Anton, Choming and friends in Singapore’s F1

Charles Osmeña, Jude Flores, Jeffrey Uraya, Anton Villacin and Choming Marques departed the country last Wednesday. They arrived home six days later. The all-boys excursion? The Singapore Grand Prix.

“This was my third Singapore F1 race,” said Anton Villacin, a Formula One diehard and member of the BMW club, BimmerCebu. “The nice thing about this race, aside from its being near and Cebu Pacific offers affordable rates, is that it’s a street circuit and a night race—the only one in the calendar.”

For Choming Marques, it was his second F1 visit to the Lion City. “This year, we came back to catch a glimpse of Michael Schumacher,” said Choming. “During practice, the commentator said on the loudspeaker: ‘Michael Schumacher is the Best Rookie in this race!’ We laughed.” Schumacher’s attendance—his first in Singapore—made the race bigger. “Bigger attendance, bigger production in and outside the race track,” said Anton.

“The guy we went to see this year,” said Anton of M. Schumacher

The race-day experience? “It was phenomenal. We went to the track early at 4 p.m. and, to our surprise, the track was packed! (Last year, we went at 5 and were still able to find a spot.) This year we had to fight through the thick crowd to reach the railings,” said Anton. “We got Walkabout tickets which means we don’t have designated grandstand seats but we can stand by the rails. We had to endure the pain of standing from 4 to 10 p.m. but it paid of as we saw Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa and Vitantonio Liuzzi pass right in front of us.

“Since we were just meters from the track, I could feel my chest vibrate as the cars passed… their engines were loud. I could hardly hear myself after the race! After the race we walked around the track for picture-taking; I was able to pick up some carbon fiber debris from Kamui Kobayashi’s BMW Sauber!”

“Walkabout tickets are preferred by hardcore fans or photographers because you’re closer (only five feet from the fence). In the race itself, Alonso started in pole position followed by Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton. This had to be one of the most exciting races… the safety car coming out many times and Team Lotus’ car catching fire. Webber and Hamilton also collided which took Hamilton out of the race,” said Choming.

“That’s when we saw Hamilton pissed; he threw his steering wheel like a boomerang! As the race went on we were still on our feet leaning on the fence…  our patience paid off when Hamilton walked right in front of us! We got pictures. He didn’t seem happy at all. To think I also got a picture of Massa the day before when his car spun out during qualifying! In the end, Alonso won and everyone did victory laps which was slow, so we got to see the drivers wave to the crowd.”

The race wasn’t all about cars. It was also about the pre- and post-race parties. “There were support races (Formula BMW Asia, Porsche Cup),” said Anton. “We checked out Missy Elliot, Mariah Carey, dropped by the Freestyle Trial Bikes and stayed throughout DJ Tiga!” said Choming. “There was so much going on all afternoon till early morning, even as you walk around the different zones buying food, drinks or more shirts (he-he). You’ll also be enjoying the night skyline of Singapore. You have to remember the track is in the city; we were amazed with the Sands Hotel and its Sky deck.”

Anton added: “If you’re a fan, it would be nice to watch the race live at least once. The experience got me hooked. The energy on trackside is phenomenal. It’s about the total experience. You get to see things you don’t on TV: food stalls, music stages, F1 merchandise stalls, vintage cars display, race simulators where you can try for free, sponsors’ booths, video walls and giant TV screens, and you see F1 fanatics complete with costumes of their teams.”

“As a bonus, if you’re lucky, you get to see celebrities,” said Anton. “I almost had a chance to shake hands with one of the most ‘inspiring’ figures, Sir Richard Branson (cars & girls baby!), but when I bumped into him in Clark Quay, I froze…”

Would you highly recommend the experience to other Cebuanos? I asked.

“Definitely!” Choming replied. “I heard from other people that Singapore comes alive during race weekend, more events, more people and more money to spend if your not to careful, It may seem very expensive to experience an event like this but if you plan ahead you can get great deals on the flights, hotels and if you know the Right people Great Food!! thank you DJ B for pointing us to the very best Hainanese Chicken!!”

