Category Archives: Sportswriters Association of Cebu (SAC)

The 52nd Anvil Awards

Leo Amoyan (HR manager of SMB), Girlie Garces (SMB head of Corporate Communications) and John P.

Last Friday night at the Makati Shangri-La, I received an award in behalf of the Sportswriters Association of Cebu (SAC). With me were three executives from San Miguel Brewery: Girlie Garces, heading Corporate Communications; Leo Amoyan, who leads Human Resources; and Bryan Garcia from SMB’s headquarters.

SAC and SMB have been partners for 35 years. Each February or March, we recognize the Cebuano athletes and sportsmen who excelled in their respective games. And as you may have read last week, June Mar Fajardo copped the highest honor (Athlete of the Year), Donnie Nietes beamed a toothful smile as Hall of Fame awardee, Joy Tabal stood tall in her high heels, Jonel Borromeo was honored with the Presidential Award and Fred Uytengsu, born in Cebu in 1961, was our Sportsman of the Year.

Back to last Friday, it was a glittering affair as SMB and SAC jointly received the Anvil Award. What’s an “anvil?” In plain English, it means “a heavy steel or iron block with a flat top, concave sides, and typically a pointed end, on which metal can be hammered and shaped.” Named after this block of iron, the Anvil Awards honors organizations and companies whose programs make an impact and are long-lasting.

“Presented annually by the Public Relations Society of the Philippines (PRSP), the ANVIL is the symbol of Excellence in Public Relations,” read the website. “It is awarded to outstanding public relations programs, tools and, now, practitioners after careful screening by select PR professionals and judging by a distinguished multi-sectoral jury.”

Why would a PR group recognize an awards body that honors athletes? Because of the uninterrupted partnership of San Miguel and SAC.

Last Friday, we were seated by 4:45 p.m. Very early, I thought, for an awarding ceremony. It turns out that the program involves plenty of entertainment and speeches. Over a thousand beautifully-dressed ladies and gentlemen in coat-and-tie filled the Rizal Ballroom. The stage was huge and impressive. Large screen LCD sets swamped the backdrop. Some of the most celebrated of dance groups captivated the audience as Girlie, Leo, Bryan and myself enjoyed dinner that included salmon and corn-fed chicken.

Joy Polloso, who heads the retail group of Filinvest, was seated at the next table as many of the nation’s top firms, including Smart, PLDT, Shell, PDI and Phil. Star, Page One and more were honored. Manny Pangilinan was in attendance. Finally, when the clock neared 9 p.m., we were called up on stage for that quick award acceptance. A short but memorable moment honoring 35 long and enduring years.

The 35th SMB-SAC Cebu Sports Awards

This Tuesday (March 7) from 2 to 5 p.m. will be “The Oscars” of Cebu sports. And while the Academy Awards was held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, ours will be at the North Wing of the SM City Cebu. It’s that once-a-year gathering of Cebu’s best… and you’re invited! These awards used to be held inside the exclusive confines of Casino Español and GrandCon. Not anymore. The sportswriters — the women and men who write stories on these back pages — decided to “open” the awarding by holding it in SM City. It’s free. You get to see June Mar or “Ahas” or Mary Joy or Jonel Borromeo, the Motorace CEO who is our Presidential Awardee.

Michael Jerome Templado Limpag, SunStar’s sports editor, is the SAC president. Together with Girlie Garces, one of San Miguel Brewery’s top executives, Mike will be leading our group in honoring the year’s top personalities.

Who is the Athlete of the Year? I know the answer but I can’t reveal it here. That secret will be proclaimed on Tuesday. The Sportsman of the Year? His name (okay, that’s a clue) will be announced soon and I guarantee you that, of our nation’s 100 million Pinoys, he’s one of the most respected of sportsmen.

Here is the complete list. If you’re one of the awardees, see you on Tuesday!

MAJOR: Donnie Nietes, Joy Tabal, June Mar Fajardo, Samantha Limos, Rogelio Miguel Tremedal, Johnreil Casimero, Marlon Tapales, Milan Melindo, Josephine Teria, Jerish Velarde, Weiwei Gao, LJ Go, Niel Francis Palomares, Kiyomi Watanabe, Rafael Vidal, Khazart William Romoff, Rheyjey Ortueste, Paul Jumamil, Gretchel Soltones and Glen Lava.

CITATION: World Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation, John Marvin Rafols, Rick Angelo Sotto, Mart Chan Torregasa, Seth Abram Pilapil, Khalin Alex Abella, Rogelio Miguel Tremedal, Lloyd Adlawan, Alex Sebastian Blanco, Tricia Merced Opon, Elloise Marie Canillo, Punta Princesa batted sports team, UV Green Lancers, SHS-AdC Magis Eagles, Rey Suerte, Jed Colonia, Cebu City’s basketball team in Batang Pinoy, Joshua Flores, Jayvee Bahio, Joshua Sinclair, Paul Desiderio, Florence Jil Talas, Darlienne Ragasajo, Tracy Carl Dadang, Perlas Pilipinas, Allana Lim, Jack Tepora, Kenny Demecillo, Mark Magsayo, Neil John Tabanao, Jason Pagara, Jimmy Paypa, Jessie Espinas, Arthur Villanueva, Eduardo Gimenez Jr., Alphecca Gonzales, Chris Aldritz Pondoyo, Jun Duron, Alexandrea Gumilao, Joaquin Buyco, Trevor Lood, Joaquin Suarez, Pietre Dakay, Marcel Ivan Ouano, Jesse Semblante, Leo Maquiling, Valentino Calvo, Major Dean Ebarle, Lorenzo Genco, Julian Miranda, Jordan Jarvis, Kintaro Miyagi, Vincent Erik Lovitos, Raphael Clifford de Guzman, Lorenz Giuseppe Genco, Nicholas Christan Villacin, Lois Kaye Go, and Junia Gabasa. Lianne Maning, Jisha Zhyra Azur, Justin Ayra Azur, Dino Singson Jr., Janine Narboada, Jeremy Nopre, Gerald Baclaan, Felix Calipusan Jr, Precious Avegail Belicario, DJ Mae Dente, Nicholas Avila, Joseph Casquejo, Aubrey Codilla, ER Khimlord Labura, Kim Andrei Makiling, Ken Caniga, Noel Tillor, Lady Dragons, Atty. Ingemar Macarine, Andrew Kim Remolino, Karen Mae Andaya, Johann Matthew Tubesa, Jawad Cup organizers, Henze Dominique Lucero, Mary Daniese Adolfo Saether, Jan Godfrey Seno, Team Cebu City boys and girls tennis teams, Zethley Mae Alferez, Alyssa Mae Bornia, Jana Pages, Katherine Yu, Moira Frances Erediano, Karen Andrea Manayon, Jorry Ycong, Isa Molde, Fernando Agad Jr, Evangelito Dale Ceniza, Jeofrey Frasco Jr., Dino Singson, John Vincent Villa, Elwin Retanal, John Renee Mier, Ica Maximo, Dancesport Team Cebu City, Daniel dela Pisa, Kyla Sylverio, Kim Paller, Luis Drei Candia, Dartspeed Eslao, Raven Faith Alcoseba, Gudmoto B8, John Rex Tongco, Arthur Craig Pantino, Tabuelan 111 organizers, Rafael Trinidad, Team Cebu-Toyota Vios and Jette Calderon.

