Looking Down At The Stars, What A View

This article came out on March 11, 2008….

One of my favorite parties each year is the All-Cebu Sports Awards. For where can you gather, under one restaurant roof, sitting side-by-side, mingling, posing for photos, swapping autographs, beaming with earful grins, exchanging stories, laughing, parents crying of joy, world boxing champions in sight, gymnasts and footballers talking, everybody proud, all standing on Cloud 10, the best athletes in Cebu?

It only happens once. Each year. At the All-Cebu Sports Awards.

Last Saturday night, it wasn’t the first All-Cebu Sports Awards. It’s wasn’t the second, 12th or 22nd. It was the 26th year when your very own sports scribes—the Sportswriters Association of Cebu (SAC)—honor the year’s top sports figures.

Let me say this: I am fortunate. Lucky. Honored. Not only was I bestowed the title of ‘President’ of the SAC for this year but, more important, I stood as emcee for the night. What did that mean? That meant that when I stood on that podium for the entire evening, I had an unparalleled vantage point of all of Cebu’s winners……

To my left sat giants. They wore XXXL-size jackets, 14-size Nike shoes, and they gorged on the Laguna Garden Cafe buffet like starved men. The 7-time CESAFI champions, undefeated since the annual collegiate games started, sat on a round table. Led by coaches Boy Cabahug and Al Solis, they’re the University of the Visayas basketball team.

At the very back sat Niño Surban. On a pair of two wheels named the bicycle, nobody in Cebu is faster. Standing almost 6-feet-tall, Niño is Cebu’s Lance Armstrong.

Don-Don Hontiveros with Niño Surban

Down the center table sat Jess and Julie Lagman. Of all the sports parents in Cebu, I admire the Lagmans most. God-loving, sport-loving and children-loving, no wonder Julian, Julius, Jessica and Jacob (one of RP’s top juniors) are tops in tennis—thanks to their dad and mom.

From left: Don-Don, Jess Lagman, Julie Lagman, Jacob Lagman, PSC Chairman Butch Ramirez

Wushu. Heard of wushu before? I have but never saw this type of martial arts until the duo of Stephanie and Evangeline Agbay performed. It was a fascinating five-minute show. And you could see their benefactors, Francis and Joy Onglatco, beaming with pride.

Without doubt the best-looking awardee was Niño Ramirez. The MVP at last year’s PRISAA National Championships (and the basketball star at USC), Niño wore a black coat-and-tie that complemented the formal wear of his equally good-looking parents, Jay and Lou Ramirez.

Don-Don with (from left) the Ramirezes: Marilou, Niño, PSC Chairman Butch and his brother Jay

Standing on the stage, to my right was a table loaded with superstars. Consider these names: Z. AJ. Boom-Boom. Donnie. Know them? Of course you do! Z Gorres. Michael Domingo. Rey Bautista. AJ Banal. Their trainer, Edito Villamor. With them were ALA Gym honchos Dennis Cañete and Chad Cañares. The top gun himself, Michael Aldeguer, attended despite that night being his wife Christine’s birthday. The looked terrific wearing black long-sleeves. But what made me happiest posing for a photo with their group? Because world champ Donnie “Ahas” Nietes didn’t bring his snake!

From left: Manny Villaruel, Dennis Cañete, Z Gorres, Boom-Boom Bautista, Michael Aldeguer, AJ Banal, Edito Villamor and Michael Domingo

Who else joined the jam-packed crowd? Judo’s Vicente Fernandez III, the silver medalist of the Philippine Olympic Festival, was there. So was Vince Marc “Mac-Mac” Tabotabo (the multi-awarded tennis star), joined by his dad Titus and coach Dodong Ruelan.

The Siso family, who’ve been awardees almost each year, were in attendance: mom Sally and children Niño, Sally Dine, and Sally Mae (who’ll be leaving for Jakarta, Indonesia this Friday for the Asian Championships).

From left: Don-Don, Sally Dine Siso, Sally Siso, Sally Mae Siso, Niño Siso, Cyril Camporedondo, Butch Ramirez, John Pages

Dancing. No, the night wasn’t all eating or trophy-giving; twice, the Dancesport Team Cebu City—represented by Christy Kim Velez and Inoue Roi Rendon—boogied, swayed their hips, and did the “split” on the shiny floor. When they finished, I noticed a man, seated just inches away, whose eyes grew wider, mesmerized.

