”) but thinks Oklahoma will beat San Antonio to meet Miami (again) in the NBA Finals this June.

MVP? No question. The award hasn’t been given yet but, as sure as Dennis is that Miami will win the trophy, it will be LeBron holding aloft his 4th MVP award. (When, not If, this happens, LBJ will be nearing the 5 MVPs of Michael Jordan. Also, will the NBA see its first-ever “unanimous” MVP winner in LeBron? I hope so.)

NBA TODAY. Finally, I asked Dennis Que if today’s league is more exciting than the past…

“Yes and No,” he replies. “It’s always exciting to watch the NBA in different eras. Before, there were physical plays, fighting and brawls. The no-harm, no-foul rule applied. Through the years, the NBA managed to control that. Now, with the evolution of bigger, faster and stronger players and less physical plays, we are treated with never-before-seen cross-over moves and high-flying dunks.”

Millette, Amale react on the Boston Marathon

“I was shocked to hear about the explosion and couldn’t help but immediately recapture the Finish line scene… where (my children) Justin, Yuan and Savvi waited for me,” said Millette Chiongbian, who ran the Boston Marathon two years ago.

“It is unbelievably unthinkable of how this could happen in the most respectable, prestigious and legendary marathon,” Millette added. “This is a traumatizing event for those who were there because that day was supposed to be exciting, happy and worthy of celebrating but then turned out to be catastrophic and heart-breaking. The Boston Marathon will always be ‘The Boston’ but it will never be the same.”

Why is the Boston Marathon so celebrated? First, it is the world’s oldest annual marathon. It started in 1897 (the year after the first modern-day Olympics) and is always held on the 3rd Monday of April. Also, it is the most hallowed of 42K races because you need to be very fast to qualify.

One very fast Cebuana who recently qualified was Amale Mendezona Jopson. A former national-team triathlete (and the wife of Noy Jopson), Amale ran the Dong-A Seoul International Marathon last March 17. In her age category, she needed to run the 42K in 3 hours and 45 minutes or faster to qualify. She did, finishing 3:42:35 in Seoul.

Amale qualified for Boston! But, thank God, Amale was not there two days ago, running alongside 26,000 other runners in Boston — she’ll join the 2014 race.

“I was getting ready for work after a speed session at the Ateneo track when Noy called me from the airport to tell me about the news,” Amale said.” I was utterly shocked and devastated. Why would anyone do this? Were there casualties? What about the Pinoy runners – were they alright?”

Amale emailed me a list of friends who joined. She wrote: “Good friend and fellow triathlete Arland Macasieb, Multiple Ironman finisher Efraim Manzano from Hawaii, Hawaii Ironman Finisher Amanda Carpo and her sister Leica, brothers Arnie and Anton Aguila; Irish national Aileen Breen who lives in Manila. Anton had an amazing finish at 2:51, and Amanda recorded a great time of 3:28.”

Of those friends, Amale was most concerned with Efraim Manzao, who finished in 4:02 (nett time)/4:05 (gun time). “Truly,” Amale said, “angels watched over him since the bomb exploded at 4:09.”

The Boston bombing was more than shocking. It was America’s worst terrorist act since 9/11. And it didn’t just happen at an ordinary event or day — the twin bombs exploded during the world’s most famous footrace during Patriot’s Day.

“To cause terror on a purist event like the Boston Marathon was unthinkable,” Amale said. “The marathon is a race where the human spirit is celebrated and honored, where people – runners and spectators alike – lift each other up in every way possible. It’s an event where you see runners from all walks of life, and where you get inspired from truly amazing feats like visually-challenged runners finishing at an insane fast time of 2:12, and runners with other disabilities raising funds for all sorts of charities. It so saddening that such evil exists in this world to mar the marathon with such horror. Of all marathons to choose, they picked the most prestigious one of all. And to detonate the bomb at 4:09:44, close to the median Boston finish time, the intention was to do as much damage as possible.”

