Another Roger vs. Rafa final at the US Open?

Tennis player or not, this week and the next you’ve got to watch. Like boxing, it’s one on one. Like chess, no coaches are permitted. Like badminton, it’s just the net standing between you and your enemy. That’s tennis. And, beginning yesterday until next Sunday, every night on our TV screens (Balls channel for my SkyCable) it will be the 2010 United States Open.

Of the four tennis Grand Slam events, the U.S. Open is the only one I’ve watched. Live. That moment was a long time back—11 Augusts ago—but it’s a memory that will forever be embedded in my brain’s Seagate hard drive.

The U.S. Tennis Open, like many things American, is boisterous, intense, screaming loud and, with 1.7 million dollars to the men’s and women’s singles champions, loaded with $$$. Unlike Paris where the court surface is red or at Wimbledon where it’s green grass or Down Under in Melbourne where the atmosphere is shirt-less-relaxed, at this Open it’s New York City—the most energetic metropolis on Planet Earth.

Why is tennis so attractive a sport? (I know plenty from Cebu, non-tennis-players, who watch all the majors without fail.) The reasons are plenty:

Tennis is easy to understand. Though the scoring, at first, is puzzling, it’s not as complicated as, say, the NFL or cricket.

Tennis celebrates both women and men. Think about this important point: How many sports glorify women and give them equal billing? Basketball? Football? Boxing? Baseball? Nah. In tennis, women are equals—in prize money, in scheduling, in most-everything. At times, as in the case of one Maria Sharapova, she’s more photographed than Ivo Karlovic.

Reason No. 3 why this game is loved: Tennis is individual. Single stars become superstars. Tennis is mano-a-mano; One vs. One. While most of the sports revolve around teams, in tennis (excluding doubles), it’s Serena vs. Venus, R & R, Clijsters against Henin, Borg-McEnroe, The Pete and Andre Show.

Like American Idol, one winner—not one team of 12—emerges as champion. Like the Academy Awards, there’s only one Best Actor—the same with this U.S. Open, only one Best Player will carry that metallic trophy on Sept. 12.

With this 2010 Open, the question is, will the American Idol be from Denmark named Caroline Wozniacki? I know, I know… Caroline who? She’s the top-seed? Yes. An admission: When I saw the seedings report and read her name atop the list, I was astounded. Where’s Serena? And Kim? V-Williams? Well, it turns out either they’re injured or are not as good (Wozniacki won 14 of her last 15 matches.)

Among the men… Will Andy Murray finally win one for Great Britain? Two weeks ago, he beat Roger F. in the event name for the Swiss—Rogers Cup. I won’t be surprised if the 6-foot-3 Scot wins in NYC.

Rafael Nadal? Though he’s performed subpar the past month (losing to Baghdatis), let’s not forget this fact: RN won the last two Grand Slam titles. Plus, he’s hungry for a New York cheeseburger. Already owning eight Majors, the only Big One he hasn’t digested is the Big Apple. But, perplexing to many because he’s won both on the slowest of surfaces (clay) and the fastest (Wimbledon), we ask why he can’t win more at the medium-paced hard-court. To which I reply: because the hard-court, as its first name explains, is hard. By “hard,” meaning the surface is rocklike and stiff—the worst type for Rafa’s 24-year-old knees.

How about the GOAT? Can the man universally-acknowledged as the “Greatest Of All Time” win his sixth Open? Based on statistics, the answer is more than “Yes;” it’s “How-Dare-You-Pick-Anybody-Else-But-Roger.” For, if we study history, not only has this father of twins won five of the last six NYC trophies, but Federer’s triumphed in 41 of his last 42 matches there.

Which brings me to the asterisk attached to Roger’s resume: his record against Rafa. It’s 14-7 in favor of the Spaniard. Nadal has won six of their last seven sword-fights and their past three Grand Slam finals. Which makes their final showdown a perfect “New York, New York” ending, right?

