Yes, but is it sexual harassment ?

The case of alleged sexual harassment raised by Cristy Ramos against 2 members of the Philippine national football team, the widely (and wildly) popular Azkals, has brought the issue of sexual harassment into the forefront once more, this time in the area of team sports.

The details of the incident has been widely reported elsewhere, and need not be repeated here. Suffice it to say that it has led to wide, and sometimes acrimonious, debate online and off among those who would condemn the perceived sexual “offenders” and those who would defend, or at least offer explanations for,  their actions.

First the disclaimer: The Ramos sisters were good friends and our neighbors at the subdivision where we grew up. The Ramoses are family friends, FVR and my dad having gone to college together. However, we drifted apart during our college years, having attended different schools, although I would bump into the recently-departed Jo once in awhile, she being a popular campus figure in U.P. Diliman.  I would also see Cristy’s husband, Freddy Jalasco, socially from time to time although I have not seen him in years.

There are two particular articles which I found most enlightening, all the more so for being from the point of view of women who are no strangers to the atmosphere and psychology of men’s team sports. One is by Lia Cruz (Sexual Harassment in mens’ locker room should be challenged) and the other by Mika Palileo (What is sexual harassment? On Sofia Cristina and the woman question), both at the AksyonTV website. Their insights are fascinating and cast light on one of the darker aspects of popular sports.

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Manny Pacquiao the National Symbol

I’ve been hearing a lot of grumbling, not least from my own household, about how lionizing Manny Pacquiao over his conquest of Oscar De La Hoya reveals our weaknesses and delusions. The overwhelming majority has bought into a societal illusion that an achievement by a single Filipino, a pugilist at that, validates our worth as a people. The Pacquiao saga is nothing but a circus that distracts us from the very real problems plaguing the country. Very good points, but the reasons we exalt over Manny Pacquiao’s triumphs are just as legitimate. Continue reading

The Country Stood Still for the De La Hoya-Pacquiao Fight

For a few hours, at least.

The streets and malls, usually crowded on a weekend nearing Christmas, was eerily serene and devoid of the usual hordes. It was like Holy Week, but with even less people. Everyone was indoors or clustered around radios, waiting for The Fight to begin. The perfect time to shop, my wife and daughter thought, correctly, while I desperately looked around for a resto or sports bar to catch the action. I just followed the roar of the crowd, just in time to catch the last two rounds, with Pacquiao pummeling a hapless De La Hoya, who looked just about ready to buckle. He still had some fight left in him, but being the level-headed businessman that he is, saw no gain in prolonging the agony. He threw in the towel just before the start of the ninth round, to the delirious joy of the company at Friday’s, everyone high-fiving and toasting the masterful submission of the Golden Boy orchestrated by Manny Pacquiao and his team.

I was especially pleased, having predicted a late round (9-12) knockout for Pacquiao. I came pretty close since Oscar De La Hoya, his left eye nearly closed shut by Manny’s relentless right hooks, finished the eighth round but did not have the heart to go the distance. He had the good sense to quit though, and deserves credit for doing the right thing, which is being man enough to admit when you’re beat. Continue reading

De La Hoya-Pacquiao Fight A Mere Money Circus ?

That’s according to Marco Antonio Barrera, twice vanquished foe of Manny Pacquiao. He considers the fight a disgrace and as a mere gimmick to line the pockets of both fighters to the tune of at least P100 million (to be divided 60/40 in De La Hoya’s favor). It’s one of the richest boxing purses in history.

Sour grapes ? Perhaps. Barrera recently bolted De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions due to money differences. But the cynics among us, and there are plenty, agree with him. Oscar is just too big, as I pointed out a few months ago. WBC president Jose Sulaiman pooh-poohed the whole affair:

What are they going to do? Stuff Manny with tamales and beans, and reduce Oscar in the steam bath to bring them together? It’s ridiculous. It’s absurd. It’s a fraud to the public. The only reason why the fight was made was money.

Sulaiman seems to have forgotten that Pacquiao isn’t Mexican and tamales and beans will likely just give him gas. But you get the picture. Continue reading

Oscar De La Hoya Predicts Manny Pacquiao Will Go Down in 5

Manny works out at the Wild Card gym.

The Golden Boy is predicting that he can knock out Manny Pacquiao in five rounds or less in their blockbuster fight on December 6 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Reacting to Pacquiao trainer Freddy Roach’s comments that Manny will put De La Hoya away by knockout in nine rounds, Oscar said:

We’ll catch him in five so we don’t go that far. I think whoever catches who first is going down.

