Category Archives: Philippines

Worst SEAG finish

Our sports leaders projected a haul of 50 gold medals in Kuala Lumpur. They badly missed the target. Instead, Team PHL finished with only 24 gold medals. How bad is this result? Two years ago in Singapore, we collected 29. We pocketed the same 29 first-prize medals in Myanmar in 2013. Prior to that, we performed much better: 36 gold in Jakarta (2011), 38 in Laos (2009), 41 in Thailand (2007) and our biggest harvest in our SEAG history, a whopping 113 gold medals when he hosted in 2005.

What happened? We have been slipping, sliding, sinking and slumping. As each odd year passes, we deteriorate. We sent 497 athletes and 163 officials and got humiliated. Imagine 113 gold medals in 2005 and a dozen years later we’re down to 24? What’s sad is this: there will be plenty of finger-pointing among the POC and PSC and NSAs and many other three-letter organizations but, after months pass, all is forgotten.

The only good news? It’s our hosting of SEAG 2019. For sure, given that we own the homecourt advantage and get to choose the events, our standing will improve. It’s possible we’ll collect 50, 75 or 94 in 24 months’ time.

This Southeast Asian Games practice of allowing the host nation to choose the events it wants is gaining controversy. One of the complainants is Thailand. Back in 2015, Thailand was the overall champion of this 11-nation meet, winning 95 gold medals versus the 84 won by Singapore. This was two years ago. This week, they only won 70 and were clobbered by the 142 gold medals of the hosts. (In contrast, Malaysia only got 62 gold medals in 2015. That’s an increase of 80 gold medals!)

“They organise sports they are good at and do not organise sports other countries are good at,” said Thana Chaiprasit, Thailand’s delegation chief.

Unlike the Olympics which relies on the 90-member International Olympic Committee (IOC) to decide on the events, the SEAG has a different format. The host nation decides. (Speaking of the IOC, the Philippines only has one representative: Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski, the daughter of POC President Peping Cojuangco.)

This I-get-to-choose-my-games arrangment has resulted in the host nation often defying the conventional results. In the last 10 SEA Games hostings, six host nations emerged overall champions.

As examples: Malaysia’s 62 gold medals in 2015 became 142 this week. As for the Philippines’ 24 gold medals today, we have reason to smile in the months ahead. When we hosted in 2005, we garnered an improbable 113 gold medals.

Mr. Chaiprasit of Thailand complained that Malaysia dropped women’s boxing and included squash. Malaysia even included ice hockey and ice skating (a SEAG first), maybe to increase it’s tally. And if you’re wondering why we haven’t heard about Hidilyn Diaz, who won silver at the Olympics? That’s because they scrapped women’s weightlifting!

What does this mean for the Philippines? It means that from the lowliest of scores that we received this week (24 gold), we have a chance to reverse this because of this crazy, almost-unfair rule.

For 2019 and to gain back our No. 1 spot, I suggest we include takyan, patintero, sungka, jack-en-poy, holen, and tubig-tubig.

SEA Games

The Southeast Asian Games is held every two years. For the 29th edition, Malaysia is hosting 11 nations this August 19 to 30. There are nearly 5,000 athletes competing in 38 sports and 404 events and this will be the sixth time for Malaysia to host.

I’ve been to Kuala Lumpur once. This was 10 years ago to watch Roger Federer play Pete Sampras in the event, “Clash of Times.” Kualu Lumpur is impressive. With the Petronas Towers soaring above Malaysia’s capital, KL was named by CNN as the “world’s 4th best city for shopping.” It is also the seventh most visited city on this planet.

With the SEAG, the opening ceremonies will be this Saturday, the birthday of the best man in my wedding, my brother Charlie. Since Kuala Lumpur was awarded the hosting in 2012, it has prepared relentlessly. The main arena is the Bukit Jalil National Sports Complex, about 20 kms. from the city center, and its 1988-built stadium boasts of 87,411 seats.

An estimated (in Phil. pesos) P19 billion was allocated by Malaysia to prepare the infrastructure of the SEAG host nation. (Of the 36 venues, 19 will be in KL and 10 will be in Selangor; the other host-cities include Putrajaya and Negeri Sembilan.) To help save cost, they’ve upgraded existing facilities instead of building new ones.

