Thursday, January 3, 2019

*444. Fil-Am Olympian ERIKA K. VON HEILAND, Ace Shuttler from Angeles City

It used to be that badminton was a lightly-regarded sport, more fit for leisure than for competition. Only a few athletes—mostly from Asian countries—ruled the sport.  It was first featured as a demonstration sport in the 1972 Munich Olympics, but it took 20 years for  it to be included as an official medal-worthy sport—at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

In a sport dominated by Indonesians, Malaysians, Koreans and Chinese, a Filipino-American of Kapampangan lineage,  led the U.S. Olympic Badminton team, in their quest for a podium finish for America. All eyes were on Erika Ann Kennedy Von Heiland, the 27 year-old shuttler who beat all odds to qualify for the Barcelona Olympics.

For a gruelling 18 months, she made the rounds of qualifying competitions around the world to secure a berth in the U.S. team, paying part of the tour expenses, taking out loans to finance her trip and even putting her college scholarship on the line. But, after a year and a half of competing, Von Heiland was stunned to learn that she had made it as the highest-ranked American badminton player for the Olympics.

Erika was born in Angeles City on Christmas Eve, 24 December 1965 to parents Theodore Leopoldo (Ted)  Von Heiland (b. 11 Jan. 1941/d.15 Sep. 2011) and Georgia Kennedy. She came from a pedigreed family, one of the richest in Pampanga. Her great-grandfather was Florentino Torres Pamintuan (b. 14 Mar. 1868/d. 12 Apr. 1925) who built the famous Pamintuan Mansion across the Holy Rosary Parish, for his first wife, Mancia Vergara Sandico.

The Pamintuan-Sandico union produced 5 children; the eldest daughter, Maria de la Paz Eugenia (or simply, Paz) went on to marry Leopoldo Faustino who died young. Paz married a second time to an Honolulu journalist, Frank A. Von Heiland, and they would have a daughter, Bunny, and a son TedErika’s father.

Ted graduated from Ateneo, and spent part of his married years in Angeles City, and in Manila, where his kids Frank (Chip), Debra (Babsie) , Erika and Trinity,  grew up in an extended Kapampangan household and went to school at the Colegio de San Agustin in Makati. But in 1985, he would eventually move his family to Anaheim, California  where his children completed  their education and later, pursued their own careers: Chip and Babsie  joined the military, while Erika stayed in college to take up Criminal Justice at  Arizona State University  on a badminton sport scholarship.

Erika had been fascinated with racquet sports in her younger years, taking up tennis at age 17. But when she learned that she could propel a shuttlecock up to 200 miles per hour, she felt the rush and shifted to badminton, considered as the fastest sport in the world. It is amusing to know that she once got hit in the right eye with a shuttlecock and couldn't see for a week. 

Eventually, she became so highly- skilled at the sport that in 1989, she was chosen to represent the U.S. at the 6th International Badminton Federation World Championships held in Jakarta, Indonesia (she would make the team as well, in 1991 and 1993). The next year, in 1990, Von Heiland made it as a member of the US Uber Cup Team, qualifying again in 1992, and 1996.

But it had always been the Olympics that she aspired for, a dream that was fulfilled in 1992. At the inaugural badminton games, Von Heiland competed in the Women’s Singles but her heroic efforts were thwarted by Canadian champion Denyse Julien in the first round. She ranked 33rd overall in a field that was ruled by Asians and topped by Indonesian Susi Susanti. Still, it was a good experience for Von Heiland , and vowed to come back stronger for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

In between Olympics, she trained relentlessly, and in 1995, she represented the United States at the Pan American Games in Mar de Plata, Argentina. Von Heiland was fielded in the women’s badminton doubles (with partner Linda French) and this time, she came home with a hard-earned Bronze Medal. She and Linda even fared better at the 1995 Bermuda International Open., winning runner-up honors in women’s doubles.

The rewards of joining these high-level international badminton tournaments were finally realized when, on 8 April 1996, the United States Badminton Association announced Erika Von Heiland’s nomination to the U.S. Olympic Committee for inclusion on the 1996 U.S. Olympic Badminton Team., along with Kevin Han and doubles partner, Linda French.

At this news, Von Heiland gushed, "Competing in my first Olympics in 1992 was awesome, but going to my second Olympics on home-soil is beyond words.” The 30 year old veteran then added, "This will be a great way to end my career."

