P-Noy? No, says the Pinoy president

(Photo from the Phil. Daily Inquirer)


I voted for Benigno Aquino III. Prior to May 2010, I thought Gibo possessed more intelligence and charisma, believed in Dick Gordon’s street smarts, knew Sen. Manny Villar had billions more and, well, with Erap, found him funny, even laughable, during the CICC presidential debate. Yet, I voted for the only son of “The greatest Filipino president we never had.” That martyr’s name was Ninoy Aquino. I chose Noynoy because of his humility and honesty.

Given his latest “sports” announcement, I was proven right. Though insignificant to many, it speaks plenty on the person who leads our overcrowded nation of 92,000,000 people. What announcement?

Last Monday, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) had a long-overdue hour-long meeting with Pres. Noynoy. In attendance were the PSC Chairman Richie Garcia, the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) Chairman Peping Cojuangco, Jr., and PSC Commissioner Jolly Benitez. The meeting was held in Malacañang.

Among many topics on sports, the main discussion centered on a nationwide event that’s labeled “PNG.” Previously called the “Philippine National Games” and held during the years 1993 to 1996, this tournament was to be revived this 2011. An estimated 31 national sports associations are requested to join the Olympics-patterned event. This is a magnificent boost to PHL sports. The PNG will be held in Bacolod City (mainly at the ‘Azkals home-court,’ the Panaad Sports Complex) this May 23 to 28.

What’s the difference between this PNG with the one of 15 years ago? The name. Our sports officials wanted to call it by another name: P-Noy National Games. Nothing wrong with that, right? The acronym is still PNG. The head of our nation — and our total sports program — is P-Noy. Plus, his name “P-Noy” rhymes with “Pinoy” which, of course, refers to you and me. We’re Pinoys.

P-Noy National Games. Go! But, wait. When informed three days ago about this seemingly minor change from “Philippine” to “P-Noy,” our president said, Wait… hold it right there… Why the name change? Well, said Richie Garcia, you’re P-Noy and these games are for the Pinoys. Go?

No. The person that you and I and 15.2 million others voted for displayed an act of humility. He said no. He asked the top sports officials to stick with the original name, Phil. National Games. Had P-Noy agreed with Garcia and Cojuangco, his uncle, on the P-Noy Natl. Games, nobody would have complained. Because don’t politicians employ this strategy all the time? To plaster their faces, to advertise their names, to promote their accomplishments through sports?

Yes. This is the Pinoy Way. The Pinoy Politicians Tactic. Which brings me to ask: When public servants use their names to promote themselves — and less the sporting event — are they paying for the tournament themselves? Is it their money being used? No. It’s the Pinoys’ money. It’s our money. It’s your money. It’s my money. It’s our money that these elected officials are using to promote…. themselves.

This latest P-Noy decision did not land on any of the major headline stories. I found it not in Phil. Star or the Phil. Daily Inquirer or in Manila Bulletin. I read it in Malaya under the title, “It’s simply called PH Nat’l Games.”

“‘President Aquino said ‘Huwag na lang and just call it the Philippine National Games’ when he asked him if we could use the P-Noy Games for the meet,’ said PSC chief Richie Garcia, who attended the one-hour meeting with POC president Jose Cojuangco Jr. and Commissioner Jolly Benitez,” read the story written by Bong Pedralvez last Tuesday. “‘The President said this event is for the Philippines so it would be best to call it the Philippine National Games,’ Garcia added.”

Here’s my hope: In the future, when our local officials concoct sporting events, that they’ll feel guilty about advertising their name. Go, P-Noy? the president is asked. No. Go, Pinoy.

No Djoke


Categorized as Tennis

Ping! Mancao suprises Lacson on the plane

Of all the family names that inhabit our planet, the one that Sen. Panfilo Lacson detests the most is “Mancao.” It was police officer Cezar Mancao II who testified against him which led to his disappearance since Jan. 5, 2010.

Last Saturday, Sen. Lacson came home. He flew from Hong Kong to Cebu. In a “Believe It Or Not!” episode, guess which family name sat beside him in the Business Class section of Cathay Pacific? MANCAO.

