Dog Lover

I used to detest these four-legged creatures called “man’s best friend.” Back when I was little and our dog got ran over by a car and tears flowed down my mom’s cheeks, I asked, “Why cry over an animal?”

That was 28 years ago. Now, the sun doesn’t set before I bend down to cuddle, talk to and smother with hugs our Labrador Retrievers.

It started in August 6, 2012. That’s when our first dog arrived. It was the Opening Day of the London Olympics — and so we named him “Bolt,” after the speediest man on earth, Usain Bolt. 

At three months old and color brown, Bolt injected a bolt of puppy love into our home. After each schoolday, our then 13-year-old daughter Jana — who was the culprit in convincing us to transplant this hairy creature into our lives — would cuddle and embrace Bolt.

For six years until 2018, Bolt remained our only pet. We’d often play games with him. His favorite: throwing the tennis ball up high as he jumps, in full acrobatic midair (with legs sideways) mode, to catch the yellow orb. Then we’d reward him with his all-time favorite snack: bananas. Bolt loves bananas. His tail would wag and he’d stick out his wet tongue before we say “Sit!” and he’d relax and wait to devour the yellow slices.

Two years ago, we decided to find Bolt a girlfriend. We bought a yellow Lab from a breeder in Subic. But when “Mango” arrived by her lonesome inside a cage via a Clark-Cebu flight, she was in distress, shaking. She had parvovirus and did not last more than a week. It was a sad day. (Lesson learned: never again buy a puppy online — despite those irrestible Facebook photos.)

Jojo Oquias, my neighbor, came to the rescue. His Labrador Retriever (Whitney) just gave birth. When Jana came home from Manila for a short break and we visited the two-month-old puppies, we were smitten. 

We decided to get two female Labs: Bean (color black) and Butter (yellow). (An interesting sidenote: the name of Bean’s dad is Kobe. And when you research the full name of the late NBA superstar, it’s “Kobe Bean” Bryant. We didn’t plan this but realized it later.)

When the girls arrived in late 2018, Bolt went berserk. After six years as a lone ranger, Bolt inherited two lovely girlfriends. And so, the inevitable happened: six months later, Butter got pregnant. 

Sixty five days after — last November — my wife Jasmin and I arrived home just in time (5 p.m.) to assist in Butter’s giving birth to five healthy puppies. Jana was in Ateneo de Manila then and, thanks to Viber, her OB-Gyn parents livestreamed the occasion.

Early this year (when they turned three months), we gave away four puppies: to my dad Bunny (Sky, yellow male), Ariel Uy (Bailey, yellow female), James Co (Brenda, yellow female) and Dr. Ronnie Medalle (Ashe, black male). 

Before the puppies were born, Jana wished that one of them would be a brown female. Her wish came true and we kept one puppy and named her Burger.

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Queen Mary’s Kitchen

I am here to promote one of the thousands of new businesses that have sprouted since Covid-19 struck.

If you want to savor delicious muffins, you ought to type “Queen Mary’s Kitchen” in Facebook and place an order. The baker behind these muffins? Clue: Though she uses her hands for this venture, her main profession involves her legs and feet.

Mary Joy Tabal, the queen of running, is now the princess of her kitchen. Used to running hundreds of kilometers outdoors, she was confined indoors, like all of us, starting March.

“Grabeh ako prayers (I prayed a lot), like every night jud, praying for something that would divert my worries, my overthinking,” Joy said of those early weeks. “I always want to be productive and the lockdown was so difficult. I realized that I needed to be creative and think of something that I love and have control of. I believe that whatever we feed will grow.”

Joy’s business started on June 21, Father’s Day.

“I dreamt about my Papa (Rolando, who passed away in 2017) before opening Queen Mary’s Kitchen and he has been my inspiration,” she said. “My papa was a very good cook and I was beside him when I was young. He taught me a lot in the kitchen. When I bake, I always think of my Papa.”

The 6-time Milo Marathon champ opted for baking muffins instead of cooking viands because, she said, “It’s an achievement when you get the right recipe and you’re able to give those who like it joy.”

Since Joy started, she has sold (as of yesterday) 2,755 muffins. That’s impressive (over 40 per day) for a first-time entrepreneur.