There will also be no “athlete’s village” where Mary Joy Tabal, Alyssa Valdez and our flag-bearer, Kirstie Elaine Alora (of taekwondo), will stay in. The host country decided not to spend billions for new facilities that often become “white elephants.” Instead, they’re decided to house all the athletes, coaches and officials in dozens of hotels scattered near the venues.

Major sporting events are all about volunteerism. I’ve seen this first hand in the Olympics. For next week, when the announcement was made asking for volunteers, they received 50,000 online applications. Only 13,000 were chosen. But this tells us of the spirit of volunteerism of the Malaysians.

With the sporting events, there will be a total of 404 events in 38 sports. The choosing of which events to include, largely dependent on the host country, is often controversial.

One example is Indonesia. Back when it hosted the 2011 SEA Games, they included numerous non-Olympic events which resulted to them winning 476 medals, including 182 gold medals. They ranked No. 1. Two years later in Myanmar, their tally dropped by nearly half to 258 medals and, worse, in Singapore 2015, they collected only 182 medals (and 47 gold).

With next week’s hosting, I’m unsure if Malaysia is doing the same. But Thailand’s representative, Charoen Wattanasin, was quoted as saying last year, “Malaysia is taking advantage of other member countries. It has opted for its favourite sports — events in which it has high hopes — in the Games. It has a clear mission to get the medals from every sport in the Games. Even many traditional sports are missing. It is disappointing that Malaysia has ignored some good events as well.”

Speaking of our pride and joy, Mary Joy Tabal, did you know that Malaysia was planning to exclude the marathon in the SEAG? But thanks to an online petition from the running community, the 42K is back. Even better, the organizers will include the general public with 15K and 5K runs on the same marathon day, August 19.

Buddy Andrada: Why, why, why?

I don’t understand this penchant for clinging on to power forever. Take the case of Col. Salvador Andrada. I’ve known him since 1986. That was the year when I started joining tennis tournaments. That was the year Andrada became president of the Philippine Tennis Association (Philta).

For 20 years until 2006, Andrada was Philta chieftain. Was that dynasty too long? Absolutely. It’s not like he produced a Pinoy version of Djokovic or Murray or Kerber. (Come to think of it, those three were not even born when Andrada headed Philta in ’86!)

If you find that two-decade-long overstaying tenure as ludicrous, wait till you hear this: Andrada is back. He reinstated himself last June. Unbelievable. As we say in Bisaya, baga ug nawong.

When Jean Henri Lhuillier (the main backer of the Davis Cup team and the CEO of Cebuana Lhuillier), and Philta VP Randy Villanueva (who helped bring the five Davis Cup sorties here in Plantation Bay Resort and Spa) questioned Andrada’s return, he vowed to step down. But, as the cliche goes, promises are meant to be broken. In a Philta board meeting last Wednesday — just after our Davis Cup team, led by Ruben Gonzales and Treat Huey, defeated Indonesia — the transfer of power was to have been effected.

Lhuillier, 47, would preside as the new Philta head and Andrada would gracefully exit. But like a stinging backhand that stabbed Jean Henri flatfooted, Andrada reversed his decision.

“We walked out of the meeting because we were made to understand during our last board meeting that Col. Andrada had decided to step down for health reasons,” Lhuillier said. “As it turned out, this was not the case.”

I know Jean Henri and you cannot find someone with more enthusiasm and passion for tennis. He is selfless, humble, approachable, has contributed tens of millions to the game, and whose only objective is for the upliftment of Philippine tennis.

I do not understand the Philta board members who voted for Andrada over Lhuillier, namely Romy Magat, Paranaque Mayor Edwin Olivarez, Dr. Pablo Olivarez (attending in behalf of daughter Edna Nguyen), and the father and son Manny and Martin Misa. They have plenty of explaining to do.

“We wanted to participate in this election properly,” said Randy Villanueva, “but they misled us and now we’ll look at our legal options.”

Andrada is a “trapo;” an 82-year-old career politician disguised as a sportsman. Power-hungry. Selfish. Old. Like his buddy Peping Cojuangco.

Sports in Taiwan

TAIPEI — Taiwan is small. If you open Google Maps and compare the Philippines with our neighbor up north, it’s smaller than Mindanao. Taiwan is only 12 percent the land area of our country. Population-wise, their 24 million people is one-fourth our overpopulated nation. But if we compare economies, their GDP of US$1.147 trillion is sizable versus our $793 billion.