Distraught but filled with conviction to still — despite the fears — join the 2014 Boston Marathon, Mrs. Jopson added: “Well, I’ll tell you what Mr. Terrorist, we are saddened by what you did at Boston, and we pray for everyone you hurt. But as runners have time and again shown, even in the very act of training for and running the marathon, there’s no stopping us! We will continue to run marathons and support the community, and reach out to the world with all the purity, goodness and nobility of the sport. Despite all the pain, you didn’t weaken us today – you made us stronger. The human spirit will prevail!”

From Down Under to the Top of the World

Toby Florendo, my former CIS schoolmate, is a huge golf enthusiast. I sought Toby’s comments on the 77th edition of The Masters.

“Since five years ago, The Masters has been setting an unbelievable standard for excitement,” Toby said. “Bubba’s playoff shot last year. Schwartzel’s birdie run on the last 4 holes in 2011. Mickelson’s shot off pine straw in 2010. Cabrera’s battle of nerves in a 3 man playoff in 2009. This year it continues to live up to the hype.”

Toby — a 10-handicapper whose credentials include being the Handicap Chairman of CCC, a member of the Rules Committee at CCC, a member of the Monthly Tournament Committee at Alta Vista and part owner of Redgolf — said that two controversial rulings made the 2013 event more exciting: Tiger Woods’ 2-stroke penalty and the one stroke penalty for slow play on Tian Lang Guan, whom Toby simply calls “TLG.”

As for yesterday’s victory by Adam Scott — what a historic moment. Like most golfers, I woke up early to watch the last few rounds.

I switched on the TV. Isn’t it a beauty watching sports on high-definition? More so with The Masters. The carpet green grass. The shiny white sand. The colorful flowers and shirts of the spectators. The green and white striped umbrellas. All amidst the rain. Nothing looks more pristine and picturesque than The Masters.

When I started watching, I was surprised: A Filipino was going to win The Masters.

Jason Day, who looks Pinoy and whose mom is Filipina (his dad’s Australian), led the field at 9-under with a few holes left. Sayang. It wouldn’t last long. It wasn’t Jason’s day in The Masters!

ADAM. Minutes later, when another Australian — Adam Scott — sank a long birdie putt on the 18th, I thought it was over. In the fight between two As: Adam vs. Angel and Australian vs. Argentinian, we thought the Aussie won.

Wearing a white T-shirt with the logos of Uniqlo and Mercedes Benz on his chest, Adam shouted, “Come on, Aussie, Come on!” He slapped a high five with caddie Steve Williams.

But Cabrera wouldn’t surrender. He, too, birdied the 72nd hole.

“That finish was unbelievable,” Toby said. “Cabrera’s answer in regulation to Adam’s 20-foot birdie. Their play in the playoff was quality golf. Scott has always never played to his potential; after missing opportunities in the first 17 holes, it looked like it would be another major heartbreak for the Aussie. Scott’s making those pressure putts after missing everything the whole day shows how fickle golf can be.”

In the end, Adam Scott — who led by four shots with four holes to play in The Open Championships last year but still lost — did not collapse last Sunday. He birdied the 2nd playoff hole to win the Green Jacket.

TLG. With the 14-year-old Chinese phenom, Toby added: “TLG opens a huge door for golf. Golf in North America and Europe is stagnating. The new market is Asia. TLG just awakened tens of millions of possible golfers on the mainland. Remember Yao Ming’s impact on basketball? This will be bigger an impact for golf.”

MASTERS. Toby further explains why this event is special.

“The Masters is my favorite because it is the only major that has the same venue year in and year out. The design of the course is really risk-reward. It is the triumph of victory and the agony of defeat. All of that creates better memories. It is also the only tournament in the world that could care less what the outside world thinks. It is a tournament run by the club. Golf’s governing bodies have no say on who can/cannot play. It was originally called the Augusta National Invitational because that is what it is, a tournament where the club invites players to play. They set the criteria beforehand but at any moment they can decide to add or subtract someone from the list.”

