IT’S Christmas. It's the most wonderful time of the year.
And because it's Christmas time, it's also the best time to make wishes come true.
What would I most want to give the Filipino athletes in this season to be merry?
Well, our athletes do need a sound mind and sound body. But they also need proper motivation, good training and right international exposure.
But we know these are not nearly enough.
If I were Santa, I'd give our athletes new leaders in the coming year - the kind of individuals who would really set aside their personal interests and put the athletes' welfare first.
I'd give them vibrant, young leaders with fresh ideas on minds, and not officials with Jurassic-like mentality that only prevent athletes from reaching their full potential.
I'd give them result-oriented officials who will put his money where his mouth is, and not officials who will put money on his pocket.
I’d give them courage to stand up for their rights, and not just allow themselves to be pushed around.
I’d want them, for example, to be able to say no and tell their officials when enough is enough.
And of course, I'd give them wisdom to know the difference between a good and bad leader.
If I were really Santa, I'd also give:
Boxing champion Manny Pacquaio -- A decisive victory over Adrienne Bronner in his defense of the World Boxing Associayion (WBA) welterweight crown on Jan. 17 and an eventual blockbuster rematch against long-time rival Floyd Mayweather, Jr. After all, it's the fight that the whole boxing world wants to see. And why not? A Pacquiao-Mayweather II in 2019 will be a joy to watch. It will also surely keep the boxing world alive.
Chess superstar Wesley So -- A chance to finally contend for the world chess championship being held by GM Magnus Carlsen of Norway is on the minds of almost all local chess fans and supporters. Although he now plays for the United States, the Bacoor, Cavite-born So remains a Filipino by heart. The chess world will always look up to him as a Filipino much like when he climbed the podium to receive the gold medal in the 27th Summer Universiade in Kazan, Russia in 2013. A Filipino world chess champion? The chess gods must be excited.
Basketball idol June Mar Fajardo -- Nicknamed the 'Kraken', the 6-11 center of San Miguel Beer is widely-regarded as the country's most domunant player since Ramon 'El Presidente' Fernandez in the 80s and Alvin 'The Captain' Patrimonio in the 90s. With a basketball in his hands, he could be as unstoppable as tomorrow with the Beermen. In the PBA, they now spell basketball as F-a-j-a-r-d-o. Five MVP awards and more individual accolades are high on our wish list for this gentle giant from Pinamungajan, Cebu.
Rio de Janeiro Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz -- Weightlifting's biggest find is is hoping Tokyo 2020 will be just as good and productive. In spirts, it is every Filipino sports fan's fondest wish that Diaz will fulfill her dream of bringing home another medal -- gold, silver or bronze. The 25-year-old pride of Zamboanga City, who ended the country's 20-year Olympic medal drought, surely deserves the prayer of a nation forever in search for a hero.
Marathon queen Mary Joy Tabal -- Cebu's sweetheart became the country’s biggest hope for more medals in marathon when she became the first Filipina to compete in the Rio Olympics. Here's wishing the 29-year-old stunner from Southwestern University can bring more international recognitions for the country not only in 2019 but in the many years to come
Golf champion Yuka Saso -- Only 17, the Filipino Japanese amateur golfer became the toast of local spirts when she made history in the 2018 Asian Games by winning the first ever gold medal for the Philippines in both the women's individual and women's team event in Asian Games golf competitions. Saso -- bless her heart -- hopes to bring more honors to the country starting in the Southeast Asian Games in Manila next year.
This Christmas also brings us the opportunity to wish that the Filipino athletes will do well and perform better in next year’s SEA Games in Manila
These are all wishes in sports that, once fulfilled, will bring the smile back on the faces of the long-suffering Filipino sports fans.
If I were Santa, they'll have their wishes granted.
Merry Christmas to one and all.
NOTES -- Congratulations to the E. Rodriguez Jr. High School Batch 81 for its highly-successful Christmas Thankgiving Celebrations at the Archie’s Spirts Grill and Bar at Sct. Borromeo St., Barangay South Triangle, Quezon City last Dec. 14 and Dec. 17. A big shoutout to to party hosts Nini Villanueva, Antoinette Santiano-Cruz, Gemma Gabriel, Liza Caperal and Rhodora Daplas for their efforts to ensure the success of the gatherings...
Hapoy birthday to Sandra Gordon-Recto (Dec. 18), Judith Caringal (Dec. 18) and Bong Castro (Dec. 18), Rey Luceno (Dec. 21), Anne Venanacio (Dec. 22) Audrey Pineda ( Dec. 22), Tito Torres (Dec. 22), Christine Puno-Laz (Dec. 23) Rex Cusipag (Dec. 23), Katrina Rivera (Dec. 23), Richard Rufin (Dec. 24), Arnel de Leon (Dec. 24) and Joanna Tan ( Dec. 24).
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