Limpag: Moalboal Christmas League

My first exposure to the Cebu brand of basketball was during a visit to Moalboal during high school in the early ‘90s. It was the town fiesta, my very first experience of fiestas in the Visayas as those held in Mindanao was a bit low-key. It was the summer of 1993 and it was my first time to see the University of the Visayas and Southwestern University play.

A cousin told me that this would be a great game because of their rivalry and indeed it was. The crowd was packed and the support for both teams was quite even. I thought of that game when, just five years later I covered my first Cebu Amateur Athletic Association match as an 18-year-old newbie reporter for the Freeman, the one when UV faced SWU for the title.

That was that wild one and, curiously enough, a kababayan, Gabriel Maloloy-on—whose sister was the high school crush of everyone—rushed the SWU bench ala Amores during one heated finals game.

When the restriction was lifted, guys here flocked to the court in the plaza in droves and thankfully, there has been no Amores incident. I’ve been based in this town since the pandemic and it’s got quite a sports pedigree, especially in basketball, volleyball, and tennis.

This Christmas, it will be basketball and volleyball that will be taking the limelight with the resumption of the inter-barangay Christmas League tournament by Mayor Titing Cabaron.

“I used to hold this annually during my time, and this will be held annually again,” Mayor Titing told me in Cebuano during a brief interview at his office a few days ago. The tennis-playing mayor with a mean backhand slice is back in charge of Moalboal after a three-year stint as vice mayor.

For parity, the upland barangays will have their own division in basketball.

“For women’s volleyball, there is only one division because the mountain barangays can compete with the rest,” Mayor Titing said.

Moalboal has a deep pool of talent in volleyball and at one time, almost all the MVPs of one Cesafi (Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc.) regular season were from the town.

To ensure that new talents, or even new old talents, will shine, there’s no age limit. However, varsity players and those who have played in inter-town competitions are barred as the tournament also serves as Moalboal’s identification process for future inter-town events.

Prizes are P10,000, P7,000 and P5,000 but in events like these, it’s not the prizes that really matter but the experience of playing for your barangay and with your friends. It’s guaranteed that there are going to be some unforgettable moments, as I overhear whenever I happen to pass by teams who hang out in the local 7-11 after a game or practice.

The games will start on the first weekend of December, an early holiday treat for the sports-loving residents, or even visitors, of this tourist-town.