“The work is draining because I don’t only do the baking,” she said. “I also work on the packaging, the logo, the designing, the Facebook postings, the promos.”

But it’s all worth it, said the first Filipino to run the marathon in the Olympics (2016 Rio Games). When someone tells Joy that it’s “lami” or “perfect ang sweetness” and when they do repeat orders and become a “suki,” Joy is overjoyed.

I ordered four boxes last Friday. Inside was an assortment of colors and flavors: Banana, Choco-cheese, Banana Milo, and Coffee-choco. The verdict, in the words of my daughter Jana, “the muffins are moist, filling and tasty!” And the package came with a bonus: a Milo powdered drink sachet whose star model was none other than Ms. Joy Tabal. She autographed it with a note of thanks.

“My biggest dream,” she told me, “is to put up my own cafe. A place where I can display everything about my journey while you sip your coffee. You can roam around the shop and read my stories and the journey I’ve had while displaying my goodies. I want to start slow and learn along the way but I look forward to achieving that dream.”

Joy’s determination is evident in both the track oval and the kitchen oven.

“I promised myself that I will put the same hard work and passion (from running) to baking,” she said. “You have to love what you’re cooking or baking and put your heart into it. Papa once told me that the perfect recipe is the one made of pure love and joy.”

All Stars

The NBA All-Star Weekend was a huge and spectacular success in Cebu a couple of weeks ago.

This Saturday, February 29, our own version of the All Stars will be happening.

Named the 37th SAC-SMB Cebu Sports Awards, over 150 of Cebu’s top athletes (based on their accomplishments last year) will be honored. Calling on all awardees (below), see you this Feb. 29 from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Northwing of the SM City Cebu.

Here are the honorees:

MAJOR AWARDEES: Arnis (Dexter Bolambao); Archery (Aldrener Ygot); Athletics (Mary Joy Tabal and Natalie Rose Uy); Basketball (Junemar Fajardo and Greg Slaughter); Billiards (Rubilen Amit); Bowling (Alexis Sy); Boxing (Johnriel Casimero); Chess (Jerish Velarde); Cycling (Nino Surban); Dancesport (Wilbert Aunzo and Pearl Marie Caneda); Dragonboat (PADS Dragonboat Racing Team); Golf (Lois Kaye Go); E-Sports (Team Adroit Dota: Marvin Rushton, John Anthony Vargas, Bryle Jacob Alvizo, Jun Kanehara, MC Nicholson Villanueva and coach Paolo Bago); Gymnastics (Daniela De la Pisa); Judo (Kiyomi Watanabe); Karatedo (Sarah Pangilinan); Karting (William Go); Motorsport (Team Toyota Cebu and Daniel Miranda); Obstacle course racing/OCR (Sherwin Manangil); Rugby Football (Aumi Ono); Sepak Takraw (Metodio Suico and Jean Marie Sucalit); Shooting (Ditto Nestor Dinopol and Diogenes Avila); Skateboarding (Margielyn Didal and Daniel Ledermann); Softball (Mary Ann Antolihao); Swimming (James Deiparine); Table Tennis (Richard Gonzales); Taekwondo (Rinna Babanto and Aidaine Laxa); Triathlon (Andrew Kim Remolino); Volleyball (Cherry Ann Rondina); Wakeboarding (Raphael Trinidad); Weightlifting (Elreen Ann Ando and John Februar Ceniza).

