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Hit by few spectators, Charice was a hit

We watch sports to be entertained. Last Sunday, we got entertained by a different type of sport. The athlete? She sported a tattoo.

Charice. In her first solo concert in Cebu, two “negatives” I can mention. First, few people showed up. When the concert started, 60 percent of the Waterfront ballroom was empty. Shocking! But it wasn’t surprising. The organizers hardly marketed the event. I didn’t even know about the event until my sister Cheryl reserved tickets. (Also, I’ve never seen so many scalpers prowling the lobby.) The other “bad” part? Charice’s image. Unlike the sweet and cute teenager that we’ve seen on Oprah and with David Foster, this time she has the “edgy” look: gloves, leather jacket, dyed hair covering her face. (With her change of look/image, she didn’t even sing a single Celine Dion song!)

Still, seated seven rows from the stage and together with 10 other family members, it was an entertainment blast.

Charice opened with David Guetta’s “Without You.” She spoke in perfect Bisaya, “Maayong gabii kaninyong tanan.” Admitting that she was nervous, (“It’s my first time back since I came here for the ‘Little Big Star’ contest,” she said), Charice is a world-class performer. She did renditions from Michael Jackson, Adele, Bruno Mars and she sang Justin Bieber’s “Baby.” The sentimental part was when she recalled the death last year of her father (“I never got to perform in front of him”) and sang Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven.”

The best part? Of course, when Iyaz appeared on-stage for “Pyramid.” Iyaz then did several solo songs and got the seated audience standing and dancing.

Ending? Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You,” to which Charice added… “I will always love you… Cebu.” It was a blast. Sayang that few people watched.

Despite the blunder, MVP is still the MVP

Manny V. Pangilinan is MVP. He’s the Most Valuable Pinoy. For few people, in business, in sports, in philanthropy, have done more for our nation than MVP.

Yet, for all the man’s successes, he is fallible. MVP made a mistake. A shameful and embarrassing one when, last March 27, he delivered the commencement address at the Ateneo.

MVP’s bungle? He plagiarized. Quoting paragraphs from Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, J.K. Rowling and Conan O’Brien, he failed to acknowledge the authors. Days after, Facebook users exposed the flaw and MVP resigned as chairman of the board of Ateneo.

Ouch. Has MVP become the Most Vilified Person? Has my admiration for him diminished? No, no. For here’s what MVP did: He acted. As soon as he uncovered the fault, he apologized. He quit as ADMU chairman. How many of our leader-politicians, I ask, given the same circumstances, are willing to resign? When humiliated, when mistaken, when the verdict is obvious that a blunder was made—how many of our leaders are willing to say sorry?

Few. That’s because many are “bagang-nawong.” Not MVP. He displayed a trait we often heard during sermons last week: Humility.

“He is truly a man of principles, dignity, integrity and humility… a true MVP,” wrote Me-anne Alcordo Solomon, in Facebook. “What happened could happen to anyone of his stature where considering his busy schedule, had the speech made by a ghostwriter and yet MVP takes full responsibility. In my book, MVP will always be the MVP and the incident doesn’t diminish my respect for him. I was doubly blessed that day seeing my son among the graduates and hearing MVP speak. He spoke true to his last words ‘that like the tadpole, he dropped his tail and jumped out of the swamp.’”

My hope? Not that the Ateneo board will decline his resignation—for MVP himself, I’m sure, given the embarrassment, will insist on being “out.” My hope is that all of us, from ordinary folks to top executives, will learn from MVP’s behavior.

He did not hide. He did not delay. He did not rationalize. He did not even lay the blame on his speechwriter (whom I can only describe as… tanga). Like a true leader who knows “command responsibility,” he accepted his fault and said sorry.

The speech itself? Even deleting the “copy-pasted” words, it was funny and insightful. The most important lesson of the 1,892-worded speech—ironically—was on failure.

“On this wonderful day when you stand on the threshold of what is called real life, it is – ironically – the best time to talk about failure,” he said. “Nobody‘s life is seamless or smooth. We all stumble. We all have setbacks. If things go wrong, you hit a dead end – as you will, many times in your life – it‘s just life‘s way of saying – time to change course. Now I cannot tell you that failure is fun. Periods of failure in my life were dark ones. I’ve had a lot of success. But I’ve had a lot of failures. I’ve looked good. I’ve looked bad. I’ve been praised and criticized. And it hurt like hell. But my mistakes have been necessary. I had no idea how far the tunnel of failure extended. And any light at the end of it seemed more hope than reality…

“The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you can be secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life, my career and, most importantly, my moral values. So graduates, always remember this – success is never final. Failure is never fatal. It is courage that counts.”

