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R & R for me, gold for sepak takraw

  • Written by Lito Cinco
  • Published in Opinion
  • Read: 207

I HAVE  just returned from a three-night-four-day stay in Bangkok, Thailand, leaving last Tuesday morning and  coming back here Friday evening already.

For me it was pure R & R time, but  in  the same city for our sepak takraw team, it was gold time.

Since  I brought my wife, my youngest daughter  and my   apo in this trip, do not think I have  money, my wife worked for a long time with PAL and earned  a lifetime  travel benefit for me and herself,  discounted rates for our kids.  That is the reason why  we were  able to afford the vacation, but it was not  really a rest  and  recreation time for me but rather Return & Re-market time.
You see we opted to stay at the First  House Hotel  right in the  midst of the Pratunam shopping  district where  once  you get out of the hotel  lobby, shopping  can begin already all the way to  night time, and it was good that my other kids, both working already, gave their mother and  bunso  some spending money of their own.
And believe me, Pratunam  easily  beats Divisoria, size alone and in number of visitors, both locals and a lot of foreigners, including  many Filipinos looking for a bargain.
And it turned out that bringing Livi had its advantage, Thais are very fond of babies and with her smile, our 10-month-old  grandchild can charm the local sellers, and she did.
For the first two days, as long as the little  money we had could stretch, we  shopped for our Christmas gifts for friends and relatives, and they are a lot, especially on my wife’s side.
On the third day, we decided  that  would be the time to  be real tourists for once, opting to visit  Thailand’s famous floating market in Damnouen  Saduak in Ratchaburi Province, around 100 kilometers  southwest of the capital, past  the new   and impressive Suvarnahumi International Airport, the country's second one after Don Muang.
We paid the taxi 1200 baht for the trip and another 1000 baht per head for the boat that would take us to the floating market, after all, what is the use of paying the cab and not paying the boat fee?
It was a motorized boat that passed waterways  only big enough to accommodate two boats coming from opposite directions, and since  even from early times, communities were built  on river sides, it  was not surprising to see  a lot of houses on the way to the main market.
Of course, along the way, there were already stalls  on both sides of the waterways, and we even had a stop over  at a big shopping  area featuring coconut sugar and other native products, but it  became more interesting  when we reached the main market where local sellers peddled their wares  both from  small boats and on the floatting market itself, fruits, vegetables, food and native handicraft items and colorful souvenir items were available.
On the way back, we stopped  at a Buddhist temple where there was a footprint of the Buddha inside the beautiful  temple where   we also saw monks, in fact, we were blessed  by an old monk while we were there.
It was only me and Jemi who took a tuk-tuk ride to another Buddhist  temple a few kilometers away from our hotel. We could not go to the Grand Palace as  Thailand’s well-loved King Bhumibol was lying in  state, for a few months from what I read in a newspaper.
A lot of the local people were wearing black to show their love for their  departed king.
Time sure flew past  as the following day, we had to go back to the airport for our Friday flight back to Manila.
Ironically,  it was in Manila  already when I learned that our men's doubles team, composed of  Jason  Huerte, Rheyjey Ortouste, and Mark Gonzales won the gold medal at the 31st King's Cup Sepak  Takraw World Championship.
I  knew of the event before I left for Bangkok as I  was in  touch with our  sepak takraw NSA president Karen Caballero who told  me before that she felt we had a good chance  for a medal finish  in the event, her  boys having  trained for a month in Thailand prior to the competition.
In 2015, we won a silver  in the hoop event and a bronze  in the men's doubles.
But this time, our athletes were more prepared and fired up, and one factor I  believe is the way Karen  handles her athletes, providing hands-on leadership and physical presence to cheer them on, and in the elimination round, the team disposed of  Singapore, Australia, Chinese-Taipei, and Indonesia en route to the semi-finals.
That was the test  as  the team met a local team, we lost in the first set but  took the next two sets, 15-21,  22-20,  21-19 was the final score,supposedly, it was the first time ever that  a Thai team lost in the semifinals in that division.
Then  it was on to the finals against another powerhouse team from Myanmar, but there was no stopping Karen’s boys as  they duplicated their feat, beating the  favored Myanmar team, 12 - 21, 21-19, 21-17, earning  well-deserved praise from  their opponents and  event officials.
Karen shared through FB that she spent a lot of money buying ice cream for her boys as  they were betting on the results but  the athletes kept on winning and Karen had to keep on paying, happily at that.
It was a double celebration for Karen as she herself won as vice president  of the Asian Sepak Takraw Federation, a tribute to her leadership that  some old foghats here were questioning saying she was too young to vie for  the position, and this  is what ails Philippine sports.
I am glad that POC president Peping Cojuangco will have an opponent  this time with football's Nonong Araneta giving way to boxing's Ricky Vargas, who in turn may give  way to Manny Pangilinan as head honcho  of ABAP.
But even then, odds will still favor the crafty Peping, the consummate politician in sports as I describe him.
For MVP, I believe he will only be convinced  to run if  he is 100% guaranteed that he will win and at this point  in time,  I do not belive any one or any group can give that guarantee. Now how I wish that on his own, Peping gives  way to younger people to be at the helm of Philippine sports, but sorry, I will not bet on that.
Enough said.