Answered Anton: “I would highly recommend the experience to cebuano F1 fans at least once. For us, this is the cheapest and most convenient F1 race in the calendar. Take advantage of early booking rates from airlines and hotels. And since it is a street race held in the middle of the city, you get to watch the race and shop at the same time. You can even bring your family along and they can go shopping at the huge malls surrounding the track while you and your buddies watch the race. It would also help if you know someone from there to act as your tour guide to the best shops and authentic foods around the city. Thanks to DJ B (Zouk resident DJ) for bringing us to the authentic hainanese chicken rice restaurant, the best I have tasted ever!”

Categorized as Formula One

Cebu: the volleyball capital of the Philippines?

Thanks to our lady governor, Gwen Garcia, the sport of volleyball is no longer a game played between six against six. It’s now thousands—of setters, blockers, servers… all tossing and spiking that ball around the province of Cebu.

“This year is the biggest GUV Cup ever,” said Antonino “Jun” San Juan, Jr., the president of the Cebu Volleyball Association (CEVA). “We have 74 teams and, quoting former PSC Chairman Butch Ramirez two years ago, he said, ‘The Gov. Gwen Garcia Unity Volleyball Cup is the biggest volleyball tournament in the country.’”

Yes it is. With 34 teams among the men and 40 in the women’s division—multiply those figures by 14 players per squad—and you’ve got over a thousand athletes representing Cebu’s 42 municipalities and seven cities. That’s remarkable. That’s widespread.

Gener Dungo, the Philippine Volleyball Federation (PVF) Vice-President (and, by November, the PVF President), was impressed. During the Opening Ceremony of the 6th GUV Cup last Saturday at the Mandaue Sports Complex, he said: “During the congress, I heard a lot of success stories of volleyball in different countries. In some countries, their government gives full support for the volleyball events, but I didn’t expect that there is one province in the Philippines that religiously supports volleyball and that is the Province of Cebu. Having seen this big event, the PVF will document and report this to the Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC) and Federation International De Volleyball (FIVB) so the worldwide volleyball community will recognize this kind of tournament.”

“Mr. Dungo announced,” added Jun San Juan, “that the Cebu province is now ‘The Volleyball Capital of the Philippines.’ It was indeed a big WOW-moment for us!!”

With a prize money of P100,000 to the GUV Cup champion and P20,000 to each of the six Cluster champions, this Sept.-to-Dec. tournament started by then-CEVA president Glenn Soco has vastly improved since its inception six years ago.

“When we started in 2005, we had participants who were ‘ahead in years.’ Some were municipal employees asked to join by their mayor just to have a team. But now, they’re getting younger and we have players as young as 11!” said Jun San Juan.

“I’m proud to say that the GUV Cup has paved the way for undiscovered athletes to be given the chance to show their capabilities. We have young players who started out in the GUV Cup and ended up with an offer for scholarship in big universities/colleges. It’s hitting two birds with one stone—their extraordinary talent has been discovered AND they are given the chance to attend college.”

Other improvements this 2010? “We made adjustments with the format and introduced city clusters last year. The municipal teams felt they they had a little chance against the city teams since they were much stronger. So we had City and Municipal Cluster GUV Cup Champion,” said San Juan.

“This year, we decided to go back to our original format and just have one GUV Cup Champ for the Women’s division and one for the Men’s. The reason is that, first of all, three of the cities (Naga, Bogo and Carcar) were reverted back to municipalities based on the Supreme Court. This year, we have allowed our participants to recruit two imports per team in order to level the playing field. We even have imports coming all the way from Manila.”

Finally, I asked the CEVA president about volleyball’s popularity today. How does it compare to years back? “The last time we produced exceptional volleyball talents was from the years 1978 to 1983 when six of the Women’s National Team were from Cebu,” he said. “They were the champs in the SEA Games. After that, volleyball became dormant. CEVA is grateful for Gov. Gwen who revived the popularity of the sport by actualizing GUV Cup. Now, we are getting back on our feet to put Cebu back on the map of celebrated volleyball players. We aim to produce athletes who not only will make it big here locally—but also in the national and international arena.”

Categorized as Volleyball

Painless surgery, thanks to Doctors San Juan

Greg Rusedski, the former world No. 4 tennis star, once said, “The downside isn’t really injury, fear of injury, or the process of fighting injury. The downside, the very worst thing in the world, is surgery.”

True. False. I had surgery last Wednesday. Yes, I tried to avoid being cut open by a knife, but no, it wasn’t “the very worst thing in the world.”

