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Ilonggo Azkals

Ilonggos trooped to the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City last February 9 to cheer the Azkals against Mongolia in Asian Football qualifying round. Unlike Cebu where teams play to an almost empty stadium, Bacolod or better still, Barotac Nuevo venues are filled to the rafters. If you don’t know, Barotac Nuevo 30km from the city, is the “football capital” of the country. Even the current president of the PFF Nonong Araneta is from Barotac. It’s a known fact that it’s a crime for a Barotac player not to be selected to the national team. There are eight members of the Azkals who hail from Barotac Nuevo and these are top strikers Ian Araneta and Emilio “Chieffy” Caligdong, Joebel Bermejo, Yanti Barsales, Roel Gener, Nestorio Margase, Mark Ferrer and Richard Becite III. Even Paul and James Younghusband, I was told, have Ilonggo roots, owning it to their mother. While I was in Iloilo , I was informed that the Iloilo Sports Complex is being rehabilitated. The province is trying to standardize the field while putting additional lights. A few years back, I told PATAFA Chief Go Teng Kok why not call the Philippine track taeam to the Sea Games, the Ilonggo Track Team instead. That year, the team had 40- meter gold medalist Ernie Candelario, 800- meter gold medalist John Lozada, pole vault gold Medalist Sean Guevarra, gold medalist, steeplechase, Rene Herrera and 5,000-meter gold medalist, Julius Sermona. With 8 members in the team, let’s call the Azkals, Barotac Ayam’s (Karay a for dog) instead. Anong say nyo, Pato Gregorio, Monica Puentevella and Richie Garcia. These three football backers are all Ilonggos.

La Salle run

Don’t look now but we are cooking the first-ever Animo La Salle run in Cebu, a known Eagle’s nest. Well, we are celebrating 100 years of La Salle presence in the country. I’m meeting several Cebuano La Salle alumnos including those who suited up at Don Andres Soriano in Lutopan Toledo. La Salle Manila already held a Greentennial Run last month in Taguig City. While its Toledo initiating the race, we are calling on all La Sallites to support the race. Animo La Salle!

Run Iloilo run

Barely had I unpacked my bag after arriving from Iloilo city, my phone rang. It was my New York City- based brother Doc Jun Jun who asked me if I could return to Iloilo. Well, Doc Jun was supossed to spend his vacation in Egypt, having bought a ticket months back and dreaming of riding a camel in the desert amid the pyramids. But the Egyptians had other plans spoiling Doc Jun’s itinerary. So Doc Jun shifted to plan B and invited me to go with him and two other siblings to Kuala Lumpur last Sunday. I begged off as the Mt. Kinabalu Climbathon was still in October. However my going back to Iloilo gave me a chance to set several sporting events like the Casa Ilongga Run in June and a triathlon in Guimaras probably in September. As I mentioned in my last column running in Iloilo is very alive.

In fact the Westbridge 5K Family Run was held last Sunday while on February 20, St. Paul’s Hospital celebrates its centennial with a run. While in Iloilo I met SM marketing top gun Jen Jen Amigo who was thinking of doing an SM Valeria to SM city Mandurriao, as a follow up to the successful SM to SM 21K held at SM City Cebu also last Sunday.

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