Thirsty? This Football Festival quenches thirst

An article I wrote two years ago….

Football is the No.1 sport in my daughter’s school, Bright Academy. It’s no. 1 in Don Bosco. In CIS. In Springdale. In Sacred Heart School-Jesuit. Football is the No.1 sport in Asia. In South America. In Germany, Spain, England, France and even in a remote and tiny municipality in our own Panay Island called Barotac. And, in this round, celestial object floating in the universe called Earth, the no.1 sport is the same round, celestial object named soccer.

Take my daughter Jana. She’s the only child I have (so far), and she, of course, is a she—she’s a girl. And girls are NOT allowed to play football, right? There’s a law banning girls from kicking each other, right? And striking that ball with one’s head?

Ha-ha-ha, I know. Am I from another planet? you’d ask. But seriously, wasn’t football—during our time, when we were in school—exclusively for boys? While girls weren’t allowed to sweat and thus played nothing but takyan or “Chinese garter” or their perennial favorite, jackstones?

Yes. But that was then. That was decades ago. That was old school. Today, just like my daughter, football is the most-played sport for all those who wear skirts.

Which brings me to ask: Since most girls in elementary and in high school play football and, since it’s a given that a vast majority of boys play the same sport, then isn’t this game popularized by the Beckhams and Zidanes and Kakas the most popular sport in Cebu today, among students?

It is. Is it, you ask, more popular than basketball? The sport that’s absorbed us for decades ever since the eras of Magic and MJ and now, LBJ and Kobe?

It is. Football is tops. Want proof?

This weekend, visit the Cebu City Sports Center. Starting tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. until 11:30 p.m. on Sunday—that’s three full nights and two full days this weekend—the entire Abellana complex will wallop, kick, jolt, buzz and chant one word: F! O! O! T! B! A! L! L!

It’s called the 5th Thirsty Football Festival and—I must admit being biased in writing this—it’s an event organized by my family’s company and by my younger brother Charlie.

“When we started in 1994,” Charlie related to me, “we held it at the Ayala Center golf driving range. It was a huge success…. we had 90 teams joining.”

This year, I asked, how many are playing?



“No, teams. Multiply that by an average of 10 players per team, that’s nearly 2,300 participants.”


“Outside Manila, this should be the country’s biggest football event. And the good news is, we have a lot of out-of-town teams. Close to 200 teams come from Cebu and about 30 groups come from Manila, Bacolod, Dumaguete, Cagayan de Oro, Davao.

“Last year, we only had 140 teams but this year, it’s ballooned to a huge, huge number.”

Categories? Age brackets? I asked.

“Our youngest participants are six years old and below,” said Charlie.

Imagine girls and boys as young as 4, 5 or 6, kicking, tackling, scoring, guarding and raising their frail, little arms at the end for the win?

“Our oldest is the 40 and above category.”

Imagine fathers—and yes, possibly, grandfathers!—kicking, tackling, scoring, guarding and shoving each other for the big V?

Thanks to my brother Charlie (who was a basketball, not football, standout in school), to Neil Montesclaros (our indefatigable Tournament Director who was a former varsity star in Don Bosco and is now a Cebu Football Association director), and their team which includes Chad Songalia and Alex Lim, the 5th Thirsty Football Festival is what it is today: a giant festival.

Charlie with you-know-who

This weekend, if you visit, what will you see?

You’ll see six pitches (courts) scattered inside the giant grass field. You’ll see boys, girls, Men and Ladies competing in 14 divisions. You’ll hear music booming from the giant speakers. You’ll see parents screaming, referees blowing whistles, goalies blocking shots, strikers driving rifle-kicks, coaches losing voices.

Football… what a kick!

Categorized as Football

Who doesn’t want to be as sexy as Angel Locsin?

Everybody except Simon Losiaboi or Posh Spice wants to lose weight. This is a fact. Like longing to be as voluptuous as Iza Calzado or pleading to stand beside (says my wife) Derek Ramsey, we all want to look trim, lean and svelte.

How to do it? Simple: Do sports. (Like running a marathon?) But the even simpler and more balanced formula: Eat less and sweat more. Lessen the calorie intake plus engage in badminton smashing or 28-lap swimming or dribbling full-court in basketball.

