Pages: Cebu Sports Awards

John Z. Pages

THIS Feb. 29—the one day that only happens every four years—there’s a major happening at the SM City Cebu. It’s the gathering of the best-of-the-best of Cebu’s athletes. Called the 37th SAC-SMB Cebu Sports Awards, the year’s top Cebuano athletes will be honored at the Northwing of SM City Cebu from 2 to 5 p.m.

June Mar Fajardo, already recently beset with an injury, will be honored. He’s a shoo-in to receive the PBA’s MVP award for a record sixth straight year.

Johnriel Casimero, the reigning boxing world champ who’ll fight Naoya Inoue in April, is another awardee. So is Rubilen Amit, the “Athlete of the Year” in 2013 and 2014. She won the 9-ball gold medal in the SEA Games.

Margielyn Didal? You know her skateboarding prowess. She won the 2018 Asian Games gold medal plus two gold medals in Seag. She’s a major awardee.

Same with Daniela de La Pisa. I had the chance to meet Daniela and her mom Darlene last Wednesday. They visited our school, Bright Academy, where Daniela studied last year (she had to stop to train in Europe). In the Seag last December, Daniela won one gold and two bronze medals in a dazzling, near-perfect performance. Daniela is one of the top honorees.

The Cebu Sports Awards is an annual event that was jointly started by the Sportswriters Association of Cebu (SAC) and San Miguel Beer (SMB). I’m the current SAC president, having succeeded Mike Limpag, our SunStar sports editor. This Feb. 29 will be the 37th edition of the awards.

My first introduction to the SAC Awards was over 30 years ago when, as the country’s No.5-ranked junior in the Boys 16, I received a Citation Award for tennis. I’ll never forget climbing that stage with Jun-Jun Cabrera (another junior tennis standout) at the defunct Magellan Hotel. Michel Lhuillier and Tony Aldeguer were the top sportsmen honorees then.

Years after receiving an award as an athlete, I was presented with the “Sportsman of the Year” plaque for my help with the upliftment of tennis in Cebu. Firsthand, I’ve seen the positive impact of the awards; how this motivates athletes to strive harder and achieve more.

Through the years as a sportswriter, it’s been an honor to witness countless memorable moments of the Cebu Sports Awards.

I recall Manny Pacquiao, then at the prime of his boxing career (and not yet a politician), gracing the awards. Monico Puentevella joined him in Casino Español. Puentevella, the POC head, rendered a song during the ceremony.

Dondon Hontiveros, then a hotshot PBA star, has been a recipient many times. He’s now a Cebu City councilor. Edward Hayco has been honored multiple times; same with Dancesport Team Cebu City.

The most memorable occasion was when Z Gorres, who nearly died after a Las Vegas bout, stood up from his wheelchair to receive the honor bestowed him. That was in 2010.

This Feb. 29, 2020, it’s another special moment. Everyone’s invited to attend (for free). See you at the SM City Cebu.