CITATION AWARDEES: Arnis (Jude Oliver Marie Rodriguez); Athletics (Dr. Yong Larrazabal, Noel Tillor, Azlan Pagay and Prince Joey Lee); Basketball (SWU Phinma Cobras, SHS-Ateneo de Cebu Magis Eagles, Shaquille Imperial, Leobert Andrew “LA” Casinillo, UV SBP, Team Cebu City/Abellana National School); Baseball (Isaac Bacarisas); Billiards (Warren Kiamco); Boxing-pro (Rey Caitom Jr., Joe Noynay, Carlo Demecillo, Mark Vicelles, Dave Penalosa); Boxing-amateur (Pathricia Mae Sumalinog and Bienjemar Codoy); Cycling (Jonel Carcueva and John Mier); Dancesport (Crisologo Rendon); Dragonboat (Sugbu Mighty Dragons); Football (Raya Tolentino, Maegan Alforque, Mia Evangelista, Roseton Barinan and Dean Ebarle); Golf (Gen Nagai); Gymnastics (Leanne Manning); Jiujitsu (Overlimit Jiujitsu Academy); Karatedo (Rhodee Ann Saavedra); Motorsports (Sylvester Ramirez); Muay Thai (Jemarie Josh Ybanez, Zion Alexander Melecio, and Buen Algono); Sepak Takraw (RheyJey Ortouste); Shooting (Roygbiv Barro); Scrabble (Learjet Dela Cruz); Softball (Jasper Cabrera and Jerome Bacarisas); Swimming (Jasmine Alkhaldi, Maxime Rooney and Raven Faith Alcoseba); Taekwondo (Nica Garces); Tennis (Iggy Pantino, Tiffany Nocus and Chad Connor Cuizon); Triathlon (Moira Frances Erediano and CJ Lipura); Volleyball (Floremel Rodriguez, Edmar Bonono, James Buytrago and Jobert Almodiel).

 

Women, not we, men

In majority of sporting endeavors, the majority of participants are men. This is understandable. Men are generally stronger, more muscular and athletic than the women

Not last night. Not last Friday as we celebrated the International Women’s Day and not this Women’s Month of March.

AWUM, it’s called, and the full spelling is All Women Ultra Marathon. It’s not a 5K, 35K or 15K; it’s much more. It’s 50,000 meters of running.

A total of 350 AWUM women braved the city streets of Lapu-Lapu, Cebu and Mandaue last night. They started at 10 p.m. The fastest runners to finish will be speedy (Lizane Abella set the course record last year, clocking 4 hours and 21 minutes). But majority will take a relaxed jogging pace, finishing around 6 a.m. The cutoff is at 8 a.m., giving the ladies 10 hours to complete 50K.

Unlike larger events like the Cebu Marathon or the 7-Eleven Run, the roads are not closed. The women will have to wear blinking lights gear and strap neon stickers and run on the roadside. They’re brave.

One of the participants is my beautiful wife Jasmin. I recall us visiting the starting line of AWUM several years ago at the Cebu City Hall and Jasmin declaring that she’ll run the event someday. That someday is today and she’s accompanied by her dear friend Jewel Co.

And, as if running 50 kms. is not challenging enough, the route is difficult. It will include four climbs: first is the climb up Busay all the way to the U-turn point in the Busay Barangay Hall; on the latter part of the race are three of Cebu’s bridges: Cansaga, Marcelo Fernan and the Mactan-Mandaue Bridge. These superwomen — running 50 kms. the entire night — are fearless.

What will help motivate the ladies is the presence of 28 volunteer running groups who will spread themselves every 1.5 kms. to feed, massage, hydrate, “retouch” and put on make up on the tired but lovely faces of the ladies.

I attended the Race Kit collection and Race Briefing last Friday night at the garden of Ayala Center Cebu (across Belo) and it was a celebration of womanhood.

Joel Garganera, the Cebu City councilor who is the founder of AWUM (together with race director Dr. Willie Estepa and the group ThinkTank), spoke to motivate the crowd.

Of the 350 AWUM runners this 2019, a whopping 40 percent are first-timers.

“AWUM virgins!” Garganera calls these bravehearts who’ll be running their first AWUM 50K.

Bravery? Toughness? Willingness to endure pain? Grace under agony and discomfort? Resilience? Grit? They all spell W-O-M-E-N.

As the Greek philosopher Socrates once said: “Once made equal to man, woman becomes superior.”

We, men, bow to the women.

At the finish: Annie Diano, Jewel Co, Jasmin Pages and Cindy Lumindas

  

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Cebu vs. Visayas

One school, founded in 1919, will turn 100 years old in two years’ time. The other, named after our city and province, used to be called “Cebu Central Colleges” before carrying its present initials: UC.

These are two proudly-Bisaya institutions with a combined population of over 150,000 students, making them a couple of the largest educational systems in our 7,107 islands.