33 years of honoring Cebu’s best

“I always turn to the sports pages first, which records people’s accomplishments. The front page has nothing but man’s failures.” – Earl Warren, former U.S. chief justice

I talk about these “back pages” because the women and men who report and publish sports stories have, for the past 33 years, practiced an unbroken tradition. We, the sportswriters, congregate and deliberate on the previous year’s best performers and, on one grand occasion, we honor these athletes and sportsmen for their outstanding feats.

The 33rd SAC-SMB Cebu Sports Awards will be this Tuesday, March 31, from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Activity Center of the Ayala Center Cebu. SAC stands for Sportswriters Association of Cebu while SMB is one of the nation’s largest conglomerates, San Miguel Brewery, Inc.

What we, the sportswriters, do is this: We meet several times, submit nominations via email; we research on the top achievers of the past year; from a long list, we trim down the names, classify whether last year’s victory was international or national until we decide on the final list of awardees. At the end of the deliberations, we have accumulated a full set of honorees. The Major Awardees, the Citation Awardees, and the Special Awardees, which include the Sportsman of the Year and the Presidential Awardee. Finally, among the list of over a hundred athletes, we award that one person who will be named “Athlete of the Year.” While all other names are announced beforehand, the suspense of this AOTY trophy is reserved until the very end, up on stage this Tuesday in Ayala, when his or her name will be announced.

I’ve been writing sports for 20 years now and, like Nimrod Quiñones, who’s been around even longer, I’ve been attending the Awarding for a long time. I recall Z Gorres in Casino Español, just months after his near-death Las Vegas scare, walking to the stage to receive his award with boxing godfather Tony Aldeguer as our guest of honor. Manny Pacquiao, Nonito Donaire and Gerry Peñalosa graced one star-studded affair.

Is the 33rd Cebu Sports Awards open to the public for free? Absolutely. Here are the honorees:

MAJOR AWARDEES: BASKETBALL: June Mar Fajardo and Aldrich Ramos. BEACH VOLLEYBALL: Edmar Bonono and Edward Ybañez. BOXING: Donnie Nietes. CHESS: Kim Steven Yap. CYCLING: Nino Surban and John Mier. Dancesport: Charlea Lagaras and Ronnie Vergara. FOOTBALL: Itsuko Bacatan, Alexandrea Gumilao, Arantxa Mari Trebol, Jan Reese Jumawan and Alexa Ceniza. GYMNASTICS: Daniella Reggie de la Pisa. JUDO: Kiyomi Watanabe. MUAY THAI: Joel Zaspa. RUNNING: Mary Joy Tabal. SOFTBALL: Isaac Bacarisas, Jasper Cabrera, Ben Maravilles, Oscar Bradshaw IV and Jerome Bacarisas. TABLE TENNIS: Richard Gonzales. TAEKWONDO: Clement Tan, MacAvyngr Alob, Nichole Maurin, Rinna Babanto and Glen Lava. TRIATHLON: Joseph Miller, Frederic Yuan Chiongbian and Aaliyah Ricci Mataragnon.

CITATION AWARDEES: ARCHERY: Lloyd Apawan and Vincent Villa. Athletics: Mike Lopez, Ninolito Justiane and Ivan Miguel Santos. BADMINTON: Zinah Marichelle Bejosa. BASKETBALL: SWU, Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu, UV Passerelle team, UV 16-Under team, Mark Tallo, Felixberto Jabonetta IV, Greg Slaughter, Jerick Canada, Kent Vincent Moral, Ken Gato, Arnie Christian Padilla, Andres Desiderio, Dave Yu, Leonard Santillan, Andrew Velasco and Mary Jean Pascual. BEACH VOLLEYBALL: Jade Becaldo, Louije Tipgos, UV, and SWU. BILLIARDS: Rubilen Amit and Warren Kiamco. BOWLING: Jomar Jumapao, Alexis Sy, Xyrra Cabusas, GJ Buyco and Alex Lagcao.

BOXING: Milan Melindo, Genesis Servania, Arthur Villanueva, Ian Refuela, Junrel Jimenez, Kit Garces, Jorge Edusma, Vicente Sios-e, Jr., John Nino Vega, Albert and Jason Pagara. CHESS: Elwin Retanal, Dwyane Abella, Kyle Sevillano, Jerish Velarde, Catherine Quinanola, and Laila Camel Nadera. CYCLING: Ica Maximo. DANCESPORT: Dancesport Team Cebu City. EXTREME SPORTS: Dandoy Tongco, Rafael Trinidad, Joshua and Jan Joseph Suson. FOOTBALL: Cviraa elem. team, Don Bosco futsal team, Joaquin Buyco, Charles Unabia, Enzo Ceniza, Yves Caballero, Jesse Semblante, Kyle Ronquillo, Marcel Ouano, Roygbiv Barro, and Leo Maquiling. GOLF: LJ Go and Charles Hong. JUDO: Joaquin Fernandez. KARTING: Vince Rojo and Craig Aleman.

KARATEDO: Nino Avilla, Precious Belicario, Charen Villamor, Karylle Perez, Hayashi-ha Shitoryukai team, and Rafael Vidal. MMA: Yawyan ArDigma. MOTOCROSS: Jon Eleazer Adlawan and BJ Pepito. MUAY THAI: Ken Caniga and Lara Jane Flores. RUGBY: Aiumi Ono, Madille Salinas and Cebu Lady Dragons. RUNNING: Maritess Bitbit, Brian Guillan, and Noel Tillor. SCRABBLE: Michael Tuba and Frances Lim. SEPAK TAKRAW: Rhey Ortouste and Metodio Suico. SWIMMING: Psalm Deniel Aquino, Ichiro Kong, and Lorendale Echavez. TABLE TENNIS: UC team, Berto Bas, and Sherlyn Love Gabisay. TAEKWONDO: Luiji Estrada, Veronica Garces, Mayn Corna, Zozen Prajes, Wendil Rama, and Dineson Caneda. TENNIS: Jan Godfrey Seno, Arthur Craig Pantino, Zethley Mae Alfrez, Shyne Villareal, Jana Pages and Jerico Bohol. TRIATHLON: Justin Chiongbian, John Philip Dueñas, Kristian Lim and Lorhiz Lopez. UNDERBONE: Simon Solon. VOLLEYBALL: Central Visayas team, Gretchel Soltones, Matthew Navace, and Isabel Molde. WEIGHTLIFTING: Leonida Cambajiran and Evangelit Ceniza. WRESTLING: Luis Ansag.

To all the awardees and to the sporting fans who want to witness the affair, see you on Tuesday!

Honoring the best

It’s called “The Oscars” of Cebu sports. It’s that one afternoon when all the star athletes from Badminton to Golf to MMA to Rugby to Volleyball to Wrestling get-together and get recognized.