How expensive are the tickets? Toby said they cost $5,000 to watch “live” the entire week. (That price rose to $10,000 a few days before the start.) Toby stayed in Cebu. But someday, sometime, Mr. Florendo will go and watch golf’s masters play in Augusta.

Flashback memories of ‘The Filipino Flash’ in Cebu

Two months ago — on February 5 — Gerry Malixi, a fellow La Sallian who swims and bikes and is married to Sari Garcia, received a phone call. On his iPhone, the screen said: Rachel Donaire.

“Rachel?” Gerry answered.

“Hi there! We’re in Cebu!” said the sweet voice of the wife of the Philippines’ most famous boxer not named Manny. Rachel handed over the phone to Nonito. “Hey, Gerry!” said the 4-time world boxing champ.

Last Feb. 5, Nonito and Rachel Donaire were in Cebu. Unknown to anyone but their closest relatives, the current King of Boxing flew to our Queen City of Cebu.

“When they called,” Gerry told me last Friday, “I was on my way to the airport. Jun and Rachel wanted to get together. I wanted to cancel my flight but I had an important appointment in Manila.”

On the phone, they spoke for 30 minutes. “I just teased him that he does not keep in touch anymore since he earns more than $1M per fight. His response was, “Kaya nga kita tinawagan, pare! (That’s why I called you!)”

Gerry is Nonito’s closest friend in Cebu. Back in 2007, after Donaire annihilated Vic Darchinyan, the Talibon, Bohol-born champion came to Cebu.

“I met him at the ALA gym,” said Gerry. “I read in the papers that he was coming to train for Maldonado. This was a few months after he knocked out Darchinyan. I asked Tito Tony Aldeguer if I could watch him train. He gladly agreed. I just talked to him after training and told him I was a big fan. We hit it off. He would come to my village (Northtown) to eat in the house. I also sponsored his 1 month membership at Holiday Gym where he worked-out a few times a week.”

When I hosted dinner for the Donaires — Nonito Sr. and Jr. — at Mooon Cafe in Guadalupe (organized by my fellow writer Salven Lagumbay) in Nov. 2007, Gerry was there. So were Cholo Verches, Manny Villaruel, Oliver Kho and Atty. Jingo Quijano.

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Gerry remembers one trip to Manila. “My wife Sari, our son Ivan and I were booked at Oakwood. We had an extra room, so Jun and Rachel stayed with us overnight. We also spent a lot of time at the Manila Polo Club where the waiters mobbed him! Every time I visit Polo Club, the waiters ask when I’ll be taking him back there. I also invited PBA commentator Anthony Suntay to meet him at Polo. By the way, off training, that guy can eat!!! Almost as much as I can! LOL.”

Speaking of food, Gerry recalls those days when Nonito’s dad was very strict. “I remember that all he ate was Eggplant Torta the whole day. Since he had to lose 30 pounds in 1 month! I felt sorry for him. Working out so much with very little food!”

One revelation that will make architect Ed Gallego and his wife Bernadette smile: “He loves La Marea Hot brownie cup!” Gerry said.

On money matters, it was Bob Arum who revealed that Donaire will be earning over $1 million in today’s fight.

Gerry, a businessman who operates Genergex Petroleum, related to me another anecdote about that 2007 fight between Nonito and Luis Maldonado.

“Jun had to sign a contract – this was for his fight against Maldonato. He had no internet access nor did he have a fax. It was urgent, so he asked me if his manager Cameron Dunkin could send his contract by fax to my office or house. I know it’s confidential, but it’s not sealed so I ‘peaked.’ It was $250k. Hehehe. I did not read details. I just saw the amount. I sent the fax to ALA. He signed it and I faxed it back to the US.”

The last time Gerry met his boxing idol was in Nov. 2010. This was during the fight between Pacquiao and Antonio Margarito, which Gerry watched. “He was surprised to see me,” Gerry said. “We wanted to get together but he was too busy with interviews. He invited me to his wedding. Unfortunately, I could not fly down to Manila at that time.”