Founded by Don Vicente Gullas, the University of the Visayas used to called “Visayan Institute.” Its buildings were ravaged by World War II but instead of closing, it flourised; in 1948, it became Cebu’s first university: UV.

The two sons of Don Vicente and his wife Josefina (fondly called “Inday Pining”) took over the headship of UV. They are Talisay City Mayor Eddie Gullas and his brother Jose “Dodong” Gullas. I have been privileged to have collaborated with the two Gullas leaders and they are some of the finest gentlemen that you can meet. The year 1919 is a much-anticipated year for the Gullas family. They will be celebrating two 100-year-old celebrations that year: The Freeman newspaper and UV.

Atty. Augusto Go founded his school in July 1964. It began as Cebu College of Commerce then changed its name to CCC. Then, 25 years ago, it transformed into what it is today, the University of Cebu. Like the Gullas brothers, Atty. Gus Go is not only a visionary and iconic Cebuano businessman, he is simple and kindhearted.

Why this talk of UV and UC? Because after several months of Cesafi basketball action, it will either be “Cebu” or “Visayas” who will be triumphant. At 4 p.m. today inside the Gus Go-owned Cebu Coliseum, the season-ending Game 3 of the men’s collegiate finals will be played.

UV and UC both can claim to early victories this week. The UV Baby Lancers defeated the Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu Magis Eagles to win the high school crown. For UC, Atty. Go celebrated his birthday with an astonishing gift from his school: the top 12 examinees of the Naval Architecture and Marine Engineer exams all came from UC.

Who will win today? The fairytale ending would be seeing Coach Yayoy Alcoseba’s Webmasters dethroning the defending champions. UC has not won the title since the PBA’s upcoming 4-time MVP June Mar Fajardo donned the blue-and-yellow uniform.

But UV will be the favorites. They led all teams in the preliminary rounds and were heavily-favored before getting shocked with UC’s Game 1 victory. But with their win in Game 2 last Friday, the momentum is back. Who will win tonight? Only one will carry the trophy.

University of Champions? University of Victory?

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Be Honest

Archbishop Jose Palma (2nd from right) with Guy Ceniza, Alan Larot and Boy Villanueva

Of the dozens of values that are important in life, and these include Respect, Excellence, Compassion, Responsibility, Gratitude and having a Caring heart, the single most important value might be this: Honesty.

In the several companies that we operate, and in the over 1,200 team members that we employ, nothing is more important than integrity. It doesn’t matter if you’re the best waiter or the smartest teacher or you possess exemplary leadership skills, if you’re not honest, you’re out.

This advocacy is at the heart of the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals. The BCBP was founded in 1980 with the mission “to bring Christ to the marketplace and to win the marketplace for Christ.” And what is BCBP’s signature campaign?

Be Honest. Even if others are not. Even if others will not. Even if others cannot. And from Proverbs 10:9: “He who walks honestly, walks securely.”

Next Sunday, August 27, it’s the BCBP Be Honest Run. The main goal is to help promote the culture of fairness, fidelity and faithfulness. To be honest at home. To be honest with your people. To be honest in business dealings. To be honest with yourself.

Over a thousand participants are expected next weekend and registration is still open. The distances offered are not intimidating: you can walk or run the 2K or 4K or 8K distances. There are no winners. And here’s a first, possibly for any race in the country: We will award a prize to the fastest finisher… based on honesty! Sure, a clock (courtesy of Joel Juarez of Coco Running) will be hanging on the finish line but there will be no timing chips or U-turn bracelets to check if you’ve passed all the corners. The Be Honest Run will be won by the first placer who is honest!

The August 27 event will be held at the Ayala Center Cebu. The start and finish is at The Terraces and the runners (and, yes, leisurely-walkers) will navigate the streets inside the Cebu Business Park. The run will start at 5:45 a.m. and everyone is advised to arrive at 5 a.m. for the prayer, opening remarks and the warm-up exercises.

The “Be Honest Run” is open to all BCBP members, family members, friends and colleagues. It’s open to all. The registration fee is P300 and this entitles you to a Meyrick Jacalan-designed shirt and a race bib. Raffle prizes will be given and there will be free Thirsty drinks for all.