It’s tomorrow from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Activity Center of Ayala Center Cebu. It’s for free. It’s also the 32nd year that this event has been produced. Venues have changed. From the 1521 lounge at the San Miguel Beer headquarters to Grand Convention Center to Casino Español and, tomorrow, at Ayala Center.

What doesn’t change is this: Each year, with no miss, the sportswriters of Cebu celebrate by honoring the year’s best performers. Tomorrow’s awardees are being applauded for their accomplishments in 2013.

The Cebu Sports Awards is important because of many reasons. It happens only once a year. It’s organized by an independent group, the Sportswriters Association of Cebu. It’s long-standing (32 years). It’s held in partnership with one of Asia’s top conglomerates, San Miguel Corporation (special thanks to SMB’s Girlie Garces).

Rico Navarro is our SAC president. Joaquin “Quinito” Henson, the preeminent sports columnist and TV personality, will join us tomorrow. He’ll give the Keynote Address. Quinito is that rare individual who is at the top of his field but one who’s remained humble and approachable. We were together in Macau for Manny Pacquiao’s last fight and, during breakfast just hours before MP’s battle, it was admirable to chat with such a respectful and enthusiastic person. Quinito is flying in and out of Cebu solely for the awards.

Sportsman of the Year? My good friend Tony del Prado, the man who’s helped steer the artistry of taekwondo, is the deserving executive.

Athlete of the Year? Ha-ha. I know the name but I won’t divulge it. That’s reserved for those who’ll attend.     See you tomorrow!

MAJOR AWARDEES: Rubilen Amit, Johnny Arcilla, Wilbert Aunzo, Rinna Babanto, Mikaela Calamba, Pearl Caneda, CCC men’s golf team, Justin Chiongbian, Johnreil Casimero, Mary Grace de los Santos, Andres Paul Desiderio, Don Bosco Technology Center, June Mar Fajardo, Kim Lao, Glenn Lava, Joseph Miller, Julius Nierras, Donnie Nietes, Rhey Jay Ortouste, Arnie Christian Padilla, Arthur Craig Pantino, Paref Springdale football, Elwin Retanal, Merlito Sabillo, Jan Godfrey Seno, Mary Joy Tabal, and Kiyomi Sarausad Watanabe.

CITATION AWARDEES: Pearl Angeline Abellar, Mike Abria, Jonjon Adlawan, Zethley Mae Alferez, Moiselle Alforque, Macavynger Alob, Luis Ansag, Banilad Elem. School badminton team, Felix Shaun Balbona, Hipolito Banal, Jade Becaldo, Jusabelle Brillo, Maegan Bugarin, Moises Bullecer, Cary Bullos, Miguel Calamba, Jette Calderon, Val Calvo, Yuan Chiongbian, Val Andre Chiu, Diego Abraham Claro, Team Cebu City table tennis, Club Filipino de Cebu, Clark Cuico, CEPCA, CFA, Cebu Lady Dragons, Elson Dorimon, and Team Cebu City Dancesport.

Philip Duenas, Majordean Ebarle, Bruno Escalante, Jeffrey Estella, Joseph Falcone, Joaquin Nicolo Fernandez, Junia Gabasa, Tonette Gambito, Veronica Garces, Danika Gendrauli, Jimrex Jaca, Eloisa Jordan, Michael Ichiro Kong, Ericka Lim, Ulyross Lopez, Erik Ngitz Lovitos, Aaliyah Ricci Mataragnon, John Mier, Daniel Miranda, Nichole Maurin, Ana Patricia Maximo, Milan Melindo, Neil Minoza, Kintaro Miyagi, Gen Nagai, Anthony Lynn Navarro, and Daniel Noval.

Jason Pagara, Jana Marie Pages, Ivan Palmero, Paolo Pascual, Bj Pepito, Mark Kevin Petancio, Neil Perino, Daniela dela Pisa, Kimberly Gabrielle Paler, Kelle Kay Rojas, Madil Salinas, Apple Saraum, Genesis Servania, Rhenzi Kyle Sevillano, Vergilio Silvano, Greg Slaughter, Ralph Eduard So, SHS-ADC, SWU, Nino Surban, Marlon Tapales, Mark Javen Tallo, John Rey Tongco, Arantxa Trebol, UV, Shaia Uy, Jerish John Velarde, Arthur Villanueva, Yaw-Yan Ardigma Cebu, and Edward Ybanez.

10 reasons to watch the 31st Cebu Sports Awards

This afternoon from 3 to 5, we will be honoring the top sports performers of 2012. The list is long. There’s John Mier. There’s David Lim, Jr. There’s Mendel Lopez, who’s being awarded not for running but for triathlon.

A total of 250 athletes and sportsmen and women — all Cebuanos or Cebu-based — will step on stage at The North Wing Atrium of SM City Cebu to receive their plaques and citations.

31st SAC_colored_1

Today’s event — the 31st SAC-SMB Cebu Sports Awards — is historic for many reasons.

First, it is the first time to be held at the SM City. We’ve hosted this ceremony 30 times in the past, from Magellan’s Hotel to Grand Con to Laguna Garden Cafe to Ayala Center, but never in SM. And never on the 3rd and final day of the 3-day SM sale.

Second, for the coveted “Sportsman of the Year” award, we’re not giving it to one man — but to sportsmen. Yes, plural. The award goes to… the Cebu Football Association. Yes, the new CFA officers professionalized the world’s biggest sport in 2012 and brought to our Visayan shores the show entitled “Azkals vs. Singapore.”

Third reason: We’re having a new set of officers for SAC (Sportswriters Association of Cebu). For the past five years, I’ve held the title of president. We held an election recently and I’m proud to introduce our new set of officers: Rico Navarro (president), Mike Limpag (VP), Marian Baring (sec.), Manny Villaruel (treas.), Jonas Panerio (auditor) and Mars Alison, PRO. (You’ll notice that the six officers are equally distributed: two each from SunStar, CDN and The Freeman.)

To Rico — who writes every Sunday for The Freeman and is the sports director of Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu — good luck! (The Induction Ceremony, to be administered by CCSC chairman Edward Hayco, will also be this afternoon.)

Fourth reason: Football is the biggest winner today. There’s a CFA General Assembly starting 6 PM tonight. The top Philippine bigwigs are arriving, including PFF President Nonong Araneta and Azkals patron Dan Palami. Both are expected in SM later. Most of all, my choice for Presidential Awardee is Dr. Pericles “Ricky” Dakay.

Ricky plays football, has kids who play football, has a team (Queen City) who plays football, and runs the most active sports organization in Cebu today that’s all football: the CFA.

Five: Who’s the Athlete of the Year? Last year, it was Richard Bitoon of chess. The year before, it was world boxing champ Donnie Nietes. In 2010, we awarded Rubilen Amit, the billiards wizard. The list is varied. This award is the only surprise that will be unwrapped and announced towards the end of the program. Nobody except the sportswriters knows the recipient. Watch for this!

