Sunday, October 14, 2012

Is billiards still a popular sport?

Back in 1997 and 1998, one sport that I got really hooked into was billiards. I frequent Blarney Stone (which was near my place of work) in the late afternoon just to play. You put your name in the list and once your turn is up, you will play in the previous round winnner. Whoever loses will pay for that P25 game. It was fair and square.

As most folks who hang-out in that place were expats, you end up meeting quite an interesting number of people in the process who have gigs in the Philippines - mostly as a consultant. When playing billiards, a lot of them were very competitive that makes it not boring at all.

But when the Asian financial crisis hit the country, things have change and saw a lot of regular folks I get to play with leaving the country one by one for one reason or another.
Hardly played the game since except for few occassions. Although it seems I will need eye glasses and more if I really want to take the game seriously again.

Last September 23, I found myself visiting Starmall in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan to watch the opening of Villards Cup. I recall teasing the event organizer that I will only go there if I can get to play as well.

Admittedly, while watching the opening and some of the games happening, I can't help but feel missing the game. 


After the opening ceremonies, spotted one player who sports a blonde look. Found out that he is one of the 16 amateur players (from all over Bulacan) competiting - Rommel Dalita. Took a video, using my iPhone, interviewed him on what he thinks of the competition. A few days after though, my iPhone got lost while in a cab and that video gone.

But I remember how Rommel appreciated the competition as it helps professional billiard players like him get the exposure and opportunities needed. Found out that Rommel actually gets his income from playing the game, visiting various places, just to compete.

It was his first time in the Villards Cup as a player. In the past, he supported the cup as a referee. 

The Villar Foundation started the Villards Cup in 2008. It provides budding billiards players a venue to compete against amateur players and play alongside veterans and billiards champs. Of course, as we are already in the election season, it can't be helped that the organization's chairman and managing director - Senator Manny Villar and former Las Pinas Representative Cynthia Villar - be accused of politicking.

Rommel thinks that is to be expected and regarded the couple quite highly for helping this growing pang-masa sport while caring for those who get to join the game. Like in this cup for instance, those who will not be fortunate enough to win still got a five thousand pesos (P5000) prize that they can take home to their families.

The complete list of winners at Villards Cup 2012 are as follows:
1st: Edgie Geronimo (Marilao)
2nd: Eduardo Lim (Meycauayan)
3rd / 4th: Resty Labastida (Bocaue) / Roberto Bilicario (Sta. Maria)
5th / 6th: Kennet Matheu Garcia (Marilao) / Marlon Glinogo (Bulacan)
7th / 8th: Jonas Paolo Ramos (Baliwag) / William Trinidad (Angat)

One of the advocacies of the Villar Foundation is grassroots sports development throughout the country.  In its 20 years of service, various sports programs have been implemented to support this thrust including Sports sa Barangay, football clinics, among others. 

The Villards Cup has been staged in key cities of the Philippines and has featured the best Filipino cue artists and has paved the way in discovering future billiard players. Philippine Billiards legends--Efren ‘Bata’ Reyes, Francisco ‘Django’ Bustamante, Ronnie ‘The Volcano’ Alcano and Dennis ‘Robocop’ Orcollo attended the event. On the first day of the billiards tournament, they played an exhibition game among themselves. While on the second day, they played with this year’s Villards Cup winners Edgie Geronimo of Marilao (champion) and Eduardo Lim of Meycauayan (2nd placer).

The Villards Cup project of the Villar Foundation in cooperation with Starmall, Puyat Sports and Billiards Managers and Players Association of the Philippines.