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FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) - January 30, 2020 - 12:00am

What keeps the Philippine Red Cross going  is due to 1) the commitment and tireless efforts of PRC chair/CEO Richard “Dick” Gordon,  2) the multitude of volunteers, professionals and undergrads who help in multi-tasks as helping attend to victims of natural and man-made disasters and in bloodletting sessions, and doing errands for PRC para-medics (Chairman Gordon describes the volunteers as the lifeblood of the humanitarian organization), and 3) the stream of kind-hearted donors who shell out gifts in cash and kind to the PRC’s various projects.

Senator Gordon expresses endless appreciation to celebrities who gave  monetary support for victims of the Taal volcano eruption.

The  famous Dr. Vicki Belo handed the senator P500,000, saying she wanted to donate to the Red Cross because she knew her donation would go to its intended projects. In a note to media, the senator said,  “Dr. Vicki Belo has always been so generous and supportive to the Red Cross. I was  so happy to spend time with her and her wonderful daughter, Scarlet Snow. We hope Scarlet will  grow to have the humanitarian heart of her mother. Thank you Dr. Vicki, Dr. Hayden Kho Jr. and Scarlet Snow for putting your trust and confidence in  the Philippine Red Cross.”

Angel Locsin personally went to the Philippine Red Cross-Batangas chapter to donate and volunteer in the distribution of relief goods and hygiene kits to the families affected by the eruption of Taal volcano.

Who would’ve thought that the biggest dancing craze of 2019 would save lives? Members of Popsters Official, the premier Sarah Geronimo fans club, donated P100,000 from their TalaParaSaTaal event to the Red Cross’ Taal eruption relief and rehabilitation efforts. The donation will go to PRC’s emergency fund.

Heartthrob Jericho Rosales visited the PRC’s Bauan Tech emergency medical unit and donated two boxes of Paracetamol. These will surely help families affected by the Taal eruption.

Batangas Gov. Hermilando Mandanas sent this statement to  the Philippine Red Cross: “Your encouragement gave  a lot of hope to our people, and not only the immediate response and mitigation that you’re doing right now, but the relief and assistance we are getting from, you know, generous and caring people like you.”

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Sincere condolences to the family of Manny Bulaong, who passed away recently, one of the latest “passersby” among members of the UP Diliman Tennis Club, of which Saeed and I also belong to. Manny and Puring Elumba and I used to have merry chit-chats at the far end table of the clubhouse,  while across the room, Justice Narciso Nario and the guys with forehands or backhands that demolished their opponents in the courts, had their own sessions talking about politics and things that make living worthwhile. Manny had long given up playing tennis, but on one occasion he agreed to partner with me in a doubles game. Ten years older than me, he was many notches above my playing ability. Farewell, dear friend. 

*      *      *

Talking about tennis, my husband and I have been watching, over  kilawin na malasigue which he has mastered to make,  the Australian Open matches  on television. Life being what it is, top ranked players were demolished by low-ranking players. Maria Sharapova, poor girl, was immediately trumped (pun intended, eh?) out by Chinese Wang Quiang in the first round of the Aussie Open. The feisty Serena Williams lost also to Wang Quiang in the third round. The reigning champion, Japanese Naomi Osaka, was routed by American teenager Coco Gauff, who, in turn, was defeated by Sofia Kenin.

By the time this column’s out, we would have known who the finalists would be:  Roger Federer? Rafael Nadal? Or Novak Djokovic? Which of them gets the golden trophy will be a rich millionaire.

But let me go to Federer’s fourth round – with Australian player John Millman. Federer won – but after a terrible scare of being unseated by Australia’s No. 3 player.

It was a four-hour,three-minute epic game ending in the fifth set. Federer, 38, trailed 8-4 in the deciding tie-break, but won six points in  a row to victory.

It was a fight to the finish. Millman had earlier defeated Federer in the 2018 US Open’s quarter finals. It was Novak Djokovic who won the champion’s trophy, though.

But the 2020 Australian Open was a cliff hanger, a game of thrills, and shrieks and roaring, interspersed with breathless silence, then unbridled urgings from the 15,000 audience that filled the  Rod Laver Arena  in Melbourne to the rafters.

The score: Millman won the  first set at 6-4. Federer  won 7-6 in the second set; again Federer 6-4 in the third.  Millman roared up to win  6-4 in the fourth set. So off the two galloped towards  the fifth set. Several times the score was tie-break, a see-saw, if you knew one.  Then the players tied at 8:8. Whoever got to 10:6, as the Aussie Open ruling went,  was the winner. Federer was it.

It was the highlight, I believe, of the Australia Open. 

After the claim of victory, the interviewer talked to  Federer, lauding him with praise. Meanwhile, Millman walked to the players’ exit, still smiling, though he must have a broken heart. Imagine, just by 2 points, Federeer won.

I felt that John Millman deserved to be interviewed too – for his long, arduous struggle to win  the cliff-hanger fifth round back-and-forth tie-breaks. The crowd many times was silent, then broke into wild deafening applause when Federer won. 

The win kept alive Federer’s hope of extending his record total of 20 major titles, with Rafael Nadal chasing on 19 and Novak Djokovic close behind both of them on 16.

Millman, according to Google, which  recorded the games, earned the best win of his career when he beat Federer in the 2018 US Open’s  fourth round. “It was  a match that will live long in the memory.”

Millman, according to Google, my best friend and information source,   pushed Federer to the limit on that humid night in New York and managed to do the same in Melbourne, in much cooler temperatures which did not sap the 38-year-old  Millman of his physical strength this time.

“He’s just so tough from the baseline,” Federer said of Millman. “He’s got good speed on the backhand and on the forehand. The way he hit makes me unsure if I should pull  the  trigger or I shouldn’t. I was not returning poorly. I was just not getting into those neutral rallies, finding the ways to unlock him. That’s his credit. He’s a good player.”

During  the match, Mill appeared cool and never showed frustration.

For his patience and his almost getting there in just a minute had fate allowed it    – Gillman  is my winner. Never mind Federer; he has won too many matches. 

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Email: dominitorrevillas@gmail.com

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