As to the fight today against the dangerous Guillermo Rigondeaux, who declared that, if he wins, it will be bigger than his two Olympic gold medals, Gerry said: “Rigondeaux is Cuban scary. But I think he’s too small and too inexperienced for Jun! He’ll do easy work on him. Fearless forecast = within 6 rounds.”

An interview with Dr. Rhoel Dejaño

In Cebu, if we speak of Sports Rehabilitation and Sports Conditioning, one of the top experts is Dr. Rhoel Dejaño. His specialty is Rehabilitation Medicine. “We are called Physiatrists, not Physical Therapists,” he says.

A certified sports conditioning coach who trained with the IGNITE360 discipline — the sports performance section of the IMG Academy (Bolletierri Tennis Academy is part of IMG) that’s based in Braddenton, Florida — Dr. Dejaño has also trained numerous teams and athletes in Cebu: CEC, Sacred Heart School-Ateneo, June Mar Fajardo, Dave Wilson Yu, the Cebu City Sports Commission, and tennis aces Noynoy Seno, Jana Pages and Kara Salimbangon, among others.

A Class-A tennis player who’s watched the US Open (Sampras and Agassi) and who considers Novak Djokovic as his favorite, Dr. Dejaño is both a sports doctor and a sports fanatic. Here’s our recent Q & A:

WORKED WITH TEAMS AND ATHLETES. I had the chance to work with CEC (the basketball team that became champions in CESAFI – from never winning a game before to being eventual champions). That was the first time I felt fulfilled after working sometime with USP as a volunteer. I offered myself to some schools before to help them out with the conditioning part of their training but hard to convince them that this was the way to go. Even now, majority still stick to the old methods of training. After CEC won, Ateneo asked me to help them out and until now I’m with them with their basketball program and football teams. The Ateneo basketball team and footbal teams won the championships in the major basketball tournaments in Cebu. Both teams will represent Cebu in the upcoming Palaro. The good thing with Ateneo is they believe in what I do and the Admin and coaching staff are very supportive. I started working with some schools but it was shortlived because, time and again, they still want to be with the old system of conditioning – eg. isolated weight training when this is not functional, ( form vs. function ) or jogging for and hour when they are not going to be long distance runners (unless youre sports require such like marathon, triathlon or cycling). Even so you can still break this up into short training periods but with more frequency.

Not a lot know that June Mar Fajardo was with us for a year way back when he was statrting out with UC. Remember that time when he was sidelined for knee injury? He was actually doing rehab and conditioning with us for a year after which upon his return he can now move more effeciently, run faster and jump higher.

Moncrief Rogado previously with USP and UC who now plays for the D League in Manila was also with me for quite some time. So is anthony Navarro from cec before ( bemedalled swimmer sa palaro ) and is now with San Beda.

Dave Wilson Yu formerly with the Ateneo hi school team also was with me. He is now with NU in manila and is presently training with Coach Schilling  in Idiana USA.

I’m also collaborating with the Cebu City Sports Commision. we already had several workshops with the local coaches especially in the grassroots level. I want to share my knowledge with them so as to improve our training methods and hopefully produce future champions. I’ve also been going around the Philippines doing workshops for those interested in this field. I have several coming up in Bacolod, Davao and Tacloban. Some universities have already asked me to help them out as they prepare for the next season.

Individuals that come to the clinic – I have Noy2 Seno, Jana Pages and Kara Salimbangon for tennis. Noy2 seno has been doing good in the junior circuits lately several basketball players from different schools. Volleyball players, golfers, almost all sports actually and even ballet dancers.

LOVE FOR TENNIS. I’ve been playing tennis since I was in grade school. Got the chance to play in some age group tournaments way back. These were usually sponsored by PNB before (maybe you’ve joined this, too). Unitl now I still play regularly. I’ve watched the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows during the time of Agasii and Sampras. But this time my US trip schedule doesnt coincide with the US Open. I’m usually in New York every December to visit family. But I get the chance to play, though, in Flushing Meadows. Of course the experience of playing where our idols play is different. It’s like walking on hallowed grounds.. the feeling is just hard to describe.

