Monday, December 31, 2012

12 Blessings of 2012

The Chinese might have predicted that Dogs have the worst of luck in 2012. I beg to differ. Or probably I accidentally purchased a counter-bad luck charm. In my books, this could probably one of the best years of my existence. This day, I thank the Lord for the year that was, and pray for an equally good or a better one next year. Here's to commemorate the twelve of my most memorable events in 2012:

12. Special visits of our loving family and friends - There are no words to express our appreciation and gratitude for the love that you have given us. Thank you, Thank you, and Thank you! :)



11. Starstruck moments - Though DC is a stopover of many famous faces, it is seldom that we see them in our streets. Luckily, we were able to meet a few like Wizards rookie Brad Beal, Rob Schneider and Colin Powell. I was also blessed to be in the presence of our dear Archbishop, Jose Antonio Cardinal Tagle during his visit to DC.

Rob Schneider
Bradley Beal
WB President Jim Kim
Sec. Colin Powell

Cardinal Tagle
Sec. Edwin Lacierda


10. Space Shuttle Discovery lands in DC - space exploration and flight is still a marvel for me. When the recently "retired" Space Shuttle Discovery took took its final flight aboard a gigantic Boeing 747 en route to DC, I made sure I welcomed it on open arms. Barely a week after its arrival, we decided to pay homage to one of the most successful vessels of human flight. Space Shuttle Discovery shall be permanently displayed at the Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

9. 90s alternative concerts - We were able to watch Toad the Wet Sprocket and Our Lady Peace live! 90s rock rules!!!
Toad the Wet Sprocket
Our Lady Peace
 8. Cheap seats to the NBA games - Thanks to our home team's dismal 2011-2012 performance, Washington Wizards games a selling for as low as $15 for a ringside ticket. I was able to watch the Magic (still with Dwight Howard), Knicks (with Jeremy Lin), and Heat games for low prices!
Jeremy Lin's Knicks

Blowout Heat Game - No Lebron, DWade...

7. Bono at the World Bank - If I had the same entry in 2011 as this, one of my top blessings in 2011 was to be able to work for the World Bank Group. One of its few small perks is to be able to meet some famous people active in the cause of reducing, and if possible eliminating poverty. U2 frontman Bono came and spoke at the World Bank atrium. I got a good seat (well, standing room only) and was able to take good photos of him.

6. Shaking the hand of President Obama's 2008 head-to-head opponent - Senator John McCain was the keynote speaker to the 2012 Philippine Independence Day reception. It was an honor to shake the hand of the man who could be President.

5. The Dream Team in DC - The new Dream Team played one of its two exhibition games at the Verizon Center. I was fortunate to meet a kababayan who works at the Verizon Center and he mentioned about this basketball spectacle. He offered us tickets to the game. As one basketball fanatic, I instantly said yes to the ticket offer. Seeing Lebron, Kobe, CP3, KD and Melo play together is simply priceless. And as an icing to the cake, I was able to see President Obama for the first time! But wait, there's more! Kisscam featuring Barack and Michelle!

4. Mylo Xyloto - Coldplay released its latest album in 2011 and had a two-night concert at the Verizon Center in July. I purchased the tickets in December 2011, hoping that the concert will push through! And it did and brought down the house in Verizon! Thank you Chris Martin!

3. Meeting my basketball hero face to face - The two-time champ and 2006 NBA Finals MVP Dwyane Wade has been one of my favorite basketball icons. Luckily, he wrote a book and decided to go on a tour around the US for book signings. His last stop was in DC. Of course, being a the fan that I am, I did not hesitate to fall in the long lines to have his autographed signed in my copy of his book. Special thanks to my dear wife, Juancho and I had a couple of shots with him.

2. Destination: Orlando - I always tell Bubbles that I wanted to go for a road trip in the US. You can't do a real road trip in the Philippines considering our archipelagic structure. So this one, I really want to do. And I did one in 2012. After 16 hours on the road (excluding stopovers) and 4 states, we saw Mickey Mouse and the gang! Special thanks to our dear niece Tiffany for making this trip happen.

1. Juancho - One word to cap all the glorious and joyful events of my 2012 (and probably my life) is the arrival of our little superstar: Juan Santiago Apostol Reyes. Juancho. On the evening (11:42pm) of January 17, 2012, Our dear little prince Juancho was born. Everyday, I thank the Lord for this wonderful blessing, and for entrusting me with this great responsibility.





Thank you, Dragon 2012! Welcome the Snake of 2013!

