Doubles partners Ed Hayco and Harry Radaza

Our Central Visayas – Region VII has never before been Palaro national champions. Our country, the Philippines, though an Olympic participant for 86 years, has never before won a gold medal.

These will change. For Edward Hayco is a dreamer. Restless, enthusiastic, forever-smiling and optimistic, he always has a vision. This is rooted in his DNA. He loves to foresee the unforeseen, to visualize the unrealized.

His latest dream? His major goals as chairman of the Cebu City Sports Commission? Two impossible-for-the-ordinary-man-but-possible-for-Ed-Hayco objectives: Palaro champions by 2013. An Olympic gold by 2020.

Does Mr. Hayco hold a 20/20 vision of the future that ordinary Cebuanos can’t see? Yes he does. And he’s proven it. With Dancesport Team Cebu City, in a short nine years, the four-letter brand called “CEBU” has become world-famous because of dance. True, the dancing inmates of Gov. Gwen Garcia have popularized Cebu — thanks to YouTube’s millions of hits. And so that’s a major, major boost to Cebu dance.

But Ed Hayco has done more: From an obscure, for-mature-ladies-only activity called Ballroom-dancing (complete with DIs in all-black attire and gelled-back hair), he has transformed our definition of Dancesport.

Today, over 30,000 girls, gentlemen, boys, and ladies boogie, strut, cha-cha, and move to “Mambo No. 5” — thanks to dancesport. To top it all, we own a Guinness world record. From these success stories, Ed Hayco has climbed out of his one-sport-only shell to become the leading choreographer of all of Cebu sports.

Palaro champions three years from now? A Cebuano Olympic gold medalist 10 years from now? If there’s one man and one city who can do it, it’s Ed and Cebu.

LAPU-LAPU. Not to be outdone is Ed Hayco’s “twin brother” in Lapu-Lapu City, the new head of their city sports, Harry Don Radaza. Elected as councilor last May, he heads Lapu-Lapu sports.

Like Ed, Councilor Radaza is a visionary with a track record. A lifelong sports buff whom I’ve known since high school, Harry popularized the sport of Flag Football a few years ago. Because of his all-out excitement, Harry convinced hundreds of Cebuanos to join.

Now, from just one sport — flag football — he has become (like Ed) a leader of a much larger pool: all of Lapu-Lapu City’s sports programs.

Harry’s vision? It’s 20/20: to make Lapu-Lapu City the sports tourism hub of the nation. Much like what Camarines Sur is today — the leading province in terms of visitors because of water sports — Harry envisions to best Camsur. And isn’t Lapu-Lapu geographically-perfect? With its blue skies, blue waters, and dozens of resorts including two of Asia’s best (according to Conde Nast), Plantation Bay and Shangri-La?

This March 4 to 6, 2011 is Lapu-Lapu City’s “coming out” party. It’s their Olympics. Their grand welcome to the world saying, “Welcome to Cebu!”

It’s the Davis Cup tie between the Philippines and Japan. Can it get any bigger than this? Nation versus nation, intruders versus the Mactan island where Lapu-Lapu slaughtered Magellan?

Harry plans an international triathlon event towards the end of 2011. That’s good news to Tenggoy Colmenares, Lohriz Echavez and Tyrone Tan. Plus, you’ve probably heard of Hoops Dome, the 7,000-seater facility just meters after the Mactan Bridge. Why, it’s a beauty. When I visited last month, I couldn’t believe this fully-airconditioned gymnasium complete with NBA-like electronic scoreboards was in Cebu. You have got to see it to believe it.

Kudos to the city named after our first Filipino hero.

COMPETE? With Cebu City pursuing an ambitious agenda and Lapu-Lapu City attempting the same, does this mean a rivalry? No. The world of sports is vast. Our Cebu population is in the millions. Nationwide counting our OFW heroes, we’re 92 million-strong — or the 12th most populous nation on this planet. And that’s only within our country code-named “PH.” The more Olympic medals, triathlons, Sports Institutes and Davis Cup events — the better. Cebu wins.

Harry Radaza’s ideas for a sporty Lapu Lapu

Last Thursday, I announced the rise of the HOOPS DOME. Brand-new, fully-air-conditioned with an electronic, NBA-like scoring console at the center, this basketball gymnasium located just 2.5 kms. from the foot of the old Mactan bridge seats 7,000.

Given the absence of a state-of-the-art coliseum in Cebu, this is remarkable. Plus, more than the Hoops Dome, the City of Lapu Lapu is targeting to build a new sprawling complex complete with a track oval, football field, and tennis courts.

Like Camarines Sur, the city hopes to replicate the sports tourism concept popularized by Camsur.

The man atop Mactan island’s sports program? The “Edward Hayco of Lapu Lapu City?”

He’s Harry Radaza. Newly-elected as city councilor, Harry, 36, is the nephew of Rep. Arturo “Boy” Radaza. A sports devotee whom I’ve known since high school, Harry has plenty outlined for his city.

First, the Lapu-Lapu Olympics. “The idea is to have as many events and athletes representing their barangays,” said Harry. The games involved? Basketball, Volleyball, Badminton, Athletics, Aquatics, Darts, Table Tennis, Tennis, Cycling, Triathlon and Taekwondo. “Of course, there will be a grand opening and closing complete with the lighting of the Olympic flame,” he added.

“Athletes won’t play for money but for the pride of winning medals for their barangay (plus a ‘traveling trophy’ that will be kept by the champion). There will be a race for the barangay with the most medals, too. The project is still in its infancy and the logistics and cost are big hurdles but I am confident it can be done by April 2011.”