Doc Reel transforms into the real Ironman

To the ordinary species—that includes you and me—swimming 1.9 kms., biking 90K, then running a 21K is crazy and impossible. It takes a body made of iron—plus a brain that’s ironclad—to finish the Ironman 70.3. One such man is Dr. Raymund Reel Bontol. A marathon runner with the physique of a Daniel Craig, Doc Reel joined the Cobra Ironman 70.3 event in Camarines Sur last Sunday.

Among those representing Cebu included last year’s top Filipino finisher, Noy Jopson. Also joining were Elmo Clarabal, Ralph Martin Sios-e, Eugene Sanchez, Trino Trasmonte, Ralph Arche, Tyrone Tan, Kristian Cabahug, Frederick Pahanonot, Jose Ricardo Dizon, Siegfred Zarex Tura, Bro. Carlo Bacalla and Cleve Villanueva.

Dr. Bontol, 31, was part of TEAM REBORN, which included Tenggoy Colmenares, Jung Cases and Annie Neric. Here’s “A Test of Faith,” Doc Reel’s real experience…

“My legs had over three years running experience when Noy Jopson convinced me to join the Ironman. He taught me swimming and cycling techniques necessary for long-distance triathlon. Despite my panicking during the swim and weakness on the bike, I was always atoned by my running skills. In every race I pray that I reach the run leg for me to be assured of the finish.

“Training was not easy. No wonder Noy is a great athlete. TEAM REBORN trained with him 12 weeks prior to the Cobra Ironman race and we were always drained after every session. He is strict. We never let Noy see us slacking off. Disciplines include swim training, cycling, running, gym-training, core training, yoga/Pilates sessions. Hot weather in Camsur was expected so we trained at least twice a week at noon.

“Unpredictable moments are common in multisport races. I suffered from colds and cough two weeks before race day. It was getting worse. I also started having loose bowel movements five days before the race—which made it difficult to hydrate and carbo-load. I was getting anxious and panicky. I loaded myself with all types of medications and prayed to be healthy.

“It is a custom for Cebu Executive Runners Club (CERC) members to attend mass a day before the race. I had to thank God for all His blessings—plus it was the perfect time to ask for good health. With fellow Team Reborn and CERC member Annie Neric and her husband, Jet, we attended mass. With my condition, I prayed hard that I would survive the race.

“Race Day: I was up by 2:30 a.m. and started my usual race day routine. Ensaymada and banana for breakfast followed by medications including my daily FRS energy supplement. The trip to CWC lasted 10 to 15 minutes and I spent it thanking God for the opportunity to fulfill a dream. I prayed for a strong will and body. Everything except my uniforms and water bottles were checked-in so all I had to do was wait for gun start. After final preparations, Team Reborn rounded up and started a prayer. We then wished each other good luck…

“GO! With poor visibility in Lago del Ray, it was predictable that I panicked during the swim leg. ‘God,’ I prayed, ‘please help me finish the swim leg.’

“Out of the water I then proceeded with the bike leg. Despite the course being traffic-free, cycling accidents happen. Whenever I can, I prayed the rosary—a practice I kept while running marathons. After pedaling 90 kms., I was now in my comfort zone. However, running 21 kms. under extreme heat after swimming and cycling is not easy. Cramps and dehydration set in while muscle fatigue ruin your running form. After two loops of the run course, the finish line was visible. ‘Three kilometers to glory!’ I told myself. With friends cheering and the booming voice of the announcer, my heart beat faster.

“Then suddenly, everything was a blur. Next thing I knew, I felt the finish line tape in my hands. The surge of emotions was overwhelming: relief, happiness, fulfillment and gratitude. I finished strong in five hours, 39 minutes. All my prayers were answered. As I victoriously raised my fists up high, I thanked God for giving me a perfect race.”

Categorized as Triathlon

Philippines vs. The World: Don’t miss this battle!