Sixth reason: Sally Mae “Em-Em” Siso will be honored. A multiple tennis honoree in the past, Em-Em will receive a different plaque today: the Orlando C. Sanchez Memorial Award. This is conferred to that one individual who exemplifies good sportsmanship. Why Em-Em? Last year, we were together in Palawan and, while Em-Em was unjustly defaulted in the finals match, she had all the humility and kindness to approach her tormentors and make amends. That’s sportsmanship.

Seven: Watch Mikeala Calamba. I have yet to meet the 15-year-old high schooler from USC who, last year, became world champion when she won the 7th World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships in Colombia. Mikeala will be performing today.

Reason No. 8: Check out the entertainment. A live band will entertain the crowd. Ed Hayco’s Dancesport Team Cebu City will dance. Tony del Prado’s taekwondo artists will strut their moves.

Nine: Bring your children. Who doesn’t want to get their kids into sports? This is the best occasion to inspire them to get active.

10: Finally… Cheer for your friends! Clap for them. Show your support. We will also have an 8’ x 8’ photo wall. Take photos with all the sports-stars. This only happens once a year. See you later!

Cebu Sports Awards: Gathering of the best

This Sunday, all shoppers — and top athletes — proceed to the SM City Cebu.

It’s not just the 3-day SM Super Sale, it’s also the 31st edition of the Cebu Sports Awards. Organized by the Sportswriters Association of Cebu (SAC) and San Miguel Brewery, Inc. (SMB), it’s the yearly gathering of Cebu’s best athletes and sports personalities. The Awarding will be from 3 to 5 P.M.

To all the awardees, a few reminders:

One, please join us. If you can’t because you’re out of town, please ask a family member to attend. We will ask him/her to receive the award on stage.

Two, come early. It’s the SM Super Sale and thus, parking and people are plenty. We’re asking all to be there before 2:30 P.M.

Three, invite your friends and family members. Be proud! (Years back, we held this function at Casino Español. The problem was, the space was limited. We now have a huge area at The North Wing Atrium of SM.)

Four, wear semi-formal attire. We know you’d rather wear shorts and Nike. But, for once, let us see you wear something more formal. (In previous awards, we’d be happily shocked and not recognize athletes because of their dresses and make-up.) Dress up!

Five, bring a camera. We’ll have a photo wall. We’ll have snacks by 5 P.M. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to snap photos with your co-awardees. Relish this moment. It only happens once every 365 days.

Six, celebrate. Use this occasion to feel honored. You are one of the few. You are one of the top in Cebu. Use this honor to motivate you. Congratulations!

MAJOR AWARDEES. (Athletics) Daniel Noval, (Arnis), Trixie Mary Lofranco and Reynaldo Combate, (basketball), Jerie Pingoy and June Mar Fajardo, (beach volleyball) Jonrey Sasing and Edward Ybañez, (boxing), Johnriel Casimero, Donnie Nietes and Michael Aldeguer, (chess) Enrico Sevillano, (cycling) John Mier, (dancesport) Mae Lozada, (football) Don Bosco Technology Center Grade School, Cebu Football Association, (golf), Cebu Country Club men’s team, Gio Gandionco, (gymnastics) Carmelli Garrovillo, (mixed-martial arts) Victor Cui, (running) Mary Grace de los Santos, (swimming) Bea Riza Roble, (table tennis), Dannel Jay Tormis and Stephen Jaca, (taekwondo) Mikeala Calamba, (triathlon), Justin Liam T. Chiongbian.

CITATION AWARDEES. (athletics), Lorna Olarita, USPF Athletics team, (autocross), David G. Lim Jr., Jess Garcia and Derek Arculli, (badminton), SWU high school team, USJ-R men’s team, UC Women’s Doubles, Jessa Mae Lagat, Irish Mae Ares, (baseball), Cebu Dolphins, (basketball), SWU Cobras, SHS-Ateneo de Cebu, UV U-16 team, Hernal Escocio, Dawn Hynric P. Ochea, UV Under-16 team, Arnie Christian A. Padilla, Felixberto G. Jaboneta IV, Gregory Slaughter, (beach volleyball), UV’s Jade Becaldo and Mike Abria, (billiards), Warren Kiamco, (bodybuilding), Dondon Cardona, Dennis Nichol Delgado, (boxing), Genesis Servania, Romnick Magos, Jason Pagara, Milan Melindo, Rocky Fuentes, Rey “Boom-Boom” Bautista, Merlito Sabillo, Arthur Villanueva, (chess) Allan Pason, Kyle Sevilleno, Vic Glyzen Derotas and Cepca, (dancesport), Dancesports Team Cebu City, Wilbert Aunzo, Pearl Marie Cañeda, (football), SHS-Ateneo de Cebu, Aranxa Trebol, Eddie Alivio, Kintaro Miyagi, Lawrence Colina, Majordean Ebarle, Vincent Erik Lovitos, Moiselle Angelo Alforque, Lorenzo Genco, Brandon Durano, Cheska Toledo, Patrick Reichelt, Ray Jonsson, Oliver Colina, Glenn Ramos, Paolo Pascual, USC College Team, (golf) CCC ladies team, (gymnastics) Mikaela Silverio, (judo) Joaquin Fernandez, (karting) Juan Antonio Carcel, (mixed-martial arts) Cary Bullos, YawYan Ardigma, (motocross) Pepo Rubi, BJ Pepito, (mountain bike) Zandro Fajardo, (running) Mary Joy Tabal, Merlita Dunkin, John Philip Duenas, (rugby) Cebu Lady Dragons, (sepak takraw) Rhey Jay Ortouste, (softball) Abellana National School, Salazar Colleges of Science and Institute of Technology, (swimming) Anthony Linn Navarro, (speed skating) Zach Sanchez Araneta, (table tennis) Jerny Kaye Pepito, (taekwondo) Antonio R. del Prado, Team Cebu City, (tennis) Kara Salimbangon, Jana Pages, Jan Godfrey Seno, (triathlon/duathlon) Elmer Clarabal, Rochelle Tan, Mendel Lopez, Justin Liam T. Chiongbian, Nina Francesca M. Villaba, (underbone racing) Team Suzuki-BMR and Anacleto Flores, (volleyball) USC men and women’s teams, USJ-R boys and girls teams, SWU V-League champions, SWU national Prisaa champs, Catmon Central School, Jusabelle Brillo and Raphril Aguilar.


The 31st SAC-SMB Cebu Sports Awards

Each month of March, our group of columnists, writers and editors on these back pages — the Sportswriters Association of Cebu (SAC) — gather to honor the year’s top sports performers.

Who will be the Athlete of the Year? Who will be our guest of honor? In previous years, we had Antonio Lopez Aldeguer, Manny Pacquiao and Dondon Hontiveros. Who will be this year’s inspirational speaker?

Sportsman of the Year? Who will be this solitary man (or woman) who will receive the highest honor this 2013?

Although I sit as president of SAC, these answers — for now — are confidential. In the next days and weeks, we will slowly announce the full list (plus the full details: date, venue, etc.). But, today, I am ready to present to you our Major Awardees and Citation Awardees.