Sports? “Don’t forget that you have a body under your toga,” he said. “Take good care of it. Engage in sports. It‘s fun, and it is a laboratory for victory and adversity. How an athlete celebrates his triumphs, or overcomes defeat or injury, how he deals with a hostile crowd or a critical media, reflects what life is all about. Indeed, sports offers a richness all its own – it is a metaphor for life.”


It’s sad but often true. When the term “Philippine government agency” is used, synonyms like “inefficient” and “corrupt” and “slow” are mentioned. Not my experience last Thursday morning during the renewal of my driver’s license at the SM City.

What an efficient system of the Land Transportation Office. (Three years back and having gone through the same noteworthy experience, I vowed, but failed, to write about my observations. So finally…)

I arrived early and was customer No. 7. Everything was methodical and organized. The front guard had the forms ready. The signages “Step 1, Step 2” etc. were visible. The staff were in a hurry (unlike other government agencies?). The physician in-charge of examination, Dr. Roy Abellana, was cordial and helpful. We even engaged in a chitchat, commenting that he knew my grandmother, Dr. Paulina “Bing” Pages.

The LTO office was clean, well-lighted, plus the location in SM is convenient. Technology was properly used: from the onsite card printer to the fingerprint scanner to several 32-inch LCD screens that showed children’s Christian movies. Best of all, the dreaded word “corruption” does not exist.

In all, from my arrival at 10:05 a.m. until I got my license, it took just 50 minutes. Amazing. (Here’s a tip: Line up early outside SM then, when the doors open, sprint to their office.) Kudos to the LTO.

From Cebu to Dallas, Sarah is MP’s No.1 fan

Sarah Monique Ching had never before watched Manny Pacquiao. Not in person, not on TV, not even via a YouTube replay. But that all changed last weekend when Sarah, a freshman on full scholarship studying Economics and Finance at the University of Texas in Dallas, saw Pacman three times: at the open workout, the weigh-in and on the fight night of March 13. Last Thursday, I featured Sarah’s story. Here’s Part 2:

Just a week ago, I didn’t know a thing about boxing and neither did I care for it. On Saturday, it was the only thing on my mind. My uncle picked me up from school and together we went to the Dallas Cowboys Stadium. It’d be the second time I was going to see the architectural marvel, as well as the second time I’d get lost driving there. When we arrived, the streets around the stadium were packed with cars. There were only a few in our designated parking lot so it was a breeze to park. Getting in was a bit of a problem though.  The stadium is so large it has 10 entrances. We were three or four entrances away from the club entrance we were assigned. Security was very lax, though, and I was able to get drinks in. Once I stepped inside, it was fantastically surreal. I didn’t know where to start gawking. The stadium seemed even more colossal from inside. But, I was eager to get to my seat. I had bought tickets for the Club 200 level. The sight lines to the ring were amazing. I looked up and saw the world’s largest HDTV measuring 72 feet tall and 160 feet wide suspended above the ring. The ring and the big screen were in front of me dead center. Oh yeah. Everything was big in Texas. All I could do was sit and take it all in.

I had the Green Chile Kobe Burger that cost $13. Beer cost $8 a bottle, peanuts were $5, and water was $5. I didn’t have the $60 pizza. Sit back and enjoy the show. The undercard bouts had already begun. After many quick bouts, it was obvious that the crowd was losing interest. One of the more exciting bouts was Soto-Diaz. But even then, the crowd started a wave and it went on for quite a few rounds. Every time Pacquiao’s face appeared on the big screen in between rounds, the crowd would suddenly come alive. Everyone came to watch just one fight.

It felt as if everyone was for Pacquiao. There was going to be no question about who was going to win, only in which round Pacquiao would KO Clottey. Fans wore Philippine flags as capes; others were dressed in all-Pacquiao apparel.

At 8:22 p.m. Soto was declared the winner, there was a sudden change in the atmosphere. The Philippine and Ghanaian flags made their way to the ring. The previous day’s event replayed on the big screen and the fans cheered loud. Arnel Pineda of Journey sang the Philippine National Anthem. I realized it was the first time I had heard it in almost a year. The people continued shouting with pride. The stadium was charged with unbridled excitement and energy.

It was time. Clottey entered the ring and was met by loud cheers. But when, Pacquiao made his grand entrance, it was sensory overload. We welcomed him on our feet, cheering at the top of our lungs, fists pumping air.

