First love never dies

By April 27, 2021Sports Eye

By Jesus A. Garcia, Jr.

I was better known as a professional cyclist having started in January 1965 and ended my career on January 19, 1978 when I migrated to Uncle Sam’s land. I made a comeback in the 1982 Marlboro Tour at 36-years old, after four years of absence. I failed in my quest with a miserable 16th place finish out of 84 elite contestants.

But unknown to many except my classmates during my high school days (1950s) at Mangaldan National School (MNHS), I was first an avid player of table tennis, or better known as ping-pong, invented by the Chinese. Yes, it was my first love in sports before cycling. In fact, I still play this game to this day, despite being an aging 75 years old hombre. Unlike cycling, I never won any podium finish during my heydays at MNHS but I still consider myself as one of the standouts of my alma-matter.

Our perennial winner then was my classmate Joselito Orap of Poblacion in Mangaldan. Orap is now based in Sydney, Australia and we still update each other thru internet. Orap says he still plays ping-pong but like me, only for physical fitness and no longer for competition. In fact, when he came home for a vacation in early 2019, we couldn’t help but play best-of-three series of sets. He beat me twice in-a-row.

Due to my fondness for ping-pong, I did not have to think twice in accepting the invitation of my town mate and friend Rey Soriano, an elite player of Mangaldan. I traveled immediately to San Carlos City with my eldest son Jazy and watched the hostilities of the tournament dubbed as “Federation of Table Tennis Cup 2021” last April 17 at the Butterfly Kingdom E-Learning School building.  According to the federation president Jonathan Jover, veep Walter Rebugio and tournament director Jun Ducusin, the tourney was a team event and participated in by 42 bonafide Pangasinenses. Jover and Ducusin explained that the skirmishes were for a qualifying round for West Pangasinan participated in by seven teams.

The lucky four teams that qualified for the championship were Alaminos, Mabini, San Carlos City and Lingayen. The Central Pangasinan Table Tennis Association (CEPATTA) is bannered by Mark Caranto while the Lingayen Table Tennis Association is skippered by the aging Jose “Peping” Santos.

Jover and Ducusin said the four teams and the four winning squads in the Eastern Pangasinan area will face each other for the championship round and this will likely be done at Narciso Ramos Sports and Civic Center in Lingayen hopefully with the consent of the sports-minded and diligent father of the province Gov. Amado I. “Pogi” Espino, III. The qualifying round for Eastern Pangasinan group will be on May 1 at Barangay Dumampot in Asingan town, the place of tournament director, Ducusin.

Unlike the men’s category, the women’s division was an individual event and there were 15 players initially and the 10 who qualified for the championship game were divided into two teams, A and B, with five contestants in each group. Composing the Team A are Marycon-eda Caracas of Alaminos City, Renelyn Estrada of Mabini, Kang Gubatan of San Carlos City, Angela Rosario of CEPATTA-Lingayen and Cassy Gavina of Malasiqui.

Representing Team B are: Sandy Munoz of San Carlos City, Jessica Jacoba, Lalaine Maneclang, Frecia Ann Cruz and Crystaline Castro, all from CEPATTA-Lingayen.

It was a well-organized tourney and my heartfelt kudos to all the organizers. Yes, ping-pong was my first love in sports, and my love to this game will never-ever die.

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; And you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. COLOSSIANS 2: 9-10

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