The local world of sports has been down since the COVID-19 pandemic hit us and by mid-March, a general lockdown was first experienced by Filipinos.
There were no sports events to watch or cover and that is why I grabbed the opportunity before the year ended and accepted the invitation from the Philippine Sports Tourism Association, headed by Charles Lim to cover its awarding ceremonies last December 10 at the Marriott Hotel in Clark, Pampanga, but I chose to write this as my yearender piece.
And so finally, for the first time in nine months, equipped with a face mask and face shield, I drove all the way to the venue. It was worth the effort, after all, as I also got the opportunity to stay overnight at the Marriott with a much anticipated buffet breakfast at the hotel’s coffee shop the following morning.
There were 16 different categories, where the organizers picked different winners, with some of them very familiar names and places like Clark as the Destination of the Year and Subic as top Marketing Destination. Of course, the 2019 SEA Games, hosted by both winners, was a big factor and these two places will always have the edge in terms of sports facilities.
Fact is, the New Clark City, with its newly built world-class track and field stadium and the swimming venue used for the SEA Games, was another awardee as Venue of the Year.
There were also individuals like Manny Pangilinan, chosen as Sports Personality of the Year (Private Sector), represented by Sonny Barrios from the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas; and Dumaguete City Mayor Felipe Remollo, picked as the Sports Personality of the Year (Government Sector). MVP was named patron of sports, while Remollo, was chosen as an organizer, who hosted various national and international events in Dumaguete, which he is branding as a first-class sports destination.
And I believe him as I have covered a few events like triathlon and the Unigames in the past in his beautiful city, having met Remollo from way back.
Truth is, I shared a table at the event, graced personally or through virtual messages, with some old friends from the Triathlon Association of the Philippines, led by Secretary General Mon Marchan, representing TRAP president Tom Carrasco, an old and older friend of mine, and coach Melvin Fausto. I still have the trophy for the best National Sports Association category won by TRAP as Mon only used a motorbike going to Clark and could not load the trophy on his bike.
Another familiar awardee was Ironman organizer Sunrise as Sports Organizer of the Year in the private sector. Its president is Alaska PBA team owner Wilfred Uytengsu, who was represented by Princess Galura. It was only fair that the 2019 Ironman 70.3 in Cebu that attracted more than 2,200 entries from 17 different countries was selected as the International Event of the Year awardee.
The Domestic Event of the Year was the Tin Man multi-sports event in Ilocos Norte.
Media Coverage of the Year award went to PTV 4, Airline of the Year was bagged by Philippine Airlines, while another Clark place, The Mansion Boutique Hotel was Hotel of the Year. Coca-Cola Beverages Phils. went home with the Event Sponsorship of the Year trophy.
The last two awards were for the Adventure Event of the Year, won by Tour de Cebu with its vintage car race. Next year, its organizers plan to go beyond the Visayas.
The Charity Award went to Run With Mex, a charity run for five different beneficiaries and sponsored by Resorts World Manila.
The PBA, which held a bubble conference recently in Clark, sent a video message from PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial, same with the Department of Tourism, where department secretary Bernadette Puyat cited sports tourism as the fastest growing tourism segment in the country.
After the formal awarding of the 4th edition of this event, I had a short chat with PSTA founder Charles and he talked of next year’s event which of course will not cover 2020, but 2021, and I wished him luck in this project.
With a few days left for the year, allow me to greet one and all, particularly those who follow this piece regularly, same with our sports vlog, The SWAB (Sports World And Beyond) a happy and hopeful new year.
And by the way, our first vlog for 2021will be on volleyball superstar, pretty Dindin Manabat, hubby Chico, and baby daughter Chloey. Watch it on You Tube.