I have several tennis players whom I admire. Roger federer for his coolness. He’s probably the most conditioned player there is. He’s been in the tour for quite sometime and haven’t had any major injuries so far. Sharapova for her grace and poise. Serena for her tenacity. Nadal for his vicious forehands; but sorry for him as his been plagued with a lot of injuries lately. Hopefully, we’ll see him back in the tour soon. But the player i admire most is NOVAK Djokovic. He’s very well conditioned that’s why he is winning almost all the major tournamnts. In professinal tennis, when you look at it skills-wise, most are probably on the same level. In the end, it boils down to who is more conditioned.

I’ve watched a few tennis tournaments in the US, some NBA games, too. Of course, locally, PBA games and especially when in Cebu I get the chance to be in the front row as I’m calld to treat their injured plyers as the games physician. In cesafi basketball, I’m also there. Thanks also to your group for bringing the Davis Cup to cebu as I get the chance to watch good tennis. Excited for the NBA game coming in October.

COMMON INJURIES? “Sprains and Strains. This involves the musculoskeletal system. This may range from cuts and lacerations to more serious ones when you have brain Injury from falls or blows, fractures, ligamentous injuries like ACL tears. This also depends on the type of sport. Most injuries happen due to lack of (or improper) training. Most people do it too soon, too fast, too heavy. Look at Abellana during Intramurals season (Aug. and Sept.) and you can see a lot of “athletes” doing “training.” During regional and division meets, we hurriedly form teams. This results in a lot of injuries. You cannot produce champions overnight. I believe that champions are made, not born. You can make a champion out of a beginner with the proper training in skills and in physical condition.”

HOW NOT TO GET INJURED. “The best way is to have proper training. That means they should be well-conditioned. Look at tennis. If you’re not well conditioned, how can you last several hours of continuous running, jumping, shifting positions? You’ll get injury if your muscles, joints and bones have not been trained to withstand all this rigors. You have to listen to your body. Once you start to feel something, especially pain, then it means something. You have to stop (rest) and, if it doesnt go away, then you have to seek professional advice. DO NOT overdo things. There is no shortcut to training. Look at our runners today. They just train for a month or two then they’re doing the full marathon. Worst, doing 3, 5 or more marathons in a year. The literature says that you need at least two years of training before your first 42K. And the most you can do is two marathons in a year. (A lot would frown on this.) You have to look long-term. You have to take care of your body; that also means proper nutrition, hydration, mental attitude and character.”

PERPETUAL SUCCOUR. “Since our clientele at Perpetual is increasing, we have plans of expanding. In the drawing plans is a 2-floor Rehab Center which is going to be the biggest in the Philippines and probably in Asia. One floor for rehab for patients and another floor dedicated solely to sports conditioning. It’s going to be a sports performance center. Thats why I have to update myself with training abroad. Come June, I’ll be in the IMG Academies in Braddenton, Florida for a week for actual coaching and get the chance to train professional atheletes.”

SCHEDULE. “I’m in Chong Hua Hospital from 10 AM to 12 noon (Cebu Rehabmedics at the Chong Hua Medical Arts building). In the afternoon, I go to Perpetual Succour Hospital from 3 to 5 PM; this is the clinical part of me. But when I train with my staff in the field, I’m usually in the courts by 5:30 AM.”

MESSAGE. “There is no shortcut to training. You can become a champion if you work hard and train properly. Having superior skills will not necessarily make you a champion. It has to be paired with a well conditioned body. As for the general population: Always listen to your body. Once you feel something — this is a red flag that something is wrong. Finally, Don’t play a sport to get fit. You have to be fit to play a sport!”

Davis Cup tie and the Thais

Ruben Gonzales raised his arms to the sky. He looked up, closed his eyes for a moment, smiled and made the sign of the cross. Thank you, Lord!

