Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Return of the King: Cleveland wins first NBA Title

Cleveland's first NBA Title

When Lebron James decided to return to Cleveland he brought with him the blueprint to win a title from his four years on the job training in Miami.  Lebron said that winning a title for the city will be a long process that will test his patience but is excited to face the challenge to rear a young squad that did not even make it to the playoffs in the four years he was in exile into becoming a championship team.  The only bright spot when he arrived was the 2011 draft first over-all pick Kyrie Irving who was slowly making a name for himself.  After his first year, Lebron led the Cavaliers to the NBA finals and lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games.

Lebron on the fastbreak (game 6 photo)

This year the Cavaliers steamrolled through the Eastern Conference and was ready to make amends but unfortunately started the NBA Finals down 0 – 2 as the Warriors manhandled the Cavaliers. After two more games at the Q the Cavs were now down 1 – 3 and heading to the Oracle Arena where the Dubs were almost invincible all year round. But the resilient Cavs were unfazed and focused on some adjustments in game 5 that gave them a statement win with both Lebron and Kyrie scoring 41 points apiece. In game 6 Lebron scored 41 points once again and added 11 assists to lead the Cavs to another blowout win and more importantly forced a game 7 with the defending champs.

Kyrie scored the winning three

Game 7 set the stage for the greatest comeback in NBA Finals history as Lebron scored 27 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out 11 assists, the third triple double in a Game 7 and his 7th in the NBA Finals as Lebron willed his team to victory.  Actually Lebron has two more games (Games 1 & 4) wherein he was one assist shy of a triple double. For me, the play of the NBA finals is Lebron’s spectacular chasedown block on Andre Iguodala. That play showed that Lebron did not want to lose again to the Warriors as he prevented Igoudala from scoring the go ahead basket that would have brought the house down.

One of Lebron's many dunks (game 6 photo)

For the record, the Cleveland Cavaliers are the first team in NBA Finals history to come back from a 1 - 3 deficit and win the title. Also, they are the first team to comeback from a 0 - 2 deficit with the league MVP playing on the other team which incidentally is also the third team to win the title after falling behind 0 – 2 in the series, the 1969 Boston Celtics and 1977 Portland Trail Blazers where the last teams to do that. The Cavaliers are also the fourth team to win a best of seven finals on the road - the Celtics (1969 & 1974)  and Bullets (1978) were the only two teams to do that.

Hail to the King

Lebron James on the other hand is the hands down Finals MVP. He is the first player in NBA history to top all five major statistics for both teams in the finals. His averages were 29.7 ppg, 11.29 rebounds per game, 8.86 assists per game, 2.57 steals per game, 2.29 blocks per game and he also led both teams in minutes played at 42 minutes per game. Lebron is also the second player alongside Kareem Abdul – Jabbar to win the finals MVP with two different teams. Congratulations to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Hail to the King he is definitely home.

thanks to for the photos

Friday, June 17, 2016

A hundred and one adventures at the 100 Islands

While living in exile in Dagupan city in 1988, our neighbor who ran a salt business invited me to join them on their outing to the Hundred Islands. The next day, their boat picked us up at Pantal River and we road off all 40 of us to one of the best natural wonders in our country. Upon arriving we immediately went down on the only island allowed to have some people which was the Quezon Island. It was fun eating and swimming on that Island and as the day ended we commuted back to Dagupan city.

In 1993 I went back with my High school friends and lo and behold we were also led to the Quezon Island to have some R&R. Nothing much has changed but back then it was more of enjoying nature and the pristine beach in that island. I am not a tourism consultant but being there you dream of Island hopping and dropping by other Islands.

Twenty years after my dream was realized when I came back to these Islands. First thing that caught my eye was how organized they were in accepting tourists since there was a center being built where you can rent a boat. Everything was centralized, impressive. Next, I discovered that not only can you drop by Quezon Island, but the boatman has an itinerary to tour you around until 5pm or go on specific islands of your choice. Lastly, not only can you swim and eat but there are other activities you can enjoy as well like riding the zip line, snorkeling and many more. We rented a boat for P 1,400 which can fit 5 people. The bigger one is P 1,800 for 6 to 10 people. I think its better now because you don’t have to haggle with boatmen on boat prices like before.

