No Christmas 'cheer'
THE GAME OF MY LIFE - Bill Velasco () - December 24, 2011 - 12:00am

Apparently, the issue of who is what in the cheerleading community in the Philippines remains a prickly issue. Despite the spirit of the season, there have been some restrained but obviously emotional responses to this writer’s previous piece on the reactions of the NCC regarding a group of veteran cheerleaders who placed third in the CWC World Championships in Hong Kong the previous week.

After Monday’s column saw print, this writer received a text from former Tourism official and PSC commissioner Cynthia Carrion, now a pillar of the gymnastics community. Carrion clarified that “Cheerleading is now an NSA (national sports association) under Gymnastics Association of the Philippines. We have seven disciplines under us... And by all means do not want politics in sports. We are all working very well together... embracing everyone that can help.”

To sum up, Itos Valdes, head of the National Cheerleading Championship (NCC) sent a lengthy explanatory e-mail regarding the status of his organization vis-a-vis Cheerleading Philippines. In it, he claimed that the latter did not organize competitions and that the sport was not an NSA, and raised other issues, to “inform and update” the public.

“The Gymnastics Association of the Philippines (GAP) following its mandate from the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) has accepted the application of Cheerleading international as its fifth discipline in the sports of gymnastics in the Philippines,” explains Bettina Pou, secretary-general of the GAP who was present at the Hong Kong competition. “Instead of creating animosity and intrigue between the two known entities that have developed the sport of cheerleading in the country, we should be encouraging both to continue working in the development of what has become one of the biggest sports events in the country. One that has encouraged our youth to keep out of trouble and dedicate themselves to the sport of cheerleading. Let the international bodies battle it out among themselves as to where finally cheerleading will fall under, but for here in our country we in GAP have recognized the efforts of Cheerleading Philippines as our fifth discipline. The other group also talked to GAP but never asked to come in under the GAP umbrella because they have opted to go directly to PSC and POC who will not recognize them unless they belong to a National Sports Association, which in this case is GAP.”

Cheerleading Philippines also issued its own statement in reaction to the comments of Valdes and the NCC.

“We tried since 2008 to reach out to them in order to develop Cheerleading but they have other motives in mind. In 2008, it was Mr. Valdez who met with Mr. Nakamura in Hong Kong in order to have his business (registered at the SEC as a private for profit organization and as per BIR records has not filed any tax payments) recognized as legitimate by the IFC. He got turned down. It’s funny that he has now found another business ICU (aka Varsity Brands, Inc.) to legalize his status in Cheerleading. Those who dealt with NCC know the real story, those who haven’t are lucky not to have crossed paths with this poser.”

The GAP reiterated their call to end the bickering.

“We are here to help anyone interested in developing sports not create friction as is happening now with the comments laid out in your article,” Pou continues.. “We already have enough problems in our country as it is, do we also have to create problems in our sports. Why belittle the accomplishments of a group of young athletes who went to Hong Kong to compete for the first time ever  in a World Cheering Competition, where they competed against 19 countries and come up winning a BRONZE medal. They got there on their own with no support from anyone but themselves through the efforts of Cheerleading Philippines.”

The way things appear, here are two issues, one of direction and the other, of control. One side is promoting cheerleading as an independent sport, the other is propagating it under the umbrella of an existing Olympic member. That’s the way it will be until the international disagreement is settled.

And unless they work together, that’s nothing to cheer about.

* * * *

The Metropolitan Table Tennis Association (METTA) won both the men’s team and women’s team championships at the Governor Amado T. Espino Jr. Cup-1st Pangasinan Open Table Tennis Tournament held Dec. 9-11 at the Pangasinan State University gymnasium.

Gov. Espino expressed elation over the results of the first-ever Open table tennis tournament which was participated in by players from big universities in Metro Manila like the University of the Philippines (UP), Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) and De La Salle University (DLSU) and local colleges and universities.

“I don’t believe that the Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian and Malaysians are the only ones with skill in Asia,” Espino said.

A glorious Christmas to all!

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