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Friday, July 20, 2012
WHAT does the Eiffel Tower, Mayon Volcano and a Type-O banner have in common? I was thinking of shooting this question as soon as Lando, the parking lot king who was gesturing as though he was turning a giant steering wheel, had tucked me into the last parking slot beside a makeshift stage washed with yellow and blue.
“What time does this thing start?” I asked him. The thing, I supposed, could be that this roster of faces on the blue-yellow banner will give a dance number? Type-O-something, is that a goon squad or what? Are those Cirque de Soleil’s fresh recruits?
“Unya pa nang gabii, sir,” says the Parking King. Ten minutes, I told him, that’s all.
When I’d leave, he’d get P5 for watching over the car and for ushering me safely back on the road with an elaborate gesture.
When these photogenic folks whose faces you see on the banner come over tonight, go ask them for a better job, I could have told him. But yes, buddy, being in government is, indeed, difficult. Oftentimes, it’s bureaucracy, a dozing T-Rex that kills even the best intentions. Government, most often, loses its best brains to the private sector.
In a few moments, I’d be at the Cebu City Sports Center talking to a bunch of amateur boxers who shared sob stories about getting only a trickle of the money in promoted fights—big or small. I told them my good friend Lemuel Maglinte won in his Mixed Martial Arts debut, the one who joined our conversation two weeks ago.
“Mao ba, kadto siya?” one of younger fighters said, probably musing a shift from right hook to a roundhouse. Yes, and I was supposed to ask if local boxing promotions have such a cash flow problem that the boxers themselves get petty morsels on their plate.
It made me think that boxing one’s way up for dreamers like these boys is a two-edged fight. Except that, outside the ring, life packs a deadlier wallop.
Needless to say, the money arrangements these boys get in promotions is one way of knocking out Philippine boxing. But you, dear reader, can help, especially if you’re the sporty kind. These guys get half of the P1,500 that you pay for a 12-session per month with a single trainer. You can do a walk-in at P150, which goes straight to the trainers. That amount is cool enough for three square meals for a day for your trainer.
So that was how I began a session. My trainer Jeje demonstrated a proper jab with my left and a straight with my right. I was supposed to tell him I’m ambidextrous, and I think I am predominantly southpaw, but I thought I mistook the idea of southpaw with political leanings.
As to footwork, he said, just don’t fall for a moment when your legs are crossed.
That’d reduce your base, and you’d be as easy to knock as a Lego heap. No, he didn’t say Lego heap, he just said I’d easily fall. The guy’s brutal, he’d let me box for a good three minutes, ask me to successively hit the mitts for thirty seconds, and then just when my arms were dead, he’d ask me to hit the mitts with my hardest punches.
I thought I’d suggest that he paste a photograph on the mitts or punching bag for motivation, maybe that of an ex-president something. But, no, no, we’re supposed to be well-meaning citizens. A good caricature by this paper’s resident artist Josua Cabrera will do.
So I had three sessions already, and I’m currently brushing up on a jab-straight-hook combination with an occasional pivot for footwork. The irony is that a boxing gym can actually be a relaxing place. You get to haul a whole tonnage of your hostilities into the punching bag and everything in life seems to turn out okay. I walked out of the gym for some air at the oval and, lo and behold, there on top of some building was the omnipresent banner.
It was easy. For shadow-boxing, I gave it a jab-straight-hook combination, and life was cool again.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 20, 2012.