Michael Pastrano Aldeguer is the president of ALA Promotions. ALA, of course, is Antonio Lopez Aldeguer. The father-and-son tandem has organized a real-life, better-than-the-reel-movies blockbuster: “Philippines vs. The World!”—that’s this Saturday at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino.

“This is our biggest promotion since ‘The Moment of Truth’ with Gorres vs Montiel in 2007,” said Michael Aldeguer. “To put together world-rated Filipino fighters and a former world champ in one card is not easy. Plus, bringing four foreigners with good records entails a huge budget. But this is the plan of ALA Promotions and ABS-CBN—to bring world-class boxing here, in Cebu, which is RP’s boxing capital—just like Las Vegas is to America.”

Who are fighting? There’s Florante Condes vs. Sofyan Effendi (Indonesia). There’s Jimrex Jaca vs. Pipino Cuevas, Jr. (Mexico). Milan Milendo fights Jin Man Jeun (Korea). And, Rey Bautista is against Alejandro Barrera (Mexico). With BoomBoom, if his opponent’s second name sounds familiar, that’s because Alejandro’s cousin is Marco Antonio Barrera.

“It will be star-studded,” said Michael. “It’s hard to say which fight may steal the show but, for one, BoomBoom’s fights are always exciting. The fans know that anytime, BoomBoom can knock-out his opponent—or that he himself could be knocked-out. Alejandro Barrera is a former WBC and NABA champion who holds a record of 20 wins (13 KOs) with only three losses.”

As to the other fights, Michael adds: “Milan will be fighting Jin Man Jeon, a Korean champion rated # 4 in the OPBF. This will be exciting because Koreans come to fight just like Big Yoo (AJ Banal’s last opponent). Milan loves to brawl.

“Jimrex is against Pipino Cuevas Jr., the son of the legend who fought Tommy Hearns. Cuevas is a knock-out artist; in his 14 wins, he had 12 KOs. Jimrex comes to fight so whoever throws the first big punch will win by KO.

“The fans will be excited to watch Florante Condes in his comeback fight under ALA Promotions. He is a former world champion and one of the biggest punchers in boxing. He has the power like Manny Pacquaio.”

Back to B-B-B, this Saturday will be crucial for the Candijay, Bohol-native. “BoomBoom has gone through adversity. Not many know that he was fighting injured the past years. When he lost to Heriberto Ruiz last Nov. 2008, we found out that he had a rotten bone in his left wrist that needed major surgery. He came back last Oct. 2009 but after he knocked-out his opponent, he felt the pain again. His last fight was in Dubai last April which he did not feel any pain. BoomBoom had a good training camp for Barrera. He knows that this is his biggest test… if he has what it takes to be a world champ.”

On this World Champion topic, I asked Michael about ALA stable’s No.1 warrior. “We are very proud of Donnie Nietes. He has gone through a lot. He started as a janitor at the ALA gym. Through hard work, he made it to the top. He drives his own car now and lives in a three-bedroom house. Donnie made history last Sunday when he won in Mexico making him the only Filipino to win three world title fights in Mexico against Mexicans.

“We took the risk of fighting in Mexico for the chance to make history. We knew Donnie could do it. He had the mental toughness. He himself wanted to fight in Mexico to prove a point. He deserves all the attention now because he is such a humble person. Not many know that the Philippines has only two world champs: Nietes and the great Pacquiao.”

Finally, I asked about everyone’s sentimental favorite: Z Gorres. “He’s doing very well. It’s a miracle where he is now after what he has gone through. The support of the Filipinos worldwide was overwhelming. Z once told me that aside from his family, he now understands his reason to live: he has inspired people. Z is one of the nicest guys and he deserves a second chance to live.”

Back to this Saturday’s festival: Boxing fan or not, you must watch. For this event can happen only in the “Las Vegas of the Philippines.”