All of these individuals, teams and organizations have excelled in the 12 months of 2012. They’ve worked the hardest. They’ve sweated buckets. They’ve won gold. They are the most outstanding sports for last year…

MAJOR AWARDEES. (athletics) Daniel Noval, (arnis) Trixie Mary Lofranco, Reynaldo Combate, (basketball), Jerie Pingoy, June Mar Fajardo, (beach volleyball), Jonrey Sasing, Edward Ybañez, (boxing), Johnriel Casimero, Donnie Nietes, Michael Aldeguer, (chess), Enrico Sevillano, (cycling), John Mier, (dancesport), Mae Lozada , (football), Don Bosco elementary team, Cebu Football Association, (golf) Cebu Country Club, Gio Gandionco (gymnastics). Carmelli Garrovillo, (mixed-martial arts), Victor Cui, (running), Mary Grace delos Santos, (swimming), Bea Riza Roble, (table tennis), Dannel Jay Tormis, Stephen Jaca, (taekwondo), Mikeala Calamba, (triathlon/duathlon), Justin Chiongbian.

CITATION AWARDEES. (athletics) Lorna Olarita, USPF Athletics team, (autocross), David G. Lim Jr., Jess Garcia, Derek Arculli, (badminton), SWU high school team, USJ-R men’s team, UC Women’s Doubles (Jessa Mae Lagat, Irish Mae Ares), (baseball), Cebu Dolphins, (basketball), SWU Cobras, Sacred Heart School-AdC, UV U-16 team, Hernal Escocio, Dawn Hynric Ochea, UV – Under-16 team, Arnie Christian Padilla, Felixberto Jaboneta IV, Gregory Slaughter, (beach volleyball), UV’s Jade Becaldo and Mike Abria, (billiards), Warren Kiamco, (bodybuilding) Dondon Cardona, Dennis Nichol Delgado, (boxing), Genesis Servania, Romnick Magos, Jason Pagara, Milan Melindo, Rocky Fuentes, Rey “Boom-Boom” Bautista, Merlito Sabillo, Arthur Villanueva, (chess), Allan Pason, Kyle Sevilleno, Vic Glyzen Derotas, Cepca, (dancesport), Dancesports Team Cebu City, Wilbert Aunzo and Pearl Marie Cañeda, (football), Sacred Heart School High School, Aranxa Trebol, Eddie Alivio, Little Azkals, Cheska Toledo, Patrick Reichelt, Ray Jonsson, Oliver Colina, Glenn Ramos, Paolo Pascual, USC college team, (golf) Cebu Country Club Ladies team, (gymnastics) Mikaela Silverio, (judo), Joaquin Fernandez, (karting), Juan Antonio Carcel, (mixed-martial arts), Cary Bullos, YawYan Ardigma, (motocross), Pepo Rubi, BJ Pepito, (mountainbike), Zandro Fajardo, (running), Mary Joy Tabal, Merlita Dunkin, John Philip Duenas, (rugby) Cebu Lady Dragons, (sepak Takraw), Rhey Jay Ortouste, (softball), Abellana National School, Salazar Colleges of Science and Institute of Technology, (swimming), Anthony Linn Navarro, (speedskating), Zach Sanchez Araneta, (table tennis), Jerny Kaye Pepito, (taekwondo), Tony del Prado, Team Cebu City, (tennis), Kara Salimbangon, Jana Pages, Jan Godfrey Seno, (triathlon/Duathlon),Elmer Clarabal, Rochelle Tan, Mendel Lopez, Yuan Chiongbian,. Francesca Villaba, (underbone), Team Suzuki-BMR, Anacleto “Insik” Flores, (volleyball), USC men and women’s teams, USJ-R boys and girls teams, SWU V-League champions,. SWU national Prisaa champs, Catmon Central School, Jusabelle Brillo, Raphril Aguilar.

Starry, star-filled night in Cebu

Of the year’s 366 nights (yes, that includes Feb. 29), the one evening I enjoy the most happened last Saturday. It was the 30th SAC-SMB Cebu Sports Awards.

As president of the Sportswriters Association of Cebu (SAC), I was fortunate to have stood on-stage and overlooked all of Cebu’s top sports personalities. Including three nights ago, I’ve presided over four Awards Nights: In 2009, we had Manny Pacquiao as guest speaker. Two years ago, it was Antonio Lopez Aldeguer. Last year, the “Year of the Azkals,” we had the “founder” of the Azkals, Dan Palami.

Last Saturday, our guest of honor was Chito Loyzaga, the former PBA superstar and now one of the commissioners of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).

With Chito Loyzaga (center) with Rico Navarro

Why was the 30th Cebu Sports Awards special, apart from gathering under one open roof all of our elite athletes? “The reason why Cebu sports is one of the nation’s best,” I explained to Mr. Loyzaga in my Closing Remarks while standing beside him on-stage, “is because of those two gentlemen there seated beside each other.”

I then requested the two to stand and be applauded. Edward Hayco and Harry Radaza. For the first time in a major gathering, the sports leaders of Cebu City and Lapu-Lapu City sat alongside each other, exchanging stories and ideas. Thanks to Ed and Harry, Cebu is a leader in sports.

With Harry and Ed

AWARDING. Nearly 200 athletes were honored. Mary Grace de los Santos and Mary Joy Tabal we could hardly recognize because they wore glittering dresses and high-heels — so different from their sleeveless-shirts and running shoes.

AJ Banal, Milan Melindo and the ALA boys were there. So were Sammy Gello-ani and Leon Panoncillo. The one who looked most stunning? Lorhiz Echavez-Lopez, who wore a sexy, body-hugging dress… and she just gave birth seven days ago!

Also looking pretty were the lady-sportswriters, who all wore dresses. And us, gentlemen, barong-tagalog.

PRESENTATIONS. The University of Cebu (UC) Cheer Dance group opened the event with a performance that included cart-wheels, balancing acts, and up-in-the-air flips.

Carmelli Garrovillo, prior to her receiving her Special Citation trophy, danced. She’s a multi-awarded gymnast. Then, Johnlery Caniga and his Yaw-Yan team did a Mixed Martial Arts demo.

Then, for the finale, Dancesport Team Cebu City re-enacted their “Human Chess Dancers” performance that was part of our Guinness World Record chess attempt.

ATHLETE OF THE YEAR.  This was awarded to one of the few chess Grandmasters of our nation: Richard Bitoon. As editor Mike Limpag pointed out yesterday, chess is the big winner of the 30th Cebu Sports Awards.

GIRLIE. Without San Miguel Brewery, Inc., represented by Girlie Garces, the event would not have happened. SAC and SMB have been partners all these 30 years. Thanks, Girlie!

HARRY. The speech of the night? It belonged to the man who received the “Sportsman of the Year” trophy: Lapu-Lapu City Councilor Harry Radaza.

I had the chance to work with Harry last year on two projects. Exactly one year ago today, we hosted the first Phils. vs. Japan tennis event of the Davis Cup. Then, in September, another Davis Cup tie: Phils. vs. Chinese-Taipei (Taiwan). Apart from tennis, Harry organized PBA games, multilple road-running events, Pinoy Pride boxing clashes. Plus, of course, there’s the Hoops Dome.

