Good Sportsmanship: will we see this after tomorrow?

Out of the 10 presidential candidates, only one will emerge as the President of the Republic of the Philippines. Nine will lose. Out of eight vice-presidential aspirants, seven will be defeated. Of the 61 vying for the 12 senatorial slots, 49 will go home millions of pesos poorer and become, like you and me, an ordinary Filipino mamamayan.

Here in Cebu, either Tommy Osmeña or Atan Guardo will lose. Same with Mike and Alvin and Georgia and the seven others vying to be Cebu City mayor: only one will smile 40 hours from today while the beaten candidates will sulk and cry foul. Jonas or Nerissa? Pelaez vs. Radaza? Tining or Benhur? In each contest, only one wins. Plenty lose.

It’s like sports. One is awarded the Olympic gold medal while dozens, sitting below, dejected, look up at the podium where the smiling champion stands tall. In sports, like politics, there’s no second place. “You don’t win silver,” someone once said. “You lose the gold.” That’s life. That’s politics. That’s sport.

The question is, after tomorrow, will these multitude of beaten candidates for councilors and congressmen and vice mayors and governors—will they, like good sports, accept defeat?

Sadly, the answer is often NO. It’s easy to complain. To say that you’ve been cheated, that your opponent did this dirty-trick or that vote-buying or this smear-job. Nanikas siya, plenty argue. Sure, sore losers do that. My interest is this: Who can accept defeat like John McCain? Or Hillary Clinton?

If you recall, the U.S. elections in November 2008 was one of the fiercest. Out of near-obscurity, this neophyte black senator from Chicago named Barack Obama had the temerity to run for president. He had the guts to attempt becoming the most powerful man in the world! And Obama dared battle against the seemingly-unbeatable Mrs. Clinton, the former first lady. Obama won. Against John McCain, we know who won.

My point is this: In both contests, first in the Democratic primary, as soon as Hillary lost, promptly, she faced CNN and the worldwide audience to accept defeat. Though the battle was long and ruthless, Hillary congratulated Barack and vowed to support him. McCain? The same. In less than 30 minutes of Obama’s victory, the former POW hero stood before his Republican base to proclaim Obama’s greatness.

That’s greatness. That’s fairness. That’s being a good sport. That’s in America, not in the Philippines.

My wish is, like good sports who’ve fought hard but came in second or third or seventh place, tomorrow’s losers will possess the same poise and class.

Remember MVP? Manny V. Pangilinan was disgraced last month when it was uncovered that parts of his Ateneo graduation speech were copied from, among others, J.K. Rowling and Oprah. MVP promptly resigned as Ateneo chairman. He returned his honorary doctorate degree. That’s class. That’s accepting a mistake and moving on. That’s being a good sport. MVP’s move reminds me of my all-time favorite quotation: “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career, lost almost 300 games, missed the game-winning shot 26 times. I’ve failed over and over again in my life. That is why I succeed.” Who said that? Michael Jordan.

Losing is painful. Though I’ve never been a political candidate—and, in all likelihood, never will be one—I can imagine the suffering of the loser: months of campaigning are now history, all that hand-shaking, the pulong-pulongs, the non-stop smiling. Losing is dreadful. Nobody wants to lose. But, in this earth and since we’re not yet in heaven, this is reality. Though inhuman, it’s being human. Only one wins. In politics. In sports.

That’s why to me, as much as I’ll be impressed by tomorrow’s winners—for their political acumen in victory—my loudest applause and proudest salute will go more to the losing candidates who accept, quickly and with humility, defeat. As basketball coach Harry Sheeny once said: “It is your response to winning and losing that makes you a winner or a loser.”

Categorized as Cebu City

Foul! Why I won’t vote for this PBA

Philippine Basketball Association, it’s called. Thirty years old, it’s popular, calls James Yap, Dondon Hontiveros, and Jayjay Helterbrand as its superstars, and it is Asia’s oldest pro basketball league. That’s the PBA. You know this, I know this.

Well, guess what? Another group has called itself P.B.A. They name themselves Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta and, this Monday, they’ll be one of nearly 200 party-list groups.

Don’t vote for them! Do you know what they did to Paeng Nepomuceno? The six-time  World Bowling champion, Paeng is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records with three world records.

This PBA party-list, without asking for permission, posted Nepomuceno’s photo and name in their advertisement. In a full-page ad that appeared in the March-April issue of the magazine Badminton Xtreme Philippines, there was Paeng “endorsing” the PBA.

“No, I am not running for any position,” complained Paeng in columnist Bill Velasco’s The Philippine Star column last April 19 (“Paeng: ‘PBA Partylist used me without consent’”). Paeng added: “PBA Partylist used my name and picture without my authorization.”

This is misleading. “Even their nominee is not an athlete,” added Bill Velasco. “When PBA Partylist started out in the last campaign, retired PBA All-Star Jerry Codinera and former PBA player and team manager Orly Castelo were involved. Now, no sports personality outside of Pacquiao (who is actually running for his own congressional seat in Sarangani province) is even running for the partylist.”

