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Punch-drunk to fitness

With clever punning, Rod Nepomuceno and Crush Philippines’ first big event is the Jab Fair presently ongoing at the Ayala Malls throughout the month of June. A simple concept, it takes our nation’s current love affair with Manny Pacquiao to its very logical conclusion. While we can be content being mere armchair enthusiasts of Manny’s every exploit, Jab Fair makes the very decent proposal that if we took the training regimen that Manny and other boxers endure, and make this regimen our very own, we can enjoy the sport even more, plus give it meaning, in terms of fitness, across genders – i.e. both men and women can reap benefits.

The brainchild of Crush and Mike Ochosa’s Punch-Out Gym, Jab Fair promises to be an exciting eye-opener to the world of possibilities of recreational boxing. We’ve seen often enough how variations of boxing, such as Muay Thai, kickboxing, Tae Bo and aero-boxing have all enjoyed periods of popularity within the fitness communites all over the world. This then would be something of a return to basics, something purists out there would appreciate. Given that we’ve taken out the element of actual sparring or bloody contact, why not view boxing as a recreational pursuit in much the same manner that we view a sport like badminton.

The reference to badminton is not coincidental. In a previous life (Yes, Rod, even if you aren’t really that old), Rod was working with Sports media giant IMG and helped jumpstart the popularity of badminton here in the Philippines. "From the middle class to the high-end sector of society, I really feel Jab Fair can make the case for boxing being the recreational sports activity of choice, in the same manner as how they took to badminton. It’s actually more convenient, as you only need your sparring trainer/partner, as opposed when to when you have to make your badminton quorum, and book a court. While the ring can add to the atmosphere of how much you’re indulging in the activity, there are areas within the boxing gym where your workout can commence that doesn’t involve the ring per se."

At 41, Mike has long been a convert to seeing boxing in this recreational light, and if his lean, mean frame is any indicator, then the merits of the argument need no further expounding. He is the living embodiment of how far recreational boxing can take one in maintaining a toned body, increasing stamina, and improving speed vis-a-vis hand-eye coordination. And this without the benefit of GameBoy or video games! Private joke between me and my sons, as am constantly amazed at the continuous hours they spend hunched over the controls of their X-Box, and am even more amazed by how they justify it by spouting terms like "hand-eye" and "gaming stamina."

Brought to us by McDonald’s and Samsung, with the participation of Toby’s, Bull-fighter Energy drink, Champion Sports apparel, The Philippine Star, ABS Publishing, Solar Sports and various radio stations, Jab Fair was at the Glorietta Activity Center from June 2 to 4, moves to Market Squared (my term for Market! Market!) June 16 to 18, and the Alabang Town Center from June 23 to 25. At each stop, there’ll be a boxing ring and trainers (amateur boxers), various booths and stalls, a travelling Boxing Hall of Fame, and related retail areas. We can’t all be Manny Pacquiao, but Rod and Mike would have us believe we can make our day-dreaming that much more realistic!

Interactive Gary

The days of just putting out an album and promoting the carrier single via radioplay are long dead and gone. Even tieing-up with television via MYX and MTV for that required music video won’t suffice. Today, to be head’s up in the "game," you have to go with the flow, go multi-media, and take advantage of every technological medium and innovation  available.

Take the case of Universal Records’ release of the new CD by Gary Valenciano, entitled Relevance. One would think his regular appearances on the Sunday noontime show ASAP would ensure visibility, and be more than enough as promotional activities, given that he also happens to be one of the more established recording artists in the industry. But no, one can never rest on one’s laurels, and given the way the young bands are "kicking ass" right now, Universal Records has put all the stops out in making Relevance as accessible and (here it comes!) relevant to that younger audience as well.

Let’s face it, what is the one most cherished possession of most of the kids nowadays – the one they’ll never leave home without, and upgrade whenever possible? Even before that iPod or GF/BF, the one thing all kids treasure, is their cellphone! So even an artist like Gary has to insinuate himself into the consciousness of the youth via their cellphone. To achieve this, Universal Records linked up with ABS Interactive. As Interactive head honcho, Paolo Pineda, explained: Interactive is now the exclusive owner of the digital version of the carrier single, Wait Forever. It is also the exclusive Mobile Marketing Partner of Universal Records in relation to the launch of Relevance – able to promote ringtones as created by Interactive from the various tracks of the CD. Interactive also becomes involved with the televison plugs, billboards and radio spots that promote both album and ringtones.

To place it in persective, this becomes a win-win situation for the parties concerned. Universal would, on the face of it, be passing on some of their marketing costs to Content Providers such as ABS Interactive. Interactive in exchange, are now in possession of valuable exclusive content that enhances value to their status of Content Providers. This is a segment of the telecommunications industry that already is crowded with players, all jostling for the attention of the cellphone user market that are heavy into usage and special features – generally, the younger users.

As for Gary’s CD, it is a solid achievement. His Christian message is subtly couched in tunes and compositions that readily stand on their own, without the listener having to necessarily subscribe to the Christian subtext. There’s an R&B feel on the "slow burn" ballads, and Gary goes up-tempo, with a harder dance edge, on a number of tracks. There’s a gloss and sheen to the production that I felt could only augur well for the commercial viability of the material. On some numbers, to be frank, I was surprised with the realization that this nga was Gary, the same Gary who was making noise way back then. The CD’s title takes on more meaning then, as this is a statement of Relevance for Gary, making his case for not being seen as some Golden Oldie, or strictly for the age-ing yuppie set. And with matching ringtones pa!

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