The registration booth will open tomorrow until the end of next week at the Active Zone of Ayala Center (near Bo’s Coffee). Just bring your P300 and, subject to availability, you may immediately get your shirt. Then we’ll see you at the starting line next Sunday.

More on honesty, I’d like to leave you with these inspiring words: If it’s not right, don’t do it; if it’s not true, don’t say it. Simple. / Wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it. Right is right, even if no one is doing it. / If you want to be trusted, just be honest. / Everybody wants the truth but nobody wants to be honest. / When in doubt, tell the truth. / If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything. / And from St. Teresa: Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway.

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‘Heart for Soles’ by Kyle Kokseng

Given the thousands of running enthusiasts that pound our streets — including this Sunday’s awaited SM2SM Run — underneath each pair of legs is a pair of running shoes. We all have one, some two, others three or four pairs of running shoes.

This love month comes an excellent idea to share. As the saying goes, “There is no excercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” I paraphrase that by saying, “There is no better exercise than running.. and reaching down for a pair of running shoes to share.”

Kyle Kokseng is a runner. He has finished three 42Ks: In 2013, the Cebu Marathon; and last year, in Tokyo and Chicago. Kyle has conceptualized a big-hearted project.

“Heart for Soles is a passion project by an average guy who likes running a little too much,” Kyle said in the poster. “After cleaning out his closet, he found several pairs of shoes that were still useable and hard a lot of mileage left in them. So instead of throwing them out, he decided to donate them to athlete scholars from public schools in Cebu City who have the ability but no capacity for equipment and gear.

“Later on, he realized that there were a lot of people in Cebu with the same love for running and the same closet filled with shoes. So he decided to create a program that would allow all running enthusiasts to give back to the city’s athlete scholars. Here’s a reSHOElution for you. Your shoes have come a long way, it can go a little longer.”

How to join? Kyle explains: (1) Donate your old running shoes (running shoes only). Must be clean and in good condition. No tears, no holes. You wouldn’t want someone else wearing your smelly damaged shoes, right? (2) Tie the shoelaces of the pair so we won’t be searching for a missing shoes. (3) Attach an info card/sheet with the ff. details: size, men’s or women’s, inspirational message to the recipient. (4) You may or not put your name on the info card. (5) Drop off your old and preloved running shoes at the donation boxa at the main mall ground floor of Banilad Town Centre (BTC).

Since Kyle started last Feb. 1, he’s collected 14 pairs. “I want to see the running community grow by helping those who have the ability but no capacity,” he said. “Who knows, one of the recipients might be a future Olympian!”

For more details, check Instagram or FB: @heartforsolesph. And in advance for donating to our less fortunate runner-friends, Kyle says: SHOE-lamat!

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Tour de Cebu drives to Bohol

I asked Chris and Chris (Aldeguer and Tio) to comment on the third staging of the Tour de Cebu — a car rally that spans three days and 1,000 kms. and was held last October 14 to 16.

Chris Aldeguer, the chairman of PACE (spelled in full as Performance and Classic Enthusiast of Cebu), said: “The Tour de Cebu 2016 was successful. The Rally brought all of us to witness and experience so many amazing roads and places we never even knew existed. It was satisfying to see the participants have a great time. It is a goal of the event to have an element of competition while enjoying the drive and the camaraderie. The beautiful island of Bohol and our host BE Grand Resort made the whole experience spectacular.”

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Co-organized by the Manila Sports Car Club (MSCC), the tour only accepts cars that are dated 1972___ or older. The first two Tours required the enthusiasts to drive not only aroud the Cebu island but also to Bacolod, Dumaguete and San Carlos.

Chris Tio, a founding member of PACE and this year’s Grand Marshal, explained at length this year’s Tour (all quotes by Chris Tio):

What made this year different? “The biggest difference was the route as we decided to do all 1,000 kms. in Bohol. We chose to have a host venue for 3 days and 2 nights in the breathtaking BE Grand Resort. This changed the atmosphere completely as it allowed a home to return to and encouraged families to come. This can also be seen in the participating teams as there were married couples, fathers and sons, and even a father and daughter. Bohol is just so beautiful. They have roads that crisscross the island allowing us a different scenery and discoveries. The people are very friendly and welcoming.