Grassroots. That’s another focus of Councilor Radaza. “Barangay-based sports clinics are something we are looking at,” he said. “Coaches will go to the barangays so athletes can save on public transportation. I have coordinated with the AFP at the Mactan Air Base and they are willing to lend their manpower and facilities as part of their outreach program.”

Harry will also continue their successful inter-barangay basketball league that follows the home-and-away format.

Boxing? Sure. “I am trying to get donors so we can build our own ring. The city can hire boxing trainers and those interested can train for FREE. All we ask is for the athletes to give back to the program. “And, I’m also looking for an ideal site where we can put up a Recreation Center for badminton, ping-pong, darts, billiards, and chess.”

Among the dozens of sports that Harry himself played, his most memorable stint was with Flag Football. This was in 2004. “Starting the sport from the ground up, in three years’ time Cebu teams beat Manila in the Nationals for three straight years,” he said. “The Sharks, which I was with, did it first for two years followed by The Rebels of Brian Lim.”

Recently, Harry joined this popular recreational sport. “I just recovered from ACL surgery and took up running. I am planning a Fun Run in Nov. in line with our fiesta. The goal will be to invite new participants and make them realize that exercise is good for the health. We will involve the city and barangay officials to set an example.” As for his most radical idea…

“I have been doing research and propose that the city hold an International Skydiving Competition (four-man tandem). This can be done over Olango island (because of the open spaces for drop zones)—yet still be visible from the Mactan coastline,” he said. “The only other Sky-diving competition outside of the western hemisphere is in Dubai. I’ve already spoken with officials from the U.S. and they’re excited. But this might still be years away. The budget is the challenge. Also, coordination with MCIAA and the ATO since flights will have to be given a new path.

“Other events I’m studying are a paramotor competition, open water wakeboarding competition and—to be held in Olango and traversing the other islands—Adventure racing.”

Thanks to Harry, Lapu Lapu will soon be known for more than just white-sand beaches. Let’s go beat Camsur!

Breaking News: It’s play ball in Hoops Dome!

Lapu Lapu City Councilor Harry Radaza was my brother Charlie’s high school classmate. I’ve known him for two decades. Ever since we were schoolmates at the Cebu International School, Harry was known to be the sports fanatic. Basketball. Later, flag football. Now, running—Harry has always been the hyper-active, go-go-go type.

Today, after being elected last May 10 in his first attempt, he is a City Councilor. And, what better position to give the sports expert? Of course, the chairmanship of these committees: Sports, Youth, Tourism.

“We have a brand-new stadium!” Harry announced a few days ago when we spoke.

This is significant news! For Mactan. For our province. I pressed Harry for the details. Here are the facility’s nuts-and-bolts as he explained:

“The new stadium dubbed ‘HOOPS DOME’ was conceived by Congressman Boy Radaza while he was still mayor. Being an avid basketball player, he understood the importance of sports in the community. Construction started in 2007 and the stadium will be finished this month. We are just waiting for the step-down generators.

“Seating capacity is about 7,000. It’s fully-airconditioned. Also, air-conditioned locker rooms for teams are available, same with dressing rooms for concert activities. It has a square (cube) scoreboard in the middle if you look at the center of the stadium. Built-in sound system with sound room. The floor is covered with protective blue rubber matting, when needed. We also made sure to have the standard cushioning below the floor installed according to NBA specifications. There is a stage at the far end of the stadium for events.

“Hoops Dome is located in Brgy. Gunob behind Crown Regency Hotel—just five minutes from the old bridge. We are looking to open it to the public this Oct. The annual fiesta tournament, which I organize, averages around 100 teams each year—that should be our first event. Eliminations will be held in our open basketball court at the Lapu Lapu Auditorium and the playoffs starting last week of Oct. will be held at the Hoops Dome. So basically, it will be athletes of Lapu Lapu City who will be able to use the Hoops Dome first. I am in talks for a PBA bearing game to be held sometime Nov. as one of our Fiesta activities. This will be our first major event.”

I asked Councilor Radaza: Considering that the bigger Cebu and Mandaue cities have not built a near-world-class coliseum in decades, what does this tell the public about Lapu-Lapu? How did you do it? What’s the cost?

“Of the 400,000 tourists that arrived in 2009, a huge 65% were billeted in Lapu Lapu City,” he said. “We are focusing on tourism. Now, tourists come here for the natural resources that Lapu Lapu City has to offer. Sports tourism is a new approach that Mayor Paz Radaza is supportive of and Rep. Boy Radaza has laid down the infrastructure for this.”

Harry related to me another “Headline News” which, if realized, will complement Hoops Dome. “We plan to construct a new Lapu Lapu sports complex. Facilities like a track oval, an Olympic swimming pool, a diving pool, tennis courts and more are targeted to be built at a property adjacent to the old bridge. Being the Chairman for the Committee on Sports and Committee on Tourism, I am focusing on creating unique events which can bring in domestic and international athletes. We are looking beyond PBA games. We are looking to invite international teams and to organize international-caliber events.

“Camarines Sur is a success story that is worth studying. There is no reason why Lapu Lapu City, blessed with natural beaches, cannot do the same. Marine and Aquatic sporting events are being considered now.

“The Hoops Dome roughly cost P350M. To help it generate income, I am exploring the idea of renting out the naming rights to corporate sponsors; just as they do in the US although that approach has never been done here in the Philippines.”