The Philippines recorded an unprecedented triumph in the tenpin bowling competition of the recently concluded first Asia-Pacific Masters Games held at the Megamall Pinang Bowling Center in Perai, Penang, Malaysia. The country tallied a record 21 gold, 12 silver and seven bronze medals or 40 medals in total. The true story is in how difficult it was for the Philippine Bowling Congress team to come together, gather resources and overcome political opposition, which makes the feat even more remarkable. The PBC keglers ended the campaign with an additional five gold medals in the Masters event at the close of bowling competitions. An additional seven gold medals escaped their grasp when the organizers decided to no longer award medals in the All-Events category.
“We went with very humble expectations to bring in just one medal, of whatever color. So, to have raked in so many medals was really God-sent for us,” said PBC president Engr. Guillermo Mallillin. “For the first time ever, the Philippine delegation was composed of bowlers that represented Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao – that truly reflected the country’s diversity.”
The inaugural Asia-Pacific Masters Games was participated in by delegations from 62 countries, with over 5,500 athletes competing in 22 different sports disciplines. The competition is also recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). In bowling, the Philippines was up against all of the region’s powerhouses, including host Malaysia. The host historically spends millions of dollars each year on bowling alone, a big source of pride for its sporting community.
But in this unprecedented run, the Philippine contingent won a medal in every division that it competed in. The 20-man delegation had players hailing from Davao, Iloilo, Cavite, Pampanga and Metro Manila. Each paid for his or her own expenses in participating in the Games. The team also topped seven divisions in the All-Events. However, at the last minute, medals were no longer awarded for the overwhelming performance. It took a lot of effort just to make sure everyone would be able to go. So many minor details had to be coordinated and circumstances had to align.
“Until the last-minute, we were still scrambling,” reveals former PBC president Francis de Leon, who won multiple medals, including a gold in the men’s doubles with Louie Bianzon. “We were booking tickets, getting tax exemptions, coordinating transportation, all on our own.”
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The Philippines’ singles gold medalists were James Young (men’s 40+), Pio Mico (men’s 45+), Baby Diosana (women’s 50+), Raquel Hayes (women’s 55+), Emma Bañez (women’s 60+) and George Manozo (men’s 60+). For doubles, they were Francis De Leon and Bianzon (men’s 50+), Gerry Mallillin and George Mañozo (men’s 60+), James Young and Gerald Samuels (men’s 45+), Anne Marie Duya and Crystal Chavez (women’s 45+), Emma Bañez and Sol Bagalay (women’s 50+), Raquel Hayes and Baby Diosana (women’s 55+), Perla Pacheco and N. Zainudin (women’s 60+). In mixed doubles, the golds went to Crystal Chavez and James Young (35+), Francis De Leon and Baby Diosana (50+), Al Langkuno and H. Han (60+).
In the Masters events, the champions were Louie Bianzon (men’s 50+), George Mañozo (men’s 60+), Anne Marie Duya (women’s 50+), Raquel Hayes (women’s 55+) and Sol Bagalay (women’s 60+).
In an interview with The STAR, De Leon recounted how they had to contend with efforts from their rival group to discredit them internationally. You see, PBC is another national sports association wrongfully robbed of recognition by greedy minions of the past Philippine Olympic Committee hierarchy. They were intercepted and betrayed at international bowling congresses by a former official whom they trusted. Just to give you an idea just how badly this official operates, this same person even allegedly (and unsuccessfully) attempted to steal a seat on the world governing body for another sport, a seat reserved for a countrywoman who now dutifully serves with the POC. According to De Leon, this same group even supposedly contacted the organizers of the Asia-Pacific Masters to bar the PBC contingent from entering. Their entreaties were ignored. The STAR will delve deeper into this issue in a future column.
“With everything going on before we could even leave, we were very fortunate that the team did so well,” De Leon said. “We spent everything ourselves. Imagine what more we could have given the country if we had proper support? We could have done so much more.”
Imagine, indeed. The PBC’s oppressors will inevitably get their comeuppance.
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