Sports breeds injuries. This we know. If you swim, run, kick, spike, and rebound for hours and hours each month, chances are—apart from sporting a slimmer waistline—some type of injury will befall you. I’ve had my share. Knee soreness. Plantar fasciitis. The Iliotibial Band (ITB) Syndrome. I’ve experienced those. So, I’m sure, have you—if you’ve pushed your body to run faster, jump higher, smash harder.

I smashed too hard. After playing tennis for 24 years, my shoulder cried foul. “TIME OUT!” it screamed. Overuse, lack-of-stretching, little-rest-after-serving—whatever you call it, my shoulder got injured. I rested. Put ice. Paid for therapy sessions. Swung a lightweight racket. Nothing worked. The pain persisted.

I couldn’t undress tight-fit shirts without Jasmin’s help. Scratching my back? My daughter Jana would have to relieve the itch for me. Sleeping on my right side? No, no. That elicited midnight pain. As to my wristwatch, I’ve always worn it on my right—now it’s on my left.

And so, after several do-it-myself remedies that failed, I visited Cebu’s sports medicine guru, Dr. Jose Antonio “Tony” San Juan. Three years ago and hobbled with a knee injury, it was Doc Tony who fixed the problem. An ITB injury from running? It was Dr. San Juan who came to the rescue. So, once again, I visited his Chong Hua Medical Arts (Cebu Orthopedic Institute) clinic two months ago.

Dr. Tony San Juan, though still youthful at 41 years of age (and who sports an 8-handicap in golf), has vast medical training: He studied at the UP College of Medicine then continued his education (Fellowship Training) in Joint Replacement Surgery and Arthroscopic Surgery/Sports Medicine at the Flinders Medical Center/Repatriation General Hospital in Adelaide, South Australia and at the Univ. of Cincinnati Medical Center in Ohio, U.S.A.

Within minutes of inspecting my shoulder, he spotted the problem: subacromial impingement (the tendons of the rotator cuff muscles became irritated and inflamed—no thanks to serving and overhead-smashing from tennis). Dr. San Juan advised that I get an MRI but speculated that the best solution might be surgery. As he rightly predicted, the MRI results confirmed his assessment and so surgery (subacromial decompression) was scheduled.

I arrived at Chong Hua at 6 a.m. last Wednesday. After a series of tests, by 10:15 a.m., I was wheeled inside the Operating Room. Dr. Teodulo “Totoy” San Juan, the father of Doc Tony, met me first. He was the anesthesiologist. The father-and-son tandem made the perfect team. Within seconds after being injected anesthesia, my eyes shut and my system slept.

I woke up at 2:30 p.m. Thanks to the anesthesia that was attached together with the IV, I felt no pain. The cut on my shoulder was two inches long and the surgery lasted no more than 70 minutes. I left the hospital the following noon—on Thursday—with the lump that had protruded on my shoulder now gone.

The next day, Friday, I was in Perpetual Succour Hospital with Dr. Jorgen Lim for the therapy. Thanks to Rhoda, the physical therapist who assisted me, I had both Cryo- and TENS therapy plus several static exercises. I was able to lift my arm above my head—amazing the quick recovery of our body! Said Dr. Tony: it’s important to get the muscles moving as soon as possible to hasten the healing.

In a month or so, said the doctor, I’d be able to start running/biking and, in three months’ time, can begin swinging that Babolat racket—all thanks to doctors San Juan and San Juan and a procedure called surgery that, so far and contrary to Rusedski, has become “the best cure for pain in the world.”

Categorized as Injuries

Injured and throbbing in pain? Read on…

Here’s an article on Injuries I first published last April 2009….

Dr. Jose Antonio San Juan is one of Cebu’s first-rate doctors to visit when you suffer a sports-related affliction. I should know. In the past two years of long-distance running, I’ve suffered knee soreness, cramps, plantar fasciitis, muscle aches and, the most painful one that got me limping during last year’s Hong Kong Marathon, the Iliotibial Band syndrome.

Who do I consult? Plenty of friends, I ask. And, unanimously, they supply me with a three-worded answer: Tony San Juan.

Trim and robust at 40 years young, Tony played soccer, basketball and swam competitively in high school. These days, he prefers to swat the badminton racquet and swing that 7-iron in this game of Angel Cabrera. (Tony’s handicap is an impressive 9.)