The first round began and I sat at the edge of the seat waiting to see the two fighters slug it out. No instant action, instead they were both cautiously gauging each other. Clearly, Pacquiao was the aggressor. He put on display once again his amazing quickness. Meanwhile, Clottey remained in his shell. The early rounds went in the same manner. Clottey didn’t open up while Pacquiao kept attacking with a flurry of punches. Clottey did land some hard ones, but it became obvious that the match was one-sided, even to someone who didn’t know much about boxing. It got a little repetitive, and the highlight was in Round 4 when Pacquiao gave Clottey a double-handed punch. Was frustration beginning to set in?

Halfway through, Pacquiao probably realized that Clottey wasn’t coming out. So did I. He dished out exciting combinations for the fans. It wasn’t until the very last rounds that Clottey looked as if he was actually fighting. In Round 11, he got an uppercut in but that didn’t seem to bother Manny. The crowd was up on its feet by the final round. I was still hoping for a knockout. Pacquiao ended the fight with a barrage of punches. BOOM! The entire stadium exploded, louder than ever, as Pacquiao emerged victorious with a unanimous decision.

At the end of fight night, my voice hoarse and shoulders sore from cheering, I went to bed, heart still racing with excitement. I may have never seen Pacquiao fight before, but hey, I get to say that the first time was live together with 51,000 fans in the 8th Wonder of the World. It wasn’t the greatest fight, but it was one heck of a show. National Fist, the fighting pride of the Philippines. I didn’t know what that meant. That night, I not only knew it, I felt it. I witnessed a legend, and he’s made a believer out of me. I was in the same room with him, thrice even. I breathed the same air he breathed. And maybe, just maybe, his sweat nilagput nako.

High marathon fever as Active Zone activates

Tomorrow night and Saturday evening will be unlike any other. For the first time in Cebu, a Carbo-loading/Pre-Race Party will inspire all participants joining the Cebu City Marathon. Who are invited? Everyone. All the 3,600 or so participants who have enlisted for this Sunday’s race. The venue? The Terraces of the Ayala Center Cebu. The garden setting will be transformed into a runners’ haven. Marathon films will be broadcasted. Top runners will give pep talks. Tips will be shared. All these plus a pasta meal with a free drink (from your choice of six Ayala Center tenants) for a minimal fee of P150. If you’ve registered for the 01-10-10 race, it’s a must you go!

Saturday night? It’s the formal launching of the first-ever Sports Hub in our city. If you’ve visited the Ayala Center over the holidays, you’ve probably trekked inside the area previously known as the Food and Entertainment Center. Today, it’s been renamed. From a location for partying, eating and drinking, it’s now a one-stop, one-place, one-destination headquarters for all things sports and adventure. There’s Nike. Mizuno. Adidas. R.O.X. There’s Puma. There’s plenty more. This Saturday, the Active Zone will be an activity center that will buzz.

RACE PACKETS. Updates… the distribution of the race kits is in full force. Yesterday, many of the 2,000 who registered for the 5K picked up their singlets. Today, the 21K and 42K runners can start claiming theirs.

NUMBERS. How many have registered for the Cebu Marathon? For the 42K marathon: 500. For the half-marathon: 750. For the 5K, that’s 2,300. The total is nearly 3,600. This Sunday morning at the Asiatown I.T. Park, considering these numbers, what a sight it will be to see thousands sweating.

5K STARTING TIME. Here’s an important announcement for all joining the 5K Run. While the organizers previously announced a 6 a.m. starting time, this schedule has been moved earlier by 30 minutes. The reason is this: because of the large turnout of over 2,000 runners in the 5K category—plus the latest update that Kenyan elite runners are joining the 21K and 42K—we’ll have to move the schedule to avoid a major traffic situation. Thus, for all 5K runners, please take note of these times: Assembly time: 5 a.m. Starting time: 5:30 a.m. For the 42K and 21K runners, the schedules are virtually unchanged: The 42K: Assembly time is 3:30 a.m. Starting time is 4 a.m. The 21K: Assembly time is 4:30 a.m. Starting time is 5:10 a.m.

PARKING. Another area of concern is the parking. Because while the Asiatown I.T. Park is huge, it will have difficulty accommodating all vehicles. Our solution: We’ve arranged for participants to park in the vacant lots inside the I.T. Park. But here’s an important reminder: Come early! And be ready to walk (consider it a warm-up!) far from the starting line (which is right across The Walk).

