By Marian C. Baring

Adrenaline outside the newsroom

To journalists who’re sports buffs, adrenaline from chasing stories and meeting deadlines is not enough.

As enthusiasts in their chosen sport, they hone sense of discipline and virtue of persistence and they keep themselves physically and emotionally fit, which newspaper and broadcast work requires.

Pressure of reporting, writing or editing dissipates, substituted by the good kind of high that drives them in their calling, unaided by alcohol or substance abuse. PAS

Roger Vallena, Cyclist
News Editor
Sun.Star Superbalita [Cebu]

When his daughter died in 2009, Roger Vallena decided to get a bicycle so he could easily visit her grave every morning. “Biking helped me curb my depression at that time, and health-wise, I improved,” said Vallena, who now has 15 bikes in his home after convincing his wife and two other children to get into the biking lifestyle.

The first race he joined with his son Nikko was to him the most memorable, not because he fell, muddied, in front of a lady rider, but because he did it with his son.

Now, Vallena said, he is healthier and his relationship with his officemates has greatly improved. “I no longer suffer the symptoms of acute allergic rhinitis, and I have built a strong camaraderie with my officemates as we bond through biking all over Cebu.”

Rick Gabuya, Badminton player
Sports Editor
Cebu Daily News

For Rick Gabuya, getting into a physical activity was needed in the battle to control his diabetes. He decided to try badminton.

“In 2003, badminton was at its peak. Badminton courts were sprouting like mushrooms, and it was very convenient for my schedule,” Gabuya said. After more than 10 years, Gabuya is still at it, playing as long as time permits.

He started wielding a badminton racket knowing only the basics, learning more about the game by watching seasoned players. Joining competitions adds excitement to his game, but he’s not really looking to bag a title.

Playing has widened his perspective of what athletes go through to reach the top. “It makes me appreciate their dedication, sacrifices and drive. I also learned to appreciate other sports and their inherent challenges. That helped a lot in making my job as sports editor easier and more enjoyable.”

Maria Armie Sheila B. Garde, Ultra runner
Online editor
Sun.Star Network Exchange

Some girls can barely run a 5K, so a 42K marathon is out of the question. But Armie Garde, the night shift editor at Sunnex, runs ultramarathons and considers it a personal tradition. Ultramarathons are runs beyond the full marathon distance.

“It started in 2011 when I did a run-tour around Cebu Province with my friends. That long run inspired me to challenge myself, test my limits and run beyond 42K.”

Her first ultramarathon was the Habagat 50K, and her longest run is a whopping 88 kilometers. She was set to finish the Cebu Ultrarunners Club’s 100K but stopped at kilometer 88.

To train, she makes 20-kilometer runs once a week on her day off, but increases her mileage if she has an upcoming race. Running helps Garde keep job stress in check. “I’m one of the night editors online, and working the graveyard shift isn’t healthy at all. Running helps me sweat out the stress at work and in life in general.”

John Pages, Tennis player, runner, triathlete
Sun.Star Cebu

Before his family moved to Cebu in 1986, John Pages was a varsity basketball player of La Salle Bacolod. When he was 14, he started playing tennis and in two short years, achieved a national ranking of No. 5 for the Boys 16 division. He became the top-ranked Cebuano in the Boys 18 division.

Today, Pages is into triathlon and running as well. “Sports, to me, is a way of life. It is more than just looking slim and fit. It’s about being healthy and feeling good about it.”

Pages has not only finished marathons but also organized some of the city’s biggest marathons, like the Cebu Marathon. But he said the biggest thing sports has done is to bring him closer to his daughter Jana, now 15, one of the nation’s top junior players. “Having seen her develop since we started when she was two years old is a major fulfillment for a tennis dad.”

Calvin Cordova, Basketball player
Cebu Daily News

He has played alongside boxer Manny Pacquiao and former PBA players.

Like a lot of other Filipino boys, Calvin Cordova watched PBA games and went to the neighborhood basketball court to imitate the players’ moves. Today, he covers huge basketball events in the country and plays as well. He practices for two hours every Saturday.

“Playing basketball keeps my mind and body healthy. We know how hectic newsroom work can be, so it’s important for us to stay in shape mentally and physically. It’s one way to unwind.”

Playing in the NBAC (a league for media people in Cebu) in 2007 against Sun.Star Cebu was his most memorable experience. “Our mentality was, ‘Never mind if we don’t win the championship title as long as we win every game against Sun.Star.’ The night before the game, our editor-in-chief, the late Ivan Suansing, gave us encouragement. We won that game. Because of that win, Sir Ivan treated us to linarang (sour and spicy fish stew) and a few bottles of beer.”

Allan Defensor, Stand-up paddler
Sun.Star Cebu

Allan Defensor has always been an outdoorsman, enjoying all activities that involve the open air and the open seas with the wind on his beard and sun on his bald head.

He woke up one day while on camp in Olango Island to find a guy, Buzzy Budlong, holding a paddle with a long board parked on the shore. He learned it was a stand-up paddle board for use in a sport popular in Hawaii that was being introduced by Budlong in the Philippines.

After that meeting, the rest is history. “We have been promoting the water sport, and we will be holding competitions in stand-up paddling in the near future,” Defensor said.

The concept is simple: You paddle your way on the water, standing up on a board. Knowing the tides and the water current is what makes this activity exciting.

Defensor, who has paddled the Hilutungan Channel from Olango to the mainland of Lapu-Lapu City, said they hope to bring the islanders of Cebu back to the sea to get to know the sea better.

