Saturday, January 31, 2009

All set for "Bike for Hope Davao;" Biking priest joins Sen. Pia

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/29 Jan) -- The stage is all set for the "Bike for Hope" Davao which reels off Saturday (Jan. 31) in this city and will culminate in the province of Davao del Norte's capital, Tagum City, covering a total of 101-kilometers.

Hundreds of biking enthusiasts across the island and those from Manila and Cebu have signified their entry in the bike for a cause organized by Senator Pia Cayetano in memory of her late father, Senator Compañero Rene L. Cayetano.

"Everything is in place and we are ready for this weekend's Bike for Hope Davao," Ani de Leon, Bike for Hope Davao spokesperson, told sports journalists here during the weekly Davao Sportswriters Association Forum Thursday.

The youthful lady senator, known for using her passion in biking to reach out to the grassroots, will lead the participants in the advocacy fun ride that promotes healthy and fit living and concern for the environment.

She will be joined by biking Redemptorist priest Amado Picardal who biked the route on Monday and completed the course in five hours and 30 minutes, pedaling at a very relaxed pace averaging 20 km per hour.

"It was a very wonderful ride. I just enjoyed the feeling of the wind caressing my face," said Picardal, who is also a university professor and academic dean, during the sports forum .

Picardal, known as the "biking priest" since he started riding long distances on bikes to push his advocacy for peace and good government, said the participants can look forward to the "joy of riding a bike", most especially since the event has a noble cause.

De Leon said seminars on various topics, including clean environment, breastfeeding, violence against women and children and the "Pinay In Action" running and fitness clinic for public high school students are ongoing in this city to usher the biking event organized by Comapañero Rene Cayetano Foundation in cooperation with Davao del Norte Gov. Rodolfo del Rosario, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Vice Mayor Sara Duterte.

Other activities include seminars on Hepatitis-B vaccination for barangay health workers by Sanofi and public awareness against fake drugs by the Samahan Laban sa Pekeng Gamot, added De Leon, who was accompanied by tri-athlete George Vilog who discussed the route in the sports forum.

In an interview, Neilwin Joseph Bravo, spokesperson of Davao del Norte provincial sports coordinator Anthony del Rosario, said seminars will also be conducted in several towns in Davao del Norte where the fun ride will pass by.

Kicking off at the Shell station in Barangay Ma-a here, the advocacy ride will proceed to Davao del Norte, passing Panabo City and the towns of Carmen, Sto. Tomas, Kapalong and Asuncion, and will end at the Davao del Norte provincial capitol compound in Tagum City.

Mayor Duterte was invited to fire the starting gun, signaling the start of the long bike journey for hope.

Bike for Hope was first organized by Sen. Cayetano and her siblings in 2004 following the death of their father from complications of a liver illness. The event has been raising funds to support indigent liver patients and assist unfunded health programs in public hospitals across the country. It has been staged in Bicol, Laguna, Misamis Oriental, Ilocos Region, Cebu and twice in Baguio. (Rico Biliran / MindaNews)

Consul invites Davao councilors to witness Australian sporting event

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/7 Jan) -- The Philippine consul general in Australia’s Northern Territory today invited city councilors to visit Darwin during the Arafura Games and meet with their counterparts for possible future agreements, including sporting linkages.

In a press conference at a local restaurant here, consul general John Rivas personally invited councilors Susabel Reta, Rachel Zozobrado and Peter Laviña, who represented Vice Mayor Sara Duterte, to join the Davao delegation to the international games slated May 9-17 in Darwin, capital of Northern Territory.

“They can watch the games there and at the same time meet with [their counterparts] for possible linkages in education, trade and sporting events,” said Rivas.

Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman William “Butch” Ramirez recognized the significance of a sports-related friendship agreement between Darwin and this city in the past.

“There was already a friendship agreement before but it became dormant due to lack of follow up,” he said. Rivas’s invitation could be a way to renew ties, said Ramirez, who arranged Rivas’s visit to this city.

The councilors verbally agreed to revive the agreement, saying “this new effort through sports could help us a lot”.

“Not only in the in field of sports but also in trade, education and cultural exchange,” said Laviña, who is also the president of the Davao City Sports Council, Inc. (DCSCI).

Laviña sees a possible sister-city agreement in the future with Darwin, which has grown from a pioneer outpost and small port into one of Australia's most modern and multicultural cities. Its two largest economic sectors are mining and tourism.

Rivas said all sports facilities in Darwin are already in place for the Arafura Games, touted as a leading international sporting competition of the emerging champions of the Asia.

He said that renovations to some of the venues are being made but all facilities are ready. He added that 4,000 athletes, coaches and officials are expected to go to Darwin for the games.

There are 27 sport disciplines lined up in the event held every two years since 1991.

For Davao City, Ramirez advised it should send the best athletes since it needs a lot of money to go to Australia and compete in the Arafura Games.

“We have good athletes here but the problem is money. That's why for the City of Davao, it should send the best athletes who has chances to win,” said Ramirez, a former city sports coordinator before going to the PSC.

Davao City started sending athletes to the games in 1997. It was the PSC chief who headed the delegation.

