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Triumphs in sports despite the Covid-19 pandemic

It is another year with less action thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic and with surges that saw many Baguioittes and Filipinos catch the flu-like disease that has killed thousands.

Despite the pandemic, some of the bigger events pushed through with of the Tokyo Olympics on top of the list and which was staged at the last week of July and early August. Of course the banner story was of Hidelyn Diaz winning the country’s first gold medal in the biggest sporting spectacle a feat which s boxer in 1996 nearly fulfilled. But it took the Philippines – and a woman at that – to accomplish that feat.

Of course, Diaz came close to winning the elusive gold five years ago in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. Despite the brouhaha and word war with the country’s highest office, Diaz went on to win the gold last July.

For the city here are the top stories of the year:

Definitely the story of the year is the Olympics with not just one but three players from the University of Baguio winning medals in the once in every four year event. But in their case, a year delayed event thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic.

OLYMPIC TRIUMPH. The Philippine boxing team from left: former UB boxing coach Glicerio Catholico, Irish Magno Nesthy Petecio, Irish Magno, mayor Benjamin Magalong, Carlo Paalam and Eumir Marcial and national coach Rey Galido. By Pigeon Lobien

It was Irish Magno who first qualified for the Tokyo Summer Olympics, while her teammates – Nesthy Petecio, Carlo Paalam and Eumir Marcial – got the last call for the biggest sporting spectacle. But it was Petecio who first claimed a ticket to the finals against Japan’s Sena Irie. But then too much hugging, despite the pandemic, spelt the doom for the School of International Hotel Management student.

But her silver was like a gold medal and the first medal for a female boxer for the first time that one qualified for the Olympics.

Then Paalam took the finals floor against Galai Yafal of England after unanimously deciding local Ryomei Tanaka in the finals. But the pesky former scavenger lost his footing in the first round and was unable to bounce back against the Briton and lost via points.

Marcial lost his wind in the third and final round and lost via points to Olaksandr Khyzhniak.

There wins cemented the Filipinos reputation as one of the best home of boxing. And it was worth millions for the three medal winning athletes as cash, houses, free airfare and even rides were given to them by the government and private organizations. The city of Baguio also rewarded them with the heftiest purse it ever gave to athletes.

Indeed, this is the top sports story of the year.

Jeordan and his padawan Kobe in Taekwondo Poomsae

Baguio has been placed in the taekwondo map thanks to a poomsae player originally from Bauko, Mountain Province.

Jeordan Dominguez did not just win two world titles – one for individual and another for group – but he has won a Southeast Asian Games gold medal, a bronze medal in the tough World Grand Prix and recently the Asian Taekwondo Championship.

But he was not alone. He was in the company of three females and two other male practitioner of the demonstration side of the Korean national sport – Kobe Macario.

The now mainstay of the University of Santo Tomas – after finishing high school from National Univeristy and before than at the Baguio City High School – helped the Philippine poomsae mixed team to the gold in the sixth edition of the tournament held in Beirut, Lebanon.

Muay Thai with coach Billy and his Wards

While Dominguez and Macario were in Lebanon, Muay Thai coach Billy Alumno and top muay player Philip Delarmino also flew to the Middle East, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates to compete in the Thai “Art of Eight Limbs” and took the field by storm to win the gold medal. But it took them weeks to finally come home.

Islay Erika Bomogao. By Eliza Consul

This month, Delarmino proved that he is the best in his weight class as he took the gold. Moreover, Delarmino won with a local lass, Islay Erika Bomogao the Mai Muay gold, then the pretty daughter of councilor Benny Bomogao took the waikru female gold. Bomogao also took the bronze medal to complete her splurge in the biggest muay thai event, the IFMA World Muay Thai Championship in Thailand’s beautiful Phuket.

Aldritch Toralba added a silver in waikru male.

Boxing and the Wonderboy

Carl Jammes now the Philippine super bantamweight king

And so the Wonderboy from Hingyon, Ifugao moved up to the super bantamweight division early this year. And he opened with a knock out win via body punch in his debut last April against veteran Joe Tejones.

But it took him nearly eight months to secure a fight. And when his camp answered the call for the belt of another veteran Mark Anthony Geraldo last December 4, Carl Jammes Martin was very much eager as he tries to build up experience as may shift to the world stage soon as calls keep coming for him to move out of the country and fight.

The holder of a an 18 win, 15 via knockout was more than happy to face Geraldo, whose claim to fame was deciding International Boxing Federation flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas way back in March 2012.

And when the bell rung, the 23 year old Ifugao wonder, like the rice terraces of his home province, decided the more experienced Geraldo to wrest the crown.

Mhage Weaves Magic on the 64-Square Board

Mhage Sebastian is a rare find from the Land of Rivers, Apayao. The Flora born 15 year old member of the Far Eastern University Baby Lady Tamaraws survived a sixth round loss after winning five straight, then won two of her last three fights to escape with the girl side of the 2021 Philippine National Juniors Chess Championship grand finals title last December 7 in Quezon City.

Mhage Sebastian winning the national juniors title.

The highest rated female player ever from the Cordilleras, who totes a Women’s National Master title, won while her sixth round tormentor, the young Ruelle Canino, called Tawing, settled for second place with seven points.