I am happy that the Department of Tourism has finally thought of a way to “sell” the Hundred Island to tourists by way of having a great experience in these islands. Much of the things that you can experience here is now similar to the beach activities in Boracay.

Our tour was quite simple, we alighted at the Governor’s Island which is a must for photographers since it gives you most probably the best view of the Islands from atop. Going up 150 steep flight of stairs for me is enough to see the majestic view from above.

Since there were many people in the other islands we managed to just take a peak at the other islands namely the Marcos Island, Romulo Island, a Children Island. One of the more intriguing islands is the Devil’s Island which had so many trees and I believe more than a thousand bats resting on those trees.

My buddies and I settled for a dip at the Old Scout Island. It’s quite small but had less than a hundred people on it. One thing nice though was that the place is ideal for snorkeling. Unfortunately, there were lots of boats passing by that was why viewing the corals was quite dangerous. Like an old scout, we went on to get our food, placed some used newspapers on the sands and had our lunch old style under the rocks.

We eventually went back after seeing the dark clouds going towards our direction. It was unfortunate for us to get wet because of the strong rains that we braved but luckily we survived it and went back ashore trying to dry up. Good thing there was a shower room for rent at the park where washed off the sticky feeling coming from a rain.

For now the 100 Islands impressed me considering the fact that a national treasure has been reborn. I hope a few years from now I would be able to blog again on new experiences on this fantastic Philippine wonder.

Thanks to Ian Siongco and RJ Marasigan for their wonderful pictures

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Pangasinan 2016: Reminiscing my past

Pangasinan is a place close to my heart because for one this is the place where my mom was born and grew up but more importantly this where I found refuge when I was a lost teenager. Although I stayed in Dagupan City which was at the heart of Pangasinan, this trip served as a refresher to me since it brought me back to the western part of the province which I barely remembered since I was quite young then when I first visited this part of the Pangasinan. This visit made me quite amused since a lot has changed and it’s something worth telling to some friends. This visit brought me from West to East with some stops in Bolinao, Alaminos and Manaoag.

In this trip I was with my travel buddies, Rothz de Lima, RJ Marasigan, Ian and Krisvi Siongco. We left Quezon City at 7:30 am, had some stops to buy water and snacks and only stopped when we needed to use the toile as I drove straight to the town of Bolinao. Bolinao has become a popular place for tourists in Pangasinan since it has so many tourist spots and a lot of resorts were developed the past to fifteen years. 

You can actually ride a Victory liner bus or Dagupan bus that can take you to Bolinao or Alaminos straight since I saw the Bus stations of those two Bus lines. It might be a 6 – 8 hour trip depending on the stops and traffic. Since I brought my car along it took us almost six hours to get there. We passed by NLEX and SCTEX and took the Hacienda Luisita Exit. I was trying to look for familiar landmarks but used my Waze app instead to make sure I was led to the right path. After a few minutes I finally found the town that I was looking for which was the Camiling town access road. This access road will lead you to the Pangasinan towns Mangatarem and Sual which will then end leads you towards Alaminos and Bolinao. 

Unfortunately when we visited there was a power interruption that made us cut our visit short because the caves we wanted to visit were not accessible because they needed light inside the caves. So we then visited one of the main attractions that is a haven for photographers – the Cape Bolinao Lighthouse tower. We then went back to our resort and rested after a long morning ride.

Our next day saw us visit one of the country’s top natural wonders – the Hundred Islands. These group of Islands used to be a place that mostly people from Northern Luzon would visit, now it is pretty much more accessible to Southerners and foreigners too. The Hundred Islands in Alaminos, Pangasinan has developed into a Tourism spot where everyone can have a good time. This is my third time to go to the Hundred Islands and I am happy that there has been so many developments in the place that it has now become a popular tourist destination.

First, there are more Islands to go to. The two times I went to these Islands in 1988 and in 1994, you can only access the Quezon Islands and mostly people who can afford it can go for some Island hopping and just go around. Now there are more Islands to discover as they added the Governor’s Island where you can hang around and more importantly have a great view of the place on its view deck which will have you go up to 150 flight of stairs.

