The “Mud-man,” he’s called. On the third hole of the Iloilo Golf and Country Club in Santa Barbara, he swims alone in search of money in a pond where errant golf balls dive. No net to catch, no goggles to see underwater—he searches by hand beneath the pond’s muddy bottom.
“Pa-picture anay,” I shouted, not wanting to miss this rare shot.
Gamely, he emerged from the brown water then flexed his muscles for a pose. I clicked the camera; we chuckled, he laughed.
He is Tiger Woods by another name. He is Manny Pacquiao on the tennis court. He is the undisputed title-holder, the pound-for-pound champion in this sport using yellow balls, linesmen, deuces. Since Feb. 2, 2004—that’s four long years ago—he has been world no. 1, a record 217 nonstop weeks on Mount Everest.
He is, as you know, Federer Express. Why that moniker? Because his service deliveries, like the courier company FedEx, is peerless and sublime. A 128-mph ace down the ‘T’ that you want delivered right this minute? “Sure,” he answers, then pounds an ace. A forehand crosscourt winner on breakpoint that you need now? “No problem,” he adds, thumping an unreachable shot down the corner.
For with Roger Federer, here’s the slogan: I’ll Deliver. And deliver he has. Last year, out of the four Grand Slam singles titles, he won three. The year before, he won the same number: 3 of 4. In the past four years, he’s won 11 of the last 16 major titles.
ILOILO—Each Holy Week for the past three years, I’ve stayed at my wife’s uncle’s beach house in Oton, a town 20 minutes away from Iloilo City. Last year, I wrote an article in Sun.Star Cebu about a sport I exercised here each morning. Here’s a revised version of that piece…
Here in the rest house, right on the front lawn, sits a temptress. She’s dressed in all-blue, is sexy, and winks at me to jump on her. Her name? Swimming Pool. Ahhh… Is there any other four-letter word that best describes this lady in blue?
I had to call. I had to seek the opinion of this highly-esteemed Filipino boxing judge. And so yesterday, at 5 p.m., I called.
Jonathan Davis, 58, first sat on that high chair beside the ring with pen and paper on hand in 2002. Since then, he has presided as judge over 400 fights. “When Flash Elorde fought and I was in high school,” said Davis in our 20-minute telephone conversation, “I’ve been doing my own boxing scoring.”
Today is Manny Pacquiao’s 13th boxing fight in America.
I looked up “13” in Wikipedia and it brimmed with dozens of “Unlucky 13” versus “Lucky 13” examples. For instance: Some airlines skip a row 13, many buildings don’t have a 13th floor, and the Code of Hammurabi (ca. 1760 B.C.) does not contain a 13th law.
Lucky 13? Sure… Wilt Chamberlain, Alex Rodriguez and Dan Marino wore jerseys number “13.” And, in Italy, guess what their lucky number is? Thirteen.
Dan Mastous, a huge tennis fan and good friend who lives near Boston, U.S.A., e-mailed to say that last Monday, he was in New York City to watch with 19,000 other spectators a tennis spectacle that’s excited The Big Apple since the event was announced last year. It’s Roger Federer vs. Pete Sampras. Live. At the Madison Square Garden. Here’s Dan’s detailed account of what he saw…
(Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters)
“Hey John. Hope everything is going great. Just wanted to say I saw the Federer/Sampras exhibition Monday night. It was an outstanding match from my perspective. Though many who saw it found it boring. Not too many long rallys, mostly Sampras serving and volleying, or chipping and charging.
“For Federer’s part, he just did what he could to keep things close and ended up fighting for his life at the end. He won the first set easily, 6-3. Then let the second get to a tiebreak, which Sampras won.”
Seated (from left): Donnie Nietes, Edito Villamor, John Pages, Dennis Cañete, Chad Cañares; standing: Rey Bautista, Z Gorres, AJ Banal and Michael Domingo
Gerry Peñalosa. Donnie Nietes. Niño Ramirez. Eric Llanto. The UV Green Lancers. Maritess Bitbit. Sally Mae Siso. Niño Surban. Antonio Gabica. Kelly Williams.
You know these names. You’ve read about them before. Seen them on TV. Watched them at the Cebu Coliseum or on the MTB track. They’re some of the dozens of awardees that were hailed as 2007 Cebu sports heroes.
Last night at 7 p.m., we all booked a huge function room, invited these top sports personalities, feted them with the best delicacies from the Laguna Garden Cebu, and paid a tribute to their achievements. Like we do each year. For the past 26 years.
Nine days from today, all 91 million Filipinos scattered around the globe will sit around TV screens, clap, stomp their feet, pray, and stare at the muscled sight of a hero who’ll aim to finish his “Unfinished Business.”
From Davao to Baguio to Ormoc—and in every municipality housed by our 7,107 islands—cars will park, businesses will open late, churches saying mass at 11 a.m. will experience a 75 percent drop in attendance—all our countrymen rooting for RP’s most revered sportsman in history.
Is Manny Pacquiao prepared? He is. From all my readings on next Sunday’s fight, Pacman is more disciplined; he’s hardened, sharpened, ready to hammer away with his fists.
So I ask: Which prepared Manny better, training in Cebu or in Los Angeles? We’ll find out next week but, this early, my gut feel says Pacquiao is better off staying in Hollywood. Why?
Every cause must have a reason. For the past five years the Terry Larrazabal Bike Festival has been in honor of a man who has lived in an unobtrusive way.
Born the eldest boy of a family of seven on April 4, 1938 to the late Potenciano Larrazabal and Aniceta Veloso, Terry, as he was fondly called, lived his life devoid of the glitter of fame and fortune of which his family was blessed. Wealth and honor never got the better of him. He lived a simple life, married in September 24, 1961 to an equally simple lady in the person of Adelina Yrastorza, he begot eight children whom he brought up frugally, instilling in them proper family values centering around family solidarity. He was a father overly generous to his children almost to a fault. He was a loving husband and a good provider to his family, being a sugar planter and a businessman in his own right.