Sports? If we base the analysis on the Olympics, they beat us. Since they joined in 1956 in Melbourne (while we started earlier at the 1924 Paris Games), they’ve accummulated 24 medals versus our 10. Plus, they’ve gained the shiniest of precious metals: two gold medals for taekwondo in Athens and, just last August in Rio, another gold medal for women’s weightlifting.

Last Sunday, I spoke about the Taipei Marathon and discussed the moniker, “The Bicycle Kingdom,” conferred to this nation that manufactures millions of bicycles each year.

Biking and running are popular in Taiwan. Their streets are wide and planted with biking and jogging lanes — unlike our roads where the joggers and bikers have to negotiate the traffic with tricycles, private vehicles, jeepneys, pedicabs and, worse, motorbikes who “counter-flow.”

But as beloved as biking and running are in Taiwan, they’re not the most celebrated sport. This mantle belongs to baseball. If the Philippines has basketball, Taiwan has baseball. First introduced during the Japanese rule — which ran from 1895 until the end of WW2 in 1945 — baseball is Taiwan’s national sport. And if we cheer for the PBA, theirs is the Chinese Professional Baseball League. The Taiwanese have produced world-class players and have sent a few to America to play in Major League Baseball. These include Wei-Yin Chen (Orioles) and Chien-Ming Wang (Yankees and Nationals).

How good are the Taiwanese? According to the International Baseball Federation, Chinese-Taipei is ranked world no. 3, behind only the U.S. and Japan. They won silver at the Barcelona Olympics and bronze in 1994 at the Los Angeles Olympics.

With baseball, it’s the No.1 sport that they follow. But it’s not the top game that the Taiwanese themselves play. That honor goes to basketball and their top league is the Super Basketball League (SBL).

In tennis, their star netter is Lu Yen-hsun. He was ranked as high as world no. 33 (in 2010) and he currently sits at no. 64. I recall an interesting story involving this 33-year-old, 5-foot-11 player who resides in Taipei. Back in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, my wife Jasmin and I watched Andy Murray in singles. As he was ahead in the first set and was playing an unknown opponent, we moved to the other courts knowing that he’ll easily advance. An hour or so later, we saw the score flash: Murray lost! Minutes after the Briton’s shocking defeat, we saw his mom Judy walk in front of us, downtrodden and shocked. The man who beat Murray? Lu Yen-hsun of Taiwan.

More on tennis: the Chinese-Taipei team has played Davis Cup in Plantation Bay Resort and Spa. For those who visited the five-star resort in Marigondon in 2011, you were treated to smashing tennis action which ended up with the Taiwanese winning, 3-2.

Among the women, it’s Hsieh Su-wei who has achieved the highest of goals. Two years ago competing in doubles, she was ranked No. 1 in the world.

29th UNIVERSIADE. One major sporting event that this nation is looking forward to will run from August 19 to 30 next year. It’s the 2017 Taipei Summer Universiade and over 12,000 athletes from 150 countries are scheduled to converge for these biennial games.

Dubbed “the largest multi-sport event in the world apart from the Olympics,” the Universiade is organized purely for university athletes. Last year, South Korea hosted and next year, it’s Taiwan’s turn to organize this event which consists of 14 compulsory sports, seven optional sports and one demonstration sport.

In summary, sports-fan or not, Taiwan (especially with the direct EVA Air flights from Cebu) should be part of your travel list in 2017.

I hope Vargas loses and Vargas wins

One is first-named Jessie and the other is called Ricky.

Let’s start with Jessie. He’s 27 years old, was born in Los Angeles, California, stands 5-foot-10 and will weigh 147 lbs. when he climbs the ring next weekend against Sen. Pacquiao.

Jessie is 10 years younger and four inches taller than Manny. He has fought 28 times and won 27 — the only loss in his career was, coincidentally, against the man Pacquiao last defeated: Timothy Bradley. In Jessie’s loss to Bradley in June of last year, the duo danced all the way to the 12th round before Bradley won by UD. Right after that loss, Jessie fought Sadam Ali and won a 9th round TKO last March. That victory handed him the WBO welterweight crown.

With his fight against Pacquiao next weekend, it’s not surprising that among all of MP’s recent fights, this one has garnered the least hype. After promising to quit boxing, Manny — like most politicians do — reversed course and reneged on his promise.

“Every day I was able to run in the morning and then train after the Senate session,” said Pacquiao. “The gym is very close to the Senate.”

Given Pacquiao’s impressive showing against Bradley in their fight last April, many are expecting a straightforward win for our Pinoy hero.