Since there were a lot of people in other Islands we decided to stay at the Old Scout Island where there are less than 50 people and was near a great snorkeling area. We eventually brought our baon to the shore and had our sumptuous lunch along the sands. After lunch we saw that the clouds were fast forming into a storm so we headed back to the wharf amidst the heavy rains that went our way. Luckily there were shower rooms for rent at the Park where we came from.

On our third day, we headed east before going back to Manila to visit another popular place in Pangasinan which is frequently visited by faithful Catholics - the town of Manaoag. Everyday, this place is visited by thousands of devout Catholics because this is where the Basilica of our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Manaoag is located. Locals would tell you that Manaoag derived its name from the word “Mantaog” which means “to call” in their Pangasinense dialect. The Shrine of Our Lady of Manaoag houses the 17th century ivory image of the Virgin Mary which was brought to our country from Spain in the same century. It was told that there was an apparition of the Virgin Mary holding a rosary in this area way back in 17th century and that was where the church was built. The small church has evolved into a bigger one and I cannot recall anymore the images of the church when I last visited the place as a kid. Thousands of devotees flock the place and pray for Miracles that would alter a person’s life most specially one’s health and fate.

My reimmersion of Pangasinan was a great one and the only problem I had was that time was not on our side since we only had three days to tour almost 800 kilometers of driving and getting around. Hopefully next time I can visit my hometown Dagupan and other beautiful towns and beaches in the province to further reacquaint me of my teenage years and who knows some past acquaintances might come up. 

many thanks to Ian Siongco and RJ Marasigan for the beautiful pictures

Friday, June 3, 2016

STI holds Coaching clinic

Budding STI Coaches together with Phoenix Fuel Master players 

In an effort to help STI Campuses create and strengthen their Sports Programs, the STI Head Office through the Events Management Group and Education Training and Development Group spearheaded the STI Basketball Coaching Clinic last May 30, 31, and June 1, 2016. Since sports plays a vital role in having a holistic approach in Education, the 27 training participants learned the ropes in laying down the foundation of their sports program by starting with the most popular sports in the country – Basketball.

Day 1 with Coach Eric Gonzales and Coach Julio Veloso at the STI Coaching Clinic

The Training was also a venue to upgrade the Basketball knowledge of appointed basketball coaches of our STI Luzon schools who were hired either as PE Instructor, IT Instructor, Lab Facilitator, Career Adviser and other positions that are not related to what they primarily do at STI.  The three-day Training included topics on Basic Coaching, Conditioning, Skills Development and creating a day to day practice plan for one season.  To give the trainees ample knowledge in Coaching, STI ESG got Globalport Assistant Coach Eric Gonzales to start off the training.  Coach Eric brings with him a wealth of coaching knowledge as an assistant Coach in the PBA, a Champion Coach in the PBA Developmental league and an assistant Coach of the recently crowned UAAP Season 78 Champion FEU Tamaraws. Touching on the topic of Strength and Conditioning was former Coca-Cola Tigers strength and conditioning Coach Julio Veloso. His topic dwelled on how the coaches can maximize the strength of their players and most importantly give them conditioning drills to make them ready for battle and avoid injuries.

Day 2 with my buddies Olsen Racela and Richie Ticzon

The second day focused on skills development and preparing a practice plan. Coach Eric Gonzales gave a detailed description on how he runs practices and demonstrated it on the court. After that, he also demonstrated basic defensive formations to give the trainees enough knowledge on the defensive formations needed for their games. Helping out Coach Eric were the STI College Ortigas – Cainta basketball players who also learned a thing or two on the various defensive drills ran by Coach Eric. In the afternoon two former PBA standouts conducted Offensive skills drills. Mr. Velvet Touch Richie Ticzon who is now an Assistant Coach for the Phoenix Petroleum Fuel Masters in the PBA Developmental League taught the STI College Ortigas-Cainta dribblers the basics in shooting the ball which was his specialty when he was playing. At the same time, he drew some drills that eventually came out as an offensive play. Two time PBA Mythical 5 selectee and National Team lead point guard Olsen Racela also dropped to teach some offensive sets. Before the drills, Racela talked to the coaches and players and gave an inspirational story which was about his story and life in basketball which was brought about by discipline and hard work. At the same time he shared that one of the most important things that a coach should have should be patience. After that Racela proceeded by demonstrating different kinds of ball screen offensive patterns that the trainees can use for their offensive patters.