Last Sunday afternoon was the most important tennis match in the life of the 27-year-old America-based Filipino. Two years ago, when Cecil Mamiit was the star of our Davis Cup team, Ruben was relegated as substitute. He was good but Cecil and Treat Huey were the superstars. Ruben had to muster his patience to sit and watch. Not two days ago.

Danai Udomchoke, his opponent, was highly-ranked. He had reached world 77, was currently ranked 207 (vs. the 784 singles ranking of Ruben), and Danai had won the Asian Games in 2006.

On paper, Ruben was supposed to lose. On paper. Because on court, he was superb. When the score was 5-4 in the first set, Ruben ran around his backhand and smashed a down-the-line winner. On set point, he Xerox-copied the move: a forehand winner to win the first set, 6-4.

Danai “The Thai” was stunned. Am I not the more experienced netter? the 31-year-old Danai thought to himself.

In Set 2, Ruben did not relax. He exchanged one-handed topspin backhands. He hammered 120-mph service aces. He carressed the yellow ball to score drop shots. Ruben won the second set, 6-3.

This was when the capacity-crowd at Plantation Bay Resort and Spa started to scream louder. The two groups of students from Lapu-Lapu City — in full Philippine-color uniforms — danced and sang cheers. Drum beats revererated in the usually-quiet resort.

Tanakorn Srichaphan, the Thai captain, frowned. How can this be? Down 1-2, Danai was expected to level the score, 2-all. No, no, said Ruben. His resolve was as strong as his spinning forehand. Known as a doubles specialist, this was his moment to shout to all Pinoys, “Hey, I’m a star, too!.”

In Set 3, Danai — whose 5-foot-8 height and lean physique was much smaller than Ruben’s 6’1” muscular frame — was out-hit. Like a weakened boxer whose face is swollen and whose ribcage is half-broken, he was the same on-court.

On the opposite side of the net, Ruben’s confidence was sky-rocketing. He was slicing one-inch-above-the-net shots. With Jean Henri Lhuillier, the CEO of Cebuana Lhuillier, seated meters from the sideline, he wanted to prove to the man that he’s The Man.

He did, winning, 6-3. The crowd stood. We clapped a standing salute. Even our Southeast Asian neighbor-opponents applauded. Masterful. Complete. It was a knock-out of a 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 win. Game over, Philippines. Thanks to our tennis-Pacman: Ruben Gonzales.

ALCANTARA. Despite a 3-1 win, the fifth match was still played.Francis Casey “Niño” Alcantara was asked to play. Hailing from Cagayan de Oro, I used to watch Niño when he was still 8 years old.

Last Sunday night, the Pepperdine University scholar was too good. Final score: 6-4, 4-6, 6-0.

At game’s end, all four players entered the court. They hurled Cebuana Lhuillier shirts to the crowd. Isn’t victory all-so-satisfying?    After losing to Japan and Taiwan in 2011, we defeated Syria and Thailand this 2013. It’s not true, after all, that.. “Dimalas ang Davis Cup sa Cebu.”

Now sporting a 2-2 scorecard, will we see a fifth DC event against New Zealand in Marigondon? Yes! That’s our hope. Our Pinoy netters love Cebu. Days before the weekend, Ruben gorged on lechon! They love the beach setting of one of Asia’s best resorts. They love the Cebuano crowd. Let’s hope for a Cebu return.

PARTY. After the last match (at nearly 9 PM), I joined the two teams and the officials for the post-event party. Instead of pressure-packed tennis, it was the opposite: singing, drinking, eating, talking. Ruben and Treat did a duet song number, “I Want To Be A Billionaire.” Danai sang “Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You.”

That’s the beauty of sport. You fight. You pump fists. You stare. You beat. You raise your arms. You make the sign of the cross. Then, after the shaking of hands, you render songs in a duet. That’s doubles!

Thailand vs. Philippines: Who’ll win?