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Pacman fan for life

For 14 years now, I am an avid, rabid Manny Pacquiao fan. I admit it. Even when the going gets tough, I firmly believed Manny would win in every bout.

I have been into a flurry of heated conversations and debates defending and supporting the Pacman even in hard times: His stubbornness for longer practices, his intention to run for office, his squandering his hard earned (to the highest sense) money for billiard and cockfighting, his womanizing. He has become a part of me so heavily that subtly, he has become my hero. In fact, I have in my home a signed photograph of him with Bubbles and I. It was one of my prized possessions. It’s the only celebrity picture I have in a frame.

When I saw him fall down on the final two seconds of the 6th round of his 4th meeting with his nemesis, Juan Manuel Marquez, My spirit was shattered. I never felt that since the day I found out I flunked the Ateneo College Entrance Test. I nearly broke into tears when Manny was not standing up. I thought he was gone.

But then, while the camera panned at a jubilant Juan Manuel Marquez, there came Manny from behind, on his feet, smiling as usual, took Marquez’s hand and congratulated him. That time, I felt an instant shot of relief. He was okay. And I realized he was indeed okay when he went for an interview. Yes, he’s lucid, he’s back. He got knocked down, but he’s okay.

Since then, I was never used to seeing Manny take such a blow, get knocked down and not getting up. I saw him stagger a few times, but not get swept by a big hit. I practically grew up seeing him win. It was very hard to accept the fact that this time, he lost. But when I saw Manny’s take on losing this big fight, I realized that this man has transcended from being a warrior into a more respectable man of grace. He now sees the world beyond boxing, and sees that this defeat is a miniscule event in his entire persona. That’s how boxing is, one wins, another loses, he says. And that night, he admitted he was not the lucky one. That made me realize that yes, I should also move on, like what he did, which seemed instantly, making others question the authenticity of his previous fights.

Why does he recover so quickly after losing (esp. those past two fights)? It’s not because he’s had those fights fixed (there goes my defense of the champ again)! But it’s primarily because he knows that game so well, that he already admits that the winner could be anyone in that ring.

Now people are asking what went wrong? Could it be his change of religion? Or his change of lifestyle? Or his concentration on politics and show business? Or his stubbornness to take training seriously? My take is that, simply put, sh*t just happened. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Bam, there goes Marquez’s strong right hook! Down he goes. From his form, we can see that he was more than prepared for that fight. He was back to his original form, back to when he beat the hell out of Barrera or Morales. He had his foot work, speed, even accuracy, a trait he hasn’t had before. Before the KO he was hitting an impressive 50% of his punches, he even staggered Marquez once in the 5th round. He was dominating in the ring. But then again, that right hand happened. History.

I don’t want to try to be a boxing analyst like what most Filipinos do after the Pacquiao fight (but I am now!). Bottomline is, Manny lost the fight. Period. No other explanations necessary. What matters now is how he and the rest of the world would take it and how to move forward.

Haters and freeloaders to Pacquiao’s greatness would now surface and argue that the result of Saturday’s fight was inevitable and bound to happen: Boxing, religion, politics and showbiz are not a good mix. I agree.

However, I believe that Pacman od all this because he has genuine intentions: help our poor Filipinos. He knows that Filipinos depend on boxing to be entertained, to temporarily forget about their plight. He still fights amidst clamor for his retirement.

He wants to make a change in government by being in government. He wants to help as many Filipinos by giving them money: boom, Manny Many Prizes. He knows his goal: help alleviate poverty. And I agree, he has so much in his plate. All hopes cannot be pinned on one man, even though he’s THE Pacman.

I don’t understand how some Filipinos easily forget his greatness because of one KO. Please let us never ever forget that he has nothing else to prove in the ring. He’s now an eight-division world champion, and I think nobody in this generation can top that.

Next question is whether he should fight again. From the way he spoke in his post-fight interview, I think he’s in for another match, Marquez or not. But should he fight again? There is a part of me that wants to see him fight again. Fight again, regain confidence, then retire a champion. Take on Bradley or Mayweather, then retire. But there is also a part of me that says, it’s time to go. Take your hard-earned money to set up a boxing stable, have a promotions company a la De la Hoya, help other poor boxers become the next you.

Whatever he decides to do next, I’ll still be watching, buying his shirts, praying for his win, crying for his loss, and praising him for his works. Win or lose, I am and will always be an avid, rabid Manny Pacquiao fan.

Mabuhay ang kampeon! Win or lose, it’s the Pacman, we choose.