Back in July of 2007, I started a habit. I drank. Not beer or Johnnie Walker or tequila or lambanog. I drank a brown-colored mix that’s available in carenderias and supermarkets, SM City and Ayala Center, our homes and offices. I started with San Mig Coffee. When I woke up in the morning, I tore open the blue sachet and poured the 3-in-1 on a steaming cup of water. I sipped. Next, I swallowed Nescafe Intense. It was, as it’s family name suggests, intense. I drank it two hours before running the Hong Kong 42K footrace. I drank it each morning at my Talamban home.
Today, I still drink. But thanks to Jourdan Polotan, who, to me, owns a doctorate in Coffeetology, I’ve learned to be more sophisticated. Mr. Polotan who? He happens to be the husband of Jingle, who’s the sister of Steve Benitez, who’s the owner of the outstanding Cebu brand named Bo’s Coffee.
Jourdan, who’s resided in Surabaya, Indonesia and traveled to Russia and Dubai and Italy and most of the corners of this round planet, taught me about this “French Press.” At first, given his all-muscle physique, I thought the “press” was his gym exercise: the leg press.
French Press, it turned out, was one excellent method of making coffee. And so, for the past 60 days since I’ve purchased that portable French Press gadget at Starbucks and a coffee grinding machine at Rustan’s, I’ve grounded various selections of beans.
When do I savor my coffee? Each morning, with no miss, at 6 a.m. What does one 8-oz cup do to my system? It stimulates my brain. From half-shut, my eyes amplify. From a funky state I transform into a punk. From being a wuss, I transpose into a revving Lamborghini. Coffee, as commonly said, “perks me up” and switches my just-awoken zombie skeleton into an Energizer bunny.
Which brings me to E: Exercise. And why, if you don’t drink cappuccino before you engage in sports or, worse, if you don’t involve yourself in any type of sweating, you should.
Needless to expound, Exercise is necessary for a robust and strapping figure. But here’s what I’ve uncovered is just as necessary prior to exercise: a brown cup. And this theory of drinking coffee before working-out is endorsed not just by me or Vice Governor candidate Glenn Soco, who owns the chain of cozy outlets named Coffee Dream, but by plenty of studies.
“Australian researchers found that even a small quantity of caffeine allowed athletes to exercise almost a third longer,” said the August 2003 article from BBC.co.uk entitled, Coffee ‘boosts exercise stamina.’ “A single cup of coffee may be enough to trigger these beneficial effects. The Australian Institute of Sport team found that caffeine triggers the muscles to start using fat as an energy source rather than carbohydrate sugars. Caffeine has been used by many endurance athletes as a way of eking extra energy out of their body’s reserves during an event. The researchers tested its effects on cyclists, who were allowed to sip on flat cola or coffee as they pedaled. Those who did were able to keep going longer than those who stuck to water.”
Believe it now? There’s more. In fact, hundreds of studies have validated the positive effect of coffee on athletes.
According to the Univ. of Michigan Health System website, “it makes (people) feel more alert, gives them more energy, improves their mood, and makes them more productive. Athletes often use caffeine to help them perform better, both in routine workouts and in competition.”
To me, it keeps me motivated to pedal that Trek mountainbike, sprint that 5K run, swing that Babolat tennis racket.
I hope you drink coffee. Not just to sleep awake, slumped in Seattle’s Best’s sofa set for 104 lazy minutes, but to use coffee to energize your senses and convince your physical self to move.
Do sports. Sip caffeine. What a one-two combination. That’s why I love the French Press. It’s the perfect mix prior to a bench press.
Like Borg and McEnroe, Evert or Navratilova, Federer vs. Nadal, there stood two enemies in the 1990s: Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. I sided with Pete. Not now. Not in this battle between books. Having read the memoir of Pete Sampras, “A Champion’s Mind: Lessons From A Life In Tennis,” a year ago and having consumed, in just several hours of nonstop reading yesterday, Andre’s tell-all, “Open: An Autobiography,” it’s a no contest. Agassi beats Sampras in straight sets.
I love AA’s book. It’s funny. It’s shocking. It’s no-holds-barred. It’s absorbing. So unlike Sampras’ book where, if you ask me now, I can hardly remember anything. Not Agassi. The most colorful character in tennis. He dated Barbra Streisand. He sniffed shabu. He helped “discover” Celine Dion. He wore a wig (deceiving the admirers of his then-blonde, flowing hair). And, to me, the most shocking of all revelations: He despised tennis.
His father, Mike, an Olympic boxer for Iran, treated his youngest child like a slave. He allowed him to skip school to play tennis. He forced him to eat, fantasize, work, sleep, study one word: Tennis. Andre hated and loathed and abhorred the game. Unbelievable.
