Lito Cinco

Meeting old and new friends

June 18, 2024 Lito Cinco 154 views

LAST week, I devoted my space to how at one time I got involved in golf, and I mean one because I only played one game in my entire life.

Also, I mentioned about the fund raising golf tournament that the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) initiated for our Paris Olympics- bound athletes, 15 so far in the Summer Olympics, 4 in the Paralympics with a few more expected to qualify outright and from the universality rule for athletics and swimming.

Our best bets for podium finishes will be our 5 boxers, plus CJ Yulo in gymnastics and pole vaulter EJ Obiena, but then, our otther athletes may spring a surprise or two, and this includes our para athletes led by swimmer Ernie Gawilan.

PSC Chairman Dickie Bachmann is looking at around P2M at least to be raised here with a few more possible donors as both the athletes and their coaches will benefit from this.

And it was good that in the event itself, our three female boxers and two coaches were present, for the para athletes, they will be invited to go to the PSC once the ” baon” for Paris is ready for distribution.

For me though, the golf event held at the Canlubang Golf & Country Club had a different benefit, it was a chance to meet old friends, colleagues in sports media, and even new friends who were there to play.

When I started writing sports way way back, there were names in media that us young writers looked up to, they were senior to us and considered the elite writers, becoming sports editors in the future for some.

Lito Tacujan, described as the best media golfer too, Al Mendoza, Ding Marcelo, Jun Engracia, and Jake Ayson, they were there together with those a bit younger, Rey Bancod, Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) President Nelson Beltran, Musong Castillo, Tito Talao, Julius Manicad, and Randy Caluag, it was like a mini reunion.

One of those equally happy to see them was an old friend in the PBA, former Alaska team owner Fred Uytengsu, now 62 but still looking very fit , for one he has added golf to his regular activities aside from swimming, but has toned down on doing triathlons.

He already sold his interests in the triathlon organizing company he set up before to conduct Ironman races here.

In fact he told me he wants to play the game more often like at least once a week even as he shuttles back and forth from the United States where he is now based with his family, including 4 young grandkids.

Nope, he has not been following the PBA anymore but watches women’s basketball in the States , all because of new sensation Caitlin Clark, and women’s golf too.

It was obvious to me that with his much-reduced involvement in business, Fred is definitely more relaxed and mellowed.

I can tell you that in his PBA days, sportswriters were a bit wary of interviewing him because of his frankness, I was lucky he becane comfortable with me and at one tine, I even had a one on one with him in his Alaska office in Makati.

I have been wanting to see him personally and thank him for helping out in my time of need as in 2021, I underwent my quadruple bypass, and without people like Fred, there was no way I could have afforded that operation.

Alaska team extended help and Fred gave his own personal assistance, for which I am eternally in gratitude to him.

Fred is an old friend but there was a new friend I met there too, none other than PATAFA President Terry Capistrano who sponsired two holes but only played 9 holes, saying that he feared his arm might fly away if he will play longer, he is already 70 years old but still looks fit, and can carry his drinks without any obvious effect at all.

I sat down with him just before lunch and introduced myself as the Executive Assistant of Fritz Gaston at the PSC, and we started talking about sports, athletics of course, and the vasic question I asked him was what he thinks the future of the sport here and the increasing number of Fil- foreign athletes in the country.

And he came up with a reply that I heard for the first time, the difference between passports of have countries and have not countries, and how it affects the lives of athletes who travel abroad to train and compete, the discrimination he sees on the matter , and his willingness to do something about it.

After the event, I joined the table where Terry was hosting a friendly drinking session while discussing sports and a lot of other things with Chairman Dickie, Fritz, and karate NSA head Richard Lim, among others, very lively discussion believe me. I do not drink by the way.

We finished late afternoon and Fritz and I hitched a ride with Terry to Manila, and throughout the ride, I was in conversation with my new friend Terry, and I told him we need to sit down before he goes to Paris to join his boys in the Olympics.

For the simple reason his take on the discrimination he sees for athletes coming from have not countries was a topic I needed to understand better to enable me to write about it better.

And yes, he agreed, so I am looking forward to it.

By the way, I was in Dolores, Quezon last Saturday, in Brgy . Sta. Lucia specifically for my annual personal outreach program for indigent kids in Banahaw.

We distributed school bags and supplies to a little over a hundred elementary students there and guess who was with me, PSC Commissioner Fritz and his consultant Rondelle de Leon, me, I was with 4 other people . Fritz enjoyed the stay, including the visit to the twin falls of Sta. Lucia that we made plans to bring our PSC staff for an overnight stay and plan a possible CSR program for PSC this Christmas.

Many people helped me make this event happen, some of them extending support every year, and aside from Fritz, others in the world of sports who helped were Jean Henri Lhuillier, Vito Orcullo, Nonoy Unso, and Alex Wang, and some friends like Michael Yulo, Rene Sta. Maria, Bong Nocon, Betchay Luces, and my youth group Y-JAM.

My thanks to them all including those who prefer to remain nameless.

Next CSR, Christmas time.