Trained at the UP College of Medicine, he went on further studies (Fellowship Training) in Joint Replacement Surgery and Arthroscopic Surgery/Sports Medicine at the Flinders Medical Center/Repatriation General Hospital in Adelaide, South Australia and at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center in Ohio, USA. At present, he is a partner of the Cebu Orthopaedic Institute at the Chong Hua Medical Arts Center.

I exchanged Qs & As with Dr. Tony SJ. Here’s Part 1:

Why do we get injured?

“In sports, injuries are generally classified into two: TRAUMATIC and OVERUSE. Traumatic injuries are what you may commonly call your sports accidents. By their nature, it is hard to say when, how, where and to whom it may happen. Whether you are a weekend warrior or an elite athlete, a fitness buff or the most conditioned triathlete, we will all eventually have some form of traumatic injury.

“These injuries may happen even if you have the ideal equipment, the ideal playing surface, the ideal preparation or conditioning. In short, this injury is unpredictable and hard to prevent compared to overuse injuries. The more common traumatic injuries are sprains (injury to the ligament that connects bones to each other), strains (pulled/torn muscle), contusions (bruising/swelling because of direct trauma to an area) and fractures (think Lance Armstrong recently breaking his collarbone).

“Overuse injuries may happen in the course of preparing for a sport or while actually participating in the sport. They happen because of poor conditioning, improper training regimen or techniques, improper equipment and simply “overdoing” it—not following the limits you had set for yourself and what your body can take.

“These kind of injuries are preventable in that if you have trained, conditioned and equipped yourself properly, the likelihood of getting injured during the event is significantly less compared to someone who wasn’t as prepared. Most overuse injuries are sport specific.

“For tennis buffs, there’s the tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) and subacromial impingement (shoulder); for golf aficionados, there’s the golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis; for teenage boys into basketball, volleyball or soccer, there’s Osgood Schlatter’s disease (knee) and Sever’s disease (heel); among runners, there’s the iliotibial band syndrome/ITB (knee); just to name a few.

“The best way to find out what your injury is to see your health professional be it your family physician, your internist, your rehab specialist or your friendly orthopaedic surgeon.”

What are the best ways to prevent injuries?

“Proper conditioning or preparation, using appropriate equipment and using equipment properly, employing proper techniques and “knowing your limits” (i.e. remember the ad with the slogan “I am Tiger Woods!”? Well, it’s a goal for excellence but we have to realize that there can only be one Tiger Woods.)

“As we mature (he-he, get older!) our body tends to be less forgiving. We get injured a lot easier and recovery takes longer compared to a kid barely in his teens. Kids could run all day long and hardly feel anything the day after. We, on the other hand, would feel aches and pains the morning after a full day of running and jumping…” 

Categorized as Fitness

More ‘Injury Tips’ from Dr. Tony San Juan

First published last April 2009….


Doc Tony (2nd from right) with (from left) Ogie Laranas, Gabby Cruz and Gerry Malixi during the ‘La Salle Goes Bad!’ tournament

When I asked one of Cebu’s top sports medicine physicians what the best ways are to prevent injuries, his answers were four-fold: 1) Proper conditioning. 2) Using appropriate equipment. 3) Employing proper techniques and, 4) “Knowing your limits.”

Dr. Tony San Juan added that to lessen the likelihood of injury, one must stretch before/after exercise, make sure the shoes fit well (and they’re still in good shape; e.g. mileage of running shoes), and, he adds, “during participation in the sport make sure you employ the proper technique (think Milo BEST clinics for basketball as an example, Jungolf summer programs, martial arts instructional).”

Is cross-training advisable?

“Cross training as a sport (e.g.triathlon): As a sport, cross training is what you may consider the ultimate test of conditioning and endurance. Since it involves at least two different sport disciplines, of which preparations will entail a variety of exercises, you may consider this the sport that prepares pretty much the entire “mind and body”… the best.

“Cross training as an exercise regimen: As an exercise regimen, I am referring mainly to the use of the cross trainer machine/elliptical machine. I recommend the use of this machine because it gives you almost the same cardio work out compared to a treadmill—except that the use of the cross trainer machine is more gentle on the joints (knee, hip and back) because of what you may call the “low impact” nature of the machine. Your feet do not float in the air and impact a hard surface with the use of the machine.”