The Arafura Games will be on the top agenda when the DCSCI, the sports body composed of regional heads of the National Sports Associations, holds its monthly meeting on January 13. (Rico Biliran / MindaNews)

Ex-PSC chief to enter politics

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/25 January) -- Former Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chair William “Butch” Ramirez last week declared his intention to enter politics and said it “depends on Mayor Rodrigo Duterte as to what position”.

“Rody (Duterte) is the barometer. It depends to the mayor as to what position (I will aspire for),“ Ramirez said three days after President Arroyo accepted his resignation as chair of the national sports agency

In a press conference Saturday, Ramirez, 58, who served for ten years in the PSC, said he will not run without the blessing of Duterte, his former boss

The former Ateneo de Davao University professor said “religious groups and some individuals” are pushing him to run for the congressional seat in the city's first district occupied by House Speaker Prospero Nograles. Nograles ran for mayor but lost to Duterte in the 1990s.

Like Duterte, Nograles is also serving his last term.

Duterte appointed Ramirez as city sports coordinator several years back. A few days following his appointment, the mayor sent him to Australia as the city's head of delegation to the 2001 Arafura Games in Darwin that enabled Ramirez to see the “world of sports.”

Ramirez said the mayor has a well-established political machinery “and more to that, the mayor has a good heart for the poor, he is a good politician and a good lawyer”.

“I don't have any association with other politicians. It's only with the mayor, that's why my entry to politics lies in him. It's up to him what position (I will aspire for).

Ramirez submitted his resignation following the country's dismal performance in the Beijing Olympics last August.

Ramirez had been very vocal about his intention to help the sports program of Davao City the moment he would leave PSC where he served as regional representative in 1998 before he was appointed as commissioner in 2000 and its chair in 2005. (Rico Biliran/MindaNews)

On Ramirez' resignation: PSC's loss is Davao City's gain

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/22 Jan) -- It is the city government of Davao that would "gain much" from the departure of William "Butch" Ramirez at the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) for he can now focus his energy on Davao sports, local sports leaders said.

"It's PSC's loss and the bright side would be, its Davao City's gain," said Moses Billacura, officer-in-charge of the City Sports Development Division (CSDD).

Joseph Encabo, the PSC chief's senior executive assistant, confirmed reports that Malacañang had accepted the resignation of Ramirez as chairman of the PSC, putting an end to the former Ateneo de Davao University professor's 10-year stint at the national sports agency, 3 of which as its head.

Ramirez submitted his resignation following the country's dismal performance in the Beijing Olympics last August.

Long before his resignation was accepted, Ramirez had been very vocal about his intention to help the sports program of Davao City the moment he would depart from the PSC where he served as regional representative in 1998 before he was appointed as commissioner in 2000 and its chairman in 2005.

Billacura said Ramirez,58, one of the longest serving PSC officials, would help the Duterte administration in the area of sports.

"He (Ramirez) has been wishing to come home and has expressed his desire to help sports in Davao City," said Billacura, who was one of the staff of Ramirez when he was the city sports chief of Duterte several years back.

With the homecoming of Ramirez, expect more changes at the CSDD as the man who was largely credited when the Philippines won the overall Southeast Asian Games in 2005 would bring his exceptional sports leadership in this city, Billacura said.

"We have a lot of work to do," he added. (Rico Biliran / MindaNews)

Abap to set tup training center in Mindanao

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/8 Jan) -- The new leadership of the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines (ABAP) is planning to set up a regional training center in Mindanao, and president Ricky Vargas wants to put it up in this city.

"We prefer to set it up in Davao City and make this city as a center for Mindanao," Vargas told sports journalists in a press briefing following a consultative meeting with the boxing stakeholders in the region.

But Vargas clarified that they would not intervene on the decision of the stakeholders as to where they want to put up the training center.

" If they have other place in mind, it would be up to them," added Vargas, who was accompanied by ABAP secretary-general Patrick Gregorio.

With regards to where to set up the training center, Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman William "Butch" Ramirez said boxing stakeholders across the island will discuss it during the ABAP national congress in Bacolod City on January 14-17.

Ramirez, who is a member of the board of directors of ABAP in the Davao Region, said it is best that stakeholders all over Mindanao, who are expected to attend the national congress, be consulted on the issue.

Vargas, who also held a consultative meeting Wednesday in Baguio City, came here to seek support from the stakeholders in the region aimed at helping improve the programs of ABAP.

The ABAP chief sought the help of Cotabato Vice Gov. Manny Piñol, former Davao del Norte congressman Tony Boy Floreindo and Ramirez.

"Hopefully, with their assistance we can do better for the development of the sport of boxing," said Vargas.

Piñol said they have gone out their way in helping boxing in the country but the problem is with ABAP. "ABAP is very exclusive. They don’t want others to help them. They are not even helping local chapters, " Piñol said, referring to the previous ABAP leadership.

Having a good program and a bunch of potential boxers, Piñol pointed out, "we just need a little help".

For his part, Ramirez said that the set up of the coaching staff needs to be overhauled because some of them have been there for many years.

With the training center, according to the PSC chief, ABAP can get the best coaches and conduct coaches’ leadership seminars, among others.

"It would help us take a smooth quality development of boxing in the country," said Ramirez.

Vargas visited the boxing facilities at the back of the Davao City Recreation Center where more than 20 boxers have been training hard. His observation: "It’s not in good shape".

"But there are lots of potential young boxers, " he noted. (Rico Biliran / MindaNews)