Yes, it looks like Manny Pacquiao is involved with this PBA. Reportedly, he is their chairman. But what’s deceiving here is this: It appears as if Pacquiao is their party-list nominee. From the dozens of posters that I see around Cebu City, specifically near my home in Talamban, this PBA group has a huge photo of Pacquiao. Is he their nominee? Why is his photo there? While running for congressman in Sarangani, can he also be their party-list nominee?

No way. Pacman, in the event he loses to Roy Chiongbian, can’t be inserted as party-list nominee. But this PBA party-list group (whose poster font design/colors even mimic that of the real PBA basketball league) makes it look that way. Miles Roces, the PBA party-list’s second nominee , in a Sun.Star story last March 31, was quoted: “He (Pacquiao) can still sit as party-list representative. I-eelect lang naman ng board namin si Manny at siya na ang magiging rep namin sa Kongreso (All our board has to do is elect Manny and he becomes our representative in Congress).” Crazy. This is unlawful.

Back to that full-page ad of this shady PBA, it included, apart from Paeng, 11 more athletes/“endorsers.” Included were, among others, Monsour del Rosario and Efren Reyes with the headline that stated: “Top Athletes Join Forces for PBA Partylist.”

This is garbage. Added Bill Velasco in his subsequent, May 1 article (“Monsour, Asuncions wary of PBA Partylist): “As it turns out, del Rosario was under the impression that he was endorsing Pacquiao himself, not the PBA Partylist’s true candidates. The group first fielded candidates in the last elections, but none of their nominees earned enough votes to get into congress.

“Given the circumstances, it appears that the group concerned is riding on the popularity of present and former athletes who would gladly do anything to help sports in general, even lending their reputations for free. They are invited with vague promises of ‘helping sports’ and innocently and good-naturedly agree to supporting the party, which has primarily hitched its wagon to Pacquiao’s star. Now, with the election date nearing, more of the athletes are wondering what the candidates really plan to do, since the primary nominees are not known to be involved in sports to begin with. Was their real deception intended?”

This stinks. Clearly, politics and sports don’t mix.

Sorry, Manny vs. Money won’t push through

Let’s admit it. Floyd Mayweather, Jr. was outstanding. As much as 100 percent of us Filipinos hate his mouth and detest his ego, on the ring, he’s sensational. During those 180 seconds during Round 2, didn’t we all jump in excitement, shout, pray, and wish that Shane Mosley would finish him off? Yes we did. But, shock of shocks, Sugar turned old and stodgy one minute later in Round 3 while Floyd, usually a defensive expert, turned into an offensive generator. Mosley owned a small window of opportunity—which was promptly slammed close by Mayweather.

Stamina? Well, what can you expect from a 38-year-old? Starting the fifth round, Shane’s face was empty. His tongue wagged. He was tired while Floyd, in between rounds, never looked fatigued. Floyd’s endurance can be likened to someone you and I share the same color skin with: Manny Pacquiao.

Which brings me to The Fight. Can you imagine Pacquiao vs. Mayweather? Two of the fastest athletes facing nobody else but each other’s speed inside the 18’ x 18’ stage. They’re swift, snappy and fire quadruple combinations in rapid-fire sequence. Ever seen Manny fatigued in Round 12? Same with Floyd, right?

“Forget world peace, the world needs Mayweather-Pacquiao,” one columnist, Mark Whicker, titled his story. True. This is a marriage that Americans and Asians want, that boxers and non-boxing fans salivate at watching; it’s a 36-minute encounter that would boost Money’s income by least $25 million and Manny’s by over one billion pesos.

Which is why it’s not going to happen. In the same way that some candidates, however qualified and best suited, will not win this Monday’s elections. That’s how the world operates. Life’s unfair. Not everything we wish, we get. And this is one wish we won’t get.

The reason? Pride.

“Pride,” said the poet John Ruskin, “is at the bottom of all great mistakes.”

Pacquiao won’t agree because, he says, blood will sap him of energy when, in fact, it’s just a little needle and small volume that they’ll extract. Floyd’s asking for “14 days before the fight” for his blood test while Manny’s OK with 24. This means that only 10 days separate a “Yes” from a “No.” That’s pride.

Worse, Mayweather, without question the most boastful human being in this universe today, wants everybody to bend to everything that he wishes. He doesn’t think he’s Muhammad Ali; he believes he’s boxing’s God. That’s pride.

“This is not bragging or boasting,” said Mayweather in the press conference shortly after the fight (yeah right!), “but with or without Pacquiao, Floyd is going to be able to go out and make $20 million or $30 million a night. With or without him, I’m still able to do that.

“I don’t think about no Pacquiao. I’m a boss, I only talk to bosses. He’s got to do numbers like I’m doing. What did him and Marquez do, 300,000, 400,000? Congratulations. Got to step his game up. Got to step his game up. Got to step his pay-per-view numbers up. I average 1.3 million, with ease.”