Which is better: Cardio workout or strength training?

“We engage in a ‘CARDIO WORK OUT’ mainly to improve the function of the heart to the point that it could adjust to a certain level of exercise intensity/sport participation without compromising body function (passing out). As with any work out regimen, the efficiency of cardiac function increases or improves over a period of time and not overnight. For one to be able to enjoy the benefits of a good cardio work out, one should be able to sustain the regimen and commit to it (time).

“Strength training is mainly directed at improving muscle function and bulk (arms, thighs, chest, abdomen) while indirectly providing a ‘cardio work out.’ Strength training will give you the opportunity to perform optimally in certain sport disciplines as long as you develop the proper muscle groups.

“For optimal performance in sport activities with the least likelihood of getting injured, proper conditioning is necessary. Proper conditioning consists in a good balance between a good cardio work out and strength training.”

When injured, I’ve read so much about RICE. What is it?

“RICE – this is the first line of treatment for most (not all) acute injuries. Rest, Ice and Immobilization, Compression and Elevation is mainly directed at joint injuries, sprains, suspected fractures or contusions.
“One has to rest the injured extremity to prevent further injury and insult and to allow stabilization of the injury. Ice and Immobilization is applied to control swelling and lessen the pain which are the expected immediate consequences of the injury. Compression (wrapping the injured area with an elastic bandage) is applied to control swelling as well. Because our soft tissues (muscle, fat, skin) are soft and elastic, they will swell and expand as a result of the injury. If the swelling is uncontrolled, the pressure and fluid build up can be a source of pain and it can also compromise blood flow and nerve function to the area. Elevation is enforced to encourage drainage of the fluid/swelling from the area. Proper elevation requires that the injured extremity be elevated to a level that is higher than the heart.”

What cardio sports are least likely to injure?

“BIKING AND SWIMMING – mainly because of the low impact nature of the two disciplines.”

Eugene Sanchez: My Ironman 70.3 experience

Last year, after featuring Noy Jopson (the top Filipino in the 2009 Ironman in Camsur) and, the past month, writing about Annie Neric (Cebu’s lone “Ironman woman”) and Dr. Raymund Reel Bontol, now it’s another top triathlete.

Eugene Sanchez, 37, is not your neophyte swim-bike-run athlete. He started 14 years ago when, he said, “Noy Jopson organized one in Plantation Bay… I only had one month of training and barely finished… but fell in love with the sport.”

He did not stop. Eugene finished two Half-Ironman events and plenty more which included the Sandugo Triathlon (Tagbilaran), Sunrise triathlon (Alegre Beach Resort), Fiesta Series triathlon, Everyman’s triathlon series, Manong Amon Tri, 3-15-3 series. Today, he is a member of the Sugbu Triathlon, a community of multi-sport athletes from (of course) Cebu. Here’s “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!” the first-hand account story of Eugene.

“Last August 22, I raced the 2nd edition of the Philippine Ironman at Camarines Sur, finishing 90th over 497 athletes and 23rd in my age group. It took me six months of training to prepare myself for this very challenging distance.

“The road to doing the half IM distance again proved challenging. Sacrifices had to be made; Willpower, strengthened; Muscles, hardened. The sport of triathlon is never easy. For if it was, then it would be as popular as the running boom in Cebu. Some can swim, others can bike and plenty can run but only a few can swim, bike and run. Still, triathlon can be for everyone and anyone regardless of age – as long as you are willing to sacrifice… a lot.

“Sunday becomes a 100-K bike ride with a 10K run at noon. Noon breaks on weekdays are reserved for long swims. No more Friday night-outs for me, had to wake up at 5 a.m. on Saturdays for my two-hour run, then a cool-off swim. I even missed my high school reunion because I had to wake up early that Sunday morning for my long bike ride, alone. Yes I did a lot of sacrifices but I never regretted it. In fact, it was the best decision I made on my birthday – registering for the Philippine Ironman. I could not fail… I will finish what I started and will push my body until I will cross the finish line.

“Now to the race: The swim start was difficult with hundreds of athletes trying to get their own space. Just imagine being thrown in a washing machine–that’s how I felt for the first 200 meters. As always, I start my swim with a prayer; this helps calm my nerves and eventually catch my long stroke and rhythm. The two-km. swim took me 36:54 minutes – happy to be done with the part I dread most.

“The bike was an easy part for me, having numerous road races under my belt. The course was relatively flat which took me 2 hours and 26 minutes for the entire 90 kilometers. I was still okay but my mind was already on the next leg, the run, which I am not so gifted at. Having a heavy framed body, the run part is somewhat difficult unless I lose 30 pounds! Before, I could do a 20-minute 5K run in a triathlon–but that was when I was 30 pounds lighter. Carrying a lot of blob surely slows you down…thanks to Mang Inasal!

“Then the run starts. It’s not easy to run a 21K, all the more when you start after a 2K swim and 90K bike. With energy reserves half empty and the sun almost at its peak, it’s tough. But run I did. I promised God that I will run the whole 21K for Him, without walking, and so I did except a little near the finish line. My quads, gluteus and every leg and back muscle were cramping at the last 1K mark. In the end, the finish line attracted me like a magnet or a moth to a light. Even when I was in extreme pain, it gave me that extra boost to cross the line. And I did in a time of 5:31:57–the 3rd Cebuano to cross the line at the Ironman Philippines.

“Now I can have my subzero beer and do a little partying. But it won’t be long, the 3rd edition of the Philippine Ironman is just a year away. So I will soon be back to what I love most: swim, bike and run. See you at the starting line!”

Categorized as Triathlon

Japan Karate Association demo this Sunday

My wife Jasmin’s uncle, Dr. Antonio Gestosani, was in Cebu two weeks ago. He lives in Ohio. After the usual hi’s and hello’s, the first question I asked the top anesthesiologist who lives an hour away from Cleveland was, “How hated is LeBron James in your place?” His eyes enlarged, his voice amplified, his body language turned animated. “Oh, absolutely,” he said, “LeBron is the most despised person in Ohio!”

A U.S. poll, conducted by The Q Scores Company, asked the general population who they loathe the most. The answer? LeBron James—from being one of the most respected and loved of Americans—is “the sixth most disliked sports personality.”

Ouch. This is terrible news for LBJ. The good news? He’s no. 6. The top five? They’re Michael Vick, Tiger Woods, Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco and Kobe Bryant. At least, when the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers meet in the NBA Finals, Kobe’s the “badder” of the two. (I can’t wait for the NBA season to start on Oct. 26 with the first game—guess who—between Miami and the Boston Celtics.)

Added Dr. Gestosani: “Can you imagine LeBron and the Heat playing the Cavaliers in Cleveland?” Oh, my. He’ll be stoned, spat at, thrown plastic bottles. That’s a game (scheduled on Dec. 2) that you and I will not miss!

NICK TORRES. Commenting on Rafael Nadal’s victory at the U.S. Open, here’s an astute observation from tennis devotee Nick Torres: “Confidence. Will. Mental strength. Belief. Pistol Pete would have it one day but not the next. Roger had it. Supremely. Up until all the French losses started to eat him on the inside. And one day in 2008, he lost it in Wimbledon. And again this year in Flushing Meadows. This one was more telling because he lost to another player – the Joker. I hope Rafa never loses ‘it.’ But judging from the way the Spanish Armada wages war on the tennis courts, barring injuries (Rafa’s style is so brutal on his body), I’m looking eagerly forward to the next 5 years.”

JKA. If you’re interested in martial arts, troop to the Active Zone of Ayala Center Cebu this Sunday at 2 p.m., said the invitation sent to me by Boston Marathon qualifier Millette Chiongbian, a JKA practitioner:

“You are invited to view a rare exhibition of an age-old martial art. View our karatekas and get a glimpse of the winning kata that earned Cebu’s very own, Noel Espinosa, a gold in the recently-held 2010 Korean Open Intl. Karatedo Championships… Japan Karate Association (JKA) Asia Pilipinas – Cebu presents an exhibition to demonstrate the skills acquired by our karatekas in their respective levels. Performances will be given by yellow all the way to black belt and 1st to 5th dan practitioners. Karatekas from different chapters in Cebu will be demonstrating some of the basic, kata and kumite techniques to promote awareness of karate—not just as a sport but also as an effective means of self-defense.” This is open to the public for free.

SURGERY. At 10 a.m. tomorrow, I’ll undergo surgery. Having sustained pain in my right shoulder for nearly a year now, I’ll finally be put to sleep then cut open by the expert hands of Dr. Tony San Juan. I have a tennis-related injury. After serving and overhead-smashing for nearly 25 years, my shoulder screamed timeout. I joked Dr. San Juan—one of the country’s best sports medicine (orthopedic) physicians—by asking, “Can you change my shoulder so that I can serve like Andy Roddick after the operation?” He grinned. It won’t be months, though, until that Babolat racquet can be swung.

FLOYD. “Is Floyd Mayweather’s Career Over?” That question was answered by a top sports website: “The Queensberry Rules: A Boxing Blog.” Visit the site to read the expert comments (especially of our Sarangani congressman) by Tim Starks.

BOXING. One of the best titles I’ve read: “Mosley and Mora Paint A Picasso — They Draw.”

Categorized as Karate

Will Michel Lhuillier finally join the PBA?

Next year, his basketball franchise will celebrate its Silver Anniversary. That’s 25 years of dribbling and scoring trophies. It will be a mega-milestone for this team labeled as “the most successful Philippine basketball squad in history”—outside of the PBA.

Will the year 2011, to celebrate its 25th birthday, be the moment when M. Lhuillier Kwarta Padala sends a remittance letter to PBA Commissioner Chito Salud with the words: “Money ready. Count as in.”?

We hope so. For Michel Lhuillier is Cebuano. He represents our land. Of French descent (he’s the Honorary Consul of France), the billionaire sportsman loves one city more than any other on earth… Sugbu.

“I’ve been offered to put up a PBA team. But it’s not for my business. It’s too expensive,” he once told me. “You need P100 million to maintain a team. Now, they’re offering me P40 to P50 million for a PBA franchise. With those amounts, I have better use of my money. I’d rather have a strong enough team that can play once-in-a-while with the PBA.”

That conversation was 10 months ago. Today, has the business tycoon’s mind changed? Yes, Cebu hopes so. Because if M. Lhuillier does enter the PBA, it will be a first. A first for a Cebu-based company to battle—on the basketball floor—the big boys and multinationals of Philippine business.

The PBA currently has 10 teams. These are Air21 Express, Alaska Aces, Barako Energy Coffee Makers, Barangay Ginebra Kings, B-Meg Derby Ace Llamados, Meralco Bolts (new team), Powerade Tigers, Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, San Miguel Beermen and Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters. Add the words “M. Lhuillier Kwarta Padala” to this list?

I called Yayoy Alcoseba. This was two nights ago. Ever the serious and disciplinarian maestro on court, he was light-hearted and relaxed in our talk. He has reason to smile. Last Sunday, his Kwarta Padala team won again. That’s nothing new. They always win. But this was different.

“That was the most difficult championship we’ve ever won,” said Coach Yayoy, who’s collected for the team hundreds of golden trophies. The Cebu City Councilor, now on his third and final term, explained how difficult it was winning the Tournament of the Philippines (TOP). “We had to go and fight in Cagayan de Oro… we had a thrilling Game 5… it was our most satisfying victory,” he said of the 78-76 tournament-ending win of the Cebu Niños against the MisOr Meteors at the Cebu Coliseum.

Now that you’ve won again, will it be the PBA this time? “There’s a good chance,” said Councilor Alcoseba. “More than at any other period, the timing might be right this time. We have a strong team, a ready-to-play team. And the Kwarta Padala brand nationwide is getting even stronger.” Plus, of course, the significance of the 25th anniversary…

“Are you ready to move to Manila?” I asked.

“I’ll just be team manager!” he said, laughing.

I told him, “No way will Michel ask anybody else to coach his team but you!”

That’s true. From the moment the M. Lhuillier team was formed, one man was there.

“Coach Yayoy. Councilor Yayoy. Businessman Yayoy. I don’t know what to call him anymore,” Lhuillier told me before. “He’s been with me for more than 23 years. What can I say about him? I believe in him. He’s good. He’s outstanding. He has a knack for it. He feels for it. He’s so involved in the game and some misunderstand it when he reprimands players. He loves the game. He also knows all about the NBA and the PBA. In terms of scouting, he knows what positions to shop for when the team has weaknesses.”

