Caltex fuels boxers’ quest for gold
- Gerry Carpio () - September 8, 2001 - 12:00am
Three years ago, the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines, losing major sponsors to fund its grassroots development program as the economy plunged, got some piece of advice from a media man to try knocking at the door of Caltex Philippines.

The company at that time was into motorsports – motocross, rallycross, superbike – and boxing was an entirely new sport for a firm whose corporate strategy called for the need to identify its brand – Delo and the Caltex gasoline – with sports like car racing.

So it was a long shot when the ABAP wrote one letter seeking some boxing sponsorship from the company. Or so it thought.

The fact is Caltex, like giant multinational companies with a social conscience, was not merely interested in pushing brand image into the consumer’s mind. It realizes it is a corporate citizen in the country it operates and is always been on the lookout for opportunities to meaningfully contribute to the development of some aspects of Philippine life – like the youth and sports.

What was initially a piecemeal sponsorship of the national team’s trips to international competitions evolved into a longer-term partnership which ABAP took advantage to sustain its "Go-for-Gold" program culminating with the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.

The national boxing team was henceforth called Team Caltex.

The Filipino boxers lost to world-class opposition in Sydney, but – not quite surprisingly – Caltex Philippines did not terminate the contract or shorten it.

In fact, the contract signed by former president, Enrico Cavestany, was honored by its new chief, Nicholas Florio, who came in several months ago with the new position of Caltex country chairman.

"We’ll stick it out with boxing. ABAP has a good program. In supporting Team Caltex we hope to inspire our colleagues in the private sector to help bring out the best in our national teams. We believe that supporting our boxers in their quest for glory is a privilege," Florio said.

The oil firm has played "godfather" to the team since the 1998 Asian Games and has been supporting the boxers’ rigorous training and exposures abroad through the ABAP.

Since 1998 the team has been bringing home honors from various competitions it participated in. Recently, the team bagged the overall crown in the 22nd Acropolis Cup intenational amateur boxing championships in Athens and came back with two golds, one silver and one bronze.

The heroes in the Acorpolis Cup are light flyweight Lhyven Salazar and flyweight Rene Villaluz. They also competed in the King’s Cup in Thailand with pugilist Juanito Magliquian winning a silver medal in the light flyweight category.

ABAP president Manny Lopez and national coach Gregorio Caliwan would not promise the number of golds they’ll win, but assured their godfather that each member of the team is a potential gold medal winner, thanks to Caltex’s continued patronage, and will go all out to win the top honors.

Members of the team are veterans Romeo Brin, Reynaldo Galido, Larry Semillano, Ramil Zambales, Junie Tizon, and Arlan Lerio who will be joined by new talents Juanito Magliquian, Jr., Harry Tanamor, Violito Payla, Maximino Tabangcora III and Maraon Goles.

In his brief inspirational talk to the national boxers before they left for the Kuala Lumpur Southeast Asian Games Monday, Florio stressed that Caltex is more after the "effort they will put into your campaign, not so much the gold."

The national boxers have more than that in mind, of course. Before the Caltex executive left to allow the boxers more time to socialize for the last time during the send-off party, the boxers gathered around their coach and president and shouted at the top of their voice: "Gold"

Let’s hear that again from the national team.

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