Von Heiland marched proudly as part of Team America, during the opening of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics at the Centennial Olympic Park. When the badminton games got going, she valiantly gave her best to ward off  her Taipei opponent Jeng Shwu-Zen, in the Women’s Singles, but got eliminated in the first round with a score of 2–11, 6–11. Von Heiland ranked last in a field of 33 female shuttlers. In the Women’s Doubles where she and Linda French were ranked 38th best in the world, they did slightly better, finishing in 17th place in a field of 19.

When the Atlanta Summer Games drew to a close, so did the sensational badminton career of Von Heiland. Hounded by multiple knee surgeries, she knew it was time to hang up the racquet. At 30, she was ready to enjoy her married life while hoping to begin a professional career.

She didn’t have to look far—right in Atlanta, she was offered a sales job by the Coca Cola Enterprises and rose to become the Amusement and Recreation Business Development Manager for 4 years. She tried other companies but returned to the Coca Cola Company as a Senior National Account Executive. After 7 years, she was named as Director of Community Marketing beginning in  2011 to the present.  

It’s been a long journey for this Angeleña—who, despite her prominent background chose to do things the old-fashioned way: working her way to the top through sheer hard work. perseverance and dedication,. At her prime, she was named as one of the best 100 women badminton players of the world. Erika Von Heiland was also blessed with the unique experience of living her Olympic dream not once, and now, as a successful corporate executive, she is truly on top of her game.

Erika Von Heiland:
From Badminton to Coca Cola: 5 Questions With Two-Time Olympian Erika Von Heiland Strader:
For One Woman, the USO's Coca-Cola Connection Seems Fated,
PAZ: A 20th Century Chronicle by Ma.Paz Eugenia Pamintuan y Sandico vda. de Faustino y vda. de Von Heiland,1998

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

*443. From Boys Town to Mexico Olympics: Gymnast NORMAN V. HENSON of Arayat

NORMAN VENZON HENSON, overcame a difficult childhood to become a world-class Olympian, thanks to gymnastics. Henson was born in Barrio Mesulu, Arayat, Pampanga.

Norman Venzon Henson
’s Olympic story is an inspiring one, that began with a troubled childhood in Arayat, a stay at Manila Boys Town where he discovered gymnastics, and his eventual salvation by the sport that would propel him to the top and earn him a place in the world’s premiere sporting competition.

Born on 3 Mar. 1950 to parents Domingo Henson and Leonora Venzon, the young Henson grew up in the sleepy barrio of Mesulu, in the foothills of Arayat town. He grew up in comfortable surroundings; his father was a member of the landed Henson brothers who owned vast farmlands and many businesses including operating a major bus line.

One would expect a Henson son to walk the straight and narrow path, but for some reason, Norman Henson would stray from that road, and at a very you age, fell into the company of wayward boys his age that would cause a rift between him and his parents. So the young Henson did the unthinkable—he ran away from home. The delinquent child who was not even in his teens, was found by his distraught parents after some time, but he kept running away, beyond their control.

In the end, Henson was taken by his parents to Manila Boys Town, a place for  voluntarily surrendered children, orphans, vagrants and teens. Boys Town was to build a reputation as a reformatory school for errant boys because of its sports and education programs. Ran by priests headed by Fr. Ricardo Mirasol, Boys Town proved to be safe haven where boys could discover and develop their  sense of self-worth and belonging.

One sport discipline that the institution was known for was gymnastics. By 1960, under Fr. Mirasol, Boys Town had produced competitive gymnasts that were good enough to compete at the national level, and before long, they were winning championships. 

As a ward of Boys Town, Henson enrolled in the sport, and before long, he was hooked in gymnastics, having found an enjoyable outlet for his energy, at last.  At just 5 feet 3 and a half inches tall, and weighing 128 pounds, Henson’s physique was perfect for the sport. Slowly, he learned to build his strength by chinning bars, and learned to leap, tumble, flip and somersault. By so doing, Henson also learned to build his character, self-discipline, and his spirit of sportsmanship.

In 1962, to promote the sport, the Gymnastics Association of the Philippines (GAP) was organized, headed by Julian Malonzo as its first President. Sotero A. Tejada—who would be acknowledged as the Father of Philippine Gymnastics---was elected Secretary-Treasurer, while Boys Town coach, Fr. Mirasol became Chairman of the Men’s Technical Committee.

The first National Competition was launched in 1963 by the GAP, open to secondary public schools. Gymnastics then was already a staple sport at the UAAP. Norman Henson was named to the Boys Town Team, along with Ernesto Beren and Julian Indon. The trio of teens created a sensation when they swept all their events in their age division.