Categorized as ALA Boxing

Reviews of the past two Sunday runs

I joined the 5th University Run at the Cebu Doc campus in Mandaue the other weekend and, two mornings ago, the Aboitiz Race To Reduce Challenge 2010.

How would I rate both? Very good. Compared to four years ago when I started, today’s races have vastly improved. Yet, I will cite a few “Needs Improvement” comments. But before that, the good news: On the two essential ingredients for a successful road run—Safety and Hydration—both races scored an “A.”

At the University Run, there were a multitude of water stops—plus Gatorade—as volunteers offered the most thirst-gratifying liquid. Same last Sunday. Unlike several events in the past when water was inadequate, it wasn’t like that with the Aboitiz Race (except the Gatorade; I never drank a sip as they ran out along the route.)

Safety? To me, the Cebu Doc run is the safest. Located around a loop surrounding the campus that’s blocked from vehicular traffic, this route is ideal. Same with Aboitiz: I noticed plenty of marshals and policemen manning the intersections of the 21K. Kudos!

UNIV. RUN. Here are more good points: The personalized bibs. This was a first. Imagine your name (“SIMON”) pasted on your chest? Two, providing participants the choice of either a singlet or shirt. (I suspect many of us have a foot-tall pile of singlets at home.) Three, Nature’s Valley and Fit ‘N Right food/drinks at the finish.

Needs Improvement: The bib. While personalized was unique, the use of paper as material was a mistake. In my case, after only 10 minutes of sweating, the paper succumbed to what paper succumbs to whenever mixed with water: it crumbled. Two, late start. While the race started on time at 6 a.m., I believe (for 10K and longer races) a 5:30 or 5:45 start is better—there’s less sun, less suffering. Three, an estimated 3,500 participants joined—many Cebu Doc students. But, as you know, their 3K was a 3K Walk. And so, runners couldn’t run straight but had to zigzag, weave, snake-run.

ABOITIZ. The Good: Timing chips. Two, the Sun.Star advertisement—a first! I’m sure every participant bought a copy yesterday. Three, the presence of Monchu Aboitiz. When I arrived before 5 a.m., the Aboitiz CEO was there. How many leaders are willing to disrupt their Sunday morning sleep to join? Same with Txabi Aboitiz. Which brings me to the weather. Said Txabi in our brief chat after the race: “We asked for the rain to pour at exactly 3 a.m. just before the run!” Yes. At 3:30 a.m., just an hour-plus before the start, rain drenched Cebu. But, as God planned it all along, the downpour cooled the road, readying the asphalt to be trampled upon by 2,500 pairs of shoes. We ran in perfect weather.

More good points: the masseurs who softened our stiffened leg muscles (for free)… the instrumentalists on-board a pick-up that moved around the route to regale us with reggae music… the flat/fast course… the breathtaking sunrise view along the SRP at 5:40 a.m… the sponges to cool our overheating bodies… the fire truck near SM that sprinkled water… these were super.

Improvements: First, the race pack, which contained no route map. (I had to scour through the Aboitiz website the night before.) Two, the late start. Advertised to begin at 5:15, we started at least 15 minutes late. Three, no countdown. With my companions at the starting line—Michelle So (now a certified half-marathoner!), Roy and Dr. Rosan Trani, Joel Garganera, Dr. Albert Santos, Dodong Sulatre—we waited for that adrenaline-inducing announcement: “ARE… YOU… READY?! TEN… NINE… EIGHT…”  Instead, we were startled when—bang!—the gun fired without warning. Four, no kilometer markers. (To race organizers: why not have one set printed then reuse them for each race?) Five, no clock at the finish. I did not wear a watch because I planned a relaxed run. At the finish line, I looked up to check my time—but there was no clock. Then I asked the people at the finish… nobody knew. Finally, I discovered my time yesterday—thanks to that two-page Sun.Star spread.