My wife Jasmin and I relish Thai food. Tom Yum? Yum, yum. That’s our favorite spicy soup. Pad Thai, the stir-fried noodle dish? Delicious. Here in Cebu, from Ayala to SM to BTC, we can easily savor Thai cuisine.

Thai massage? Even more prevalent. In almost every major there’s a Nuat Thai or Thewi Thai or Wat Pho.

If we speak of Bangkok, the capital of the Kingdom of Thailand, it’s nearby. Our very own Cebu Pacific now offers thrice-weekly direct flights from Cebu to Bangkok. If we talk of business, in a head-to-head, PH is handily beaten by TH. In terms of GDP, they totaled $643 billion compared to our $417 billion. That’s a big disparity. To think that our 90 million population dwarfs their 67 million.

Why this talk of Thailand? Because this weekend, either the Filipinos will feast on Thai food or our neighboring Thais will gobble up Pinoy food.

It’s tennis. It’s this tomorrow until Sunday. It’s at Plantation Bay Resort and Spa. It’s the Group 2 meeting between these two Southeast Asian nations. It’s Davis Cup.

Last night, together with the Phil. Tennis Association (Philta) and the Thai tennis squads, I attended the traditional Welcome Dinner hosted by owner Manny Gonzalez and GM Efren Belarmino of Plantation Bay. The players were introduced. They got to meet face to face. They danced the tinikling.

This morning, it will be the Draw. This is the occasion when who-will-play-who will be determined. Will Treat Huey play singles tomorrow? If yes, will the world no. 27 (in doubles) meet the Thai top seed, Danai Udomchoke?

Ruben Gonzales, the star of our last Davis Cup tie versus Syria — is he playing tomorrow? Yes, most likely. How about Nino Alcantara? You’ve heard of Nino: he’s Bisaya, from Cagayan de Oro, and now studies in the U.S. under a college scholarship. He’s famous for being a junior Australian Open doubles champion. He’s in Cebu. He’s with the team.

Johnny Arcilla? The indefatigable Bisaya, Johnny is a 7-time PCA Open champ. He played against Syria and won an important match. He completes the four-man squad.

A funny thing happened two nights ago. During the Fellowship Dinner of the 14th Truflex National Age Group event, all four Davis Cuppers — plus their coaches Roland Kraut and Chris Cuarto — attended. They wore all-blue (Yonex) shirts and gorged on lechon as they joined the nearly 200 junior players and parents at Bayswater in Marigondon.

Huey, Gonzales, Arcilla and Alcantara were introduced in the front by Randy Villanueva, Philta’s top official and Davis Cup administrator. Upon the prodding of Randy and forced by the clapping of the crowd, the six danced the Harlem Shuffle! I’m sure that dance was shot in video and uploaded in Facebook. Look for it!

With the Phil-Thai Davis Cup schedule, it’s this: Tomorrow (Friday), it’s the first two singles matches. The first match begins at 3:30 P.M. The second singles match follows right after. (Perfect afternoon/evening setting.) For Saturday — the birthday of the Thai-looking Pinoy, Jourdan Andrew Polotan — it will be just one match: the doubles, to start at 6 P.M. On Sunday, it’s the reverse two singles matches; the first to begin at 3:30 P.M. See you in Plantation Bay!

SUMMER TENNIS CAMP. If you’re looking to join a sports clinic this summer, try tennis. Not yet known to many, we’ve got a world-class tennis coach who now resides in Cebu.

Tommy Frederiksen, who hails from Sweden and who moved here last January, will conduct a month-long tennis camp at the Casino Espanol. It’s open to the public.

Sessions are every Tuesday and Thursday from 8 to 10 A.M. at Casino Espanol’s two clay courts along Ranudo St. The fee for the April 9 to May 7 camp is P2,000. Very reasonable. Players who don’t have rackets can even borrow. The camp is open to children from 6 to 18 years old and to both beginners and intermediate-level players.

Register now! Call Ritchel at 2531260 or Ana/Lex at 4161122 or text Coach Tommy at 0917-3010338.