“The technical team led by 5-time Formula Asia champion Pepon Marave also did a fantastic job of auditing and preparing the routes. This led to a very competitive atmosphere. The field was impressive as the Tour attracted several Historic Racing veterans: the current hill climb champion as well as the current GT Champion of the Philippines. We were also honored to have a veteran of the world’s toughest classic car rally, the East Africa Classic Rally with us. Another change was the debut of the Tour De Cebu Champions Cup, a more than two-foot high vintage racing trophy wherein the grand champions are permanently etched into the trophy.”

What makes this event special? “This is the only classic car rally of this type in South East Asia. Largely patterned after the Mille Miglia, the Tour De Cebu prides itself also on its role as a touristic rally, showcasing the beauty and scenery of our side of the world as well as the ease of accessibility and dependability of our RORO system. Hopefully, we encourage more visitors and incentivize investments in modern RORO vessels. For the participants, the camaraderie of like-minded enthusiasts as well as the opportunity to drive competitively in a controlled environment their precious classic cars.

“For the public, it’s the opportunity to see restored classic cars in full motion and not as a static display. To be able to see these magnificent machines run, hear them rev and smell the gasoline is quite an experience. A case in point: it’s different reading about the Toyota S800, the smallest car with a tiny 2-cylinder air-cooled motor. It doesn’t comment the most respect to the general public, but seeing it attack the curves and showcase its maneuverability made a lot of new believers and fans.”

What “new” cars joined this year? “We had several very interesting cars: an extremely rare Matchless GT, a Triumph TR6, a trio of Datsun 240 Zs and of course the Grand Champion, Toyota S800. In total, we had 33 participants with the vehicles ranging from Porsche 911, Porsche 914, MGB, MGB GT, Pontiac GTO, Morgan Threewheelers, Mercedes 280 SL, Mercedes 350 SL and more.”

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My brother Charlie with Chris Aldeguer

Is this event a competition? “It’s a competition based on Sampaguita Rally rules. It is a Time Speed Distance (TSD) accuracy test of man and classic machinery. To complete 1,000 kms. in the correct time, per minute early, penalized 2 points, per minute late, penalized 1 point. The winner is the most on the time all the time with the least penalty points.”

What’s the plan for 2017? “We will be returning to the BE Grand Resort in Panglao and we are finalizing several international participants, as interest has been generated. We are planning to increase the field to 50 participants. We hope to develop this into a world-class international motoring event that makes our country proud.”

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The S in SM can stand for Sports

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(Photo by Tony Pionilla/Manila Bulletin)

Did you read the news in the national papers? The SM Group plans to build a major structure in Calamba, Laguna. No, it’s not the Sy family’s usual business. It’s not a mall, cinema or grocery.

It’s a sports academy. Yes, the first of its kind in the country and SM is investing P1 billion to build a sprawling campus on a four hectare property.

I’ve had a chance on a few occasions to meet Hans Sy. He’s the fourth of six children of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Sy, who head the country’s richest family with an estimated net worth of over $14 billion.

I’ve seen Hans Sy on multiple occasions during SM mall openings in Cebu and Iloilo. I saw him in a different setting last February. It was the final weekend of the UAAP competition for tennis. My daughter Jana, representing Ateneo, was part of the collegiate meet.

The venue was the Rizal Memorial Tennis Center and Mr. Sy was invited to witness the championship matches of his family-owned National University (NU).

Since the Sy family bought majority ownership of NU in 2008, they have invested heavily in sports development. This focus has resulted into NU (founded in 1900) being a sports powerhouse. 

In basketball, the NU Bulldogs won the UAAP crown in 2014, besting FEU in its first championship in 60 years. In volleyball, the men’s squad won back-to-back trophies in 2013 and 2014. In cheerdance, they’re the three-time champions.

Tennis? The same golden result. Three months ago when Hans Sy watched, he witnessed the NU tennisters win the women’s and men’s crowns — the third straight year that NU won the two UAAP tennis divisions. The NU men’s netters were so dominant that they won their 44th straight tie — the second longest in UAAP history behind Adamson University’s 72-game winning streak in volleyball.