Categorized as Running

Chester Cokaliong and the Dragons of CEC

Twelve months ago, there was a catastrophe. The Cebu Eastern College high school basketball team played the University of Cebu and lost—not by a mere 19 points, but with the score, 159-28. That’s a 131-point disaster. Days after, an even worse hurricane pounded: Against UV, the CEC squad was massacred, 178-23. That 155-point deficit was the worse mutilation in Cebu basketball history—possibly in this whole rotating universe.

“This is humiliating!” I complained in an August 2 article last year. “Cebu Eastern College, a highly-reputable school, has been transformed into a laughingstock.”

Well, look who’s laughing now… Last Thursday, the CEC Dragons were once more fed to UC but—Ripley’s Believe It Or Not—from a 131-point loss last year, they beat their tormentors, 96-77. Computing both games, that’s a turnaround of 150 points! Now, that’s a Ripley’s story.

“This turnaround started right after those embarrassments,” said Chester Cokaliong, the three-point king of Cebu and one of our most august of basketball stars. “Last year, the CEC school officials came for a meeting at my office in Cokaliong Shipping. We met at the boardroom. Everyone was there: the principals, important faculty members, the alumni, Jefferson Go, Samuel Sia, Wilson Yu, and the leader of the group, Frederick Ong, Jr.”

Hounded by humiliation, they wanted change. And who else can the school turn to for a turnaround but their most passionate alumni?

“When we met, they asked for a three year program,” said Chester. “I said, ‘No, that’s too long. If we’re going to improve, we’re going to have to get the best now.’ At first, the group aimed to reach the semis this year. Dili ko mosugot. Ayaw. If you want help, we have to go all the way. If we’re going to spend, let’s aim for the top.”

And so Mr. Cokaliong, armed with the backing of the school, the CECABA, team manager Samuel Sia, Wilson Yu, and the alumni, went into action mode.

“First, we scouted for a good coach,” he said. “Now, we have an excellent one named Jerry Jaranilla. We got him from Iloilo. I told Jerry, ‘You can ride the Cokaliong boat plying Iloilo anytime you want.’ If your family wants to come to Cebu, they can. Sakay siya sa iyang gusto. Walay gasto. Then we scouted for players. We paid for all the expenses. We went to Davao, Bacolod, others, to pick the best. Free sila tanan. Board and lodging. Scholarship. Plus, we added a bonus: all children will learn Chinese. Actually, what we did we just adopted from other schools. But we tried to do more. Ato nalang ni haguan, I told our group. If the other schools can do it, we can.”

How much is Chester spending? Each month, he and Frederick Ong, Jr. split in half the bill of P50,000. How much total have you spent so far? I asked. “Almost P300,000,” he said.

That’s not all. For each tournament win, the coaching staff gets a one-month bonus. And, as example of his generosity, after last Thursday’s win over UC, in mid-court he approached the boys and told them that if they reach the semis, he’ll give each of them a brand-new pair of shoes.

With this funding and dedication, CEC has been transformed from chickens to dragons. In five Cesafi games thus far, they own a league-leading scorecard of 4-1. They’ve beaten Sacred Heart School-Ateneo (87-70), USC (88-68), USPF (87-73) and UC. Their only loss was against UV, 81-76. CEC is a shoo-in for the semis and, if they continue their strong play, will likely meet UV in the finals.

Now, this “Comeback of the Decade” story can easily be defined by one word: money. That’s true. The Chinese community has plenty. And this is the primary reason the team has rebounded. But, more than Pesos, this is about a bigger P:

Pride. It’s about the alumni and faculty disallowing the good name of their school to be tarnished. It’s about rising from defeat. It’s about triumph from humiliation. For, as Chester told me two nights ago, “The lesson for all of us is this: You can achieve anything… as long as you put your heart into it.”



Thanks to Graeme Mackinnon for letting me know about this. Unbelievable! And it looks real.