In his acceptance speech last Saturday night, Harry joked the athletes: “My love for sports started when I was seven years old and I won third place in a swimming competition.” The crowd clapped. “We were only three participants!” he added, drawing laughter from the audience.

Harry also delivered the most memorable line when he ended his speech by  saying… “As soon as I wake up in the morning, I read the newspapers. And the section that I read first is the sports section. Why? Because unlike the front pages that talk about people’s failures, you guys, the sportswriters, write about people’s accomplishments.”

Well-said, Harry. And, perfectly-timed today, let me greet you… Happy Birthday!

The 30th SAC-SMB Cebu Sports Awards

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

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

The 28th edition with Z Gorres and Antonio Aldeguer

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 29th SAC-SMB Cebu Sports Awards

Every year, the best of the best gather. Boxers. Triathletes. Golfers. Motocross champions. Bowlers. Taekwondo black-belters. Scrabble mind experts. Cyclists. Mixed Martial Artists.

Over 180 of Cebu’s top athletes and sportsmen meet. Some, like Donnie Nietes, are world champions. Others, like Irina Gabasa and Igi Maximo and Arthur Craig “Iggy” Pantino, are the best in their juniors categories. A few — like the Cebu Volleyball Association (CEVA) or the Cebu Tenpin Bowling Association (CETBA) — are organizations. One is a company and family name whose athletic involvement spans decades and a multitude of events: Aboitiz. All are champions and supporters of one discipline: Sports.

The event? It’s this Saturday. And you know what’s the best part? You’re invited.

The past two years — in 2009 when Manny Pacquiao was the special guest and last year, when Z Gorres arose from his wheelchair and walked forward to personally accept his trophy — the Cebu Sports Awards had been exclusive. Same in the years past. Grand Convention Center. Laguna Garden Cafe ballroom. And several other “by-invitation-only” venues. All exclusive.

Not two afternoons from today. You’re invited. The Sportswriters Association of Cebu (SAC), in partnership with San Miguel Brewery, Inc. with the support of Smart, M. Lhuillier, Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Air21, Rudy Project, Coca-Cola and Citigym, have decided that this 2011 will be unique.

Join us. The time is 3 to 5 p.m. The venue will be Ayala Center Cebu. On the center stage of the mall’s Activity Center, you will see David Lim receive his special citation for the sport of Autocross. Want to snap a photo of golf’s rising star, Gio Gandionco? Sure you can. How about asking the sisters Lorhiz and Loren Dale Echavez–the triathlete and swimming champions–for a picture at the Photo Wall? Sure. I’m sure they’ll agree. This is your one chance out of the 365 days of this season to witness every one of Cebu’s sports heroes in one venue.

Boojie Lim, the patron of chess for several decades now, will finally be honored. He’s the Sportsman of the Year. Dr. Danny Villadolid, one of the most respected of officials in this island, will also be recognized. He receives the Orlando C. Sanchez Award, given to the individual who has contributed his full efforts and time–without much fanfare–to the development of Cebu sports.

Our special guest? The one who’ll receive the Presidential Award? He was supposed to have brought with him a full team of footballers. You know these guys. They’re the Azkals. Yes, had the Azkals flown to Cebu after their 2-0 win against Mongolia in Bacolod, they’d join us on Saturday. They’d be the special attractions. But, no, Baguio is their training camp.

Dan Palami will be here in person on Saturday. He’s the man credited for the rise of the Azkals. As team manager, he single-handedly funded the then-unknown squad. Now, they’re heroes. Palami is the super hero. He’ll give a speech on the Ayala Center stage.

Who is the Athlete of the Year? That one person who will emerge the brightest among the stars? Last year, it was Rubilen Amit, the lady billiards gold medalist. Though small in height, she stood tallest. Who will it be this year? Find out this Saturday. Her or his identity will only be revealed on the spot. Like the Grammys or the Oscars–nobody knows except the organizers. It will be publicly announced by our master of ceremonies, Rico Navarro.

Join us. Please do. You’ll enjoy the two hours.

Now, if you’re an awardee reading this article, please call our Secretariat for a few instructions (Sandy or Emma at 4161122 local 100 or 112.) And, more importantly, if you’re an honoree, bring your whole family. Invite your friends. Ask your barkada to cheer for you.

This is your day. This is a special moment to forever capture. This is your reward for excellence. See you this Saturday.

In fight of his life, Z took a stand

(Photo by Kenneth Casquejo)

Something unusual happened last Thursday. A scene, as described by Mike Limpag, my sports editor, like the ones we watch in Hollywood movies. Only this was better for it wasn’t a reel story… but a real story. It was unscripted, dramatic, spontaneous.

It’s about one man who wasn’t supposed to survive, a knock-out artist who was knocked unconscious last Nov. 13, a patient whose trauma was so severe he incurred hospital bills totaling P25,000,000, a boxer destined to be world champion but instead turned into a champion of life.

Z Gorres, around 9 p.m. three nights ago, stunned the 200 people inside the ballroom of the Casino Español. When his name was called by Rico Navarro, the emcee, as the Presidential Awardee of the 28th Cebu Sports Awards, Z moved. Not to roll the wheels of his wheelchair forward.

He stood up. Everybody gasped. Pushing himself up from his wheelchair and aided by the loving arm of his wife, Datches, he stepped forward. One foot in front of another, his legs quivered. The athlete/awardees cheered like they were spectators. Everybody had goosebumps. We snapped photos. Sabah Fadai, the mixed martial arts champion, cried. Some of the toughest of athletes’ eyes swelled with tears.

“In the 21 years that I have been part of the event,” wrote Nimrod Quiñones, The Freeman’s managing editor. “I’ve never been as moved as the other night when Z ‘The Dream’ Gorres stood up from his wheelchair to receive the Presidential Award given to him by the SAC.”

Nimrod is right. It was the most emotional scene I’ve witnessed of these awards, even more powerful than last year, when Manny Pacquiao joined us in the 2009 edition of the Cebu Sports Awards.

Z Gorres’ courageous act, not to be handed the award but to accept it himself, was that most unforgettable moment. Nobody asked Z to stand. It was his decision. The reason? He wanted to show an example to his fellow athletes what it means to be a fighter. That despite the pain, the difficulty, the suffering of walking, he was telling all… I’m going to stand up and walk to receive my award. What a moment. What a lesson.

What happened next was just as inspiring. Antonio Lopez Aldeguer, our guest of honor, stood on the stage minutes after witnessing the deluge of sympathy and love surrounding his boxer and, in dark black suit that enveloped his broad wide shoulders, said, “I have a five-page long speech that I prepared the past two days and I will disregard this after what I saw. I am here to give an inspirational talk… but what more can I say to inspire you… than what you have seen a while ago?”

ALA was correct. The sight of Z rising and struggling to walk and receive his award was more powerful a message than any words. As Mike Limpag wrote yesterday, “Z GORRES never said a word… but what he did will be remembered, forever.”

