Knocking out the old, Pac’s a new Man

Happy Easter! One of our best decisions during the Holy Week was to attend the Triduum Retreat at the Sacred Heart Parish—facilitated by the Xavier School president, Fr. Johnny C. Go, SJ, one of the most articulate, funny and inspiring of speakers. He provoked us. He allowed us to reexamine our past, sinful life. He spoke about forgiveness.

This Holy Week, I also got to read two articles perfectly-timed with Lent.

“Pacquiao steps aside for the true Champ” was written by ABS-CBN’s Dyan Castillejo. The former tennis ace (she was No.1 in the ‘80s) published it on Good Friday, April 6.

“A new Manny Pacquiao” is the second piece and it was penned (last March 31) by Ronnie Nathanielsz of Manila Standard.

These articles talked about Pacman giving a life-sharing during the ABS-CBN Christian Fellowship last week, on March 29.

Umiinom, sugal, bar, babae…” Pacquiao was quoted by Dyan. As you and I know, as good as Manny was inside the boxing ring, he was bad outside. “Dati dasal ako ng dasal,” Manny admitted. “Simba ako every Sunday pero Monday to Saturday lahat ng kalokohan ginagawa ko. Hindi natin maloloko ang Panginoon.”

Now, four months since opening the Bible, he’s sold his fighting cocks and deleted the mobile numbers of his multiple girlfriends; instead, he’s transformed those vices into prayer.

“Manny attributes his spiritual awakening and transformation after truly discovering the author and subject of the Bible, Jesus Christ,” said Dyan. “He said he repented from his sin, rededicated his life to Jesus and went on a quest to learn as much as he could about his Savior and how to get closer to God.

“‘When I first read the Bible, I couldn’t understand it. I wanted a bible study in the morning and in the afternoon. I felt my day wasn’t complete if I didn’t read the Bible,’ he shares.”

Two Bible passages were quoted by Dyan as among Pacman’s favorites:

Joshua 1:8: “Keep this book of the Law always in your lips. Meditate on it day and night so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”

Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”

Those same Bible verses I treasure. Why? Because they’re positive and speak of a great future if you follow the Lord.

At that ABS-CBN event, Manny was accompanied by Jinkee and their four children. He was also with Pastor Jeric Soriano and, upon arrival at the TV station, introduced his group as the “Pacquaio Word Worship” team. (Quick question: You think Manny will remain a Catholic? I hope so.)

RONNIE. TV and newspaper personality Ronnie Nathanielsz was also at the same event.

“We were impressed not just with the facility with which he handled the role of a preacher-man,” wrote Ronnie, “but the genuineness with which he reached out to use his own life’s example as a magnet to get people to change their ways and to believe in the word of God and to learn to love Him like never before.

“There was, on Manny’s face, a look of sometimes childlike innocence. In many ways, we felt it was a reflection of his transgressions being washed away by genuine repentance and a new Manny Pacquiao being born again—and we hasten to add —within himself.”

After I read Ronnie’s column, I emailed him. Here’s what he sent back yesterday:

“John: I’m glad you liked the piece I wrote. It was from the heart because I could sense the change within him and his sincerity.

“In the beginning he asked the huge crowd at the ABS-CBN Dolphy Theater whether they had eaten and then responded by saying that ‘Man shall not live by bread alone but  by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’

“He repeated the story of his dream where God asked him why he had gone astray and said he had wept in his dream and when he woke up his pillow was soaking wet.

“Manny admitted his many transgressions and said that was the old Manny Pacquiao, this is now the new Manny Pacquiao.”

CYBL: Part 2

Rico Navarro is one of the nine members of the new Board of Directors of the Cebu Football Association (CFA). The other CFA officials include Ricky Dakay, Joey Herrera, Fr. Heinz Kuiueke, Rodney Orale, Raffy Musni, Nimrod Quiñones, Glenn Quisido and Michael Veloso. I heard that the election, held last Saturday, was highly politicized. From the original 25 voting members, the number ballooned to 43. Cheska Geli wrote a story on this two days ago; Mars Alison of CDN did the same. Let’s hope the new CFA Board will be able to fulfill one of the most often-used terms in football clubs (Manchester U., Don Bosco U., Queen City U.).

The word? UNITED. Let’s kick politics out of football.

Back to Rico: will he? I mean, as suggested by Mike Limpag a few weeks ago, will Mr. Navarro become the CFA president? Maybe. Maybe not. But here’s one fact: in sports, this tall, giant of a sportsman has made an impact in Cebu. Not only does Rico lead the athletic program of Sacred Heart School – Ateneo de Cebu, he’s helped a lot in basketball.

I wrote about the Cebu Youth Basketball League on Palm Sunday. The CYBL is a brainchild project of Rico and, starting in 2007, it has evolved from four teams to 42 today.

One of the additions to CYBL 2012 was the Under-19 category, which ended last Thursday. “The U19 final was the second down the wire championship game in 2012 but it was hands down the best ever game in CYBL history,” said Rico. “The U10 finals was also a thriller where Job Reyes (Coach Mike’s son) made two free throws with 47 seconds left to lead USC South to a 32-31 win over USC North. We also had an OT thriller in the U16 championship game of 2011 when USJR defeated USC North.”

What happened in the U19 final? Adgers Sportswear was leading University of San Carlos/RDAK by six points, 75-69, with only five seconds left. They celebrated. Victory was theirs. Five seconds to go! A six point lead!

But not so fast. “Michael Rita drilled a double-pump triple with 4.5 seconds left in the game to cut the lead to 75-72,” said Rico. “And after Adgers failed to control the leather to run out the clock, John Saycon made a ‘Hail Mary’ triple from beyond the half-court line. He shot the ball from about 16 meters away from the ring (note that the full court is 28 meters long).”

Swoosh. The ball went in! 75-all. OT. After another flurry of excitement, it was 85-all. Time expired. Double overtime. Then, with only 48.5 seconds left, the score was 91-91. A third OT? No, as Adgers escaped with a 93-92 score to win the ThreeSixty Pharmacy Cup 2012 at the City Sports Club Cebu.

I spoke to Rico the day after the U19 finals and he was ecstatic. He had never witnessed a game as electrifying. More details on CYBL 2012? “The tournament started on Jan. 23 and ended on March 29 (U19 finals). However, the U10 & U13 games ended on Mar. 3, while the U16 finals was on Mar. 10 (to stay clear from the 4th Qtr Exams),” Rico said. Main CYBL venue: SHS-AdC Mango Ave Campus. Satellite venues: Don Bosco, USC South Campus & CEC.

“With our expansion, Medellin Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MSSAA) is now a regular participant in our tournaments, thanks to Vice Mayor Al Lim. They traveled every week to Cebu to play in the CYBL,” he added. “We also initiated CYBL Visayas Goodwill Games in June 2011 when we hosted St. John’s Institute of Bacolod. The faced SHS-AdC, CEC & USC North in a pre-season friendly tournament for the U12 age group. In the works: Ateneo de Davao is coming over in May for a Vismin Goodwill Games. We’ll also invite St. John’s Institute Bacolod, USLS, & Ateneo de Iloilo.”

Looking ahead to 2013, Rico’s group plans to hold a yearly coaches’ seminar with the help of Ateneo de Manila. “Cebu needs this,” he said. “Our coaches are left behind by their colleagues in Manila in terms of professional development (technical know-how, coaching philosophy, people/player management, sports psychology). Also, we need to spread the base to Mandaue & Lapu-Lapu.”

Categorized as Basketball