“Boom-Boom,” I announced, “we all know is a very focused man. But I’ve never seen him this focused… staring at the sexy dancer, Christy Kim Velez!”

The crowd roared while Boom-Boom, never one to shy away inside the ring, smiled, turned red and blushed.

All-Cebu Sports Awards Photos

These were the awards of the 2008 edition…

Cebu City 15-and-Under Football team

Don-Don Hontiveros (far left) and Butch Ramirez (far right) pose with gymnast Mary Carmelli Garovillo with her mom

San Miguel Corporation’s Girlie Garces, PSC Chairman Butch Ramirez, The Freeman columnist Raffy Uytiepo and John Pages

John Pages (Sun.Star Cebu), Caecent No-ot Magumbol (The Freeman), Rick Gabuya (CDN Sports Editor) and Manny Villaruel (The Freeman Sports Editor)

The Agbay family (at center, Stephanie and Evangeline, with their parents) posing with Don-Don and PSC Chairman Butch

Proud Night! Niño Ramirez with his girlfriend and mom Marilou

Don-Don with Superbalita Sports Editor Jun Migallen

Lessons we can learn from Dr. Pacquaio

I’m republishing this article I wrote last Feb. 22, 2009 (last year)…


Manny looking up at 7-footer Greg Slaughter; from left, Raffy Uytiepo, Jun Migallen, John Pages, Jingo Quijano and Raffy Osumo (Photo by Iste Sesanted-Leopoldo of CDN)

As president of the Sportswriters Association of Cebu (SAC), I was tasked to give the Closing Remarks at last Wednesday’s 27th SAC-SMC Cebu Sports Awards at the Casino Español.

I prepared a 10-minute speech. Instead—because Pacquaio had left, the clock neared 10:30 p.m. and the crowd sat restless either to have photos with Greg Slaughter or to head home—I delivered a 25-second “Thank you and goodbye” message. Allow me to read to you—in writing and in full—my speech…

“To Acting Vice Mayor Jun Davide and Councilor Jack Jakosalem, thank you for joining us tonight. I promise not to talk about the Cebu City Sports Center track oval! Thank you to Girlie Garces of SMC, our awards night partner for decades.

“I’d like to congratulate Fr. Vic Uy, the first Cebuano PSC commissioner, who is the Presidential Awardee. To my fellow Rotarian, Francis Onglatco, the Orlacsan Awardee. To Maxi Maximo, the Sportsman of the Year. To Donnie Nietes, who is represented by Michael Aldeguer. To Gerry Peñalosa, our co-Athlete of the Year… Congratulations!

“I’d like to recognize Nonito and Rachel Donaire for joining us. Same with the president of the Casino Español de Cebu, Manny Sainz.

“Our Guest of Honor, Monico Puentevella, the congressman from Bacolod, maayo ni siya mag basketball kag mag-tennis. Plus, he’s an excellent singer! Maybe we can hear a duet later with Manny?

“Dr. Manny Pacquiao: We’re lucky to be the first event to address him as Dr. Pacquiao. And, I’m sure next to GenSan, Manny calls Cebu home. Why? Because his father, Rosalio, comes from the southern town of Pinamungajan. Dili ra si Manny maayo mo Bisaya, naa gyud siya Cebuano roots. Thank you for accepting our Lifetime Achievement Award. Hangyo lang mi that this May 2, katong hambugero kaayo na taga England i-knockout nimo!

“I’d also like to commend all the parents who are here. Without your support, example, sacrifice… your children will not be here.

“To our awardees, congratulations! This is a memorable night. Imagine, this is the 27th Awards Night and there have been thousands of past Cebuano greats who’ve come before you… but, tonight, is your night.

“Feel proud. Celebrate. Smile. And, before the night ends, have a photo not only with Manny but with all the other athletes. THIS HAPPENS ONLY ONCE A YEAR.

“Two tips I want to share with you summarized in three words: BE LIKE MANNY!

“Never stop learning. Look at Manny. He’s the greatest boxer in the world. On his off days, he can be watching TV all day or relaxing at the beach… but, no, what does he do? He enrolls in college. He reads. He’s planning to become a lawyer. That’s amazing. Shows how learning and studying is so important to Manny. So I hope that we, too, will learn from this: to never stop learning, never stop improving.