Philippine gymnastics got a major boost when, in the same year, GAP applied for international affiliation with the Fêdêration Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG), the world governing body for that sport. Sec. Sotero Tejada not only got a membership, but also convinced the world federation to allow Filipino gymnasts to compete in the next year’s Olympics to be held in Asia for the first time. And so, in 1964, 3 Filipino gymnasts made history by competing at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics—a first for the Philippines: the FEU champion Evelyn Magluyan, Fortunato Payao, and Demetrio Pastrana.

Norman could have easily qualified with his superb gymnastic skills, but at 14, he was too young to compete in the Olympics.  Although  enrolled at the Gregorio Perfecto High School in Tondo, he continued to step up his training. In 1967, Norman and his teammates—Ernesto Beren, Raul de Belen and Rolando Mirasol—were invited to compete in Copenhagen, Denmark which was hosting the International School Games—the Hapniad, as it was called-- held in connection with the city’s 800th anniversary. It was an exciting time for Henson as it was his first time to journey to Europe. When it was his turn to take his place on the gymnasium mat, Henson mesmerized the crowd with a Floor Exercise routine that garnered him the Gold Medal, besting gymnasts from ten countries.

Finally, the Olympic year arrived in 1968 and, at age 18, Norman V. Henson, with his Boys Town team mate Ernesto Beren, were named to the Philippine National Team to compete in Mexico City, Mexico. It was a year of many firsts-- the 19th edition of the Olympics was the first Olympic Games to be staged in Latin America, held from October 12-27, the first to be held in a Spanish-speaking nation. For the Philippines, it marked the first time that a Filipino sat in the gymnastics judging panel, in the person of Sec. Sotero A. Tejada, and only the second time that the country sent  its male gymnasts to the quadrennial event.

Of his star athlete, Sec. Tejada opined,” Norman Henson is expected to make a good showing in the floor exercises and rings”. At the National Auditorium, with the world’s best gymnasts participating, 14 different artistic gymnastics events were contested, eight for men and six for women. Henson saw action in the Men’s Rings, Parallel Bars, Horse Vault, Floor Exercises and Individual All-Around. The valiant duo gave their best, but at the end of their routines, their scores put them in the last 2 places of their qualifying events.

Post-Mexico, Henson continued to be active in competition. He practically trained and lived at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, which would be the venue of the 1971 National Open Gymnastics Championship held from April 29-May 1, 1971. This time, he was narrowly beaten in the All-Around by rising star Rolando Albuera. He would devote his time in the sport that he loved, and became a trainor and coach of many budding gymnasts in the 1980s, including members of the Philippine National Gymnastic Team. He, himself, was married to Teresita Jose, a former gymnast from the University of the East, whom he met back in high school. They would have 4 children: Norman Jr., Ethelson, Jacqueline and Pauline.

His coaching career was hampered by a series of strokes, and he would pass away in April 2014. Henson may not have won an Olympic medal,  but he certainly gained something of greater value from gymnastics, making a complete turnaround of an early life that was threatening to go awry.  The redemptive power of sports put him back on track, enabling Norman V.  Henson to win decisively,  in the game of Life.

Special Thanks to: ETHELSON J. HENSON, son of Norman Henson, for additional information about his father.
Sunday Times Magazine, “Well Balanced: Ph Gymansts in the Olympics”, Oct. 13, 1968. P. 34

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

*442. RAYMOND L. OCAMPO of Lubao: A Winter Olympian's Long, Lonesome Road to Calgary

SKI IS NO LIMIT. Lawyer-luger Raymond Ocampo Jr. did not just want to compete in the Olympics, he wanted to race for the Philippines, his country of birth. But his dream was put in peril due to passport issues. Photo: NY Times,

When a topnotch Kapampangan-American athlete and lawyer was asked in one job interview which he would prioritize—to handle a major corporate client or to compete in the Olympic, he chose the latter—and got hired anyway. Such is the commitment of Raymond L. Ocampo Jr. to his chosen discipline—luge—a winter sport that is hardly known in the U.S., much less in the Philippines. But Ocampo did not just want to join the Winter Olympics; he wanted to compete for the Philippines.

It had been 16 years since the Philippines was represented in a winter Olympics;  the first time was in the 1972 Sapporo games when cousins Ben Nanasca and Juan Cipriano competed in alpine skiing. The two were adopted and lived in Andorra, and took to skiing in the Pyrenees. They became so proficient that the Swiss government recruited them for an alpine skiing group, which paved the way for their Olympic stint under the Philippine flag.