Dr. Peter Mancao, a cousin of Cezar, recounts this amazing tale… “This trip, from the start was action packed! On the flight to L.A., one of the passengers had a seizure while he was on the way to the lavatory and he got a huge wound on the bridge of his wound that happened very close to where I was seated. So I got up and did some first aid. Good thing we were just two hours away from L.A.

“With the marathon itself turned out to be stormy (that’s another story), then on the return flight to Cebu from L.A. my wait at the Tom Bradley airport in L.A. turned out to be the most agonizing wait and anxiety whether I could board the plane.

“Then the trip from HK to Cebu. I was fortunate to get a very good deal on business class tickets (courtesy of Ungo runner Sheila Colmenares). As I walked in the plane I spotted familiar faces: Eva Gullas, flying in from NY, and Benson Dakay from Shanghai. As I got nearer to my seat, a very familiar person was seated next to me. I could not believe my luck! I had to run to get hold of the Phil. Daily Inquirer and check if there was any news on Sen. Ping Lacson going home. Indeed, there was. Sen. Lacson was seated next to me. It was just the two of us in that section, so I got up and greeted him ( “Good morning, Senator. I’m Dr. Mancao from Cebu. I don’t know if you remember but we met in White Gold House when you were campaigning in Cebu.”).

“I’ve never seen a guy as humble, considering his stature and the conditions he has been through. As we talked, I asked the reason for his return via Cebu. He said he wanted to avoid the media circus. And, in my first request for a photo op, he politely declined. As there was a slight delay in the departure, we continued to talk and told him I hope you don’t mind us talking because I’m a cousin of Cesar. His quick reply was he had no problem with that. We moved on to another topic and I told him, “So it was not true that you were hiding in Cebu?” He had a huge laugh.

“A few minutes before landing, I showed him my L.A. Marathon medal and explained to him how I got hooked to running. This time, he obliged to have a photo with me and my medal. When we landed, I was the first to greet him, “Welcome back!” It was such a coincidence because when my cousin Cesar returned to Manila, he was on the same plane as my dad (Dr. Mike Mancao) who was also returning from L.A.

LOS ANGELES MARATHON. “Team Cebu was divided into Team A and Team B. Dr. Yong Larrazabal and his wife Donna were in Team A (being the faster runners) while me, my daughter Mykha (who was running her first full marathon) and Chris Locsin (J&J rep here in Cebu and also her first full marathon) were Team B. We positioned ourselves with the 5-hour pace group at the start (Dodgers Stadium).

“The weather forecast for that day was heavy rain. Right from the start the rain made its presence, as it was drizzling on and off. Barely 5 km. into the race, the rain strengthens (yet the song goes “It never rains in California”) and, at some point, wind started blowing. (I heard that the LA Marathon was bought by the owner of the LA Dodgers and he managed to turn around this event as it was not getting good reviews in the past. It has one of the best routes of all the U.S. marathons but unfortunately the weather was not cooperating.)

“Mykha decides to move ahead of us as she had a 5hour finish in mind while we had 5h30m as our goal. At the 21K mark, we were still within our goal but little did we know that the weather was getting worse. The rain and wind were getting stronger. The roads were water logged plus the temperatures were dropping fast. We were doing the Galloway run-walk technique but the weather made us do more walking than running.

“At the 32K mark, we got into a medical station that provided us with garbage bags as makeshift rain jackets. We were given Mylar blankets. This got us back running but at this point were looking at a 6-hour plus finish. Runners were dropping out at the medical stations because of hypothermia. I was looking at my first DNF (did not finish) marathon. It was at this point that we decided to get back on track with the Galloway run-walk strategy and sing our way along for the next 10k.

“The finish line was another story as the Santa Monica Beach was in a fury with the storm. We had to walk another kilometer to get to the after-race finishers meeting area with strong winds blowing us off the road. When we got to the area, it was leveled-out. The tents were blown off. We had to walk back to the family waiting area aching in pain and shivering from the cold and endured the wait for our ride to Mykha’s apartment. Team B’s time: Mykha 4h56min; me and Chris, 6:55. Team A: Yong 3:50 and Donna, 4:30.”

L.A. MARATHON. “Marathon running has become my own little amazing race. Each one has its own challenges and a story to tell. I thought the Galloway run-walk technique was the answer to my prayer but now it looks like I have to pray some more. I really hate the 30th to 35th km. mark; somehow it has become my wall. I keep telling myself to add more mileage to my training but then again I don’t want to take away the fun part in doing my amazing race.

NO. 8. “I never expected to be doing marathon no. 8 at the time I ran new york. It was just supposed to be crossing out one item in my bucket list. I always swear each time I finish a marathon that that would be the last one. That is, until a few days later when i talk to Yong and James Abilla of St. James Water that planning for the next one always manages to get on the table.

LATE ARRIVAL. “I had my plane ticket booked late december 2010 and at that time was having problems with return flight. When i checked w/ the CX counter i was told that if i wanted a guaranteed booking i had to wait a week as all flights were fully booked so i had to take that chance last thursday and wow it turned out to be a punctuation mark for this trip.”

Categorized as Marathon

Ormoc City’s TLBF

Last Thursday, I wrote about Atty. Gregorio Larrazabal, who recently retired after a seven-year stint with the Commission on Elections (Comelec). Goyo, as he is known to all, is now focused on another mission: Biking.

In 2002, he launched the Terry Larrazabal Bike Festival (TLBF). In honor of his late father, Terry, the TLBF is a weekend-long party of cyclists and mountain-bikers that has become the biggest yearly gathering for pedal-pushers. “We’ve brought the festival back to where it started and where it belongs,” said Goyo, on the TLBF to be held in Ormoc City. “The 2011 TLBF will be more ‘homegrown.’ I just retired, so we wanted make it more ‘local.’”

While Atty. Larrazabal was the youngest commissioner of the Comelec, he had to be based in Manila. And so, for 2009, the TLBF was held in nearby Subic. Not this year. What makes this the country’s biggest? “Normally, events happen within a day and after, everyone goes home. Having 100 to 200 participants makes the event already big (in Mindanao, you might have 500+ participants for a MTB XC event). For the 2009 TLBF, there were about 1,200 competitors,” said Goyo.

“For a regular event, they might have one to three races. The TLBF in 2009 had about 14 races and 10 side events. The TLBF is one of the very few events where cyclists from all parts of the Philippines come to attend. And in 2009, we had participants from 14 countries (excluding the Philippines). The 2006 festival appeared in about a dozen international magazines (US, South America, Asia and Europe). This year, we have 20 radio stations running our radio ads nationwide. We’re also the first cycling event outside the U.S. included in the Dirt Rag Magazine World Tour.”

The TLBF will be held this Thursday to Sunday (March 31 to April 3). In the official website, www.tlbf.org, you will see the list of activities. For bikers, there are numerous races: Cross-country, single speed cross-country, 29er cross country, Downhill, Time Trial, Criterium and, the most fun, a “Beer Run” where, “after completing a pre-determined cross-country course, participants must finish drinking five bottles of beer, before being declared as winner.”

The TLBF is not all biking. Included are the following diverse sporting competitions: Ultimate Frisbee, softball, boxing, shoot-fest (Level 2 PPSA), and a national Football invitational. Plus, as Ormoc is known world-wide for this most delicious fruit, there’s the Pineapple Trail Run. “It will be the most unique off-road marathon in the Philippines,” explains Goyo. “Imagine running through and across a pineapple plantation, with pineapples on both sides and cowboys on their horses as marshals!”

Categorized as Cycling

Goyo Larrazabal: My Comelec story

Mention the words “Larrazabal” and “Running” in the same sentence and you get a unanimous reply: Y-O-N-G. That’s Dr. Potenciano Larrazabal III, the most prominent marathoner in Cebu.

Mention the words “Larrazabal” and “Biking” in the same line and, this time, you get a different answer but with nearly the same letters interchanged: G-O-Y-O. That’s Atty. Gregorio Larrazabal. Yong and Goyo are cousins. One is an eye doctor; the other, a lawyer with an eye for public service. In sports, no two people are more passionate.

Hans Rey with Goyo L.

Atty. Goyo Larrazabal, of course, we saw on TV. During the 2010 elections, he was the youthful face of the Comelec. He was the “rookie” tasked to spearhead a first in PHL politics.

“I was in COMELEC for seven years,” said Goyo. “I started out as Provincial Election Supervisor, was Regional Election Director, then became the president of the COMELEC Regional Election Directors Organization. It was during my stint as President of CREDO when all the regional directors made a manifesto for me to be appointed as Commissioner.”

After the confirmation, the En Banc designated him as the Steering Committee head. “It was a challenge as I was — literally and figuratively — the youngest Commissioner given the task of overseeing the conduct of the automated elections,” said the 39-year-old Goyo.

“It was an opportunity and challenge that doesn’t come that often (a huge understatement). There were so many challenges that had to be addressed. We worked together with a number of dedicated and qualified individuals who shared a common goal: to change the way people view elections and how elections are conducted in the Phils.”

While the Filipino voting populace was doubtful, even suspicious, of computerization, the Comelec delivered on its promise.

“People, I guess, now fully appreciate the pressure during the weeks leading up to the elections,” he said. “But there was no option other than to make sure we had elections on May 10. And I’m forever grateful to countless individuals who stayed the course and focused on the goal, despite the deluge of disinformation some were spreading.”

Today, his first name “Commissioner” has reverted back to “Attorney.”

“I retired on Feb. 2,” said Goyo. “Now, I’ve been busy with the Terry Larrazabal Bike Festival (TLBF) and Pinoy Bikes/Bike Town Cyclery. I’m also planning for voter education/empowerment which we hope to launch this year with the DepEd and PPCRV.”

A mountain-biker for the past 22 years, Goyo looks like the 5-time Tour de France winner Miguel Indurain. I asked if his myriad of experiences–including founding the TLBF (which runs next week, from March 31 to April 3)–helped him handle the unimaginable pressure.

“I consider myself blessed because of my unique perspectives,” he said. “I belonged to a political family, thus giving me the view candidates have of elections. I used to practice election law, thus providing me with a unique insight. I used to teach (St. Peter’s College and Cebu Doctor’s Univ.), work in a bank, work in the Office of the President of the Philippines, and had the perspective of an event organizer (the TLBF).

“I always say that elections is an event, which needs to be managed properly AND I was a COMELEC field official who was assigned all over… from Region III, Region V, Region VIII and the ARMM. Add to this the support of my family, which is important for anyone who wants to be successful.

“And when I got appointed, there were some people who wondered why, as I was young (the youngest Commissioner on record) and they didn’t really know me. Some speculated I was there to make sure the elections would not push thru (“Why was this young guy appointed and made to head the automation project?).

“But when we did our work, even on Sundays, we knew that failure was never an option. Knowing that you’re doing it for your country, family, wife and specially my son, that was the driving force behind the effort.”

(Read this story on the TLBF 2008.)

Categorized as Cycling

Golf for Japan

The new Board of Directors of the Cebu Country Club, led by Montito Garcia, is off to a fast start. They’ve only been in control for less than two weeks and, now, they’ve announced a big charity event to help Japan.

Frederic Chiongbian, the CCC Golf Chairman, wrote me: “The Cebu Country Club, in cooperation with Toyoflex Cebu Corporation and the Japanese Golfers Association, will have a tournament on Saturday, March 26.”

‘Golf For Japan’ will be that fund-raiser to help our Japanese neighbors. As a start, P1,000,000 was donated. “Club president Ramontito Garcia was on hand to receive its first donation of one million pesos from Toyoflex Cebu Corp., represented by Mr. Takashi Tanaka,” said Frederic. “Also on hand to receive the donation were Mr. Masatsugo Ochiai and Mr. Masao Koike of the Japanese Golfers Association. There will be countless raffle prizes as well as hole-in-one prizes from Eagle Golf Carts, Skygo, Mazda and Suzuki. Proceeds will be donated to the relief operations fund. Dinner and Awarding will be in the CCC main ballroom at 6:30 p.m. on March 26.”

Categorized as Golf

The ‘Triangle Offense’ of Roger-Novak-Rafa

Novak Djokovic is the world’s No.1 player. Unofficially. Because based on the ATP rankings, he is No. 2, having recently supplanted Roger Federer. The numero uno is still Rafael Nadal. But, in my tennis book, given that Novak sports an 18-0 record this 2011 and due to his twin wins over Roger (in the Indian Wells semis) and Rafa (finals), then he, rightfully, deserves to be the Top Gun.

Will he, soon, finally become the true ATP No.1? I have no doubt. His confidence level is at its highest. He won the Australian Open. He won the Davis Cup for Serbia. He’s en route to replacing R & R. Is this good for tennis? Absolutely. Rafa and Roger have exchanged No.1 rankings since February 2004. That’s seven long years ago. Since then, it’s been all R & R. Nobody else has become “The Best.” The Roddicks, the Murrays — they’ve all tried. And faltered. Roger and Rafa are the Qaddafis of tennis; they don’t want to relinquish their thrones (I know.. bad joke). Djokovic’s ascension will inspire others to say, “Hey, finally, someone’s been able to do it! We can, too!”

Rafa? He’s got plenty of points to defend in the upcoming clay-court season. If he loses some matches–and Novak wins a few more–they can exchange positions. Novak will be on top. But the problem (to his opponents) is this: Rafa hardly loses on clay. In the opinion of many, including mine, he is the greatest ever on that slow court. Last year, he was undefeated at 22 matches on clay — including his fifth French Open crown.

From San Miguel Beer to Petron? Why?

Last Friday, on board Cebu Pacific and flying to Manila, there was turbulence in the air. My head shook. My face frowned. My mind trembled. It was hard to believe. No, the sky was clear and the wind did not howl–the jolt came from the Philippine Daily Inquirer article I was reading.

Ronnie Nathanielsz wrote a stellar column last Friday entitled, “Big risk – why the name change?” Born in Sri Lanka, Nathanielsz has since resided in Manila for many decades now. He’s an icon in sports media: in print, in boxing, in TV, in tennis, basketball…

“While we recognize the inherent right of San Miguel Corp. to change the name of its San Miguel Beer team in the Philippine Basketball Association to Petron, we are certainly baffled over the name change,” wrote Nathanielsz in the very first paragraph.

Starting next season, the SMB franchise has requested the PBA Board of Governors to change its name to Petron. There’ll no longer be San Miguel in the PBA. Why this perplexing move when the words “San Miguel Beermen” are not only the most famous but also the most historical?–leaves SMB loyalists baffled.

“To millions across the nation who love the sport of basketball with a passion,” Nathanielsz continued, “San Miguel Beer was—and will always remain—a team they could identify with through the years as the flagship representative of San Miguel Corp. It was inherently Filipino and carried the San Miguel Beer name with remarkable distinction. To change the name to Petron and to expect the same dedicated following is a tremendous risk that the corporation is taking.”
Ronnie has a point. Although SMB has a losing record in today’s PBA second conference (one win/four losses), this short-term negativity has nothing to do with its positive, winning name. San Miguel to Petron?

“Simply put, there is absolutely no synergy between beer and gasoline,” added Nathanielsz. (Well, Ron, there are indeed similarities: Gasoline fuels the Toyotas, Hyundais and Mazdas; Beer fuels the body.)

Studying further this issue in a few more websites, I noticed that this appears to be a purely business-driven decision. Phoenix Fuel, a Petron competitor, has purchased the Barako Bull franchise and wants to enter the PBA. This move by SMB (which owns a major stake in Petron) to change its PBA name to the oil giant will disallow Phoenix from joining the oldest professional basketball league in Asia. Why? Because the PBA rules, if I understood them well, state that no direct competitor of an existing team be allowed to join the league.

But Ronnie counters this analogy. “Surely Petron cannot consider Phoenix a competitor in the accepted sense of the word because it is basically a small player in the Visayas and Mindanao regions,” he said. “What is even more perplexing is the effort to keep out Phoenix when the firm, to its credit, has invested in the PBA by sponsoring the out-of-town games which serve as one of the major boosts to the acceptance of the pro league in the provinces.”

Truly, this is an unusual move by Danding Cojuangco, Jr., Ramon Ang and San Miguel Brewery, Inc. Digging further into history (thanks to Wikipedia), the SMB franchise has been in existence since 1975. This was when the Philippine Basketball Association started. This was 36 years ago. In all, SMB holds the record for the most number of league titles at 18. To delete “San Miguel” from the pro league is bewildering. It’s like saying the L.A. Lakers will quit the NBA or the Celtics will change its name to the Boston Green Horns. It’s implausible. San Miguel is Pinoy basketball.

