The awful, distressing and ugly face of sports

This is wrong. Dispiriting. Crooked. Unacceptable. It’s a story about Allan Torrevillas, the former Executive Director of the Cebu City Sports Commission (CCSC)….

The International Children’s Games (ICG) is a yearly event that brings together 12- to 15-year-olds for competition. Our very own Cebu City, in 2004 and 2005, sent delegations to Cleveland, Ohio and Coventry, England. This year—in fact, just last week, from July 10 to 15—the ICG welcomed 1,200 athletes representing 40 cities to San Francisco, California.

Carrying the name “Cebu,” five athletes represented our city—a delegation sent by the Greater Cebu Sports Organizing Committee (GCSOC) whose titular head is the well-known and, in sports circles, well-liked Jonathan Guardo.

Now comes the intriguing part… It starts four months ago when I spoke to Allan Torrevillas (the head of the GCSOC delegation) about the composition of the tennis squad. With the Boys Team, only two slots were available and, at that time, two of Cebu’s most celebrated stars—Bernardine “Niño” Siso and Jacob Lagman—were interested in joining the San Francisco ICG.

As one of the city’s leaders in tennis, I spoke to Allan about Niño and Jacob. He said yes, they would go.

Enter Ariel Jay Torion, another junior player. For some strange twist, in my subsequent conversations with Allan, he now tells me that he has included Torion as a member of the team and is, in fact, “having a big headache” choosing between Siso, Lagman and Torion.

What? I told him. Nothing against Ariel Torion. And though I’ve never met him, I heard he’s an obedient, nice young player. But choosing between the three when, in fact, Siso and Lagman are former RP No.1 players is a no-brainer.

I was puzzled by Allan. It turns out, in my further probe on the matter, Torion was favored for “political” reasons. Whatever that means.

Anyway, fast forward to a month later, when the Sisos visited the US Embassy to secure their visa, guess what? Instead of lining up with the Team Cebu group—composed of Allan and the others—the Sisos were left out and had to apply as a “family” instead of as “Cebu team members to the ICG.” As narrated to me by Sally Siso, the mom of Niño, Allan did not assist them enough. So, as expected with the ultra-strict US Embassy, the Sisos were denied.

Torion, meanwhile, with Allan’s full backing, got his US visa. And what’s worse, my sources tell me, was that Allan’s family—which included his wife, sister-in-law and other relatives—applied for US visas in the guise that they were coaches and team officials for the ICG—a brazen lie. And so, as expected, they were granted US visas.

Fast forward to last month… Jess Lagman was promised by Allan to be the tennis delegation’s head coach. And rightfully so. Jess is the father of Jacob Lagman, the 13-year-old tennis phenom. Hesitant to leave for San Francisco due to the huge expenses he’d have to incur and because his children would have to miss school, Jess was prodded to join with the guarantee that he’ll be the coach.

Guess what? One day before they left for the US early this July, Allan sends Jess an e-mail saying the slot has been taken and he can’t coach. Instead, he’ll have to pay $525 to shoulder his housing and meal allowances.

Jess was stunned. That same day he called me and I spoke to Jonathan Guardo who, after speaking to Allan later that day, had to apologize because Allan said the slots were full. Disheartened by Allan’s trickery, the Lagmans still went ahead and flew to America.

While there—believe this or not—the Lagmans never saw the delegation head in their tennis matches. Not once.

Questions arise: Why favor Torion over RP No.1’s Siso and Lagman?

Did Allan, all along, know that Jess Lagman was not to be head coach and, if so, why did he promise him such a spot?

Who were Allan’s family members who applied for US visas? Did they apply as Cebu coaches to the ICG?

Will Allan, still in the US with his near-birth wife, come back to Cebu and answer the questions? Or, as whispered by many, will he not come home?


Categorized as Tennis
John Pages

By John Pages

I've been a sports columnist since 1994. First, in The Freeman newspaper under "Tennis Is My Game." Then, starting in 2003, with Sun.Star Cebu under the name "Match Point." Happy reading!

1 comment

  1. John,
    This is just sick! We have some really good tennis players in the Philippines but politics and personal advancements seem to take priority. As a “tennis parent” it is disheartening to see the hard work that our kids put in day in and day out be negated by “political” reasons.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *