I got a response yesterday from Alex Rañola, a good friend and one of Cebu’s pioneers (and best players) in badminton. Here’s Alex:
“The direction now of the Philippine Badminton Association, headed by no less than Vice President Jojimar Binay and MVP, Manny V. Pangilinan, with Sec. Gen., Rep. Alby Benitez, is to produce world-class badminton athletes for the London Olympics (which we did not qualify yet) and other future international tournaments.
“PBA also hired former Olympic Gold Medalist (men’s doubles) Rexy Menaiky of Indonesia to train our national athletes. He was tasked to go around the country to scout for young potentials to be trained in Manila together with the National Players. So, parents, watch out for the dates when Rexy will visit your province!
“They launched the PBARS Tournament nationwide since the last 2 years to scout for local champions to be rated with points and assigned a permanent PBARS number for the ranking. Whoever lands in the top 3 will be trained and will represent the Philippines for all international tournaments.
“As an update of the latest National PBARS tournament, the undefeated Tony Gadi still holds the record for the Men’s Singles in the Cebu Leg which was held at Metrosports last May 24. If anyone wishes to get updates on the rankings for all levels, please visit my office for a free Phil. Badminton Magazine. We are on the 20th issue this month! Grab one today.
“In Cebu, we have Ed Hayco who heads the CCSC. It’s function is to scout for local talents in all major sports. The local venue is at the old San Nicolas Gymnasium which is located in Pasil, San Nicolas for those who are interested to be trained for free. I am not sure though if Ed got a new recruit/volunteer trainer for Badminton after our last conversation last year.
“Finally, for everybody: You do not play Badminton to be fit. You have to be fit to play Badminton!”
She is 15 years old. An incoming fourth year high schooler at the Sacred Heart-Jesuit, she maintains a Facebook account, relishes text messaging friends and listening to music with her Sony Ericsson phone, and she hangs-out in Ayala to watch movies.
Janel Dihiansan is your typical 15-year-old teenager. Yes? Not exactly. For while tens of thousands of other teeners are content to call Friday nights and whole-day-Saturdays as days reserved purely for 10-hour-sleeping and all-out-malling and video-gaming, Janet works on weekends. Works? On Fridays and Saturdays? Child labor? Ha-ha. His father, Ruel Dihiansan, my close buddy for many years now, can only laugh. For, if you consider sweating for hours and sprinting in circles around a rectangle court as work, then, yes, Janel works on weekends.
Badminton. That’s her job. And since Janel started working, she’s become an indefatigable champion. Study these accomplishments (which I had to trim down for lack of space)….
2006: Champion, elementary girls for both Milo Little Olympics and Cebu City Olympics.
2007: CVIRAA champion in Elementary Girls Singles; Palarong Pambansa, Champion in Girls Team; Milo Little Olympics champion in Secondary Girls Singles; Most Outstanding Athlete for Secondary Badminton.
2008: Milo Little Olympics champion in Secondary Girls Singles.
2009: CVIRAA champion in Secondary Girls Singles and Mixed Doubles.
2010: CVIRAA champion in Secondary Girls Singles. The list is long, outstanding, and the trophies will continue to pile up each year.
“When Janel was first year high school,” said her dad Ruel, “she was up against the defending champion who was in four year high school. The event was huge, the Milo Little Olympics. Janel won.”
Janel’s love for this “thin tennis racket game” began early. “When I was very little, my dad would teach me how to play badminton. Back then, I wasn’t interested,” she said. “But when I was nine years old, I suddenly told myself that I’d play after seeing my dad carrying his racket in our room. At first, I found it strange. But when started playing, I enjoyed it. I loved the feeling of sweating. I decided to play the sport because my parents are avid badminton players. Moreover, I wanted to follow what my dad loved doing the most.” Dad Ruel is, of course, a Class-A netter and many-time club champion who has played, on and off since 1978, for 20 years now.
I asked Janel, Why play? At an age when teenagers often want to be distanced away from their mom and dad (read: independence), Janel’s reply surprised me: “I chose badminton because my parents play badminton. Playing together is one way of spending time with my parents.”
Wow. I’m sure her dad Ruel and mom, Janet, are proud of their only child, who also happens to be a consistent member of the Honors Class.
Janel trains during weekends with coach Karl Sorronda, most often in Racquetzone at Montebello. “One must be passionate,” said Janel, on the qualities of a topnotch player. “If an athlete doesn’t love the sport, all the time spent for training is put to waste. An athlete will never improve if he/she doesn’t love what he/she is doing. A badminton player also has to be patient. There are times when we are physically, emotionally, or mentally drained. But we must learn how to fight that off.
“Confidence, for me, is the most important quality of any athlete. You must believe in yourself in order to perform extraordinarily. Humility is next to confidence. These two words may be contradictory but it’s important that an athlete be humble in victory and be gracious in defeat. It is not nice to look at an athlete who is constantly bragging about his achievements and putting down his opponents.”
Finally, I asked why badminton, compared to the dozens of other games, is best, she game an answer that teenagers would love to hear: “For me,” says Janel, “badminton is one of the best sports for the youth because we meet friends. It is a great way of building up camaraderie.”
A group of close to 20 La Sallians gathered yesterday afternoon at the Casino Espanol de Cebu from 1 to 4 p.m. to play badminton, enjoy plenty of laughs, eat pizza, sweat, and bond together as one green family.
Those who played included: Martin Ledesma (president of One La Salle Cebu Alumni Association), Rico Navarro (tournament chairman), Cholo Verches and Gerry Malixi (team captains), Leandro Diaz, Ogie Laranas, Chinky Cortes, Gabby Cruz, Leo Jiao, Tony San Juan, Amiel del Castillo, Deo and his wife Chris Dumaraos, Pepi Martinez, Willie Marana, Jason Co, Emmanuel Banares, Byrone Victor and Bobby Martinez. Also, thanks to K-LINE for sponsoring the event. Enjoy these photos!
If you a) play badminton, b) want to watch the world’s best shuttlers, c) don’t want to spend P18,750 to fly to Singapore, d) can make a quick trip to Manila, then e) I suggest, on your calendar, you encircle “July 18.”
That’s when 428 players from 30 countries—including 26 of the world’s top players (and eight of the Top 15)—will land in Manila to smother, lob, drop shot, feather, and smash that shuttlecock. It’s the $120,000 Bingo Bonanza Philippine Open Badminton Championships from July 18 to 22 at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.
“My full potential is still asleep.” … “You can’t make shots I can’t get, that’s illegal!”
“I wasn’t using my own racket.” … “My foot fell asleep.”
“Someone took my racket!” … “It would be boring if I won every match!”
“The net’s too high.” … “Hey, the line jumped!”
“There’s a hole in my racket!”
“I had to let my girlfriend win.”
“The net moved on me.”
“I only win when I play someone I consider a challenge.”
Gina Juan with Men’s World No. 1 Lin Dan at the Aviva Super Series event in Singapore last May 6
One of the top female badminton club players in Cebu, Gina Juan (who plays regularly at the Casino Espanol de Cebu) sent me something hilarious. Question: Are you crazy about this sport? Like thousands of others are in the Philippines? Read on. This just might be you.,,
• Just a split-second before shaking someone’s hand, you think forehand or backhand grip.
• You form hundreds of shuttlecocks into a Christmas tree. At parties, you compare the calluses of friends.
• You buy a tennis racket to train your wrist strength.
• You buy college text books as weights for wrist training.
• You wish you lived in Malaysia or Indonesia.
• You own more than two rackets.
• You’d rather play than go on a dinner date. You call in sick at work to play.
• Your choice of boyfriend is based on his level of play.