“We believe that with San Miguel Corp.’s right to rename its team, it comes with the need to exercise responsibility in relation to the millions of fans of the San Miguel Beer basketball team,” said Nathanielsz. “The Beermen have a storied history and San Miguel Beer epitomizes a Filipino product of unmatched quality. We will grieve to see it removed from our cherished PBA memories.”

I’ll drink to that.

Pres. Montito Garcia of Cebu Country Club

After 12 years at the top of the leadership board of the Cebu Country Club, Douglas LuYm has relinquished his throne. Last Friday, March 11, the CCC held its annual General Membership Meeting and elections of the Board of Directors. The new skipper? He’s the most acclaimed golfer of the crowd: Ramontito Garcia.

Montito with Jovi Neri (photo by Frederic Chiongbian)

An eight-time winner of the yearly Club Championship (from 1991 to 1995; in 2003, 2007 and 2009), Montito had long been the club’s Golf Chairman. For over 20 years, he told me in our phone conversation yesterday afternoon, he had been part of the BOD, “on and off, after two or three years, I’d rest,” he said. Finally, he is president.

“Douglas (LuYm) and the previous Board, of which I was a part of,” said Montito, “were engrossed in winning the court case involving the club’s property. That consumed most of our efforts. Kudos to Douglas for getting it done. But now that we’ve won the case, it’s a new and fresh Board. We’ll have fresh ideas.”

The term Montito uttered most? Upgrade. “The club, as you’ve noticed,” he said, “needs a major upgrade. It’s stuck in the 1980s. We’ve fixed things here, there. Now, with the court case behind us and with a new team, we’ll be talking to architects and interior designers. We’ll seek the best plans. And based on the proposals, we’ll make projections. Then we’ll raise the funds.”

Ramontito G. was not supposed to inherit his new first name, “President.”

“I wanted to quit the Board this year and rest again,” he said. “But then, members started asking, ‘Let’s go forward. You should lead it.’ And so the opportunity presented itself. It was only recently that I decided and said yes. And, you know, I love this club just as much as anybody else.”

One more factor tipped the decision to a Yes: His late father, Cheling, was formerly the club president. Theirs is a first-ever father-and-son CCC presidency.

Finally, I asked Montito if the new position would mean less or more time on the golf course. He paused for three seconds. “When I’m under pressure, I play more golf to relax. And so, yes, more time playing golf!”

Good news for Cebu Country Club. Bad news for his competitors–especially with the Club Championship unfolding next month…

BOD. The rest of the new CCC Board of Directors? Dr. Edwin Medalle (VP), Anton Florendo (Secretary), Steve Paradies (Treasurer), Ed Alegrado (House Chairman), Atty. Julius Neri (Activities Chairman) and Frederic Chiongbian (Golf Chairman).

Also yesterday, I interviewed, via email, Frederic Chiongbian. “I have pretty big shoes to fill,” he said. “My predecessor, Ramontito, did an awesome job.” Less than a week old in his new position, Frederic has yet to meet with the different golf-related committees. But he sounded positive, saying, “We do have a lot of things to do but I know that my team will, and can, deliver.”

Any improvements on the golf course? “We have existing projects right now. We’ve had a little bit of a setback on the completion of the par 3 hole number 5. This has been an inconvenience to the golfing membership, for which we apologize, but we hope to complete this area in the next 3 to 4 months. After, we move on to the completion of the remodeling of the Par 4 Hole number 6. Also, we have stepped up on the maintenance schedule of the Golf Course.”

Summer activities? “The CCC always has its Junior Golf program in the summer,” said Frederic, who plays three times each week, often with a group of Class A golfers: Carl Almario, Eric Deen, Dr. Tony San Juan, Jonji Chiongbian, Jovi Neri, Bayani Garcia, and Evans Tumaliwan.

“This year, the program starts on the 25th of April. For the last eight years, the JunGolf program was helmed by Jovi Neri and has been very successful. Under his watch, this program has produced top-rated golfers, some of whom represented the Club in the recent PAL Inter-club where CCC placed 2nd to Del Monte in the Championship division. For more, visit our Facebook page, cebucountryclub jungolfprogram.”

Categorized as Golf



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