How else can we shed off extra poundage? Scouring through the internet late yesterday, I found Reader’s Digest ( and this eye-catching title: “Easy Ways To Lose Weight: 50+ Ideas.” To all wanting an Angel Locsin figure, here are (from that piece) a few of my favorite tips…

Hang a mirror opposite your seat at the table. One study found that eating in front of mirrors slashed the amount people ate by nearly one-third. Seems having to look yourself in the eye reflects back some of your own inner standards and goals, and reminds you of why you’re trying to lose weight in the first place.

Eat cereal for breakfast five days a week. Studies find that people who eat cereal for breakfast every day are significantly less likely to be obese and have diabetes than those who don’t.

Passionately kiss your partner 10 times a day. According to the 1991 Kinsey Institute New Report on Sex, a passionate kiss burns 6.4 calories per minute. Ten minutes a day of kissing equates to about 23,000 calories — or eight pounds — a year!

Brush your teeth after every meal, especially after dinner. That clean, minty freshness will serve as a cue to your body and brain that mealtime is over.

When you’re eating out with friends or family, dress up in your most flattering outfit. You’ll get loads of compliments, says Susie Galvez, author of Weight Loss Wisdom, which will be a great reminder to watch what you eat.

Spend 10 minutes a day walking up and down stairs. The Centers for Disease Control says that’s all it takes to help you shed as much as 10 pounds a year (assuming you don’t start eating more).

Switch to ordinary coffee. Fancy coffee drinks from trendy coffee joints often pack several hundred calories, thanks to whole milk, whipped cream, sugar, and sugary syrups.

Carry a palm-size notebook everywhere you go for one week. Write down every single morsel that enters your lips, even water. Studies have found that people who maintain food diaries wind up eating about 15 percent less food than those who don’t.

Eat slowly and calmly. Put your fork or spoon down between every bite. Sip water frequently. Your brain lags your stomach by about 20 minutes when it comes to satiety (fullness) signals. If you eat slowly enough, your brain will catch up to tell you that you are no longer in need of food.

Downsize your dinner plates. Studies find that the less food put in front of you, the less food you’ll eat.

Bring the color blue into your life more often. There’s a good reason you won’t see many fast-food restaurants decorated in blue: Believe it or not, the color blue functions as an appetite suppressant. So serve up dinner on blue plates, dress in blue while you eat, and cover your table with a blue tablecloth.

Don’t eat with a large group. A study published in the Journal of Physiological Behavior found that we tend to eat more when we eat with other people, most likely because we spend more time at the table.

Serve your dinner restaurant style (food on the plates) rather than family style (food served in bowls and on platters on the table). When your plate is empty, you’re finished; there’s no reaching for seconds.

Get up and walk around the office or your home for five minutes at least every two hours. Stuck at a desk all day? A brisk five-minute walk every two hours will parlay into an extra 20-minute walk by the end of the day.

Clean your closet of the “fat” clothes. Once you’ve reached your target weight, throw out or give away every piece of clothing that doesn’t fit.

Read more here.

19 points from the Australian Open

(Photos from

After 14 Australian Open days of first serves that rocketed and half-volleys that dipped and slice backhands that skidded sharper than razor knives, here are 19 final thoughts….

1. Where was Jim Courier? I would have loved for him to have interviewed Roger Federer and Andy Murray during the Awards Presentation. Did you see his interview with Roger after the world no.1 beat Tsonga? That was the best I’ve ever seen. Him chatting with Murray and Federer at that awarding would have been a perfect ending.

2. Serena Williams? Amazing. Bandaged in the legs and looking bulky (well, she’s always looked more like a female NFL linebacker than an agile tennis player), she’s astonishing. Her secret? “My mental game is really strong,” she said. “My dad always said that tennis is 70 percent mental, and I believe that mentally I’m probably one of the toughest on the tour.” Still, her 12 majors is still far, far away from the record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles of Margaret Court of Australia.

3. Funny: When Serena and Venus Williams won the doubles crown, Venus didn’t know it. After winning that championship point, Venus thought they still had one game left to win. Can you believe that? She wasn’t paying attention to the score and, next thing she knew, they were Grand Slam champions!

