Of Bill Shaw, F1 and C Games woes

SPORTS FOR ALL - Philip Ella Juico -

JAKARTA – A favorite topic among sports leaders who have gathered in the capital of the world’s largest Muslim country for the meeting of the Sport and Rules Committee of the Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) Federation preparing for the hosting by Jakarta and Palembang of the SEAG in November 2011 is the 71-country, $3 billion XIX Commonwealth Games hosted by New Delhi, India.  It is feared that the Games are headed for a fiasco of gigantic proportions if the hosts are not able to address security concerns and construction delays in time for the opening ceremonies in a week.

What seems difficult to comprehend is that India won the right to host the Games seven years ago to show the world that the country had become an emerging power and yet is not ready for the Games. Some 4,000 people are doing clean-up work at this late stage. The construction delays are complicated by allegations of corruption.

The embarrassing situation has gone around the world and has caused some of the world’s top athletes to pull out from the Games.

In contrast, Singapore has successfully hosted its third Formula One since 2008. Spain’s Fernando Alonso, driving for Ferrari, again emerged victorious in the first night race of Formula One. We were there a few days ago and the mood was one of optimism, Formula One coming close on the heels of Singapore’s hosting of the Singapore Youth Olympic Games.

Incidentally, plans for the Asian Youth Games in 2013 are afoot with a Southeast Asian Youth Games becoming a natural consequence of both the Youth Olympic and Asian Games.

Back in Jakarta, for golfers who really know their sport and the best golf courses in the world, Wack Wack Golf and Country Club (WWGCC) is familiar enough for them to either express admiration for the club or say that they have played in the fabled golf course at least once.

Golfers among the delegates to the Sport and Rules Committee of the Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) Federation, are no exception.

I had dropped by one of the Committee’s informal caucuses during a lull in one of my own meetings and Go Teng Kok, PATAFA head and representative of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) to the Committee meeting, introduced me to his colleagues as, among others, President of WWGCC.

That introduction gave me the opening to talk about William “Bill” Shaw and to continue last week’s first column on one of the original incorporators of WWGCC.

In the coffee table book “The Life and Legacy of William J. Shaw, Jessica Zafra, who wrote the text for the book commissioned by the William J. Shaw Foundation, said that Shaw arrived in Manila in 1901 on board a United States Army transport ship. Shaw, born in East Barnett, Vermont on September 20, 1877, graduated with a civil engineering degree from the University of California at Berkeley, California. He had paid for his passage to Manila by working as a busboy on the ship bringing soldiers to Manila. Zafra points out “that’s the first thing we know about the man: he is not daunted by the prospect of hard work.”

The story is that an outbreak of diphtheria left Shaw an orphan at 10. He grew up working in lumber camps and made his way to the university town of Berkeley, where he worked his way through college, For a time, Shaw was a stevedore in the docks of San Francisco.

From the moment Shaw arrived in the Philippines, he never left these shores again. He never returned to America, not even for a short visit. The Philippines became his true home. Here, according to Zafra, Shaw would rise to the top of his profession and become a captain of industry.

According to Zafra, there was plenty of employment available for ambitious young Americans in Manila in 1901, particularly if they were civil engineers. The first wave of Americans to arrive in the Philippines at the turn of the century included contractors and builders who had come to develop the local infrastructure. Among them was John McMullen, who organized the Manila operations of the Atlantic, Gulf & Pacific (AG&P) Company of New York.

It was only natural that Shaw would gravitate towards AG&P and join the company as quarry timekeeper. In time, by the 1920’s, Shaw had put together a group of friends that took over AG&P. Very little cash was needed to effect the transfer- the pioneers accepted shares in the reorganized and expanding company. AG&P had an impressive, highly profitable work history. It had maintained a corporate philosophy of concentrating on high quality production.

Truly, Bill Shaw played a key role in Philippine economic development.

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