Pina ka hambog na tao sa tibuok kalibutan.

So, what complicates matters now is not only blood-testing but money. After his victory 48 hours ago, do you think Mayweather will settle for a 50-50 share, like he originally did months ago? No way. Money wanting more money is what Money wants.

Back to our own Manny and the blood-testing issue, here’s what I would advise our man: Agree to 14 days. We know, Freddie Roach knows, and Buboy Fernandez is certain that Manny does no drugs. Then, what’s the scare? Pride? Well, this pride is expensive at P1,000,000,000. From now until November—the month when Bob Arum wants the fight—Manny can simulate this blood-testing procedure and know that it won’t debilitate or weaken his body.

Then he beats Mayweather! Because Floyd, for all his defensive prowess and ability to adjust, is beatable by Man. For Floyd doesn’t possess Manny’s power. Quickness, yes, they two are the same, but power, I’d tip the favor to Manny.

So, there. The enemies: Cash, blood, pride.

Aboitiz, like it always does, takes the lead

Volleyball smashes our province this weekend with the Shakey’s Girls V-League Visayas regional eliminations. Soccer, with 39 days left before the Fifa World Cup, is kicking up a football storm with the CAFC 10th National Interclub Invitational meet at the USC-TC grounds. Archery is firing! Thanks to the record number of 175 archers who are now at the Aboitiz Sports Field. Tennis? How about the nation’s top two, Johnny Arcilla and PJ Tierro, who’ll topspin forehands and slice backhands at 3 p.m. later in Mandaue?

Summer sports is hot. Plus, this morning, it’s Sugar vs. Money. And, just yesterday, didn’t we witness Pau Gasol resurrect the LA Lakers from defeat with a two-pointer just 0.5 seconds from the buzzer? How about the Dallas Mavericks, seeded No. 2, ousted in Round One? You want even more sizzling news? Tiger Woods three-putt bogeys on consecutive holes and, on Hole 15, four-putt double bogeys from 30 feet, missing the cut with a 7-over 79. Ouch. What a boiling-hot sports Labor Day.

ARCHERY. The hottest—literally—event this weekend? The 1st Cebu Archery Open. Held at the Aboitiz Sports Field grounds, I made sure to feel the heat, visiting at 3 p.m. yesterday.

Marvin Agustin, the actor/sportsman, was there. He wore a black-and-red sleeveless shirt. Very timely as I arrived, his name was called together with 17 others for the men’s competition. Among the archers was Cebu-based Dondon Sombrio, who’s a member of the RP Team.

What did I see? Men lined up, standing right, facing left, all eyes on the target. There were a total of 18 targets, all multi-colored circles. They were far: 70 meters away. The wind? It swirled and howled. It was windy. Which made the event more challenging as many of the archers, I was told, were used to archery with little or no-wind conditions.

The bows and arrows? Ahh, so unlike Robin Hood’s. For what I saw were expensive, state-of-the-art bows, all in various handles, colors and shapes. “This is not only the country’s biggest archery event,” said Joanna Fajardo-Salazar, one of the key organizers of this meet, “it’s also the first time that we’ll have competition at night.” Wow. Night games. That’s interesting, I told Joanna. No sun and, possibly, less wind.

Archery, I’ve observed, is all about concentration. Yes, it’s physical, since you need strength to power that arrow across 70 meters; but, even more essential, is one’s strength found in-between our ears. Thus far, said Joanna, the contest has been a blistering success. Congratulations to the Cebu Archery Club, led by its energetic president, Dondi Joseph.

TENNIS. Just two kilometers away from where the archers stood were the tennisters who sprinted. Four players were vying for the champion’s trophy of the 3rd Jonas C. Cortes Men’s Open.

After two hours of play during the semi-finals, the No. 1 seed Johnny Arcilla beat Ralph Kevin Barte, 6-4, 6-1, and PJ Tierro bested Elbert Anasta, 7-6, 6-3. This means that, as expected, the top two netters of our country will battle on the rectangle clay-court. The Final is at 3 p.m. today and the winner receives P20,000 while the runner-up gets half the amount. Venue is the Mandaue Tennis Complex (beside the city’s Cultural and Sports Complex).

ABOITIZ. The archery competition was held at the Aboitiz Sports Field, which has become, the past year since it’s opened, a major, major help for Cebu sports.

Baseball, softball, football, rugby, flag football plus many more outdoor events (including one of the biggest soccer events in the country, The Aboitiz Cup) are being held at this 40,000-square-meter expanse of greenland beside Makro in Mandaue. What the government has failed to do (provide the citizenry with plenty of public venues for sports), the Aboitizes have accomplished.

To Bobby and Andoni Aboitiz, and the entire Aboitiz group: Like the example you’ve set in the business community, you’ve done the same for Cebu sports.