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Hans Sy did not stay for a mere 30 minutes. He stayed for over three hours the entire Saturday morning, clapping when the Patrominio sisters collected their singles wins and cheering for Leander Lazaro’s MVP performance. Mr. Sy joined both teams inside the tennis rectangle during the awarding.

Smiling, proud, and holding aloft the trophies, Mr. Sy has grown to enjoy taste of sports victory.

You see, the Sy family are major players not only in business but in sports. For where can we find the only ice skating rinks in the country but in SM, including our very own SM Seaside City.

Sports stadium? The country’s best today — the 16,000-seater SM MOA Arena — has hosted top international exhibitions like the UFC (Edgar vs. Faber), FIBA Asia Championships, the Intl. Premier Tennis League (Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal), among many others.

And, of course, here in Cebu, there’s the road race everyone looks forward to: the SM2SM Run. Plus, the entire Vis-Min is looking forward to the construction of the SM Seaside Arena. Finally, we will have a world-class facility to precede the 1962-founded Cebu Coliseum.

Back to that P1 billion investment in sports that’s soon to rise, here’s what Hans Sy had to say a few days ago in a press conference (from an article in The Standard written by Darwin Amojelar): “The whole study is there already. We are starting to get architects to finalize. We have foreign consultants. We want to have it international standards. In fact if we can invite even an NBA team to come over to have a training program here so we can make sure all the facilities are there.”

At first, the facilities will be for volleyball and basketball.

“I think tennis is there, too,” he said. “It comes in stages. But it’s just not really going to be sports itself. That we felt that is something we should go into because of course, we want to have sports development but at the same time, (care) about these athletes. What happens to them after their prime years. We want to be able to give them certain education.”

In behalf of the sports community, kudos to Hans and the Sy family.

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33 years of honoring Cebu’s best

“I always turn to the sports pages first, which records people’s accomplishments. The front page has nothing but man’s failures.” – Earl Warren, former U.S. chief justice

I talk about these “back pages” because the women and men who report and publish sports stories have, for the past 33 years, practiced an unbroken tradition. We, the sportswriters, congregate and deliberate on the previous year’s best performers and, on one grand occasion, we honor these athletes and sportsmen for their outstanding feats.

The 33rd SAC-SMB Cebu Sports Awards will be this Tuesday, March 31, from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Activity Center of the Ayala Center Cebu. SAC stands for Sportswriters Association of Cebu while SMB is one of the nation’s largest conglomerates, San Miguel Brewery, Inc.

What we, the sportswriters, do is this: We meet several times, submit nominations via email; we research on the top achievers of the past year; from a long list, we trim down the names, classify whether last year’s victory was international or national until we decide on the final list of awardees. At the end of the deliberations, we have accumulated a full set of honorees. The Major Awardees, the Citation Awardees, and the Special Awardees, which include the Sportsman of the Year and the Presidential Awardee. Finally, among the list of over a hundred athletes, we award that one person who will be named “Athlete of the Year.” While all other names are announced beforehand, the suspense of this AOTY trophy is reserved until the very end, up on stage this Tuesday in Ayala, when his or her name will be announced.

I’ve been writing sports for 20 years now and, like Nimrod Quiñones, who’s been around even longer, I’ve been attending the Awarding for a long time. I recall Z Gorres in Casino Español, just months after his near-death Las Vegas scare, walking to the stage to receive his award with boxing godfather Tony Aldeguer as our guest of honor. Manny Pacquiao, Nonito Donaire and Gerry Peñalosa graced one star-studded affair.

Is the 33rd Cebu Sports Awards open to the public for free? Absolutely. Here are the honorees:

MAJOR AWARDEES: BASKETBALL: June Mar Fajardo and Aldrich Ramos. BEACH VOLLEYBALL: Edmar Bonono and Edward Ybañez. BOXING: Donnie Nietes. CHESS: Kim Steven Yap. CYCLING: Nino Surban and John Mier. Dancesport: Charlea Lagaras and Ronnie Vergara. FOOTBALL: Itsuko Bacatan, Alexandrea Gumilao, Arantxa Mari Trebol, Jan Reese Jumawan and Alexa Ceniza. GYMNASTICS: Daniella Reggie de la Pisa. JUDO: Kiyomi Watanabe. MUAY THAI: Joel Zaspa. RUNNING: Mary Joy Tabal. SOFTBALL: Isaac Bacarisas, Jasper Cabrera, Ben Maravilles, Oscar Bradshaw IV and Jerome Bacarisas. TABLE TENNIS: Richard Gonzales. TAEKWONDO: Clement Tan, MacAvyngr Alob, Nichole Maurin, Rinna Babanto and Glen Lava. TRIATHLON: Joseph Miller, Frederic Yuan Chiongbian and Aaliyah Ricci Mataragnon.

