Will President Duterte be active in sports?


I hope so. I think so. While the realm of sports would not even land in the Top 40 urgent things to do for our nation’s new leader, sport is important. It motivates a nation. It inspires us. It moves us — just like the Olympic motto — to go higher, faster, stronger. Are we going to witness a sports boom with the new administration?

“Mayor Duterte has always been a supporter of sports,” said his spokesman Pete Laviña. “You can expect him to be behind our athletes and their needs.”

The planet’s biggest sporting event arrives just a few months after Pres. Duterte moves to Malacañang. It’s the Rio Olympics and we hope to send a sizable contingent to Brazil.

One man that is crucial for Phil. sports is one of Duterte’s closest allies. He’s William “Butch” Ramirez. Does the name sound familiar? If you’ve followed the back sports pages, you’ve read his name before. He’s the former chairman of the nation’s highest sporting body: the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC). From 2005 to 2009, under Pres. GMA, the tall and big man from Mindanao lorded over Phil. sports.

Ramirez hails from Davao and was instrumental in developing and uplifting sports in the city where Duterte stood as mayor for 22 years. In the recent elections, Ramirez was a key figure in the campaign of president-elect Digong.

Fellow writer and good friend Bill Velasco published a thorough article yesterday in the Phil. Star (“Strong sports under Duterte”). Bill expressed optimism with the new leadership.

“Duterte’s team alone is bursting with sportsmen.” wrote Bill. Apart from Butch Ramirez, he cited the former North Cotabato governor and boxing promoter Manny Piñol as one of those sports enthusiasts who backed Duterte.

“Other sportsmen with a range as diverse as a former chief executive, golf patrons, all the way down to past Ateneo Blue Eagles like Jobe Nkemakolam (a Duterte congressional candidate) each contributed mightily to the campaign in various capacities,” added Mr. Velasco. “And of course, Duterte’s running mate, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano is well known as a basketball enthusiast, and has supported other sports such as arnis at various stages of his political career. As you can see, his government will be loaded with heavy hitters from all fields of sports.”

In the legislative side, there are plenty who play and promote sports.

“At least six of the 12 incoming senators have a strong sports bent,” wrote Bill Velasco. He named Dick Gordon, who was a cheerleader in college and who promoted the idea of sports tourism when he was tourism head.

“Finishing sixth in the voting just behind Gordon is arnis patron Miguel Zubiri,” said Velasco. “Zubiri spent nine years as a congressman and senator refining and pushing the Arnis Law which was enacted by Pres. Gloria Arroyo at the end of 2010. The law rightfully made arnis the official sport and martial art of the country, and required that it be taught in all schools nationwide. One provision even mandates the changing of the PSC logo to symbolize arnis.”

Joel Villanueva was cited as being a former basketball player for UST. And, in congress, one of the key Party List winners was 1PACMAN. It is headed by Mikee Romero, the 45-year-old owner of the GlobalPort Batang Pier PBA team. Romero himself is a champion polo player.

And, of course, the most well-known Pinoy of them all, Manny Pacquiao. Now that he’s in the 24-person team of senators, expect him to stand out by focusing on sports. 

Back to the man at the very top — Pres. Digong — in an interview last February (by Snow Badua of Spin.ph), he bared a radical and consequential idea: “I-se-separate ko ‘yan. Parang dati na Department of Education, Culture and Sports, pero I am inclined to create another authority. I want sports and sports only sa opisina na yun.”

Department of Sports? Yes. Hopefully.

“Sports is something that will build the muscle of the nation,” he added. “Sports (instills) discipline. It’s part of growing a paradigm for young women or real men.”

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.

Proud to be Cebuano

More than two years ago (on Nov. 27, 2005, to be exact), I wrote this article about the Opening Ceremony of the SEAG here in Cebu City…

If you were among the 20,000 who screamed and raised fists in the air last Friday night at the Cebu City Sports Center, you’ll shout this in unison with me, “I’m proud to be Filipino! I’m proud to be Cebuano!”

I’ve watched many shows in my life—from Gary V and Martin Nievera concerts to the Ati-atihan and Maskara festivals to The Phantom of the Opera in New York City’s Broadway. But believe me, nothing gave me more goose bumps, nothing made my blood pressure zoom past its limit and my heart pump three times faster than the opening bang of the 23rd SEA Games.

‘Pinoy Ako,’ once rated no.1, plunges to a nosedive

I remember the 23rd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games. That was just 24 months ago. The venue? Our very own, the Philippines. I remember RP’s No.1 song then, “Pinoy Ako.” We sang the Orange and Lemons tune, nodded our heads, swayed our hips, waved, danced, and pointed our right index finger to the sky signaling that, yes, we’re number “1.”

Categorized as Philippines

Why We’re NOT Champions

Two years ago when the Philippines hosted the 23rd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, we won our first-ever overall title. We bested powerhouse nations like Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. It was a historic moment in our sports history and made us all sing and dance to the tune of “Pinoy Ako.” You and I were proud to say… PINOY AKO!

Fast forward to 2007: In the past week or so, we’ve been deluged by sad news after sad news coming from Thailand. The defending champions have lost! Today, it’s official: From first place just 24 months ago, the Philippines has slipped and is down to sixth place in the SEA Games.

When we won the SEAG title in 2005, I wrote an article that appeared in Sun.Star Cebu entitled, “Why We’re Champions.” Here’s the article below…

(All photos, including below, by top Cebu photographer Benjie Ordonez)

We won because of basketball. Thanks to its no-show, one million and five spectators instead scattered and spread out among the different sports.

We won because of Paeng Nepomuceno, the six-time world bowling champion. No, Paeng did not compete. But each morning at 9 last week, he showed up at the Pearl Bowling Center and calmed the shaking hands of his fellowmen. Here at home, we won because of Danao Mayor Ramonito Durano and Oscar “Boying” Rodriguez of mountain-biking and dancesports’ Edward and Eleanor Hayco.

Categorized as Philippines

Vacation? After summer? Try Cagayan de Oro

I’ve talked about Boracay, posted write-ups, uploaded photos. To me, there’s no place in RP more beautiful than this island off the northern tip of Panay.

But there’s another spot–just as pretty, but more exhilarating–that I suggest you visit. From Cebu, it’s only a “sleep away” when you take Trans-Asia or Cebu Ferries. It’s the biggest city (together with Davao) south of Cebu. It has an SM mall, a LimKetKai mall, huge schools, millions of Bisaya-speaking neighbors, and, perfect for tourists who love adventure, it has WHITE-WATER RAFTING.

More on this Paradise named Boracay…

Before our family vacationed in Boracay last week, my last visit to the island was in 2005. Then, I had three major complaints: First, the beach line was littered with garbage. Second, stray dogs ran amok and chased you everywhere. Third, “pump-boats” docked as they pleased, often right straight at you while you’re swimming on the beach.I’m happy to report good news: Boracay is cleaner, free of stray dogs, and the boats are no longer on the beach front.