Ocampo’s journey was unlike our pioneer Olympians. Born in Lubao on 10 Feb. 1953, his parents migrated to Canada when he was 11. The young Ocampo channeled his energies into sports of all kinds—as a high-schooler, he became a member of his school’s basketball team that won the state championship. Even as a political science student at UCLA and later, as a law student,  he was running marathons in between poring over legal tomes.

After passing the bar, Ocampo went into private practice and continued with his love of sports. In 1986, the year he got employed by Oracle Corp., he became fascinated with luge—a fast race on artificial ice tracks using racing sleds that could be maneuvered to reach over 140 kilometer per hour.

What was amazing was that Ocampo learned the sports from scratch. He would watch old video tapes of past winter Olympics editions, but when he reviewed the Saravejo Olympics of 1984, he was surprised to learn that tropical Puerto Rico was represented by a skier named George Tucker. He seriously began entertaining the thought of representing the country of his birth.

First, Ocampo began investing in the sport, spending as much as $20,000 alone for trips and equipment. He started intensive dry-land training on a sled with wheels and joining races. His first big one was at  the Empire State Games at Lake Placid in 1986, finishing a creditable 7th in his over-30 age group. One of those he defeated was Puerto Rican George Tucker! The experience buoyed his confidence and thus began his  personal mission to ski for the Philippines.

But first, he needed the permission of the Philippine Olympic Committee in Manila via the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco. It took awhile to convince sports officials that his application was valid: the International Olympic Committee allows an athlete to represent the country of his birth so long as he has not competed in the same sport  for another country. Besides, as a dual Filipino-American citizen, he was eligible to don the Philippine tri-color.

The national committee however, required him to hold a Philippine passport first—and thus began a series of frustrating passport issues that imperiled his Olympic dream. ''Luging is hard enough,'' he realized, but ''the paper trail was the hardest part.'' A personnel from the consulate volunteered to take his case, and his cache of supporting documents to Manila to discuss his request with the Olympic committee.

But the official’s timing was bad; Corazon Aquino had just ousted Marcos, and a new government was being put in place. It did not help that the official had strong ties with the Marcos administration, so upon landing in Manila, he was withheld, and his papers were confiscated, including Ocampo’s pertinent documents. The disappointed Olympic hopeful had to start all over.

Ocampo personally sent a letter to Vice President Salvador H. Laurel. He sent another letter to Sec. Gen. Francisco Almeda—who had denied his first request. The United States Luge Federation even sent a letter of recommendation to convince the Olympic committee. When still a deluge of letters and telex messages from Ocampo were left unanswered, the weary athlete phoned Almeda directly, finally convincing him how serious he was. With that final go-signal, Ocampo gave a big sigh of relief as he mused:  ''It was an exhausting process…more exhausting than lugeing.''

When the 15th Winter Olympics unfolded in Calgary, Alberta, Canada on 13 February 1988, the triumphant Ocampo marched into the McMahon Stadium, proudly  holding the Philippine flag up high. He was the lone Filipino among the thousands of international athletes who congregated in Calgary that year to vie for medals in the premiere winter sport games of the world.

Never has there been an athlete who have worked and prepared as hard as Raymond L. Ocampo Jr.—even before the Games had started. ''A medal is not something I'm shooting for,'' the Kapampangan-American said. ''But whether I win one or not, it would be nice to bring a focus to the Philippines for something other than the troubles they have been having. That's just the way I feel.''

 (POSTSCRIPT: Ocampo was fielded in the men's singles luge event and finished 35 out of 38 overall. In 2010, he served as an honorary captain of the U.S. Olympic Luge Team that competed in Vancouver,Canada. He is the current President and CEO of Samurai Surfer LLC, a private consulting and investment company)

OLYMPIC PROFILE: RAYMOND OCAMPO; One-Man Luge Team With Tale of 2 Flags, By MICHAEL JANOFSKY, Nov. 29, 1987,
New York Times, Nov. 29, 1987

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

*441. Kapampangan-Canadian KAYLA SANCHEZ: World Class Swimmer

MAKING A SPLASH. Kayla Noelle Sanchez, 5'7" seventeener, sank 2 junior world swimming records in 2 years. She is a member of Team Canada for the2018 Commonwealth Games. Her father, Noel Sanchez, comes from Mabalacat but worked in Singapore where Kayla was born.

