Green grass, random notes in Singapore

SINGAPORE—Here the past four nights to attend the Induction Ceremony of our “brother” club, the Rotary Club of Singapore West, here are some observations…

WIMBY. While billions of football zealots worldwide dream of blowing that vuvuzela in South Africa, I’m dreaming of London. Yes, it’s the same green as soccer, but it’s grass at Wimbledon. Guess what? From our Peninsula Excelsior Hotel here at the heart of The Lion City, I’m just 250 meters away from a Wimbledon-like sight. A grass court! While jogging early morning last Monday retracing the finish line of the 2008 Singapore Marathon, this green court with white rectangular lines sat there. Nobody played that 7 a.m. and how I wished Fabby Borromeo—Class-A at tennis and who’s part of our Rotary group here—brought rackets for us to swing our first-ever hits on a grass-court here at this “Wimbledon in Singapore.”

ROTARY. There are 24 of us from the Rotary Club of Cebu West attending the 50th anniversary of the RC of Singapore West (our club last week held its 48th Induction Ceremony). With us are a mix of sports lovers… golfing buddies Johnny Siao, Justin Uy, John Young and Nilo Domingo; badminton swingers Jimmy Lao, Ruel Dihiansan, Alvin Tan, Bobby Yap and Lenton Beltran. Also here are Romy Dy Pico, Johnson Dy, Wilton Uykingtian plus many of our spouses. And while we thought our “Filipino hospitality” was the world’s best, the Singapore welcome here—including dinners at the Black Angus Steakhouse and Long Beach restaurant (famous for the original Black Pepper Crab)—can be described in one word, which I delivered in a short speech to the Rotarians here: WOW!

PAPERS. Like I do in each trip, I’ve accumulated four days of newspapers these past 80 hours. Yesterday, The Straits Times (established in 1845), devoted six giant-sized sports pages. The banner story read: OUT OF AFRICA. Pictured were two players, one in yellow, the other, wearing blue, with the subtitle: “France fly home in economy class after another humiliation: France 1, South Africa 2.” The story goes… “The players who had been flown to the Cup in the first-class cabin of a new Airbus A-380 faced a cattle class return journey in the back of a Boeing 737.”

As expected of a nation whose most-followed game is football, it’s all-World Cup here. What’s terrific about their South Africa focus in the newspapers here—apart from printing the standings, results, TV schedules, Quotable Quotes—are the commentary. They have plenty of columnists here—much like our Noel Villaflor—whose acumen for soccer is outstanding. There’s Gerry Armstrong, Lee Min Kok, and Tay Yek Keak. Rohit Brijnath, whose byline is SPORTINGLIFE, titled his piece, “Messi proof of beauty of decisiveness.” Here’s a sampler of his writing prowess: “Messi has too much skill and thus too much choice: jink, pass, swerve, shoot, feint? But this Cup, more often than not, his thrill has been an ability, under pressure, to select the right gap, person, move. His judgment is so fine it seems he owns a sixth sense, a third eye.” That’s excellent writing. There’s more. Terrence Voon, whom they call “Our man in South Africa,” is literally in SA. He writes first-hand stories of what his eyes see… of the vuvuzela that deafen his ears.

YOG. The most-awaited event here happens from August 14 to 26. It’s the Youth Olympic Games. Sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), it is the first Olympic games for the youth aged 14 to 18 years old. What a privilege for Singapore to host this inaugural event.

USS. Two days ago, we had a free, guided tour of the newest attraction, the Universal Studios Singapore. Like Hong Kong’s Disneyland, it’s a must-see destination… especially for those who love thrill rides.

CASINO. Yesterday, the Marina Bay Sands was formally opened. What a sight! Its advertisement sums it up: “Unveiling A New Wonder Of The World.” With three 55-story towers that support the SkyPark (a surfboard-like structure that looks like a ship), it’s an amazing sight in Singapore.

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!

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