Caecent No-ot-Magsumbol, another SAC colleague who writes for The Freeman, summed it up best with her words yesterday: “From A to Z – as in from Aldeguer to Z Gorres – all those who attended the memorable night went home not only with awards, happy thoughts and memories but also learned a valuable lesson in life…

“Z may no longer be able to fight again, but he has already gained a championship belt. No one can take it away from him for he is a champion in life, a living proof on how great an athlete and person he is which the rest of the athletes should emulate.”

From Amit to Z, tonight the superstars shine

March 11, 2010 is the night. That’s tonight. For tonight is the moment. It’s those three hours this evening when fireworks will erupt indoors, cheers will deafen the ballroom, when Z Gorres will receive a standing ovation, when the late volleyball guru Eugene de la Cerna will be honored, when Irina Gabasa will shake hands with Noy Jopson, who’ll greet Rubilen Amit, who’ll smile before world champ Donnie Nietes.

Tonight. It’s that once-every-365-days evening when the top athletes from our Visayan land celebrate. When the Queen City of the South honors kings and princes and princesses of sports.

Tonight, plenty will stand proud. I’ve seen mothers who’ve shed tears, grandfathers who’ve cried as they stepped on-stage to receive the award in behalf of their apo, I’ve witnessed the 7-footer Greg Slaughter tower above his fellow awardee Manny Pacquiao.

Tonight. It’s special. Because, when your name is chosen for the SAC-SMB Cebu Sports Awards, you are special. Few excel in sports. Fewer get picked as awardees.

Tonight is the night to meet David Lim of autocross, Lorhiz Echavez of triathlon, Jon-Jon Adlawan of motocross, Tonyo Carcel and Jette Calderon of go-kart racing. It’s the evening to meet the awardees who get a kick out of the World Cup in South Africa: footballers Paolo Pascual, Oliver Colina, the Abellana National School, Carmelo Genco, Glenn Ramos, Christian Noel.

Tonight. It’s unforgettable. I say that in advance knowing that, in the dozens of years that I’ve attended these gatherings, back in 1988 when I was one of the awardees for junior tennis, each year is meaningful. I’ll never forget the late Maning Oyson, one of the founders of SAC, who owned a giant personality despite his small size. I’ll never forget Dondon Hontiveros, our speaker two years ago, or Butch Ramirez, one of the friendliest of PSC chairmen, or Michel Lhuillier, many times a Sportsman of the Year.

Tonight is the night. It’s the evening to salute Buchoy. Boxing’s world-champion-in-waiting, he succumbed to a near-death experience. Yet, he survived and, above all, emerged as the world champion of life. For his bravery, his spirit, his willpower and his instincts of survival, Z Gorres will shine, tonight, as an inspiration to his co-awardees. They’ll pose for photos with him, shake his right hand and find that his grip is firm, they’ll applaud Z.

Tonight. We honor the mastermind of the Guinness World Record “7,770” dance production, Edward Hayco.

Tonight is also the occasion to applaud your sportswriters. The women and men who press their fingers against the computer keyboard each afternoon to provide you with stories that amuse, excite and provoke. Tonight is that moment when the reporters, often popular by name but whose faces remain unknown, will take center-stage.

Tonight is the time to thank San Miguel Corporation and Girlie Garces, one of the conglomerate’s top executives, for their year-in, year-out help. Because without SMC and San Miguel Beer, there’ll be no Cebu Sports Awards. The giant company that cultivates Philippine sports is the giant financier for tonight.

ALA? Yes. Tonight, for many minutes, my eyes and ears and all senses will be glued to one man as he speaks and inspires. Our guest speaker, Antonio Lopez Aldeguer, who was born in Iloilo, raised in Bacolod, resided in Cebu, and who has bred world boxing champions, will share with us his universe of wisdom and sports acumen.

Tonight. It’s the evening when you’ll see faces all-smiling. For tonight’s a celebration, a party, a gathering of Smiling People. Fathers will smile. Mary Grace de los Santos, our almost-unbeatable runner, will grin an earful when she receives the trophy from running diehards Max Limpag, Haide Acuña, Raffy Uytiepo. So will Dr. Yong Larrazabal and Jesse Taborada of CERC when they accept plaques for their contribution to popularize running as Cebu’s No.1 recreational sport today.

Today, tonight, what an evening for Cebu.

The Difference between ‘Ordinary’ and ‘Extraordinary’

This article was written two years ago, last March 13, 2008…

Don-Don Hontiveros was scared. Uneasy. Anxious. His hand was cold. He had been in dozens of pressure-packed moments before—like standing on the free-throw line with 0.7 seconds left on the shot clock and needing to shoot both baskets to reach OT—but this was different.

He was standing before a crowd—like he usually did before 12,000 screaming PBA fans—only this time, he was onstage and, instead of gripping an orange basketball, he was holding a black microphone.

Gi kuyawan ko (I’m scared),” Don-Don started off, grinning shyly, as he faced the over 150 athletes, honorees, parents, coaches and sportswriters that trooped to attend last Saturday night’s 26th SAC-SMC All-Cebu Sports Awards.

Don-Don admitted that he wasn’t used to speaking in front of audiences—and, in particular, talking in front of a Who’s-Who list of sportsmen that included, among many, the Philippine Sports Commission Chairman William “Butch” Ramirez, world boxing champ Donnie Nietes, former champ Dodie Boy Peñalosa, Felix Tiukinhoy, Ricky Ballesteros, Boom-Boom Bautista, Michael Aldeguer and AJ Banal.

Don-Don (left most) with Dodie Boy Peñalosa Jr., Dodie Boy Peñalosa Sr., Donnie Nietes, Boom-Boom Bautista, Z Gorres, AJ Banal, Edito Villamor, Michael Domingo and PSC Chairman Butch Ramirez

But as Don-Don continued to speak, mixing English with Cebuano, he spoke from the heart. He talked of his love for basketball. He mentioned his short height (4’11”) when he started and how his coaches and teammates told him he’d never make it to his dream, the PBA.

He didn’t listen to them. He believed. In himself. He took those words not as insults but as a challenge. And, most important of all, he never, ever let go of his dream.

“I wasn’t born as an exceptional athlete,” he said. “But I practiced harder than everybody else.” When he was a star at the Cebu Gems and opted to join the San Miguel Beermen in the PBA, critics lambasted him for his decision, saying, “You’re an MBA star here! You’re a big fish in a small pond here! Why go to the PBA where you’ll be a small fish in the large ocean?”

He thought hard. Listened. But his heart knew that his dream was to be in the Philippine Basketball Association. And, deep inside, he believed in himself. He believed that he wouldn’t be this “small fish” swimming in a “large ocean.”

Belief. That’s what Don-Don taught me that evening. All champions possess it: Tiger. MJ. LeBron. Roger. Pacquiao.

Unbowed by the criticisms hurled his way, Don-Don Hontiveros jumped and dove into the ocean of the PBA superstars….