Promising Olympic hopeful, Kayla Noelle Sanchez is a young, versatile star swimmer currently making waves in the world of competitive swimming. Just seventeen, she has re-written 3 World Junior Swimming Records (2 in 50m. and 1 in 25m. pool)  in just two years, named to Canada’s 2018 Commonwealth Games where she collected a medal,  and garnered 2 more at the Pan Pacific Games in Tokyo, Japan.

Just as exciting to know is that Sanchez, is part-Kapampangan, one of two daughters of Noel Sison Sanchez of Dau, Mabalacat, Pampanga and Ma. Susana Pramoso, a nurse from Baguio. The couple used to be overseas workers based in Singapore, and it was there that Kayla was born on 7 April 2001.

In 2002, when Kayla was just a year old, the Sanchezes migrated to Canada. Few years later, she joined the community learn- to-swim programs and became so proficient that she reached a level where she could no longer advance at her age. Her coach advised her to join competitive swim club.

Prior to that, as a Grade 3 student, she tried out and made the school swim team and competed for the first time at the Annual Catholic District Board Swimming Championship. Shortly after, she joined a competitive swim club, and immediately, she made waves at the pool. At the short course Ontario Provincial Championships in 2014, she reset four Canadian age-group records. The most impressive was her victory in 50m freestyle which broke the Canadian age-group record of 26.34 that has been standing since 1985. Kayla went below that at 26.29 secs.

Sanchez continued to swim for the High Performance Centre–Ontario under the tutelage of Ben Titley, Canada’s Olympic swim coach. She was swimming superbly, in disciplines that included freestyle, backstroke, individual medley and the relays. In July 2017, she was part of the Canadian swim that went to World Aquatics Championship in Budapest, where they placed 4th. She had just turned 16.

A month later, the 6th FINA World Junior Swimming Championships unfolded in Indianapolis, and once again, Canada was ably represented in the 4 x 200 meter freestyle relay by its women’s team led by Rio Olympic gold medalist Penny Oleksiak, Rebecca Smith, Taylor Ruck and Kayla Sanchez. The team not only scooped up the Gold Medal, but established a new World Junior Record  of 7:51.47, almost six seconds ahead of Russia and faster than any team of teenagers in history.

Just as 2018 was about to end, at the North York Aquatic Cup held in Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre , the teenage sensation broke the short course 50 meter freestyle World Junior Record with a blistering time of 23. 94 seconds. The previous record of 24.00 secs. was achieved by Menghui Zhu of China (Japanese swimmer Rikako Ikee finished 23.95 seconds in 2017, but this has not been ratified, and even if it were, Kayla's time is still one one hundredth of a second faster).

With her clocking, Kayla swam the 5th fastest 50 freestyle in the world this 2018,  behind the fastest women sprinters in the pool, topped by Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom’s 23.21 seconds. This, she accomplished while still a junior age swimmer. As if this was not incredible enough, Kayla  returned later and swam the preliminary 100m backstroke in 58.2 secs., the only one to swim the distance under 1 minute.

As she is poised to enter her college years, where she is ranked #1 in college recruiting class 2019, Kayla has been receiving overtures from the best colleges and universities in the USA,  dangling scholarship offers for her to be on on their NCAA team. Her parents have taught her the permanent value of education and so, even while she was swimming, she continues to do well  in school. She graduated elementary as a class valedictorian.

Her parents are hoping in the future that Kayla will be able to swim for the Philippines. But at the moment,  an official in the Philippines National Team put it this way, “whatever flag she represent, for me she’s always be a Filipino by heart.”

Kayla Sanchez’Athlete’s Profile:

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

*440. Race The Wind: JAMIE C. PAMINTUAN, Top Woman Motocross Rider

HER MOTO IN LIFE. Jamie C. Pamintuan, one of the world's top women motocross riders in the 90s decade. Her father, Remy Pamintuan of Angeles City was also an ace motocross biker in his time. Photos courtesy of Terri Cui Pamintuan.
Before Hidilyn Diaz and Margielyn Didal made waves in Weightlifting and Skateboarding respectively—sports that were generally considered  as  men’s domains, there was an audacious, daredevil Kapampangan sportswoman who conquered the sports of motocross racing—rising to the ranks of  the world’s best female riders in the 90s decade.

Jamie Cui Pamintuan, born on 3 January 1979,  has the adventurous streak in her genes, Her father, Remigio “Remy” Pamintuan of Angeles City, was a former ace motocross rider himself, winning the Philippine National Motocross championships from 1969-1976. He was a contemporary of the motorsports legends Butch Chase (Russian-American born in the Philippines) and Ken Falco, who went on to head the National Motorcycle Sports and Safety Association. Her mother, Theresa “Terri” Cui was a USAF daughter who grew up in Clark.