“Work hard. There’s no shortcut to success, especially boxing.. you’re the only one on the ring. Like my fellow sportswriters, I’ve watched Manny up-close train at Wakee Salud’s gym and you won’t believe what he goes through: the no. of hours he trains, all the beating and suffering he undergoes. I asked others if they try to follow Manny and they do… but they all get sick! Nobody can match the work ethic of MP. So, I know you all work hard but, if you want to become a world champion… you’ve got to train like MP!

“To end, let me say that if you grab a newspaper today and scan through its pages, what do you see? BAD NEWS. If you look at the front page, there are murders, factory closures, Texters’ Choice fiascos… Bad news.

“But, did you know that there is one section in the newspaper that is the GOOD NEWS SECTION. You know which one? It’s the sports section. And why are the sports pages the good news section?

“BECAUSE OF ALL OF YOU. Because of your Palarong Pambansa gold medals, your trips to Singapore or Hong Kong where you won silver or bronze, your flying to Manila and beating RP’s best. Because of you, there is good news. Thank you.”

2009 Cebu Sports Awards… More Photos

These photos from last year’s Cebu Sports Awards….

Thanks to Iste Sesante-Leopoldo and Marian Baring for these pictures…


Gerry and Manny


Edward Hayco, Nimrod Quiñones, Marian Baring and Marigold Lebumfacil


POC Chairman Monico Puentevella (center) with Jun Migallen, Raffy Uytiepo, Caecent Magsumbol, Iste Leopoldo, Goldie Lebumfacil and Manny Villaruel


Greg Slaughter with Mike Limpag and Marian Baring


Tennis ace Sally Mae “Em-Em” Siso receiving her award


Sun.Star Cebu Sports Editor Mike Limpag with Ciriaco “Noy Cacoy” Cañete

27th SAC-SMC Cebu Sports Awards Photos

More photos from the 2009 Awards Night…

Thanks to Marian Baring of Sun.Star Cebu for these photos…


Greg Slaughter and Manny Pacquiao


Jinkee and Manny…

dsc-1698Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) Chairman and Bacolod Congressman Monico Puentevella, the night’s Main Speaker

dsc-18191The Awardees

dsc-1792Hon. Monico Puentevella (in blue) conversing with Manny; left, John Pages; right, Raffy Osumo

dsc-1767With the Carcel family (from left) Mia, Kali, Neil and Tonio

dsc-1824The Sportswriters Association of Cebu members

dsc-1789From left: Noel Villaflor, Jonas Panerio, John Pages, Hon. Puentevella and Manny

The 28th SAC-SMB Cebu Sports Awards

It’s “The Oscars” of Cebu sports. It’s the one evening of the year’s 365 nights when all the top athletes gather to mingle, swap stories, celebrate and be applauded.

It’s the Cebu Sports Awards this Thursday 6 p.m. at the Casino Español. Jointly organized by the Sportswriters Association of Cebu and San Miguel Beer, our main guest of honor is Mr. Boxing himself, Antonio Lopez Aldeguer, while the Sportsman of the Year, whose identity will be revealed in 48 hours, sports the initials “E.H.”

The awardees: Presidential: Z Gorres. Orlacsan: Jessica Jawad-Honoridez. Posthumous: *** Eugene De La Cerna.

MAJOR: Athletics: Daniel Noval, Lindley Fran Navaja, George Pinanonang. Badminton: Ralph Ian Mendez. Basketball: M.Lhuilleir Kwarta Padala-Cebu Ninos, Woodrow Enriquez, JuneMar Fajardo, Gregory Slaughter, Mark Jayven Tallo and the University of the Visayas. Beach volley: (men) USJ-R (Ariel Carumba and Loujei Tipgos); (women) USP (Erika Camille Verano, Apple Saraum). Billiards: Rubilen Amit. Bowling: Jomar Jumapao. Boxing: Johnreil Casimero, Rodel Mayol, Donnie Nietes. Chess: Joseph Sanchez. Dancesport: DTCC, Charlea Lagaras.

Golf: Irina Gabasa. Judo: Vicente Fernandez III. Karatedo: Lutche Metante, Noel Espinosa. Karting: Jette Calderon, Juan Antonio Carcel. Mixed Martial Arts: Deftac Cebu. Pencak Silat: Marniel Dimla. Running: Mendel Lopez, Mary Grace de los Santos, Leszl Gitaruelas. Sepak Takraw: Metodio Suico, Gene Mark Saavedra, Harrison Castañares, Jerome Vendiola.