De La Hoya was interviewed in his isolated training camp in in Big Bear, California where the high altitude is helping him build up his wind, critical in a drawn-out fight with a younger, aggressive fighter. In contrast, Pacquiao is at Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Gym, right in the heart of Hollywood. Not good, as Pacquiao is notoriously prone to distractions. With barely three weeks to go before fight day, he has to sustain his focus.

And while I’m rooting for Pacquiao, De La Hoya has a clear advantage over the smaller man, despite the age differential. Continue reading

Pacquiao or De La Hoya: Who’s the Better Fighter ?

A lot of armchair boxing tacticians have been debating the question of who the better fighter is between Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao and Oscar “Golden Boy” De La Hoya after word got out of their projected superfight on December 6. Today’s Inquirer headline screamed: $100-M fight: Pacquiao vs. De La Hoya.

The tale of the tape doesn’t say it all, and reveals only the more superficial aspects of this much-anticipated clash of titans.

De La Hoya

Ht. – 5’10.5”
Wt. – 150 lb.
Reach – 73”
Age – 35


Ht. – 5’6.5”
Wt. – 135 lb.
Reach – 67”
Age – 29

Manny is clearly the underdog, as the size differential is dramatic. Aside from heft, ODLH has significantly longer reach. Manny may have an edge, age-wise, but that advantage is easily offset by Oscar’s wiliness and years of experience. It seems obvious that Pacman will be pummeled if he goes toe-to-toe against the Golden Boy. Continue reading

Pacquiao – De La Hoya Fight Set for December

The blockbuster fight between Manny Pacquiao and Oscar De La Hoya will push through on December 6, according to reports.

The official announcement is set to be made in a few hours for what is estimated to be one of the richest purses in boxing history, to top U.S. $ 100 million. Pacquiao will most likely receive a lesser share of what the Golden Boy will get, but not that much smaller,and certainly more than Manny ever earned before, or will hope to earn in the near future. My guess is he will eventually cash in in the U.S. $ 30 million range, depending on the pay-for-view receipts. Continue reading

U.S. Squeaks By Spain for Basketball Olympic Gold, 118-107

Photo credit from

It wasn’t nearly as lopsided as the final score would seem to indicate. The Spaniards fought gallantly, and kept apace of the Americans with every basket and rebound, and the game went down the wire. This wasn’t a replay of the earlier blowout suffered by Spain in the hands of the U.S. during the eliminations. The Americans reached the finals with a 7-0 card and won by an average of 30 points. This was supposed to be a walk in the park. It wasn’t. Continue reading

Manny Pacquiao to Head Philippine Sports Commission

In your dreams (or nightmares, depending).

But now that I have your attention, let me get to the point of this post, which is to jump right into the inevitable finger-pointing bandwagon on our dismal showing in the Beijing Olympics. Not that medal shutouts are anything new to us. The country has failed to win a single medal in any of the past three Olympics (Sydney, Athens and now Beijing).

And with Mongolia winning its first gold at the 2008 Olympics (in judo), the Philippines now holds the dubious record for the most medals without a gold. Even war-torn Afghanistan managed to break into the medal tally. Continue reading

China Downplays Tragedy at Beijing Olympics

Life changes can happen in an instant. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Beijing Olympics, where the amazing record-breaking achievements of world-class athletes like American swimmer Michael Phelps, with seven gold medals and counting, are attained with only fractions of a second to spare. For instance, Phelps roared back from seventh place at the 50-meter mark to out-touch Serb Milorad Cavic by one-one hundredths of a second to win his seventh gold medal, tying Mark Spitz’s record haul from the 1972 Munich Games.

But misfortune also takes mere seconds to unfold. Behind the glitter and hoopla of the “greatest show on earth”, are tragedies which occur without warning, changing people’s lives forever. American tourist Todd Bachman, father of former UCLA All-American and 2004 volleyball Olympian Elisabeth “Wiz” Bachman McCutcheon, was killed while sightseeing in Beijing by a 47-year-old, knife-wielding Chinese assailant, who later committed suicide by leaping 130 feet from a balcony on the 13th-century Drum Tower, located 5 miles from the Olympic Games site. His wife was gravely injured, although Elisabeth was unharmed.

Surely one of the more poignant tales behind the Olympics is that of Chinese dancer Liu Yan, who was seriously injured during a rehearsal for the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic games just days before the show, and faces the prospect of being paralyzed for the rest of her life. Considered one of the country’s top classical Chinese dancers, Liu Yan, a graduate of the prestigious Beijing Dance Academy, was preparing for the performance of a lifetime: the only solo dance in a four-hour spectacular that was expected to be seen by a global audience of more than one billion people. During a rehearsal, she leaped toward a moving platform that malfunctioned and plunged about 10 feet into a shaft, landing on her back and breaking her spine. Continue reading