At age 2, Jamie, along with her family migrated to the U.S. Growing up she was involved in various activities, (dancing, martial arts, skating, etc.). She even played softball in high school (Polytechnic Senior High School) on the Jr. Varsity Team. But none of those pursuits really held her interest for very long—except riding her BMX bike. Her father sought out a bike for her, but was appalled at the prices.

”Mas mura pa and motor kaysa sa bisikleta”, he would say.  So he went out and bought a used RMZ 80cc.   Jamie taught herself how to ride and shift gears—right in their own backyard, as there was no proper venue to practice in the city where they lived. Her father kept watch as her skills improved, so, he too, got a bike so he could guide her in riding,

Jamie was inspired even more  when she went to watch races at De Anza MX track in Moreno Valley, California,  There, she saw Mercedes Gonzalez, a pioneering female biker and Jamie's idol--race against men. With confidence high, she tried to register to race in the 80cc class, only to be told that she was too young for that class.

Undeterred, she practiced even more, riding at different tracks and clubs: Perris Raceway, Glen Helen, Barona Oaks, CRC-Palmdale. Jamie would ride against the boys and at times would beat them. It was in these practice rides that she caught the attention of Tami Rice, promoter and president of the Women’s MX Team, and who would become Jamie’s mentor.

With her parent’s permission, Rice signed her up with the Women’s Class, at the age of 11, but she was tall for her age. Once she moved up from riding  80 cc. to 125 cc. bikes at age 12,  Jamie quickly rose through the ranks, often competing against young men.

1992 was a turning point in her budding career. Just 13, she was asked by the Women’s Team head to fill in a slot for an international competition in Italy. But she had just suffered an injury 2 weeks before ( she broke her clavicle), and was still recovering. It was an opportunity of a lifetime not to be missed, and so with her parents’ blessing, Jamie went to race and place 12th overall, an incredible finish for the youngest racer of the competition.

The following years, women races were still few and far between, so Jamie would race against men in local races to push herself, and continued to race nationally with women at various AMA Outdoor Nationals. She started building her winning credentials starting in 1994, with a 1st place finish at the Adelanto Grand Prix  (Women’s Open Class) and 7th place overall at the Ladies’ Invitational World Cup in Oklahoma.

Other local series races where she triumphed in 1995 include: Anaheim Supercross (Women’s Stadium cross- main event, 3rd place); San Diego Supercross (Women’s Stadium Cross main event,  4th place); GNC @ Lake Whitney Texas (Women’s Pro Class, 3rd Place); Women’s West Coast National (1st ); Mammoth Mountain Motocross Women Pro ( 3rd) and Barona Oaks Ladies World Cup (7th in Pro 125cc , 3rd in 250cc ). In 1996, Jamie qualified for the highly competitive Loretta Lynns Motocross in Tennessee, one of the most sought after for amateur races where all factory scouting occurs. Unfortunately, her old shoulder injury prevented her from finishing her race.

That summer while recuperating from her injury, the Philippine Shell Yamaha invited Jamie to come out to the Philippines and ride with the team. She came out and rode as a guest rider in Tacloban, Leyte. She was also invited to come to Batangas where she captivated the crowd in a sponsored exhibition race. Pitted against  ace pro-riders  Glen Aguilar and Jing Leongson, she matched the men’s double and triple jumps on board a Suzuki RMC 250 motorcycle. The adoring fans could hardly believe that the helmet-wearing person in front of them was a woman.

Jamie took time-off from racing in 1997 to have surgeries on her problem shoulder. But while convalescing, she was approached by a stunt rider to perform a daring stunt for the Guinness World Record: a building-to-building jump, 14 stories high. She successfully performed the heart-stopping jump stunt in downtown L.A.

Due to her injury, Jamie also tried “dragonfire racing” on street bikes, where jumps  were not required. She continued to race until 2004/2005 when a crash in motocross left her temporarily paralyzed for 2 months. She recovered from that serious accident, but her doctors advised her against racing again.

To this day though she still misses the adrenaline rush that racing brings. She would come out and ride when there are reunions or anniversary events for Women’s Motocross. The last race was in 2014 for the 40th year celebration of Women’s Motocross at Glen Helen, California. Whenever the history of women’s motorsports is recalled, the name Jamie C. Pamintuan is always mentioned with awe and respect, for helping blaze the trail for women to in a male-dominated sport, giving them another platform to excel, break barriers and stereotypes. It comes as no surprise that this Kapampangan trailblazer  is regarded today as one of the most influential Women of Motocross.