Coach Eric sharing his thoughts on coaching

If the first two days were mostly theories and teachings, the third day saw the trainees visit two different practice sessions of two basketball teams to see how to execute properly what they have learned. First stop was the practice of the Phoenix Petroleum Fuel Masters practice – the recently crowned PBA Developmental League champions.  Coach Eric ran the dribble drive offense to perfection and then showed how to run the correct man-zone defense. All that were discussed the past two days were witnessed by the trainees in this practice session. In the afternoon, it was the practice of PBA Team Global Port Batang Pier that the trainees witnessed.  Since it’s a month and a half from the PBA opening the players led by top pick of the 2014 PBA rookie draft Stanley Pringle and the rest of the Global port team did some conditioning and shooting drills. 

Coach Richie sharing shooting techniques

The three day training covered almost all the basic ingredients in creating a sports program particularly in creating a basketball team from a neophyte squad to a powerhouse team. Also, the simulations that the Coaches saw in the two practices they attended definitely helped them visualize what is needed to mount a winning team. As the training ended, all trainees were all excited to get back to their respective schools and start their programs and hopefully we will see results in the coming months.

Helping out the Coaches were the STI College Ortigas-Cainta basketball team

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Sipin clan reunion

Tracing our roots, my mother's clan goes back to the late 19th century where a Seminarian named Juan Sipin married Aniceta Carino and had five children. After Aniceta died of Cholera Juan remarried and as all our ancestors say had other children from other women.  

But that was more than a century ago. I remember when we were kids we used to hold reunions in Paranaque to meet our relatives from the SIPIN clan. Unfortunately, a lot of them settled down in the USA while it was hard to find other relatives. Thanks to facebook we have traced a lot of our relatives and asked some of them to have a reunion. 

Our thanks to the family of Tita Purita "Pachot" Sipin-Mapa who together with Tito Toto Mapa hosted the reunion at the Penthouse of the Address condominium in Mandaluyong City. It was great seeing our relatives and meeting some more. 

After having a sumptuous lunch I started out the festivities by introducing the families through a list that my mom Maelotisea Mejia Sipin-Garrido prepared. It was fun knowing our relatives and the stories that my mom told me made it much more exciting.

As I have said this is just the start and we hope to hold another one during the Christmas break so that others who are in the United States who will be here in vacation can join us. Cant wait for December to come. 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Alyssa Valdez holds her skills camp at STI

The AV Camp in progress

Three-time UAAP Most Valuable Player Alyssa Valdez is one of the best and gifted female volleyball players in the country. From her humble beginnings in San Juan, Batangas to her journey with the Ateneo Blue Eagles in the UAAP she has shown that a simple girl from the provinces can make it big in the sport which has captivated the hearts of many Filipinos.

Alyssa training the next Valdez

Today she embarks on a new mission and that is to teach kids the basics and rudiments of volleyball. Alyssa’s love for volleyball is very evident as she spearheaded the Alyssa Valdez Skills Camp for the many volleyball enthusiasts from six (6) years old to eighteen (18) years old.   Open to everyone who has a knack for volleyball, the skills camp has three brackets namely 6 to 13 years old for beginners, 14 to 18 years old and an open session for those who simply want to learn volleyball.
Alyssa training the next Valdez

The camp opened today at the STI Academic Center in Calamba Laguna and will run through May 7, 2016. It will also feature Alyssa’s friends with Gretchel Soltones, Joyce Palad, EJ Laure, JV de Guzman, Amy Ahomiro, Jhoana Maraguinot, Bea de Leon and Ella de Jesus. The Alyssa Valdez Skills Camp will also be held at the STI Academic Center in Cubao from May 10 to 14 and at the STI Academic Center in Ortigas-Cainta on May 19 to 21.
Grethcel Soltones, Alyssa Valdez, STI College Calamba's Jei Isip, Yours truly, Joyce Palad
Alyssa’s love for volleyball is boundless that is why she opened the Alyssa Valdez skills camp this summer and this is her way of her paying back the sport she so dearly loves. Who knows that from these humble beginnings she can inspire the new generation of youngsters to become the next Alyssa Valdez. 
First batch of camp enrollees 6 to 13 years old with their parents