Edward Hayco: Our Rotary speaker

Call me biased for sports but, in my seven years with the Rotary Club of Cebu West, I heard our best speaker talk last Tuesday. He’s a Guinness World Record holder. He’s convinced an estimated 30,000 children—many out-of-school youth from the barangays—to transform their lives through sport.

Two nights ago, Edward Hayco spoke. He explained his love for dancesport, his passion to help the needy, his programs for the Cebu City Sports Commission. No doubt, our Rotary members—the attendees last Tuesday included Maxwell Ahyong, Lenton Beltran, Fabby Borromeo, Camilo Ceniza, Andrew Ching, Oscar Chua, Benjie Cimafranca, Toto Cupin, Ben Dapat, Ruel Dihiansan, Nilo Domingo, Romy Dy Pico, Maxwell Espina, Jimmy Lao, Wally Liu, Ronnie Medalle, Nonito Narvasa, Ray Patuasi, Fritz Quiñanola, Caloy Santos, Johnny Siao, Alvin Tan, Justin Uy and Wilton Uykintian—will help our new Sports Chairman.

Ed Hayco (center) with Wilton Uykingtian (our Rotary District’s Senior Asst. Governor) and John P.

An Ironman woman named Annie

If you exercise at the Holiday Gym & Spa or have been running 10K races the past 36 months, then you know Anna Maria Neric. Tall, mestiza, and extremely robust and slim, she’s finished three 42Ks (best one in Condura with a 4:47 time).

This Sunday, Annie Neric will do more than run—she’ll compete in the Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3. Yes, an iron-willed woman joining the Ironman. That’s Annie. Although she’s completed two short-distance triathlons before, this one is difficult. How painful? The “70.3” refers to 70.3 miles, spread out with a 1.9-km. swim, 90-K bike, and a 21.1-K run. That’s tough. So is Annie.

“I’ve gained confidence after my experience in the relay last year,” she said. “With more running, biking and swimming, I told myself I’m ready. I was convinced by Coach Noy Jopson to join the individual event this year.”

Training for CamSur was laborious. “I had difficulty in biking because I was used to indoor cycling,” said Annie. “I fell twice before getting used to riding a road bike. I had a hard time using biking shoes with cleats.”

TEAM REBORN is Annie’s group and they’re led by Ironman champion Noy Jopson as mentor/coach. Her other teammates are Dr. Raymund Bontol, Tenggoy Colmenares, Sef Miller and Jung Cases. “Our team started serious training only last May. Our schedule involves brick trainings and simulation trainings. We go to Shangri-La to swim; road bike from Liloan to Carmen. I continue to join runs in Cebu and Manila.”

TEAM REBORN: Jung Cases, Annie Neric, Raymund Reel Bontol, Joseph Miller, Tenggoy Colmenares and Noy Jopson

Why join the Ironman? “Because it’s a prestigious competition and I’d like to experience competing with the pros. It helps me determine my limits,” said Annie, now 45 years old. “This is the ultimate. It keeps me young. It’s FUN! I also get to meet friends and gain new ones. My husband Jet will be there and I hope he can join next year. I hope my two sons will join me someday.

“I want to be an inspiration to the wives and mothers. In turn, they can be inspirations to their families and friends to pursue a life of healthy living. And to the single and younger ladies, I hope to be a good role model. I got into sports in my early twenties doing aerobics. Being a triathlete does not happen overnight. The earlier one starts, the better. It takes getting rid of the unhealthy lifestyle. It’s a change of lifestyle – a healthier one!”

This training more difficult than the marathon? “Absolutely!” she said. “I had to train in three sports: swim, bike, run. To train for a Triathlon, you need discipline, patience and time management skills. You also need to invest as each event has different equipment. I always think of it as an investment on my health.”