MR.S TERRI CUI PAMINTUAN, Jamie’s mother, for co-writing this article.
MIKE PAMINTUAN, for leading me to Jamie Pamintuan and her amazing motocross achievements.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

*439. MISAGH M. BAHADORAN: This Azkal from Mabalacat is Mr. Football 2017

MR. FOOTBALL 2017,AZKAL MISAGH BAHADORAN has the distinction of scoring the first international goal for the Philippines during the 2018 World Cup qualifying rounds against Bahrain in 2015. He spent his early education in Mabalacat. Pitcure source: heartthrobcandy.blogspot.

One of the brightest names in Philippine sports is the footballer Misagh Medina Bahadoran, member of the national football team, popularly known by their monicker, the Philippine Azkals. Misagh was born on 10 January 1987 in Mabalacat, Pampanga, the third of seven children of Mostafa Bahadoran of Iran,  and Mary Anne Medina of Poblacion, Mabalacat.

He spent his early years in his father’s country, and at 7, he began playing football and dreamt of becoming a professional footballer. Moving to the Philippines, Bahadoran studied at Our Lady of Fatima School in Mabalacat and finished his elementary and high school education there in 2004.

In college, he pursued the sports with passion, playing as a Winger and Forward. He became so good at it that he was named to the Futsal National Team in 2007,where he would be a member for 5 years. That same year, Bahadoran was invited to try-out for the national football team, only to be advised by his father to finish his studies first. At that time, he was still enrolled as a student of Dentistry at the Centro Escolar University in Manila.

Meanwhile, Bahadoran continud to honed his football skills by playing with many international football clubs. In 2009,  he participated at the United Football League as a player for Pasargad. He later moved to Kaya in 2010. He was soon attracting the attention of other clubs; in December of 2011, he was asked to try out for the Tokyo Verdy.

Upon graduation in 2011, his father gave him his blessings to pursue his  football passion full-time.  He finally became a certified “AZKAL” when he made it to the Philippine National Football Team, in the august company of Neil Etheridge, Stephen Schrock, Chieffy Caligdong, Phil and James Younghusband.

Bahadoran was named in the final squad for the first round 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification  against Sri Lanka, but was unable to play.  When the team made it to the second round, he substituted for teammate Angel Guirado in the match against Kuwait,  thus finally making his playing debut, a game which the Azkals lost.

Not to be fazed, the team bounced back in the second qualifying round against Bahrain in 2015. Bahadoran proved his worth when he scored his first international goal—a historic feat for the Philippines—which enabled the Azkals to prevail, with a score of 2-1.

The news of that victory reverberated back home. But there was more to come from the exceptional Kapampangan.  In the next match against Yemen held 5 days later, Bahadoran scored the epic first goal for the Philippines, and the team never looked back, with a convincing 2-0 victory.

The celebrated achievements of Bahadoran in the qualifying games leading to the 2018 FIFA World Cup were rewarded with the ultimate recognition from the sport. In 2017, he was named “Mr. Football” by the Philippine Sportstwriters' Association, a prized title bestowed on him in February.

It is rather ironic that Bahadoran, who has won national acclaim for his football playing as a striker, has yet to receive the recognition that he so rightfully deserves as a true son of the Pampanga, saved for an exemplary alumni award from his alma materHis nomination for the the Outstanding Kapampangan Awards was surprisingly bypassed in 2017, the year that Bahadoran earned Philippine football’s top award.

On the bright side, the 31 year-old continues to be active in promoting and playing the sports that he has come to love. In 2016, he made a crucial decision to defer his dental practice in Makati so he could spend a few more years in football with Global FC/Cebu. Bahadoran was squired by clubs within the region, eventually signing with the Malaysia Super League club Perak TBG in January 2018, a stint that ended in October.

He has never lost touch with his Kapampangan roots; every now and then, he goes home to Mabalacat for quick family get-togethers and reunions. The football star with matinee idol looks  had a 3 year relationship with actress-model Sam Pinto, but have recently split.

As for football, never has the sport elicited this much tremendous amount of attention among young Pinoy fans and players, than now—thanks to the Philippine AZKALS, and to one world-class Kapampangan footballer, Misagh Bahadoran.


Saturday, November 3, 2018

*438. STAN C. CARBUNGCO: The “Rock from Porac” Who Muscled His Way to Mr. Universe

First Filipino and first Asian bodybuilder to place in Mr. Universe.