Now, years later, we know what happened. A gold fish swimming in the Pacific Ocean? Nah. Don-Don has transformed into a large whale—one of the Philippines’ top basketball stars.

Don-Don continued speaking….. More words struck the audience. But, to me, this was best: When he asked the crowd, “You know the difference between ‘ordinary’ and ‘extraordinary?’”

The crowd stood still. Nobody moved. All ears opened.

“It’s the word ‘EXTRA,’” he said.

I glanced at Michael Domingo and Z Gorres and Boy Cabahug and Jacob Lagman and Irina Gabasa and could see from their faces that, yes, that word—extra—is what makes champions… Champions.

All-Cebu Sports Awards Photos

These photos first appeared last March 13, 2008….

The UV Green Lancers (on stage) with (from left) CDN’s Jonas Panerio and coaches Boy Cabahug and Al Solis

Mary Stephanie Agbay, one of the top awardees for Wushu

Girlie Garces of San Miguel Corporation

Felix Tiukinhoy (right), the Presidential Award recipient, receiving his award from outgoing SAC President (and CDN Sports Editor) Rick Gabuya

Ricky Ballesteros (center), the Sportsman of the Year, with (from left) Manny Villaruel (The Freeman Sports Editor), Girlie Garces, Rick Gabuya and Mike Limpag (Sun.Star Cebu Sports Editor)

Manfred Schuwerk (far right), the Orlacsan Awardee, with Rick Gabuya and Girlie Garces

PSC Chairman Butch Ramirez (far right) inducting the new set of SAC officers (from left): John Pages, Jun Migallen, Marian Baring, Caecent No-ot Magsumbol, Manny Villaruel and Mike Limpag

All-smiles, All winners….

Looking Down At The Stars, What A View

This article came out on March 11, 2008….

One of my favorite parties each year is the All-Cebu Sports Awards. For where can you gather, under one restaurant roof, sitting side-by-side, mingling, posing for photos, swapping autographs, beaming with earful grins, exchanging stories, laughing, parents crying of joy, world boxing champions in sight, gymnasts and footballers talking, everybody proud, all standing on Cloud 10, the best athletes in Cebu?

It only happens once. Each year. At the All-Cebu Sports Awards.

Last Saturday night, it wasn’t the first All-Cebu Sports Awards. It’s wasn’t the second, 12th or 22nd. It was the 26th year when your very own sports scribes—the Sportswriters Association of Cebu (SAC)—honor the year’s top sports figures.

Let me say this: I am fortunate. Lucky. Honored. Not only was I bestowed the title of ‘President’ of the SAC for this year but, more important, I stood as emcee for the night. What did that mean? That meant that when I stood on that podium for the entire evening, I had an unparalleled vantage point of all of Cebu’s winners……

To my left sat giants. They wore XXXL-size jackets, 14-size Nike shoes, and they gorged on the Laguna Garden Cafe buffet like starved men. The 7-time CESAFI champions, undefeated since the annual collegiate games started, sat on a round table. Led by coaches Boy Cabahug and Al Solis, they’re the University of the Visayas basketball team.

At the very back sat Niño Surban. On a pair of two wheels named the bicycle, nobody in Cebu is faster. Standing almost 6-feet-tall, Niño is Cebu’s Lance Armstrong.

Don-Don Hontiveros with Niño Surban

Down the center table sat Jess and Julie Lagman. Of all the sports parents in Cebu, I admire the Lagmans most. God-loving, sport-loving and children-loving, no wonder Julian, Julius, Jessica and Jacob (one of RP’s top juniors) are tops in tennis—thanks to their dad and mom.

From left: Don-Don, Jess Lagman, Julie Lagman, Jacob Lagman, PSC Chairman Butch Ramirez

Wushu. Heard of wushu before? I have but never saw this type of martial arts until the duo of Stephanie and Evangeline Agbay performed. It was a fascinating five-minute show. And you could see their benefactors, Francis and Joy Onglatco, beaming with pride.

Without doubt the best-looking awardee was Niño Ramirez. The MVP at last year’s PRISAA National Championships (and the basketball star at USC), Niño wore a black coat-and-tie that complemented the formal wear of his equally good-looking parents, Jay and Lou Ramirez.

Don-Don with (from left) the Ramirezes: Marilou, Niño, PSC Chairman Butch and his brother Jay

Standing on the stage, to my right was a table loaded with superstars. Consider these names: Z. AJ. Boom-Boom. Donnie. Know them? Of course you do! Z Gorres. Michael Domingo. Rey Bautista. AJ Banal. Their trainer, Edito Villamor. With them were ALA Gym honchos Dennis Cañete and Chad Cañares. The top gun himself, Michael Aldeguer, attended despite that night being his wife Christine’s birthday. The looked terrific wearing black long-sleeves. But what made me happiest posing for a photo with their group? Because world champ Donnie “Ahas” Nietes didn’t bring his snake!

From left: Manny Villaruel, Dennis Cañete, Z Gorres, Boom-Boom Bautista, Michael Aldeguer, AJ Banal, Edito Villamor and Michael Domingo

Who else joined the jam-packed crowd? Judo’s Vicente Fernandez III, the silver medalist of the Philippine Olympic Festival, was there. So was Vince Marc “Mac-Mac” Tabotabo (the multi-awarded tennis star), joined by his dad Titus and coach Dodong Ruelan.

The Siso family, who’ve been awardees almost each year, were in attendance: mom Sally and children Niño, Sally Dine, and Sally Mae (who’ll be leaving for Jakarta, Indonesia this Friday for the Asian Championships).

From left: Don-Don, Sally Dine Siso, Sally Siso, Sally Mae Siso, Niño Siso, Cyril Camporedondo, Butch Ramirez, John Pages

Dancing. No, the night wasn’t all eating or trophy-giving; twice, the Dancesport Team Cebu City—represented by Christy Kim Velez and Inoue Roi Rendon—boogied, swayed their hips, and did the “split” on the shiny floor. When they finished, I noticed a man, seated just inches away, whose eyes grew wider, mesmerized.

“Boom-Boom,” I announced, “we all know is a very focused man. But I’ve never seen him this focused… staring at the sexy dancer, Christy Kim Velez!”

The crowd roared while Boom-Boom, never one to shy away inside the ring, smiled, turned red and blushed.

All-Cebu Sports Awards Photos

These were the awards of the 2008 edition…

Cebu City 15-and-Under Football team

Don-Don Hontiveros (far left) and Butch Ramirez (far right) pose with gymnast Mary Carmelli Garovillo with her mom

San Miguel Corporation’s Girlie Garces, PSC Chairman Butch Ramirez, The Freeman columnist Raffy Uytiepo and John Pages

John Pages (Sun.Star Cebu), Caecent No-ot Magumbol (The Freeman), Rick Gabuya (CDN Sports Editor) and Manny Villaruel (The Freeman Sports Editor)

The Agbay family (at center, Stephanie and Evangeline, with their parents) posing with Don-Don and PSC Chairman Butch

Proud Night! Niño Ramirez with his girlfriend and mom Marilou

Don-Don with Superbalita Sports Editor Jun Migallen