Glendale Tennis Club visits Casino Espanol de Cebu

Last January, at around the time of our Sinulog, a group of men and women from Glendale, California, held a friendly tennis encounter with our very own Casino Espanol de Cebu tennis group. The original schedule, January 19 (the day before the Sinulog), rained out so we moved it to Jan. 21, the day after the biggest party and celebration of the year in Cebu. It was competitive, exciting, filled with serves, volleys, lobs and smashes, and both groups enjoyed each other’s company. Thanks to Brian Bailey, who helped facilitate his Glendale group’s visit to Cebu, we had an ace of a time!

Categorized as Tennis

The TLBF: An Affair to Remember in Ormoc

In Nov. 9, 2004, I wrote this article for Sun.Star Cebu…

Jaime Gallego and I are members of the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (BCBP). Our motto reads: Be Honest. So I’ll be honest. I’ll make a confession. I had an affair. And so did Jaime.

Three weekends ago in Ormoc City, miles of sea away from our wives’ radar screens, we each smuggled in “roommates.” We checked in at Hotel Don Felipe. Held their hands. Opened the hotel room door for them. Inside, our eyes sat frozen ogling at two attractive, sexy, ravishing frames. We massaged their curves. Gave each a long wet bath. To cut the long drama short, like most affairs, word leaked out and our wives found out. We had to spill out the truth. And be honest. How that weekend, we “roomed” our bikes.

Categorized as Cycling

Why I Love Cebu

From left: Jesse Taborada, John Pages, Meyrick Jacalan, Dr. Ron Eullaran and Roel Militar

The year was 1986 when my family and I moved from Bacolod to Cebu City. Back then, like any 14-year-old who had developed deep friendships with classmates and neighbors, I resented the decision

“Can I just stay in Bacolod?” I recall asking my parents. The answer, of course, was obvious. From the City of Friendship we transferred to this Queen City of the South. Looking back 22 years ago to that time—with no offense meant to Bacolod—it would be hard for any city to surpass what Cebu offers. In schooling, in business opportunities, in R & R, in malls to visit and night spots to party in and, lest I forget, in this favorite topic of these back pages…. Sports.

Take mountain-biking. Here in Cebu, if one craves to climb steep hills, descend on trail roads, trek across muddy terrain or traverse shallow streams—it’s all, as the cliche goes, right at our own backyard.

If ‘Pistol Pete’ guns for it, he can win W.

Tennis’ greatest-ever—next to Roger Federer—is Pete Sampras. He amassed 14 Grand Slam singles titles—the most of any male player. But we know he’s long retired; back at the 2002 U.S. Open final against Andre Agassi, Pete won that match—his last on the ATP Tour. And that was 5 ½ years ago.

Today, Pistol Pete is back. Last November, Sampras played thrice against Federer. He lost the first match, 6-4, 6-3, in Seoul, Korea. He lost the second, 7-6, 7-6, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. But in their finale, Pete shocked Roger in Macau, 7-6 (6), 6-4. And, just a few nights ago against Tommy Haas, Pete spent just 43 minutes dismantling the German, 6-4, 6-2. That’s two of the last two.

(This painting and the one below from

Which brings me to ask: Should Pete return?

Categorized as Tennis

The Day I Tried….

February 17, 2008. That date was to have been one of my life’s biggest moments. Like that first kiss. Like my graduation. Like winning that first tennis event. Like my wedding. Like my daughter’s birth nine Novembers ago.

When I woke up at 4:45 a.m. last Sunday, I was sure that when I crossed the Finish Line to record my first-ever 42-K run—the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon—that it would mark one of my life’s most memorable days.

Well, dear readers, guess what: I didn’t make it. I failed.

When the horn roared along Nathan Road at 7:45 a.m. four days ago to signal the start, I felt confident. And running beside Jesse Taborada, the president of the Cebu Executive Runners Club, the first part was easy. We laughed, talked, overtook dozens. At the 10-K point, our time was one hour, two minutes. With barely a sweat.

Thirty minutes later, Dr. Vic Verallo joined us. Down the tunnel, up the tunnel, down the foot of Tsing Ma Bridge, up the world’s sixth largest suspension bridge, down, up the Ting Kau Bridge, down. Flyovers. Tunnels. Bridges.

…. And Why I’m Thankful For Failure

Yesterday (Feb. 21, 2008), when I wrote about my daydream-turned-nightmare called the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon, I spoke about running comfortably until the 28th km. when cramps writhed my legs in pain, when I vomited and could barely stand up when I sat down, and when I trudged on with the help of Dr. Peter Mancao until unbearable leg injury forced me to stop at Km. 36.

What happened? I started too fast. At the 21-K mark, my watch read two hours, seven minutes. At Km. 28, it was 2:50. Now, that’s nowhere near the 42-K world record mark of Haile Gebrselassie (2:04) but, considering that the up-and-down, tunnel-bridge-flyover-plenty route of Hong Kong was found in the first 25-K—then it was too fast for me. Had I ran 10 minutes slower, it would have made all the difference. Said Dr. Yong Larrazabal: “The course was really difficult. I even experienced cramps which I did not in New York.”

I didn’t run hills. Here in Cebu, I almost never ran uphill/downhill. Once, when I climbed Ma. Luisa Estate Park for 20 kms., I limped for days with knee pain. And the worst part? The downhill. And in HK, we were going fast down.

I didn’t drink enough. Looking back, over the course of 25 kms. I drank less compared to what I drink here in 10 kms. (At each water station, I grabbed only a half-cup to drink.) Knowing the importance of hydration—and carrying two empty water bottles around my waist which I almost never got to use—why didn’t I drink more? It was cold and my body didn’t sweat as much. I wasn’t as thirsty. Still, internally, my body was dehydrating faster than I was replenishing it with liquids.

No walking breaks. In a marathon, unless your body is the mold of Paul Tergat, walking after every few kms. (or during water stops) is recommended. I didn’t do this. At each water station, I stepped to the side, grabbed a cup, downed it, then zoomed away. Why? I was with Dr. Vic Verallo and Jesse Taborada—two long-time runners who’ve finished, between them, five marathons prior to Hong Kong—and they were quick-paced. And, to me that morning, the last thing I wanted to do was run alone. So I stayed with two veterans—and this neophyte suffered.

Team Cebu

From left: Dr. Vic Verallo, Dr. Yong Larrazabal, Mendel Lopez, Leszl Gitaruelas, Jesse Taborada, Dr. Albert Santos, Ted Tecson, Serge Amora, Dr. Peter Mancao, Meyrick Jacalan, John Pages, and Perl Jacalan

Mendel and Leszl: Congratulations!

They are the two fastest long-distance runners in Cebu. One is 23 years old, single, and a graduating student at the University of Southern Philippines Foundation (USPF). His name is Mendel Lopez. The other is 33, married with three children and was once RP’s no.1 in the sport of arm-wrestling! Her name: Leszl Gitaruelas.

Mendel flew to Hong Kong last Friday together with Leszl and they both competed in the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon. No, not the full 42-K race, but at distances that they were best at: Mendel with the 10-K and Leszl, the Half-Marathon (21-K).

The result? Excellent. In an event which drew about 20,000 or so runners in the 10-K competition, Mendel Lopez was 6th overall. Imagine being no.6 among 20,000? In his category, he placed 4th. Leszl, with thousands also competing for the women’s 21-K, finished 11th overall and, in her Senior Category, placed 5th.