CITATION AWARDEES: ARCHERY: Lloyd Apawan and Vincent Villa. Athletics: Mike Lopez, Ninolito Justiane and Ivan Miguel Santos. BADMINTON: Zinah Marichelle Bejosa. BASKETBALL: SWU, Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu, UV Passerelle team, UV 16-Under team, Mark Tallo, Felixberto Jabonetta IV, Greg Slaughter, Jerick Canada, Kent Vincent Moral, Ken Gato, Arnie Christian Padilla, Andres Desiderio, Dave Yu, Leonard Santillan, Andrew Velasco and Mary Jean Pascual. BEACH VOLLEYBALL: Jade Becaldo, Louije Tipgos, UV, and SWU. BILLIARDS: Rubilen Amit and Warren Kiamco. BOWLING: Jomar Jumapao, Alexis Sy, Xyrra Cabusas, GJ Buyco and Alex Lagcao.

BOXING: Milan Melindo, Genesis Servania, Arthur Villanueva, Ian Refuela, Junrel Jimenez, Kit Garces, Jorge Edusma, Vicente Sios-e, Jr., John Nino Vega, Albert and Jason Pagara. CHESS: Elwin Retanal, Dwyane Abella, Kyle Sevillano, Jerish Velarde, Catherine Quinanola, and Laila Camel Nadera. CYCLING: Ica Maximo. DANCESPORT: Dancesport Team Cebu City. EXTREME SPORTS: Dandoy Tongco, Rafael Trinidad, Joshua and Jan Joseph Suson. FOOTBALL: Cviraa elem. team, Don Bosco futsal team, Joaquin Buyco, Charles Unabia, Enzo Ceniza, Yves Caballero, Jesse Semblante, Kyle Ronquillo, Marcel Ouano, Roygbiv Barro, and Leo Maquiling. GOLF: LJ Go and Charles Hong. JUDO: Joaquin Fernandez. KARTING: Vince Rojo and Craig Aleman.

KARATEDO: Nino Avilla, Precious Belicario, Charen Villamor, Karylle Perez, Hayashi-ha Shitoryukai team, and Rafael Vidal. MMA: Yawyan ArDigma. MOTOCROSS: Jon Eleazer Adlawan and BJ Pepito. MUAY THAI: Ken Caniga and Lara Jane Flores. RUGBY: Aiumi Ono, Madille Salinas and Cebu Lady Dragons. RUNNING: Maritess Bitbit, Brian Guillan, and Noel Tillor. SCRABBLE: Michael Tuba and Frances Lim. SEPAK TAKRAW: Rhey Ortouste and Metodio Suico. SWIMMING: Psalm Deniel Aquino, Ichiro Kong, and Lorendale Echavez. TABLE TENNIS: UC team, Berto Bas, and Sherlyn Love Gabisay. TAEKWONDO: Luiji Estrada, Veronica Garces, Mayn Corna, Zozen Prajes, Wendil Rama, and Dineson Caneda. TENNIS: Jan Godfrey Seno, Arthur Craig Pantino, Zethley Mae Alfrez, Shyne Villareal, Jana Pages and Jerico Bohol. TRIATHLON: Justin Chiongbian, John Philip Dueñas, Kristian Lim and Lorhiz Lopez. UNDERBONE: Simon Solon. VOLLEYBALL: Central Visayas team, Gretchel Soltones, Matthew Navace, and Isabel Molde. WEIGHTLIFTING: Leonida Cambajiran and Evangelit Ceniza. WRESTLING: Luis Ansag.

To all the awardees and to the sporting fans who want to witness the affair, see you on Tuesday!