The icon of Philippine bodybuilding, Estanislao “Stan” Carbungco was born on 13 Nov. 1931, the youngest of 7 children to Don Ambrosio Ocampo Carbungco with roots in Porac, and Doña Angelina Cuenco. His father, a former chef of Casino Español for 8 years, was a successful restaurateur, founder of the popular Carbungco Restaurant, a renown catering and dining place in pre-war Manila, with a branch in Antipolo.

Though the young Stan was raised in a comfortable household, he learned from his father the value of hard work, who had no qualms washing dishes and doing menial jobs in his own restaurant.

He spent his school years at the Far Eastern University, where he finished high school. He would later finish his Commerce degree at the same university.

Sickly growing up, Stan began doing weight training in a gym. He became so good at it that he was soon immersing himself deeply in physical culture. His parents did not exactly approve of his interest in bodybuilding, which was not a common sport at that time.

There were only a few visible musclemen in the 50s , and one of them was Jesus Ramos, Mr. Philippines of 1951, who became a certified star after appearing in a series of jungle movies, and dubbed as the Philippine Tarzan. Then there was Olympian Rodrigo del Rosario, who, en route to  placing fourth in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics,  set a world and Olympic record in the military press portion of his event.

Hoping to join competitions, Carbungco continued to train in secret. In 1954, he qualified for the Mr. Philippines bodybuilding contest, and to his surprise, won the his first of two national titles. He would duplicate that achievement by winning the Mr. Philippines title yet again in 1959, which would proved to be his most successful year.

It was an exciting time for a 28 year old to fly to Montreal, Canada as the first ever country representative to the 1959 Mr. Universe bodybuilding contest. an event organized by the International Federation of Body Building and Fitness. He traveled alone, without a retinue to assist him, but that did not seem to faze him. He not only made bodybuilding friends from around the world—but also history for Asian sports.

Carbungco placed 1st as the Most Muscular in the Medium class division, and earned runner-up honors to Mr. Universe Medium class. In the overall class, the unheralded athlete was named second Most Muscular after Eddie Silvestre of the U.S., who went on to become Mr. Universe. To him goes the distinction of being the first Filipino and only Asian to break into the winning circle, a feat unprecedented at that time.

Upon his return, Carbungco made a major shift by concentrating on weightlifting rather than bodybuilding. It was an opportune time as the 1960 Rome Olympics were coming up, and he was hoping to follow the footsteps of the prodigious Rodrigo del Rosario who, 8 years before, had pressed 231 ¼ lbs. , a new Olympic Mark in his featherweight division. He began powerlifting, and at one point, he was lifting weights that would have been good for Olympic bronze or silver.

Indeed, Carbungco was being touted as a sure Olympic bet and medalist in weightlifting, but his Olympic dreams were dashed when, after appearing in a print ad for boat motors, lost his amateur status for being paid as an endorser.

Carbungco was sadly frustrated over this disqualification, but he never looked back. Instead, he stepped up his efforts to promote the sports of bodybuilding like never before.  After his competitive days were over,  he put up a weight and fitness center, ‘Stan Carbungco’s  Gym”, in Quezon City where he personally trained and mentored many young physical culturists.  To meet the growing needs for gym equipment, Carbungco pioneered the local manufacture of weight-training equipment and gear in the Philippines.  The well-patronized gym had a loyal following, and the hallowed institution for bodybuilding has been in operation for over 50 years now.

All his life, Carbungco devoted his time and energy to the fitness sport he loved. For many years he headed the Philippine Federation of Body Builders, an official affiliate of IFBB which fields Filipino bodybuilders to various competitions abroad. He also co-founded the Powerlifting Association of the Philippines (PAP) in 1982.

The legendary bodybuilder, "Mang Stan", as he was called in his later years,  passed away at age 81 on 10 March 2012. He left behind his wife, Edna Oquendo-Carbungco and their children, and a legacy of health and fitness advocacies that he passionately pursued, and which continues to inspire Philippine sports to this day.

Sibug, Edgardo. “PORAC: A Rancheria at Batiauwan 1594-2004”, © 2003. p. 280
FB Interview with Mr. Tiny Carbungco, son of Stan Carbungco
Tiny Carbungco FB Page
Jeffrey dePadua Panela
Lolo Stan Carbungco Tribute:
Uploaded by Grace Carbungco, published April 3, 2012.
Uploaded by Beng Gonzales, published 22 March 20102, accessed 2 Nov, 2018.
Special thanks to Mr. Ed Escolito Escobar