More than 30 years ago in Cebu, a small group of businessmen and professionals huddled together. Among them were the Aboitizes and Ugartes. They played basketball. They dribbled, passed, sprinted down the parquet floor, jump-shot, laughed and high-fived. They had fun.
We ought to do this more often, they said. They did. We ought to invite other executives to join us. They did. We ought to make a tournament, a league, move to a larger venue, bring more players. And, they asked, why not invite friends from other cities? They did. That was over three decades back. Those were the 1970s. The era of Bee Gees and basketball shoes named Adidas Pro-Model.
Fast forward to today, July 22. Exactly one month, one week, one day from today—August 30, 2007—this event which started as a basketball shoot-out among friends is back. It’s back home in Cebu.
It’s the 30th PAL Intersports. It’s one of the biggest gatherings of business executives and professionals to play basketball (plus five more events), to exchange business cards, to smile and greet each other by their first names, to compete on the court and drink San Mig Light after to celebrate.
And who else to host this biggest-ever PAL Intersports than the country’s No.1 city… Cebu.
From August 30 to September 1, over 1,000 executives and their spouses and children will fly to Cebu—via Philippine Airlines, of course.
And from the only game of basketball, there are now five more events: Golf, Tennis, Badminton, Bowling, and Billiards.
A total of 16 teams are coming for this annual event that hops from city to city (last year: Gen. Santos; the year, Iloilo).
Cebu is represented by the Los Jefes de Cebu. From the other cities are: Negros Executives, Kutawato Tantawan (Cotabato), Bomberos de Davao, Los Hermanos de Heneral Santos (GenSan), Los Amigos de Iloilo, Manila Executives, Los Caballeros de Zamboanga, Cagayan Executives, and Quezon City Katipuneros.
And, guess what, there are six cities that are coming from outside: Australia has the Wallabies of Downunder, there’s the San Francisco Warriors, Los Diablos de Los Angeles, Guam Geckos, Las Vegas High Rollers, and the Shanghai Knights.
Sixteen teams: 11 from RP, six from outside RP. Over 1,000 executives. Isn’t this a perfect example of Sports Tourism?
I attended the Press-Con three weeks ago at the City Sports Club and listened to two key PAL executives: AVP-Visayas, Bob Salazar, and Chris Lebumfacil, the Passenger Sales Manager-Visayas.
Ed Chiongbian, my neighbor in these pages, is the man atop (as president) of the host club this year, Los Jefes de Cebu. He plays golf, writes about golf, and will be eager for Cebu to win the golf event at the PAL Intersports.
The other officers of Los Jefes are: Joe Suaco (VP), Jun San Juan (Secretary), Fred Quilala (Treasurer), Johnny Casenas (PRO), and Chester Cokaliong (Member). The overall tournament chairman for the 30th PAL Intersports is the man I always look up to: my father, Bunny.
The Events Chairspersons are: Nonoy Tirol (golf), Jun San Juan (tennis), Billy Uybengkee (bowling), Ray Hubahib (billiards), Gina Juan (badminton), and Chester Cokaliong (basketball).
Six years ago, when Cebu last hosted the PAL Intersports, our Los Jefes team won the overall crown. Not only that, we won every single event among the six events—the first and only time it’s happened in 30 years.
Can Cebu do it again? Sweep all six events?
That’s unimportant. What’s important is we play good hosts. We show our guests Colon St. and Magellan’s Cross. We ask them to savor puso and dimsum and lechon. We laugh, chat, entertain our tourist friends. And we enjoy the sweat that drips off our smiling Cebuano faces.