4. I pitied Andy Murray during the awarding. And did his shedding a tear thwart Federer from doing the same when he spoke, as it appeared that the Swiss was teary-eyed prior to their speeches. Quote of the tournament, joked Murray: “I can cry like Roger; it’s a shame I can’t play like him.”

5. Federer has cried multiple times during these awarding ceremonies. Murray did. And Pete Sampras, during the Hall of Fame presentation in 2007, also poured his emotions. Isn’t this admirable to see, some of the world’s most high-profile and toughest of sportsmen, not afraid to cry?

6. Murray was too passive. Well, had he played his aggressive style when he clobbered Rafael Nadal and humbled Marin Cilic, he’d have stood a chance against Roger The Great. But Murray, in those first two sets, was tentative. He poorly floated the yellow ball in mid-court and was content with Roger dictating play. No way can you win against RF by being passive and hoping for him to make a slew of mistakes. Roger is Roger. He’s The Great. To beat him, you need to be aggressive and domineering. Never mind if you lose but that’s your only chance.

7.  The Oz Open was Murray’s 17th major event… the same 17 number when Federer won his first major title. But sorry, it wasn’t to be.

8. The 3rd set tiebreak? Wow. What a delight. Could the climax have been more thrilling than that? Five set points? Two missed championship points? At one point, after hitting a drop-shot, Roger let go of a scramble by Andy that he could have hit… imagine if he lost that set and, ultimately, the match? But no, Roger is Roger.

9. Too much Roger? We see his face up-close during the match and then, come TV commercial break, guess who’s face we see again in the Rolex ad?

10. Incredible stats: Once Federer wins the first set at a major, he’s 172-5. Up two sets, never mind: he’s 156-0.

11. That “156-0” record, doesn’t that remind us of Tiger Woods, who, once he’s leading in the final day, is unbeatable? Yes and no. Yes, he’s like the dominant Tiger; but, no, Fed fans protest, don’t compare him to Tiger!

12. Roger quote: “My game is not as taxing as other players’ games. I also think I have a very relaxed mind when it comes to the game of tennis.”

13. Ouch! To Rafa devotees, that’s painful. The reason: RN is out for four weeks due to the knee injury. Worse, he’s down to world no. 4 (first time since 2005), below Djokovic and Murray.

14. Blue overdose: the sky was blue, the outer court was blue, the inner rectangle was a different shade of blue, Roger wore the same color and so did Murray. Even the ballkids wore blue.

15. Justine Henin is bewildering. For a body so small (5’6”, 126 lbs.), she wallops her groundstrokes (that backhand!) as hard as anyone. Says Billie Jean King: “Pound for pound, Henin is the best tennis player of her generation.” An interesting fact: Henin was unranked and joining her first major in two years as a wild-card entry; she still needs to play one more event before she gets an official ranking.

16. Nothing like R & R. Watching last Sunday, I miss the duel between the lefty Spaniard and the Swiss right-hander. There’s still no contest like it. The reason? Mentally, Rafa “owns” Roger. Rafa’s forehand to Roger’s backhand? That was RF’s downfall. But an intriguing point: age 28, Roger has almost zero injuries versus the 23-year-old Rafa.

17. The day before the Open began, Roger organized a mixed-doubles fundraiser with Nadal, Andy Roddick, Kim Clijsters and Lleyton Hewitt. The match raised about $125,000.

18. Roger won 16 of his 22 trips to the Grand Slam finals. Of his six losses, one was to Del Potro and five were to Rafa.

19. Wrote Jon Wertheim in “A year ago, Roger Federer had lost for the fourth time in five Slams and was reduced to tears by still another defeat at the hands of his rival, Rafael Nadal. Folks were well within their rights to wonder if he’d catch Pete Sampras’ record, if he were the greatest of all time after all. Since then? He’s won three of four majors — and probably should have won the fourth. With Nadal in iffy condition, with Federer’s mastery of the other contenders in majors, with his game back at such a high level, is it so far-fetched to speculate that this might be the year Federer wins all four majors?”

Categorized as Tennis