Sins? Ahh. The 388-page hardbound book, sent to me by fellow columnist Michelle So and owned by tennis left-hander Atty. Frank Malilong, exposes plenty. The most scandalous of all is Andre’s taking crystal meth. He didn’t sniff the drug for years. He took it maybe a few times. But the fact that he did engage in drugs and lied about it with the ATP officials–then revealed it in this written story is startling.
But Agassi is Agassi. He’s open. He’s honest. Today. And he did the right act by divulging that sin. Why? Simply because this book is not fictional; it’s a diary, a confession, a tell-all. For him to have hidden this dark episode would have made him a fraud. (And deprived the publisher of millions more in book sales!)
The autobiography also hurts people with its openness. Take Sampras. Agassi insults his arch-rival. First, he describes Pete as more robotic than his pet, a parrot named Peaches. On another occasion, he says Pete is cheap when he tipped a parking valet only $1. Wrote Agassi: “I envy Pete’s dullness. I wish I could emulate his spectacular lack of inspiration, and his peculiar lack of need for inspiration.” Ouch.
The book also recounted all of Agassi’s major triumphs. His Wimbledon conquest. His Australian Open titles. His U.S. Open victories. His come-from-behind French Open win. But more than tennis-talk, this book was a love story. For Agassi is a romantic. A love story not so much with Brooke Shields, his wife from 1997 to 1999, but more so with a player you might have heard of: Graf. Stephanie.
For who’d have known, had he not revealed it, that Andre has kept, from way, way back, a secret crush on Ms. Graf? Their love story is titillating. How he sent her flowers (while her boyfriend was there). How he wet the piece of paper with Steffi’s phone number and panicked to retrieve it. This love story I found most riveting. For who would have imagined a better-than-a-movie ending: the only two people to have won all four Grand Slam titles plus the Olympic gold medal… Only Mr. and Mrs. Agassi.
Funny. That’s what this book is also about. It has hundreds of episodes that will make you laugh. In page 191, for example, Agassi loses in the 1994 French Open to Thomas Muster. But he’s angry for a different reason. “At the net he rubs my head, musses my hair. Apart from being condescending, his gesture nearly dislodges my hairpiece… I stare at him with pure hatred. Big mistake, Muster. Don’t ever touch the hair.”
The book is, most of all, well-written. Co-authored by J. R. Moehringer, a Pulitzer Prize winner, the words are compelling and irresistible. (So impressed by the writing, I visited Fully Booked and bought another Moehringer book, The Tender Bar.)
In summary, this book you MUST READ. Tennis fan or not, it’s one of the best autobiographies I’ve ever read.
US Open 2009 speech
Hall of Fame speech introducing Steffi Graf
Last match at the US Open
60 Minutes interview
60 Minutes (Part 2)
Last Wednesday, I stayed overnight in Iloilo City. I switched on the TV set while inside the hotel room. I shivered. Not because the air-conditioning was near-freezing, but because of what my eyes witnessed.
Snow. Lots of snow. It’s the Olympics and the star is Vancouver, Canada, where the 21st Winter Games are being held from February 12 to 28.
The cable TV company in Iloilo showed two channels fully devoted to the Winter Olympics. One was a European channel and the other was Solar Sports. It was nearly a 24-hour, all-snow, all-Vancouver coverage. And it was sensational. I watched Curling. Virtually unheard-of in this part of the tropical world, it’s a game of utmost precision. I saw Cross-Country Skiing. The skiers were terrific athletes: they’d climb up a steep hill, stride down, sprint on a flat mound, both arms swinging, all hearts pounding in 111 percent effort. Ice hockey I saw. Same with Speed-Skating and Alpine Skiing. These were all shown in both live and replay feeds on both two channels.
Not in Cebu. But in Iloilo. Now why, I ask, isn’t the Olympic Games, held only once every 48 months, being shown in our Queen City? I don’t know. But I don’t like it. And I presume, so do the thousands of other SkyCable subscribers who would have loved to see snow in our sunny island.
Bode Miller? Who captured gold yesterday in the Super Combined? No show. Lindsey Vonn, an unbelievable beauty of a blonde American who won gold in the Women’s Downhill? Sorry, folks, but you can only check out her moves and photos via the internet (visit the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition and you’ll see her in seductive, two-piece swimwear.)
It’s a pity SkyCable severed its ties with Solar Sports. The biggest losers in all this are you and me.
SUPER BOWL. Last week, I got the chance to speak by phone to Raymond Kokseng. He was infuriated and annoyed. And Mr. Kokseng, one of Cebu’s top businessmen (Banilad Town Centre, Harbour City/Dimsum Break, Golden Cowrie, Grand Convention Center, to name a few), is also one of this island’s most amiable and courteous of gentlemen. Thus, to hear him somewhat aggravated was a surprise.
