AS LOCAL prides Francis Casey Alcantara and Maria Marna Pabillore made a statement with the former lording it over in some international lawn tennis circuits and the latter completing a heroic act in Seag karatedo, the City of Golden Friendship capped 2009 with the season-ending holding of Cagayan de Oro Christmas Sports Festival.

Slated on Dec. 28-30, the three-day festivity unveiled at least 12 sports disciplines played simultaneously at the City Hall grounds and other sporting venues in the city.

"As we congratulate Alcantara for becoming the first Filipino netter to win a grand slam event in Australia and karatedo star Pabillore for another gold finish in the South East Asian Games, we are also very proud and happy to have successfully hosted a multifarious meet at the outset of 2009," beamed sportsman Rogelio "Jigs" Jaraula Jr.

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The workhorse Jaraula, who is also secretary to the Mayor's Office, however, explained that while basketball, volleyball, taekwondo, karatedo, table tennis, arnis, boxing and sepak takraw, among other featured events--had gamely formed part of the inter-Asset (Advance Scientific System Efficiency Training) tourney--it was the cash-rich First Mayor Jaraula Cup Christmas Open Chess Tournament that mainly fronted the Christmas Sports Festival.

Looking back, Jaraula said it is "heart-warming" to have all the Asset events played altogether in the spirit of christmas. He said it was an all-out entertainment for the local sporting buffs to enjoy and the best avenue for the young aspiring athletes to hone their skills.

"No matter nga kinsa na pud ang mahimong mayor sa siyudad, at least atong na prove that Asset trainors are one big united family in utter service for local sports development. Ato lang i-ampo nga ang sunod nga mamahimo natong political leaders dili mapasagaron sa kalamboan sa sports," said Asset chair Edgardo "Boy" Dacoco who supervised the well-applauded basketball competition at the City Hall quadrangle.

Local woodpushers emerged as the big winners in the premier Men's Open of the Jaraula Cup chessfest that drew the participation of strong rivals from as far as Cotabato, Davao, General Santos and Cebu City.

National Master Levi Mercado, fresh from a chess training job stint in Singapore, led the locals' conquest posting seven wins and two draws for a total score of 8 points in pocketing the P25,000 top purse of the 9-round Swiss Men's Open.

Johnnel Balquin garnered 7.5 points to bag solo second place worth P15,000, while Oro compatriot Christian Arroyo had superior tiebreak results over Davao standout Jason Salubre to secure the third-place trophy.

For scoring identical 7 points, Arroyo and Salubre both received P7,500 from the combined prizes for third and fourth placers.

"It only proves that age doesn't matter in this mind game basta preparado ug determinado lang. We have so many good players today nga mga batan-on pa who are just lacking in discipline and hardwork. In chess, the harder you train the easier the tournament is," shared Levi Mercado whose boyish-looking face hardly resembles of a battle-scarred 42-year old.

Joining Mercado, Balquin, Arroyo and Salubre in the top-10 are Henry Lopez of Panabo City, Davao del Norte, Merben Roque of Cebu, Victor Lluch of Iligan, Allan Cantonjos of Gingoog, Jimmy Dano of Davao City, NM Elwin Retanal of Malita, Davao del Sur and Harrison Maamo of Davao City.

With similar 5.5 output, Richelieu "Jongjong" Salcedo III, Lennon Hart Salgados, Randolph Christopher Dalauta and Alfredo Rapanot Jr. were adjudged as CdeO's top juniors. They received P4,000, P3,000, P2,000 and P1,000 each plus medals.

CdeO's top Class B were Ralp Greval Dalauta, Jay Obsioma, Charles Joseph Laya, Cris Cubero, Madrigal Bantuas, Fujian Gomonit, Abdul Halil Abdullah and Eleazar Canlas. The youthful Dalauta, Obsioma and Laya got P5,000, P3,000 and P2,000 apiece.

Playing true to her top-seed billing, Woman National Master and one-time Olympiad campaigner Loreshyl Cuizon of Cagayan de Oro bested the Women's Open field with 6 of 7 performance (on 5 wins and 2 draws) to bring home the champion's purse of P5,000 with trophy.

Xavier University's Sittie Halia Sabo, Carmen National High School's Beverliza Bernardo and Ma. Dyan Sofia Balite of Bantayan Island, Cebu got P3,000, P2,000 and P1,000 for finishing second to fourth.

With them in the top-10 are Annie Rose Manilhig, Shian Tigulo, Myris Piloton, Carol Anne Chua, Alyssa Jamaca and Cristelyn Porras.

Cousins Ronnel Cantonjos and Alji Cantonjos of Gingoog City, meanwhile, ruled the well-attended 14-Under Kiddies Division, going home P3,000 and P2,000 richers for a strong 1-2 finish.

Rounding up the top-10 kiddies are Ian Edward Amper, Ven Christian Salcedo, Harold Karl Taganas, Adrian Othniel Yulo, Edcel John Amper, Julie Ann Opema, Joshua Agbon and Christian Mario Pabillore.

NM Roly Tan, adviser of the organizing Metro Cagayan de Oro Chess Club (MCCC), joined Jaraula, arbiters Jun Cuizon and Marvin Ruelan in presiding over the awarding ceremony wherein cash prizes amounting to over P100,000, elegant trophies and medals were given to the winners.