Alekhine Nouri took the male side as the two winners prepare for the Asian Juniors Championship next year.

The Young Guns of Team Lakay

The next generation of Team Lakay is here after the 19-year old son of Team Lakay founder Mark Sangiao, Mark Jhanlo, made good his debut in the ONE Winer Warriors II last December 17 by submitting Paul Lumihi.

The young Sangiao, now The Machine in the ONE circle after his father, the original, needed only 101 seconds to lock a rear-naked choke on The Great King.

Another ONE debutante, Stephen Loman, the longest reigning bantamweight champion in BRAVE FC, also made his opener at the biggest mixed martial stage after coming out with a masterful win over The Maestro, Yusuf Saadlulaev in their bantamweight in the same event last December 17.

The axe fell on Saadulaev in the 4:09 minute mark of the first round.

Of course, Team Lakay is bannered by Joshua Pacio, who remains the star weight champion after concluding his epic trilogy with Yosuke Saruta last September 24. Pacio needed a little over three minutes to conclude his epic match against the Japanese who he lost his title to in their first encounter in January 19, 2019 in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Pacio exacted revenge on April 12 that year in front of Filipino crowd in Pasig City with knock out win after a head kick.

Pacio has earlier successfully defended his belt against wushu sanda great rene Catalan and former straw weight king Alex Silva before the conclusion of his rivalry with Saruta.

New Sports Code

The City Council finally approved the comprehensive city sports code and in June the implementing rules and regulations. Among which is the recognition of city athletes and coaches, support as well as incentives to be given to these city recognized athletes.

Councilor Levy Lloyd Orcales and the comprehensive city sports code. From the FB account of Levy Lloyd Orcales

PhP491 Million Youth Convergence and Sports Complex

Aside from the PhP43.8 million extension of the big grandstand, another multi-million project at the Baguio athletic bowl is the PhP491 million Yohth Convergence and Sports Complex that will rise at the vacant lot in front of the Baguio swimming pool.

Initial bidding of the project which was delayed due to several issues including clarifications on ownership of the entire athletic bowl complex which is within the Original Certificate of Title No. 1 had been solved.

The city administrator’s office has also fine-tuned the design to avoid problems of being sub-standard like the swimming pool (few centimeters short of standard length) or the oval (four meters short). Bidding is not yet complete for the project which is partly funded by the Department of Public Works and Highways.

Kath Flies in Ph Athletics Team Return Flies in Ph Athletics Team Return

After three years of absence from the national team to raise a child, 2011 SEAG bronze medalist for long jump Katherine Santos returns to help the Philippine squad in many international competition next year including the SEAG and the Asian Games.

Santos topped the 100 meter run to join the country’s 4 x 100 relay team and earlier during the December 16 Ayala Philippine Athletics Championship at the Baguio athletic bowl outjumped long jump legend Marestella Torres-Sunang through countback.

Also on that day, Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association chief Philip Ella Juico named mayor Benjamin Magalong as the PATAFA head for the Cordilleras, the new head since the death of the death of former University of the Cordilleras athletic director Pedro Mendoza, who was also Philippine Volleyball Federation president.

Heroes: Wall of Fame Project

HEROES mural project with Team Lakay’s Harold Banario and left, Gladys Labsan. Pigeon Lobien

By January of this year, the Team Lakay mural has been completed. Done by Team Lakay fighter Harold Banario, it features the founder of ONE Championship’s top team, Mark Sangiao, former ONE champions Eduard Folayang, Honorio Banario, Geje Eustaquio, Joshua Pacion and Kevin Belingon, as well as now former BRAVE FC bantamweight king Stephen Loman and former PXC bantamweight titlist Crisanto Pitpitunge.

Six of the intended 18 murals at the dugouts had been completed by Gladys Labsan. The seven feet by 14 feet walls now have former Olympians Hector Begeo (athletics) and Jerry Dino (judo), former SEAG javelin queen Erlinda Lavandia, former World Boxing Council super-bantamweight contender Rey Tam, taekwondo jin Jeordan Dominguez and Divine Wally.

The next six walls will have 12 athletes including four sports patrons to be led by Olymlics bronze medalists Mariane Mariano and Benjie Rivera and the late former World Boxing Association super lightweight king Roberto Cruz.

Banario returns to paint 10 martial artists who were and presently successful in international competitions, while Ged Alangui will do murals of 10 athletes from various sports.

Former UB Cardinal player Ferdinand Pascual was also at the Tokyo Olympics where he whistled in the basketball games won by the United States, the Kevin Durant led men’s team and the women’s basketball squad led by veterans Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi and Women’s National Basketball Association Finals MVP Breanna Steward.

Credits also goes to Sanguniang Kabataan Federation chair and councilor Levy Lloyd Orcales for spearheading the passage of the Comprehensive City Sports Code.

Also after missing the 2020 edition of the longest running and biggest amateur golf tournament, the Fil-Am Invitation Invitational Golf Tournament made its successful return last December 13 to 17. Despite the strict health protocol, the tournament managed to host 288 teams from 40 regular and 16 senior team (55 years old and above).

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