“I don’t want to underestimate him,” said Pacquiao. “People say it is going to be an easy fight for me. But it is my experience that whenever I underestimate my opponent it is trouble for me.”

This is the first Vargas: Jessie. Obviously, we want him to lose.

The second Vargas? He’s Ricky. He, too, is a fighter but he’s waged his battles in the corporate world as a top executive of Manny V. Pangilinan’s group of companies that include First Pacific and PLDT. So when MVP asked Mr. Vargas to spearhead the Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines (ABAP), he said yes.

One of the privileges of being the head of a National Sports Association (NSA) like ABAP is that you can vie for the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) presidency.

Ricky has decided to challenge Jose “Peping” Cojuangco for the top position of the POC. I’ve written in this piece before and I’ll say it again: It’s time for Peping to go. I concur with the stand of my sports editor Mike Limpag.

Peping Cojuangco has had three terms as POC head and he wants a fourth? What accomplishments — especially in the Olympics — can he show?

So, like Pacquiao-Vargas, we have the Cojuangco-Vargas fight.

The only problem? Vargas — the good one, the Pinoy — has been disqualified from challenging Peping. Former IOC representative Frank Elizalde headed the three-man election committee that decided against Vargas. The reason: he was unable to attend the prerequisite number of POC meetings. (What makes this even more “political” is that Peping’s daughter, Mikee Jaworski, is an IOC member.)

Ricky Vargas is crying foul. The term “active participation” (the basis) is a debatable term that can mean sending representatives in behalf of ABAP to attend the meetings.

PSC Chairman Butch Ramirez said this in an interview: “I don’t question the wisdom of the Comelec of the POC, but for me, in the spirit of sportsmanship, it could’ve been a source of understanding, unity, discipline, value and integrity. Those people should have been allowed (to run) especially if the rule says active membership.”

Ever the gentleman and polite sportsman, Ramirez is correct. What happens next is this: Vargas has vowed to challenge the ruling. He has until Nov. 2 to submit his protest and the ruling can go all the way to the POC membership for decision-making.

If my counting is correct, there are 42 NSAs that will vote for the POC leadership. I’m not even sure that Vargas has the numbers to supplant Cojuangco. As sad as it it, politics is embedded with sports and, in elections like these, political weaponry is at work. Ricky Vargas said: “Give election a chance. Give sports a chance. Give democracy a chance.”

Will President Duterte be active in sports?

pacquiao-duterte

I hope so. I think so. While the realm of sports would not even land in the Top 40 urgent things to do for our nation’s new leader, sport is important. It motivates a nation. It inspires us. It moves us — just like the Olympic motto — to go higher, faster, stronger. Are we going to witness a sports boom with the new administration?

“Mayor Duterte has always been a supporter of sports,” said his spokesman Pete Laviña. “You can expect him to be behind our athletes and their needs.”

The planet’s biggest sporting event arrives just a few months after Pres. Duterte moves to Malacañang. It’s the Rio Olympics and we hope to send a sizable contingent to Brazil.

One man that is crucial for Phil. sports is one of Duterte’s closest allies. He’s William “Butch” Ramirez. Does the name sound familiar? If you’ve followed the back sports pages, you’ve read his name before. He’s the former chairman of the nation’s highest sporting body: the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC). From 2005 to 2009, under Pres. GMA, the tall and big man from Mindanao lorded over Phil. sports.

Ramirez hails from Davao and was instrumental in developing and uplifting sports in the city where Duterte stood as mayor for 22 years. In the recent elections, Ramirez was a key figure in the campaign of president-elect Digong.

Fellow writer and good friend Bill Velasco published a thorough article yesterday in the Phil. Star (“Strong sports under Duterte”). Bill expressed optimism with the new leadership.

“Duterte’s team alone is bursting with sportsmen.” wrote Bill. Apart from Butch Ramirez, he cited the former North Cotabato governor and boxing promoter Manny Piñol as one of those sports enthusiasts who backed Duterte.

“Other sportsmen with a range as diverse as a former chief executive, golf patrons, all the way down to past Ateneo Blue Eagles like Jobe Nkemakolam (a Duterte congressional candidate) each contributed mightily to the campaign in various capacities,” added Mr. Velasco. “And of course, Duterte’s running mate, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano is well known as a basketball enthusiast, and has supported other sports such as arnis at various stages of his political career. As you can see, his government will be loaded with heavy hitters from all fields of sports.”

