He walks the talk

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Ed Hayco, PSC Commissioner Jolly Gomez, Mayor Mike Rama, PSC Chairman Richie Garcia, Dondon Sombrio, John Pages and Ricky Ballesteros

Wearing one’s black leather shoes while hiking the track oval of the Cebu City Sports Center is disallowed. So is strolling along the maroon-colored rubberized surface wearing long pants. Worse, if you wear long-sleeves — even if the brand is Lacoste — that’s unacceptable attire to be worn while circling the Abellana oval.

One man did that two Sundays ago. And, no, he wasn’t reprimanded or asked to change to sleeveless running wear. In fact, right beside him was the Sports Center manager, Ricky Ballesteros.

How was this possible?     Because that man was our city’s chief executive officer. And he was walking the entire circle not to exercise or sweat but to give instructions on the upliftment of the CCSC.

Mayor Mike Rama, two weekends ago, was inside our sports complex together with our nation’s top sports leaders: PSC Chairman Richie Garcia and PSC Commissioner Jolly Gomez. Part of the group was Edward Hayco, the “Guinness World Record” man who is our city’s sports honcho.

After the formal turn-over of the gymnastics equipment from the PSC to the CCSC and after speeches were delivered by Garcia, Rama and Hayco, that’s when we stepped out to the track oval.

The Cebu Sports Museum is one of the major projects of our city’s sports commission. As the past president of the Sportswriters Association of Cebu (SAC), now headed by Rico Navarro, I volunteered to help develop the museum.

Mayor Mike gave us tips. One of the most passionate and energetic of men that you can find — always on-the-go, forever smiling and chatting, endlessly hopping from one project to another — Michael Rama was his usual charismatic self when he talked to Ed Hayco, Ricky Ballesteros, Dondon Sombrio (our bemedalled archer and architect of the museum), volleyball’s Eric Licain, and myself.

“Let’s call it ‘Walk and Run with the Sports Heroes,’” said the mayor. Originally, we wanted the sports museum to be confined inside the building complex.

Why don’t we include the outside, the oval, the entire complex? the mayor suggested. Excellent point. With thousands of joggers and people who exercise around the track oval, why not let them be witnesses to the museum?

Like Hong Kong’s Walk of Fame boardwalk where, along the breathtaking view beside the water, you walk amidst heroic men and women who’ve made Hong Kong popular, we can do something similar in Cebu — for sports.

“We can place Flash Elorde’s statue here,” said the mayor, pointing to a spot at the oval’s first bend. Then, several meters later, he pointed to another vacant area. “If Manny Pacquiao is okay, we can ask that he be included here and we can place Manny’s life-size figure here.”

Brilliant. Under the 11 a.m. morning heat — when Mr. Sun’s rays beamed brightly upon us — and with Rama wearing a red-striped Lacoste, he toured us not on a halfway walk of the 400-meter oval — but the entire turn, pointing at a possible idea there, excitedly and animatedly expressing his views at another spot there.

Along the way, he shook hands with athletes. We spotted the UC football team (my UP classmate Tirso Roa, who helps the squad, was there). About to play next on the soccer field, Mayor Mike shook hands with them. Then, he did another unexpected act: with long-sleeves shirt and cowboy-style jeans, he borrowed a football and dribbled it. He did a cross-dribble that delighted the UC players. They clapped.

In the oval’s final bend, we spotted an oasis with a huge grass area. Like a little boy who found a playground, he said, “We can make this the Sports Garden!”

In our entire tour, one word described the experience: Passion. This man has it. Finally, as we reached the exit and as his white Toyota Hi-Ace with the “MAYOR” plate number was waiting, we chatted for a few final moments.

Ed Hayco, applauded repeatedly by Mayor Mike (the day before was the Dancesport Championship at the Waterfront Hotel), ended our talk with these words: “Mayor, your passion comes from here,” said Ed, pointing to the heart.

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