The reason: Sports. Once again, the no-show by SkyCable. The event: Super Bowl XLIV.
Played between the Indianapolis Colts versus the New Orleans Saints, it turned out to be a huge upset win for the Saints and Drew Brees (who outperformed the so-called “greatest quarterback ever,” Peyton Manning). That February 7 event also turned out to be the most-watched TV program in U.S. history, beating M*A*S*H. In all, 106.5 viewers saw the Super Bowl.
You and me here in Cebu? Ha-ha. Pity us. We saw nothing. And that’s what got Raymond Kokseng displeased. Having resided in San Francisco (“I was a big, big fan of the 49ers”), he had grown to love, and to follow, American football; in particular, that once-a-year spectacle. Sadly, it was no Bowl, no snow, no show.
See all 45 photos in SI.com
Pop Sabandon is dead. Last Friday past 11 p.m., as he exited the hospital after visiting his father-in-law in Gen. Santos City, Pop was shot twice in the head. Shocking. Pop was one of the top tennis players of our land: a former Davis Cup player, he was ranked as high as RP # 3 just a few Februarys ago. But more than his tennis prowess, he was one of the most cheerful and enthusiastic of men.
Last April, he was in Cebu. Joining the Cebuana Lhuillier Men’s Open at Baseline, he entertained the crowd with his bandana-on-the-forehead look and style of play that was aggressive and captivating. One occasion I recall was our dinner last year with Jean-Henri Lhuillier and the rest of the players at Mr. A in Busay. Pops was the star. He sang. He drank. He joked. He smiled. He was simply a lovable, outgoing person.
According to Cebuano tennis ace Michael Quiñones, one of his closest friends here, Pop was a few days away from leaving for Hong Kong for a possible tennis coaching profession. He was only 28.
Thanks to my good friend Steve Ferraren for this forwarded email/photo:
Nike Pays for Plastic Surgery to Fix Tiger’s Lips after Accident
Although there still remains speculation on how Tiger got his lips cut up the other night….some say his lovely little wife did in fact take a 9 iron to his mug as a result of a domestic dispute over another woman. Others are saying that he did a face plant into the steering wheel or windshield when he hit a fire hydrant and then a tree, because he couldn’t sleep that night thinking about the upcoming tourney he was hosting and the problems he has had driving it straight…so he was out practicing bare foot in his escalade!
But, NIKE has once again shown complete support for their prize athlete and have paid for reconstructive lip surgery….
Sony Ericsson to send Filipino flag bearer to FIFA World Cup™
A Filipino child will get the chance of a lifetime to experience the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ live on the pitch in South Africa . Sony Ericsson has opened a video competition that will bring the country’s first FIFA flag bearer to a FIFA World Cup™ match in July, marking the first time the country will participate in the global sports event.
The competition dares Filipino children aged 10-16 years old to creatively answer in a 30-60 second video, “Why I deserve to win the Sony Ericsson Search for the FIFA World Cup™ flag bearer.” Act, dance, illustrate, sing or perform your reasons on the video. Or show off your best football moves to impress the judges. Get family and friends and play around, do fancy footwork or put on some Shakespeare. Just remember to have fun and use your imagination. Contestants can submit as many entries as they want. Video entries are accepted www.clickthecity/sonyericssonfifa from now until March 5, 2010.
Starting March 8, 2010, five videos will be shortlisted for a new and final round of voting. The five finalists will each win the Sony Ericsson Kita, the gesture gaming phone wonder with 5-megapixel camera, photo geo-tagging, Net access, high quality media player and stereo speakers.
Sony Ericsson will let the public decide which child should carry the FIFA flag before thousands of spectators around the world in one of international sports’ most exciting events.
“Sony Ericsson was designated an official FIFA World Cup™ partner in 2008, allowing us this tremendous opportunity to participate in this unique way. This will be the first time for the Philippines to participate in a FIFA World Cup™ event so we are inviting Filipino children to try out and give it their best,” said Dennis Manzano, Sony Ericsson General Manager.
The winner, together with his parent or guardian, will fly to South Africa complete with hotel accommodations and pocket money. In an inspiring moment at the semi-finals, the winner will walk the pitch with other young flag bearers and watch a thrilling FIFA World Cup™ semi-finals match firsthand.
Visit www.clickthecity/sonyericssonfifa to learn more. Registered voters on the site also get a chance to win the exclusive Sony Ericsson Team Pilipinas shirts.. The winner will be announced on March 26, 2010.