In the legislative side, there are plenty who play and promote sports.

“At least six of the 12 incoming senators have a strong sports bent,” wrote Bill Velasco. He named Dick Gordon, who was a cheerleader in college and who promoted the idea of sports tourism when he was tourism head.

“Finishing sixth in the voting just behind Gordon is arnis patron Miguel Zubiri,” said Velasco. “Zubiri spent nine years as a congressman and senator refining and pushing the Arnis Law which was enacted by Pres. Gloria Arroyo at the end of 2010. The law rightfully made arnis the official sport and martial art of the country, and required that it be taught in all schools nationwide. One provision even mandates the changing of the PSC logo to symbolize arnis.”

Joel Villanueva was cited as being a former basketball player for UST. And, in congress, one of the key Party List winners was 1PACMAN. It is headed by Mikee Romero, the 45-year-old owner of the GlobalPort Batang Pier PBA team. Romero himself is a champion polo player.

And, of course, the most well-known Pinoy of them all, Manny Pacquiao. Now that he’s in the 24-person team of senators, expect him to stand out by focusing on sports. 

Back to the man at the very top — Pres. Digong — in an interview last February (by Snow Badua of Spin.ph), he bared a radical and consequential idea: “I-se-separate ko ‘yan. Parang dati na Department of Education, Culture and Sports, pero I am inclined to create another authority. I want sports and sports only sa opisina na yun.”

Department of Sports? Yes. Hopefully.

“Sports is something that will build the muscle of the nation,” he added. “Sports (instills) discipline. It’s part of growing a paradigm for young women or real men.”

P-Noy? No, says the Pinoy president

(Photo from the Phil. Daily Inquirer)

(Reuters.com)

I voted for Benigno Aquino III. Prior to May 2010, I thought Gibo possessed more intelligence and charisma, believed in Dick Gordon’s street smarts, knew Sen. Manny Villar had billions more and, well, with Erap, found him funny, even laughable, during the CICC presidential debate. Yet, I voted for the only son of “The greatest Filipino president we never had.” That martyr’s name was Ninoy Aquino. I chose Noynoy because of his humility and honesty.

Given his latest “sports” announcement, I was proven right. Though insignificant to many, it speaks plenty on the person who leads our overcrowded nation of 92,000,000 people. What announcement?

Last Monday, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) had a long-overdue hour-long meeting with Pres. Noynoy. In attendance were the PSC Chairman Richie Garcia, the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) Chairman Peping Cojuangco, Jr., and PSC Commissioner Jolly Benitez. The meeting was held in Malacañang.

Among many topics on sports, the main discussion centered on a nationwide event that’s labeled “PNG.” Previously called the “Philippine National Games” and held during the years 1993 to 1996, this tournament was to be revived this 2011. An estimated 31 national sports associations are requested to join the Olympics-patterned event. This is a magnificent boost to PHL sports. The PNG will be held in Bacolod City (mainly at the ‘Azkals home-court,’ the Panaad Sports Complex) this May 23 to 28.

What’s the difference between this PNG with the one of 15 years ago? The name. Our sports officials wanted to call it by another name: P-Noy National Games. Nothing wrong with that, right? The acronym is still PNG. The head of our nation — and our total sports program — is P-Noy. Plus, his name “P-Noy” rhymes with “Pinoy” which, of course, refers to you and me. We’re Pinoys.

P-Noy National Games. Go! But, wait. When informed three days ago about this seemingly minor change from “Philippine” to “P-Noy,” our president said, Wait… hold it right there… Why the name change? Well, said Richie Garcia, you’re P-Noy and these games are for the Pinoys. Go?

No. The person that you and I and 15.2 million others voted for displayed an act of humility. He said no. He asked the top sports officials to stick with the original name, Phil. National Games. Had P-Noy agreed with Garcia and Cojuangco, his uncle, on the P-Noy Natl. Games, nobody would have complained. Because don’t politicians employ this strategy all the time? To plaster their faces, to advertise their names, to promote their accomplishments through sports?

Yes. This is the Pinoy Way. The Pinoy Politicians Tactic. Which brings me to ask: When public servants use their names to promote themselves — and less the sporting event — are they paying for the tournament themselves? Is it their money being used? No. It’s the Pinoys’ money. It’s our money. It’s your money. It’s my money. It’s our money that these elected officials are using to promote…. themselves.

This latest P-Noy decision did not land on any of the major headline stories. I found it not in Phil. Star or the Phil. Daily Inquirer or in Manila Bulletin. I read it in Malaya under the title, “It’s simply called PH Nat’l Games.”

“‘President Aquino said ‘Huwag na lang and just call it the Philippine National Games’ when he asked him if we could use the P-Noy Games for the meet,’ said PSC chief Richie Garcia, who attended the one-hour meeting with POC president Jose Cojuangco Jr. and Commissioner Jolly Benitez,” read the story written by Bong Pedralvez last Tuesday. “‘The President said this event is for the Philippines so it would be best to call it the Philippine National Games,’ Garcia added.”

Here’s my hope: In the future, when our local officials concoct sporting events, that they’ll feel guilty about advertising their name. Go, P-Noy? the president is asked. No. Go, Pinoy.

Proud to be Cebuano

More than two years ago (on Nov. 27, 2005, to be exact), I wrote this article about the Opening Ceremony of the SEAG here in Cebu City…

If you were among the 20,000 who screamed and raised fists in the air last Friday night at the Cebu City Sports Center, you’ll shout this in unison with me, “I’m proud to be Filipino! I’m proud to be Cebuano!”

I’ve watched many shows in my life—from Gary V and Martin Nievera concerts to the Ati-atihan and Maskara festivals to The Phantom of the Opera in New York City’s Broadway. But believe me, nothing gave me more goose bumps, nothing made my blood pressure zoom past its limit and my heart pump three times faster than the opening bang of the 23rd SEA Games. Continue reading Proud to be Cebuano

‘Pinoy Ako,’ once rated no.1, plunges to a nosedive

I remember the 23rd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games. That was just 24 months ago. The venue? Our very own, the Philippines. I remember RP’s No.1 song then, “Pinoy Ako.” We sang the Orange and Lemons tune, nodded our heads, swayed our hips, waved, danced, and pointed our right index finger to the sky signaling that, yes, we’re number “1.” Continue reading ‘Pinoy Ako,’ once rated no.1, plunges to a nosedive

Why We’re NOT Champions

Two years ago when the Philippines hosted the 23rd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, we won our first-ever overall title. We bested powerhouse nations like Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. It was a historic moment in our sports history and made us all sing and dance to the tune of “Pinoy Ako.” You and I were proud to say… PINOY AKO!

Fast forward to 2007: In the past week or so, we’ve been deluged by sad news after sad news coming from Thailand. The defending champions have lost! Today, it’s official: From first place just 24 months ago, the Philippines has slipped and is down to sixth place in the SEA Games.

When we won the SEAG title in 2005, I wrote an article that appeared in Sun.Star Cebu entitled, “Why We’re Champions.” Here’s the article below…

(All photos, including below, by top Cebu photographer Benjie Ordonez)

We won because of basketball. Thanks to its no-show, one million and five spectators instead scattered and spread out among the different sports.

We won because of Paeng Nepomuceno, the six-time world bowling champion. No, Paeng did not compete. But each morning at 9 last week, he showed up at the Pearl Bowling Center and calmed the shaking hands of his fellowmen. Here at home, we won because of Danao Mayor Ramonito Durano and Oscar “Boying” Rodriguez of mountain-biking and dancesports’ Edward and Eleanor Hayco. Continue reading Why We’re NOT Champions

Vacation? After summer? Try Cagayan de Oro

I’ve talked about Boracay, posted write-ups, uploaded photos. To me, there’s no place in RP more beautiful than this island off the northern tip of Panay.

But there’s another spot–just as pretty, but more exhilarating–that I suggest you visit. From Cebu, it’s only a “sleep away” when you take Trans-Asia or Cebu Ferries. It’s the biggest city (together with Davao) south of Cebu. It has an SM mall, a LimKetKai mall, huge schools, millions of Bisaya-speaking neighbors, and, perfect for tourists who love adventure, it has WHITE-WATER RAFTING. Continue reading Vacation? After summer? Try Cagayan de Oro

More on this Paradise named Boracay…

Before our family vacationed in Boracay last week, my last visit to the island was in 2005. Then, I had three major complaints: First, the beach line was littered with garbage. Second, stray dogs ran amok and chased you everywhere. Third, “pump-boats” docked as they pleased, often right straight at you while you’re swimming on the beach.I’m happy to report good news: Boracay is cleaner, free of stray dogs, and the boats are no longer on the beach front. Continue reading More on this Paradise named Boracay…