As to The Boss’s own formula for success? Michel Lhuillier once explained to me: “I keep on trying and trying. I’ve had defeats but, because of determination, I’ve had more victories in life. It’s by trying and trying and trying that I get to succeed.”

Sir: Time to try the PBA?

Categorized as PBA

Can Rafa’s Lucky 9 surpass Roger’s Sweet 16?

The word is Tenacity. It means to be persevering and dogged. The word is Determined. It’s defined as being “forceful, single-minded.” The word is Competitive. It translates to one’s being “merciless.. aggressive.. brutal.” All these words are synonyms to one name: Rafael Nadal.

Has there been an athlete as forceful? And fist-pumping, Vamos-shouting, I’m-willing-to-die-on-court-to-win persistent? Yes, Michael Jordan was intense. So was Mr. Armstrong during his Tour de Lance. KB24 is another. And, we can point to our own: Manny P. They are history’s most strong-willed of sportsmen. Add two more letters to the shortlist: R.N.

You want to know Rafa’s secret? Actually, there is no secret. We’ve seen it on our TV screens ever since he won the 2005 French Open (on his first try) as a 19-year-old. It’s called attitude. Mental strength.

“What’s my best thing?” he asked himself. “I think the mentality, attitude on court I think always was good for me,” he said. “I am positive on court, and I fight all the time. But not the only thing. Positive attitude is not only fight on court. I think I was able to listen all the time to the coach and to have adjustments and to be ready to change things to be better and to improve.”

That’s it. For while nobody in the ATP Tour possesses a more Herculean build, it’s more than biceps and triceps that enable Rafa to win: it’s brain power. Nobody, simply put, wants it more.

The U.S. Open final against Novak Djokovic? Well, the Serbian was handed plenty of favors. After a draining five-set upset of Roger Federer, Novak was scheduled to play Rafa just 20 hours later. It rained. He was given an extra 24 hours. Plus, during the final itself and while showing early signs of fatigue, it rained in the second set. Novak rested. It didn’t matter. Well-rested or not, there was no stopping the 2008 Olympic gold medalist from claiming his first gold in New York.

Now, with Rafa’s ninth major, the question in everybody’s lips is this: Can he overtake Roger’s 16? YES!!!!!! NO!!!!!! No!!!!!! Yes!!!!!! You see, in this debate, there are two opposing “R” camps. And so, the best answer to that query is, “It depends who you ask…”

Take the luncheon I joined two months ago. British Consul Moya Jackson, although nearer in hometown to Andy Murray, adores Roger Federer. Same with Michelle So. And Chinggay Utzurrum. Regardless of whatever Rafa accomplishes—even if he wins Major No. 155—their hearts are forever transfixed on Roger.

Frank Malilong, one of this island’s best debaters and a left-hander with wicked topspin shots, is, on the other camp, a Nadal devotee.

They argued. Teased one another. Everybody left Casino Español with stomach pains—not from sumptuous-food overload—but from laughing. Nobody admitted their R was weaker.

It’s the same elsewhere. Bobby Lozada, Ernie Delco and Fabby Borromeo are for Rafa; so are my Jasmin and Jana. The Polotans—Jourdan and Jingle—are for Roger; so are Emma Siao and “R” doctors Ronnie Medalle and Ronald Eullaran. This debate is two-sided.

My personal analysis? Yes, Rafa will eclipse Roger. Only 24 while Roger is 29, that five-year gap means 20 Grand Slam opportunities. Can RN win at least seven in the next 60 months? (The French Open alone he’ll win 12!)

But, you ask, won’t Roger also win more and add to his 16? Maybe; maybe not. Sure, Roger is still a threat. Had he converted on those match points in the semis, he’d have faced (yet, I believe, still lost to) Nadal. But here’s Roger’s problem: When facing the Spanish matador, his muscles melt like Swiss cheese. Their record is a lopsided 14-7 (in Nadal’s favor) and—here’s the more telling score—RF has lost six of their last seven meetings and has not beaten RN in a major since ‘007.

Still, it’s a long way to go. But with Frank Malilong as his lawyer, I wouldn’t bet against Rafa.

King Rafa

The 24-year-old Spaniard just won the title that has eluded him for years: the U.S. Open. Now, he has nine major titles and 42 trophies in all. Here’s an interesting piece of information from the official website,