PCAP stories: In Cebu, chess is in the blood of the Mangubats
Three generations of Mangubat chess players. From left to right: Mark, Faith and Mario.

PCAP stories: In Cebu, chess is in the blood of the Mangubats

Rick Olivares (Philstar.com) - February 15, 2021 - 2:17pm

MANILA, Philippines – It is amazing how chess can be handed down from one generation to another. And to another.

There are now three generations of Mangubat chess players.

National Master Mario, the patriarch, was a Cebu prodigy. He was the youngest chess champion, winning an open tournament at the age of 10. By the age of 20, he shocked the Philippine sports scene when he defeated Grandmaster Eugene Torre and National Master Glenn Bordonada in the 1979 Philippine National Chess Championships.

Mark, the eldest son, is an Arena Grandmaster, and his granddaughter, Faith, is currently a chess player at the Southwestern University in their native Cebu.

The elder Mangubat plays for the Cordova Dagami Warriors while Mark and Faith are lined up with the Cebu Machers. 

Mario was an astute student of the game. 

“He had reams and reams of notes that he compiled into self-published books where he would write down his theories, findings, and learnings,” described Mark. “The analysis was comprehensive and complete.”

As a youngster, Mark enjoyed his toys, but what caught his imagination were his father’s books and the chess board. 

“Nung una ayoko mag-chess yung mga anak ko,” said the elder Mangubat, who after a stint with the Philippine Constabulary worked for the local Land Transportation Office. “Gusto ko mag-aral sila at maghanap buhay ng maayos.”

But you know when you deny a child something, the more they are drawn to it. 

One day, Mario discovered his son playing chess and asked him if he would like to learn the game.

Mark took to the board like a fish to water. It was through chess that he gained an athletic scholarship in both high school and college with SWU. His daughter, Faith, has also followed suit and with SWU as well.

“Binasa ko yung mga libro ni papa hanggang natuto ako,” recalled Mark. “Pagkatapos ako turuan ni papa ay sinabak ako sa tournament.”

With Faith, Mark has taken the opposite approach where he is nurturing his daughter in the game. “She has potential,” described the proud father. 

“Three years old pa lang ako nung nagsimula ako,” shared Faith. “Nagustuhan ko at na-challenge ako sa papanood ng papa ko, si lolo, at ang uncle ko. Doon pa lang sa nanonood ka marami ka matututunan. Pero yung first tournament ko ay nung nine-years old ako.”

“Malaking tulong sa amin pamilya yung chess ay dahil ditto ay nakapag-aral kami,” added the 18-year-old lass, who recently made the regional finals of the Batang Pinoy Chess Championships.

For someone who was told as a kid that he would not earn a living playing chess, Mark has worked as a coach at Intchess Asia Pte. Ltd. In Singapore (where he also does private coaching to this day). He has also actively pushed for the inclusion of chess in the curriculum of Cebu-based schools. 

“I think it is great that chess has really come alive today with opportunities for a lot of people,” Mark summed up.

“Siyempre, natutuwa ako para sa pamilya ko at sa lahat ng mga kasama sa PCAP at local chess,” summed up the elder Mangubat. “Mabuti rin kasama anak ko at apo ko sa PCAP.”

When talking about the first meeting of Cordova and Cebu this All-Filipino Conference of PCAP, Mario’s side won, 12-9. “Close match. Naka-chamba. Pero masaya ako nandoon mga anak ko.”

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