Finally, when I asked Annie if she’s intimidated with the swim portion (considering last year’s incident), she said, “I’m a bit scared but I just need to relax and focus on my strokes. Like what my coach tells me, you can do any stroke just make sure you don’t drown. I also know they have more marshals. For this triathlon, I plan to be a finisher (eight hours cutoff) but doing my very best. Even if I come in last… I would only be the last winner!”

Categorized as Triathlon

On the Aboitiz Invitational, two more observations

Cebu’s most heralded golf competition that lured an All-star cast may have concluded last Friday, but the positive chitchat continues to reverberate. Following Bayani Garcia’s detailed assessment two days ago are two more commentaries: from Frederic Chiongbian, a two-time marathon runner who also walks the golf course, and from Sebastian Lacson, the man representing Aboitiz Equity Ventures (AEV) who was most visible last week. Here are their observations…

FREDERIC CHIONGBIAN: “The last time Cebu Country Club hosted a pro tournament was sometime 2003. This was the Philip Morris, First Gentleman’s Cup. So this was indeed an honor. This leg put Cebu on the map. If my numbers were right, we had 80 pros including Angelo Que, Juvic Pagunsan, Frankie Miñoza, Artemio Murakami, Marvin Dumandan and most notables in Phil. golf.

“I had the opportunity to play with a few of the touring pros the week prior: with Phil. Open champion Elmer Salvador, Anthony “Tonight” Fernando and Orlando Sungcad, one of the tour’s longest hitters. It’s one thing watching them from the sidelines, it’s another thing to be playing in the same flight. Believe me when I say that they can make playing golf look easy… I believe that credit is due to ICTSI, Aboitiz and PGT. And to Clifford Celdran and his team for getting the course into wonderful shape.”

BASTI LACSON, Chief Reputation Officer of AEV:

Why did Aboitiz do this golf event? “When the opportunity to bring the Philippine Golf Tour to Cebu came to out attention we immediately grabbed it, keen on bringing an event of this caliber to Cebu for all of us to enjoy and be part of. Also, we had heard what a wonderful job the PGT does of its events, so we were confident enough to attach our brand, of which we are very protective, to the Invitational.”

Before the tournament, did you know that ALL the top players (including Frankie Miñoza) were joining? “We knew the attendance was going to be good, but little did we know it would be THIS good. The timing of the event could not have been better, it comes at a lull in the Asian Tour so many of the Filipino pros active in that tour had the chance to be with us. Miñoza confirmed in the 11th hour, which was good because his presence ensures a crowd. The younger golfers have also developed a following. The pros have many friends in Cebu—one can tell by the convivial socialization between the pros and Cebuanos at the verandah after the matches. This may have helped get such a fine turnout.”

How happy are you with the outcome? “Ecstatic. The Aboitiz Invitational achieved success on various fronts. The pros experienced an appreciative gallery that came in numbers enough to get one pro to concede this was the biggest crowd of the PGT save for the Phil. Open. The turnout demonstrates how the Cebuano appreciates athletes who work hard honing their skills. The amateur participants in the pro-am, along with the amateurs who played astride the pros, got to enjoy the rare opportunity to golf with the country’s finest. And the sporting fans who followed the tournament enjoyed a festival of fine shot-making right in the heart of the city.”

Would this be an annual event now for Aboitiz? “I sure hope so!”

Why the involvement of Aboitiz in sports? “The Corporate Social Responsibility agenda of Aboitiz is focused on three main areas, and sports development is not among them. Yet Aboitiz is not a stranger to sport. For instance, with the Aboitiz Sports Field, AboitizLand provides a venue for many outdoor sporting events. The Aboitiz Football Cup, which has been running for many years now, promotes football among the young. The Aboitiz Run on August 22 is a wonderful activity initiated by fellow Aboitiz team members. The run embodies the Aboitiz brand promise of Passion for Better Ways by pushing the envelope and bringing innovation into the running craze, like having timing chips as a minimum, publishing all participants’ names in the newspaper the following day, massage for finishers…”

Categorized as Golf