Saturday, April 16, 2016

STI West Negros University wins 2016 STI NBT National Title

STI West Negros University - 2016 STI National Basketball Tournament National Champions

In the 80’s there was a period of crisis that engulfed the city of Bacolod.  In the midst of the tragic events that happened, the local government of Bacolod decided to hold a festival of smiles because they believe that the festival was a declaration by the people of the city that no matter how tough and bad the times were, Bacolod is going to pull through, survive and in the end triumph.
The National Finals at the STI Academic Center Ortigas-Cainta

Mirroring the tough times of the city of Bacolod was the experience that the Mustangs of STI West Negros University went through last year in the 2015 STI National Basketball Tournament.   Their heartbreaking loss to STI College Santa Rosa was a tough pill to swallow and the road back to redemption was a long arduous one. But just like their co-Bacolodnons, the STI West Negros basketball team promised their school management that no matter how hard it was for them to get back lost glory, they will pull through, survive and hopefully become triumphant. That promise eventually came true as the STI West Negros University Mustangs beat the hard fighting STI College Malolos Falcons 83 - 74 to win the 2016 STI National Basketball Tournament National Championship.

Arche Salo on the drive

STI College Malolos just came from its best game in the 2016 STI NBT after it beat STI College Santa Rosa yesterday. The Falcons were poised to rewrite history and spoil STI West Negros University’s date with destiny as the Bulacan based dribblers played the same way and did not leave any stone unturned in their game. STI College Malolos came out with guns blazing as they seized control of the game in first quarter thanks to their tight defense on the main guns of West Negros John Mc Hale Nermal and Renz Solomon who both went 1 of 5. On the other side of the court the Malolos guards Arche Salo and Dario Gatchalian got their game going to give the Bulakenyos a 23 – 16 first quarter lead.

The Tower of Power Kelbert Victoria 

In the second quarter STI College Malolos showed that they are not pushovers as they battled the West Negros team on equal footing and then unleashed their vaunted offense. After JV Veloso scored on a three pointer with 6:50 left in the half to cut the Malolos lead to four 21 – 25, Dario Gatchalian, Dave Cruz and Kelbert Victoria combined to drop a 17 – 10 bomb to take an eleven point lead 42 – 31 with two minutes left. STI West Negros sued for time, regrouped and answered the Malolos run with a 10 – 2 run of their own capped by the three pointers of Roy Villarias and Kobe Vizcarra. The half ended with STI West Negros narrowing the gap 44 – 41 at the end of the two quarters, this is the only game in the National Finals that the Mustangs are not leading at the half.

Renz Solomon scores on the fastbreak

The third quarter saw STI West Negros University take control of the game as the diminutive point guard Renz Solomon came to life and to the rescue of the West Negros team. From a 48 – all standstill, the Mustangs suddenly came to life and seized the upper hand 66 – 53 and threatened to break the game open at the end of the third period until Ralph Bonifacio and Dave Cruz breathed life to the Falcons waning chances and the third quarter ended with the  West Negros team ahead 66 - 57.

The Sensational Mac Nermal skies high

In the fourth quarter, it was STI College Malolos’s time to come back and just like a bad nightmare, the Bulakenyos rose from the dead to come back to tie the score at 71 – all with 3 minutes and 28 seconds left.  Mark Lester Tamayo, Kelbert Victoria and Dave Cruz would simply not surrender as the trio breathed life into the Malolos offense. Just when STI College Malolos tied the game, John Mc Hale Nermal and Renz Solomon presided over a 12 – 3 closing run capped by five free throws in the last 38 seconds to put the game away as the STI West Negros squad stood by their promise that the National Title will rest at Negros Occidental.
Ralph Bonifacio scores on this undergoal stab

Renz Solomon, Kobe Bryan Vizcarra and John McHale Nermal of STI West Negros University together with Mark Lester Tamayo and Kelbert Victoria were all chosen to the Mythical 5. This year the Most Valuable Player of the tournament is John McHale Nermal as he topped the statistical race for the MVP.   