Swimming: Loren Dale Echavez, Paula Abigail Vega, Anthony Linn Navarro, Bea Roble. Scrabble: Teodoro Martus, Jr. Table Tennis: Richard Gonzales and Dannel Jay Tormis. Taekwondo: Shaneen Sia. Triathlon: Noy Jopson, Lorhiz Echavez. Tennis: Sally Mae Siso. Volleyball: Catmon Elementary School-Girls’ team, USPF- junior team. Weightlifting: Kelle Kaye Rojas, Angelica Lado, Reynante Briones

CITATION: Autocross: David G. Lim. Bowling: Kimberly Lao. Boxing: Milan Milendo. Baseball: Jesse Bernad. Beach volleyball: Johnrey Sasing. Football: Glenn Ramos, Christian Noel, Paolo Pascual, Carmelo Genco, Abellana National School, Oliver Colina. Mixed Martial Arts: Sabah Fadai, Renault Lao. Motocross: Siegfred Ornopia, Jon-Jon Adlawan.

Running: Cebu Executive Runners Club (CERC), Dr. Potenciano Larrazabal III/Run For Sight Foundation. Sepak Takraw: Cebu Province-Sta. Fe team. Tennis: Larry Antigua, Jacob Lagman, Hannah Espinosa, Sallydine Siso, Bernardine Siso, Adrian Parangan. Volleyball: Talisay City women’s team, Catmon’s women’s team, Mandaue City men’s team, Liloan men’s team. Weightlifting: Joselito Padilla, Christopher Bureros. Wushu: Mary Stephanie Agbay.

To the awardees, if you have further questions, contact me at [email protected].

Nimrod Quiñones

Congratulations to one of my closest friends in sports: Nimrod Lebumfacil Quiñones. The Managing Editor of The Freeman, Nimrod’s heart, bloodline and brain cells are all wired to utter one word, “sports.”

Last week, NLQ celebrated his 20th year in sports-writing, a feat that nobody in Cebu can surpass—and very few, I’m sure, nationwide, can match. In our Sportswriters Association of Cebu (SAC) Yahoo e-groups two days ago, Nimrod was deluged with congratulatory emails from his fellow writers. The reason? Almost all of us can trace our beginnings to Nimrod.


Nimrod (with camera) with Ed Hayco, Marian Baring and Goldie Lebumfacil

Jonas Panerio of CDN on the Cebu Sports Awards

A Night To Remember by Jonas Panerio (Feb. 20)

Cebu’s best and the brightest athletes mingled with the country’s most prized sporting hero, boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, in what was an unforgettable night at the 27th Sportswriters Association of Cebu-San Miguel Corporation (SAC-SMC) All-Cebu Sports Awards Wednesday evening at the Casino Espanol ballroom.

Pacquiao, who was just conferred the honorary degree of “Doctor of Humanities” (Honoris Causa) by the Southwestern University (SWU) earlier that evening, arrived at the event along with his wife, Jinky, and business partner Rex “Wakee” Salud. He then receive the Lifetime Achievement Award for his spectacular exploits in the ring, which has brought great honor to the country.

‘The family that plays together, stays together’

At the 26th All-Cebu Sports Awards, (L-R) Don-Don Hontiveros, Jess Lagman, Julie Lagman, Jacob Lagman, PSC Chairman Butch Ramirez

If there’s one clan that I admire most here in Cebu, it’s the “J” family. Yes, every single family member is first-named J. There’s Julius, Jess, Julian, Jessica, Julie, Jacob. The “6Js” I love to call them.

Jess and Julie are the dad and mom. Julian and Julius, the two eldest boys, are studying in Ateneo de Manila University. Jessica, the only girl among four siblings, is third year high school at the Sacred Heart School–Hiyas de Jesus. The youngest J member—Jacob—happens to be the most prominent who’s graced the headlines of the sports section.

No headline news: These writers love sports

Three nights ago at the Madrid room of the Casino Español, the group of men and women whose stories and scores and scoops you read about each day at these back pages met. Sun.Star Cebu, The Freeman, Cebu Daily News, Sun.Star Superbalita, Banat—each of the five Cebu dailies was represented. The group?

The Sportswriters Association of Cebu (SAC).