Panagasinan athletes glow
By Jesus A. Garcia Jr.
OUR Pangasinan athletes started the season with high notes and I believe they are on the road to glow and bring more laurels to the province this year. After that first-ever gold medal victory by our local boys in basketball 3-on-3 during the Batang Pinoy National Games last December held in Iloilo City, our Pangasinan cyclists and a chess player are shining well in national and international competitions.
First to achieve an honor this year was FIDE Master Haridas Pascua from Mangatarem, sharing the second and third places with GM John Paul Gomez in the just concluded Philippine Sports Commission Cup International Chess Championship. The two split the $7,000 prize and have been qualified to join the prestigious Asian Zone 3.3 Chess Championship now being held in Tagaytay City. As of this writing (Friday), Pascua has garnered two points and is tied with seven other wood-pushers and majority of them are grandmasters from Vietnam, Mongolia and Indonesia. The eight are behind by just a point with Filipino stalwart GM Wesley So sharing the lead with GM Nguyen Noc Troung Son of Vietnam. Pascua, 19, a veteran of international competitions, is without question our province’s best bet in chess, previously beating his provincemates like his co-genius Mark Prince Aquino of San Nicolas and Samantha Revita of Rosales, in the past. We wish him the best of luck. His win will also be our victory. Mabuhay ka Haridas.
The 16-day 2013 Ronda Pilipinas bikathon has already reached its halfway mark and the ninth stage (that started in my town Mangaldan and finished in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur last Thursday) was won by Sual boy Mark Julius Bonzo, the son of the late 1983 Marlboro Tour champion Romeo Bonzo. I was asked to assist the whole entourage with the support of our new chief of police of Mangaldan P/Supt. Policarpio Cayabyab and the town’s traffic top honcho, former Philippine Navy commander Pete de Vera. With God’s blessing the ceremony ran smoothly with our new town executive Bernardo “Berex” Abalos and former PNP chief Arturo Lomibao, a native of Mangaldan, gracing the occasion. The start was the first that Mangaldan ever staged in this cycling event and the Mangaldanons were so proud of it. And, I’m proud that Mangaldan is considered one of the cradles of Philippine cycling having already produced some well-known cycling personalities like the Carino brothers Samson and Ruben, Cesar Catambay and SEA Games medalists Emeterio Natavio and Alex Lopez (and, yes, this writer). And now El Joshua Carino, who won the fifth stage of this year’s Ronda and landing sixth (so far) in the overall standing, has the making of a future champion in professional road racing. Carino, born in barangay Landas, is a member of a cycling group here in Pangasinan called “Pitaki Boyz”, owned and managed by my first child and my only cycling son Jazy.
So far our Pangasinan boys are doing great in this year’s Ronda. Out of the nine stages completed, our local bets already won five stages: Ericson Obosa of Manaoag in the first stage, Harvey Sicam of San Manuel in the fourth stage, Carino in the fifth stage, Ronald Oranza in the seventh stage and Bonzo in the ninth. And after the ninth day of road saga, three of our boys are in the top ten overall standing led by Oranza at second place, three minutes eight seconds behind the leader Bicolano Irish Valenzuela. 2011 Ronda champion and Umingan native Santy Barnachea occupies fourth, 5:55 minutes off and Carino sixth, 8:46 behind.
And now the question is: who will be the eventual winner this year? My answer is “it’s not over until it’s over”. The 14th and 15th Baguio stages, from Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya and Pugo, La Union, respectively, will be the deciding event. Let’s wait and see. I will be there to cheer and help our co-Pangasinenses. I hope to see you there, too, my fellow cycling fans.
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Then Jesus said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come’?” And He said to them, “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” JOHN 8: 21, 23, 24.