The 2016 STI NBT Mythical 5: (L-R) 
Kelbert Victoria, Lester Tamayo,
Renz Solomon, Kobe Vizcarra, John Nermal

A lot of people say that adversity brings out the best or worst in you. Only eleven members of the West Negros team went to the National finals since one of the players was disallowed by school management to join them because of disciplinary reasons. In sporting events like this you need every help you can get but for the STI WNU management it was a tough decision to make considering that the player they did not allow to join plays the center position. But as they say in the midst of adversity they stood by their values and never blinked an eye to do what is right and not what is more comfortable. This is the story of the STI West Negros University Mustangs, the 2016 STI National basketball Tournament National Champions.
STI ESG Vice-President for Corporate and Information Services, Mr. John Tubongbanua awards the MVP trophy to John Mc Hale Nermal of STI West Negros University

The scores:
Nermal 17, Solomon 17, Galvez 13, Veloso 10, Villarias 7, Vizcarra 6, Sajo 5, Belocura 4, Pastias 1,

Tamayo 14, Cruz D. 11, Gatchalian 11, Bonifacio 10, Victoria 10, Salo 10, Pujante 8, Encarnacion 0, Bautista 0,  Santos 0,
Quarter scores:
16 – 23, 41 – 44, 66 – 57, 83 - 74

Friday, April 15, 2016

STI College Santa Rosa settles for 3rd place

June Aliparo scores a three

STI College Santa Rosa came back in its final game with a win against the hard fighting Mindanao champion STI College Koronadal 60 – 57.   June Aliparo came back from his subpar performance in the cross-over semifinals to lead the Laguna dribblers by scoring 27 points after being held to 18 the other day. After their horrible loss the other day, the STI College Santa Rosa team redeemed themselves by winning third place.

Norman Puerto led the Koronadal attack

In the first half, both teams fought on equal footing with neither team leading by more than six points. Both teams were tied at the first quarter with June Aliparo leading the Santa Rosa team and Norman Puerto leading the Koronadal scoring in the first quarter. In the 2nd quarter June Aliparo waxed hot as he scored eleven of the fifteen points of the Santa Rosa quintet. Norman Puerto would pace Koronadal as they trailed their opponents 31 – 27 at the end of the half.

Addis Lizen drives to the hoop

STI College Santa Rosa used their team game in the third quarter with almost everyone chipping in. With eight minutes left, the foursome of June Aliparo, Addis Lizen, Bryan Ursua and Raul Guerrero dropped a 10 – 4 bomb that transformed their precarious 33 – 29 lead to a bigger 43 – 33 lead with three minutes left in the quarter. STI College Koronadal sued for time, regrouped and answered with a 9 – 0 blast of their own to stay within striking distance as the quarter ended with Santa Rosa still on top 43 – 42.

Bryanth Ursua scores on the fastbreak

With both teams playing superb defense, STI College Santa Rosa eventually found the crease in the Koronadal defense in the waning minutes of the game. With the score tied at 51 – all with 4:11 left in the game, Aliparo, Ursua, Lizen and Guerrero would once again weave their magic and score on an 9 – 0 run to give the Laguna dribblers a nine point lead  with 51 seconds left. STI College Koronadal’s last ditch effort to salvage the game fell short and STI College Santa Rosa hung tough to score that  60 – 57 win. 

Bernard Caguisano Jr. scores on this jumper

June Aliparo made up from his so-so performance the other day by scoring a game high 27 points on 7 of 12 (58.33%) shooting. Norman Puerto and Cris Valencia led the Koronadal team with 18 and 12 points respectively.  STI College Koronadal placed 4th also last year. Once again the top four teams in the STI National Basketball Tournament was well represented by the three regions of the country.

Kim Ibbara drives to the basket

The scores:
Aliparo 27, Romualdo 8, Guerrero 6, Ursua 6, Fabic 4, Lizen 4, Hercia Jes. 3, Ibbara 2, Adato 0, Hercia Jer. 0, Romero 0,

Puerto 18, Valencia 12, Caguisano B. 7, Morte 5, Famulag 4, Libdan 4, Sulit 4, Soliva 2, Ignacio 1, Caguisano J. 0, Castillo 0, Lopez 0

Quarter scores:

16 – 14, 31 – 27, 44 – 43, 60 - 57