Last night, a Wednesday evening, I was at the Marriot Hotel from 9:30 until 12 midnight. The ballroom was jampacked. Cameras clicked. Eyes enlarged at the sight of the men seated on the Presidential Table. Their names? Boom-Boom. AJ. Michael Domingo. Z. You know them. Watched them last Sunday. They arrived just yesterday from the U.S. and, after a few hours of speaking with the Manila press, they flew back home… to Cebu. It was a gathering with the press. Boom-Boom was honest in defeat. The others jubilant in victory. Enjoy these photos…
Boom-Boom with trainer Edito Villamor and my fellow columnist, Atty. Jingo Quijano
For Gerry Penalosa, he played defense on the first round, blocked with his two red gloves on the second, jabbed in the third, then, all the way until the seventh, he stood relaxed. Maybe too relaxed. He was losing. Sev Sarmenta and Dyan Castillejo saw it, you and I saw it, Jhonny Gonzalez saw it. And then… BANG!
One punch. It was a left wallop at the rib cage of the lanky Mexican, who took two hops backward then knelt on both legs and hands. GERRY WON! GERRY WON! Who would have believed it? Didn’t you jump? Scream? Feel proud for the 35-year-old, who became the oldest-ever Filipino world champ?
One punch. For Rey Bautista, all it took was, ironically, one punch. He didn’t hide or spar or warm up the enemy—he brawled with the brawler, faced him face front, flirted with the bare-chested monster. And then… BOOOM!
One punch. It dazed Boom-Boom, wobbled his knees, clouded his vision. It thwacked like a cannonball. Struck with the impact of a Caterpillar bulldozer. Boom-Boom stood up, but it was all over…
Wasn’t it shocking? Minutes after Gerry’s shocking win… this? Win after win after win—five straight—hadn’t we grown accustomed to winning? To celebrating? To ordering another San Mig Light? To toasting the bottle on the air? And, tell I’m wrong, weren’t the words “Six-Zero” and “How embarrassing for the Mexicans…” pasted on our minds?
It’s true that Team Philippines won 5-1 against the Mexican contingent. It’s true that we’re bringing home the World Cup. But here’s the sad truth: In the biggest fight of his career, in the biggest fight of the night… Rey “Boom-Boom” Bautista was pummeled to the floor. What a shocker! Didn’t you feel sad? I pity Boom-Boom. I’ve spoken to him in person several times and he’s such a quiet, humble, soft-spoken and good kid. He’s only 21. And that’s the good news. Because he’ll rise from this fall, train even harder and avenge that shocking blow.
I live in Talamban. Veco says that we’ll experience power interruption starting 10 last night until 9 this morning. I hope they turn on the switch at 9 or earlier today. I don’t want to miss the World Cup. Who wants to? Nobody. I know that this morning, traffic will halt. Streets will stand deserted. Cars parked. Engines asleep. Cebuanos will be facing the flat screen to cheer, clap, slam the table if our own is KO’d, stand and touch the ceiling if a Mexican is twisted and mangled like a taco. Go, RP!
SISO. Did you watch Star Sports last Thursday at 10 p.m.? I hope you did. Me? I got teary-eyed. The story of the three Siso children—Nino, Sally Dine, Sally Mae—of how they were tutored and nurtured by their late father Dino (who passed away last year to cancer), is both heart-breaking and inspiring. Asked if they’ve given up hope in tennis now that their father is gone, the Siso siblings replied, “No. Because dad was happiest when we’re playing.” (In case you missed it, e-mail me at [email protected] I’ll send you a DVD copy.)
FOOTBALL season is back. Next weekend, it’s the annual San Roque Football Festival. On August 25, it’s by Mizuno. This is excellent news. Football today, among children, is more popular than basketball. Not to criticize the game with the orange Spalding ball and 10-foot-tall ring. I played elementary basketball varsity at La Salle Bacolod and recall those moments as some of my life’s most memorable. But football is better for Filipinos. Why? Because while we cried and lost in Tokushima, Japan, on the football world scene, we have a chance. Not as an RP team. But as individuals. For you don’t need to be 6-foot-8 like LeBron James to be a star. Look at Maradona. He stood 5-foot-5.
One of my favorite RP websites is www.philboxing.com. If you follow the sport of Z and Boom-Boom and AJ, check it out. It’s also one of the most popular of all RP sites. Remember Manny Pacquiao’s last fight? The site registered over 20,000 hits. Wow. And best of all, it’s operated by two of the friendliest and humblest of people: Salven Lagumbay and Dong Secuya.
Tomorrow, a Sunday, August 12, 2007, Jacob Lagman (the country’s No.1 tennis player in the Boys 12-and-under category) will fly to Seoul, South Korea. He’ll join two major events spanning two weeks. His father, mentor and coach… Jess Lagman… will travel with him. Here’s an article I wrote for Sun.Star Cebu in March 4 of last year…
Jess and Julie and Julian and Julius and Jessica and Jacob are all, as you can see, one and the same. They’re all J’s. But one thing more binds them together. Their second name.
Lagman. Open these back pages often, visit an age-group tennis event at the Cebu Country Club, surf the internet, go to Google and type “Cebu junior tennis,” and you’ll hear a familiar tune.
Lagman. They’re all J’s. They’re the 6J’s. They’re one family, one team, just like yours and mine. But here’s the twist. When you visit their home, you’ll notice that it’s packed with one more item that ours don’t possess.
Trophies. How many trophies? I called Jess and Julie, the parents of the other 4J’s, to ask. They couldn’t give a reply. So I had to await the answer that evening. How many trophies? “About a hundred,” answered Julie. One hundred? Trophies?
This Sunday, August 12, 2007, the father-and-son tandem of Jess and Jacob Lagman will fly to Seoul, Korea. Not to vacation. No, it’s the middle of school for the 12-year-old Jacob (above photo, at the center). They’ll be out for two weeks to join two major tennis events in the South Korean capital. Jacob, the country’s no.1 in the Boys 12, will carry the RP flag together with the RP Boys-10 no.1 player, Vince Marc Tabotabo. Good luck!
Jacob (right most) with his older brother Julius (left most)
Among all the athletes in Cebu, one of those I admire the most is Noy Jopson. He’s a multi-awarded athlete at a multi-discipline sport—swimming, biking, running—called triathlon. Noy is a record-holder at triathlon. And not just the ordinary race—but the full Ironman. He’s joined that, completed the race in 13-plus hours, and won a handful. Noy, who’s now part of the team running Holiday Spa (in Banilad), sent me this e-mail:“Pinay in Action (PIA) is a series of talks (about women’s issues: breastfeeding, anti-violence, and health), a running clinic and a fun run. Senator Pia Cayetano will be in Cebu this Aug. 11-12: On Saturday, at the Holiday Gym and Spa (1:30–4pm) and at the Milo Marathon on Sunday. Please invite friends, especially moms and expectant mothers. Raffle prizes will be given away at the “Handa Ka Na Ba” seminars. Admission is free! — Noy Jopson”