TRAFFIC. For the rest of the Cebuano public who are not joining the marathon, we make one request: Your patience. From 4 a.m. until 9:30 a.m., half of the route of the entire marathon will be closed (passing through prominent roads like Osmeña Blvd., Escario St., Gen. Maxilom Ave., Gorordo, Juan Luna). This means, for the vehicle-driving public that morning… traffic. We ask for your patience.

PIT SENYOR. What’s different with this marathon is this word: Volunteerism. Consider that over 500 volunteers—led by the members of the Cebu Executive Runners Club (CERC)—will serve as marshals along the route. Alongside 300 policemen, they’ll man the intersections, serve water, offer first-aid and serve the runners. This marathon would not be possible if not for the selfless volunteers.

A total of 16 water stations will be spread out along the route. What’s unique about this race is because almost every station will provide entertainment. And so, dancers will dance, drummers will beat, giant speakers will blast noisy music to enliven the marathoners. In all, a festive marathon. Perfect because isn’t this the season for Asia’s biggest-ever festival called the Sinulog?

Singapore’s formula for a party? Formula 1

If you’ve ever been to The Lion City, this you’ll notice: There is more thrill and action at night than when the sun is out.

Consider the famous Clarke Quay. Located along the Singapore River, it houses five blocks of old warehouses that have been transformed into restaurants and nightclubs. Or the shopping street Orchard Road. With dozens of mega-malls ranging from Ngee Ann City (Takashimaya) to Paragon to the newly-opened Orchard Central, night-shopping is a Singapore must.

There’s the Merlion, a symbol of The Lion City, which glows when fully-lighted. Same when you visit Sentosa Island and watch the multitude of evening shows. Visiting this December? Perfect! Their streets glow with millions of shining Christmas lightbulbs. And, of course, there is the renowned Singapore Zoo where a plethora of tourists visit the Night Safari—the world’s first night zoo. Continue reading Singapore’s formula for a party? Formula 1

Practical shooting is a practical sport

The United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) defines “Practical Shooting” as “attempts to measure the ability to shoot rapidly and accurately with a full power handgun, rifle, and/or shotgun. Those three elements – speed, accuracy, and power – form the three sides of the practical shooting triangle.”

I’ll make a confession: I never liked guns. Footballs, running shoes, a chess board, the go-karts in Kartzone, the swimming pool at the Casino Español, the Babolat tennis racquet—all these sporting equipment and athletic venues I loved….. except guns.

That all changed in the past two weeks. First, inside the Centurion Security Agency, Inc. firing range in Talamban where Jake Mendez, Dr. Ron Eullaran, Rommel Desnacido, Dr. Ronnie Medalle and myself pulled triggers on weapons nicknamed “9mm” and “M4” and “1911.” That was 15 days ago.

Dr. Ron, John and Dr. Ronnie Continue reading Practical shooting is a practical sport

At the Green Tennis Center, Serena desires another color

BEIJING (Originally posted on Aug. 12, 2008) – Rain. That’s the story here last Sunday. And it’s both amusing and quirky. On our Day One in Beijing, an envelope of grey skies and haze greeted us upon arrival at the airport. On Day 2, the sky was as clear as a light blue swimming pool while the sun roasted this city like a Peking Duck. But two days ago-our third day here-it turned opposite: gushing and pouring buckets of rain on Beijing. Thus far, the weather here has been fickle and volatile.

Last Sunday was our first day to watch the outdoor sport of tennis. The Beijing Olympic Green Tennis Center-middle-named “Green” because it sits on the Olympic Green Forest-is massive. It has a total of 10 tennis courts: one Center Court, two main stadiums and seven smaller rectangles. Continue reading At the Green Tennis Center, Serena desires another color

Here in Beijing, it’s walk, walk and wok

BEIJING (Originally posted on Aug. 11, 2008)—For the past three days since we’ve arrived in China, as soon as we’ve arisen and stepped out on the bustling streets, we’ve joined the one sport that millions of people here do every minute of every day: Walk.

My wife Jasmin and I estimate no less than 8 kms. of trekking—each day. So at the rate we’re hiking (with the Great Wall looming ahead for us to climb), we’d have finished a full 42-K marathon in five days or can represent RP in the Olympic sport of Walkathon!

Last Saturday, taking a break between the Opening Ceremony and our first Olympic sport to watch (tennis), we meandered to a tourist spot with the most number of visitors: The Forbidden City. After riding the ultra-efficient bus and subway lines here, we got off at Tiananmen East and stepped out of the underground to see the red wall of this gargantuan site called the Imperial Palace. Continue reading Here in Beijing, it’s walk, walk and wok