Lemuel Maglinte, MMA Fighter
Assistant Sports Editor
The Freeman

They say your first fight will be your most memorable. And for Mixed Martial Arts fighter Lemuel Maglinte, it was. “I can still remember how nerve-wracking it was. I won that fight. But I will never forget it because it was the first and last time my father came to see me climb the ring before he got sick and passed away.”

The assistant sports editor and reporter who covers contact sports now understands how fighters train and manage their weight. “It gave me a better understanding of a fighter’s struggle. I have a deeper feeling for their struggles, their pain when injured, their frustrations in defeat and the happiness in victory.”

Maglinte looks ahead to a brighter future as the fighting sports editor. He never even thought that what started as just a fitness regimen in his bid to lose weight would put him inside an octagon winning his debut fight.

Mark Bautista, Motocross rider

At 17, Mark Anthony Bautista joined his first dirtbike competition on a borrowed bike in his hometown in Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur. The daredevil thought he had everything under control until the bike overheated and he bombed out of contention. That was when he decided to save to buy his own bike.

“A lot of kids from my hometown were doing motocross. That and watching Jeremy McGrath (motocross champion) inspired me to try it,” said the GMA 7 reporter.

In Bayugan, he could hit the dirt track at least twice a week. Now, as a family man with a career on television in Cebu, Bautista navigates his bike on uncharted tracks only on his days off.

“Cebu does not have a dirt track, and these bikes aren’t usually used on paved roads. So I just do solo rides. Seeing the scenic views relaxes me aron dili ma buryog (so I don’t get bored) covering the police beat and calamities and disaster. That, and spending time with my girlfriend and son get me recharged for another hectic week on the field.”

Bautista’s love for excitement does not stop there; he looks forward to joining triathlons in the future.

Publio Briones III, Runner
Page Editor
Sun.Star Cebu

Back in 2010, I had an executive checkup at Chong Hua Hospital. When my results came back, the doctor told me my triglyceride level (a type of fat in the blood) was high. The normal level was 150. Mine was 480. Apparently, I was a shoo-in extra for the series, “The Walking Dead.”

So I started to walk (I wanted the part). And from 2010 until 2013, that’s all I did. Until in July last year, a friend, Atty. Oscar Tan, accosted me at the Cebu City Sports Center. He cajoled me into joining him and his friends, members of the A2Z Runners’ Club. They were running hobbyists… past their prime to run competitively but young enough to dream.

My first attempts at running were dismal, to say the least. I could barely jog 800 meters without huffing and puffing. But my running family (Yes, I’m now a member of that elite A2Z Runners’ Club) was all encouragement. It also helped that our topics of conversation were always varied and interesting, ranging from the bizarre to the downright tawdry. If I wanted “in” on the latest “unofficial” news, I had to keep pace. So I did. And I have.

Today, I run with the group at least five times a week. That’s a minimum of five kilometers from Monday to Thursday, excluding the mandatory pre- and post-walk (around two kilometers). We usually have long runs on weekends (at least 12 kilometers). Our trainer, Tirso, gives us our schedule for the day. So we alternate between easy jogs, speed work and tempo runs.

Earlier this year, I joined the 12K Parklane run. The race started at 4:30 a.m. I had only two hours of sleep and still reeked of chicos, but I finished it in 1:22 minutes. Not bad for someone who could barely walk a few paces a few years back.

Since taking that first step four years ago, I have lost almost 70 pounds.

My colleagues have gotten used to seeing me walk into the newsroom in a tight black sleeveless shirt, sweat glistening from my muscled biceps.

I’m very lucky to have colleagues who’ve supported me in this new phase of my life. Despite my being 36 for the last eight years.

Jonas Panerio, Swimmer, basketball player
Sports Reporter
Cebu Daily News

The main reason he learned to swim was survival. “My parents did not want me to drown. That was it,” said Jonas Panerio. After the lessons, he thought nothing of it until Grade 2 when a Physical Education teacher scoured the class for students who wanted to compete in swimming. “Mindlessly, I raised my hand, and the rest, they say, is history,” he said.

Panerio has had a stint with the Philippine team, winning silver in an individual event. He was part of the relay team that won silver in the Southeast Asian Age Group Championships.

When Panerio quit competitive swimming, his passion shifted to basketball, and he now plays with and against some of the city’s and country’s best players. Panerio’s passion for sports is what keeps him on top of his game as a sports reporter for Cebu Daily News. Other than that, he said, should the city be flooded, he wouldn’t have to worry about drowning.

Noel Villaflor, Football player
Weekend editor
Sun.Star Cebu

There are two things Noel Villaflor is passionate about: writing and football.

At a writer’s workshop in Dumaguete City years back, he played football during his free time and dislocated his shoulder. The magazine editor and Sun.Star Cebu football columnist dislocated that same shoulder five more times on the pitch, but he just keeps playing.

His love of the sport started in high school. “There was a huge football field right behind the classrooms, so it was natural for us, UP high school students, to kick ball after the bell rang,” said Villaflor, who scored a goal in his first Latagaw Tournament in UP Diliman.

“As a pastime, anyone can play football, whether you’re tall or short, lanky or stubby. It’s not unusual to see kickabouts where girls and boys, kids and adults play together,” said Villaflor, now one of the country’s most respected football columnists.

When he was younger, his face was always at the pitch. Now older and, well, stubbier, and busier, he tries to get out of training. “If I miss the practice sessions, I have the perfect excuse: I was busy writing about football.”