FOR the past ten years every basketball fanatic in Bacolod City knows that the advent of the month of January each year means only one thing -it's time for the Tan Kek Pin Memorial Basketball Tournament to be staged once again.

Well, on Sunday, January 17, 2010, the Fil-Sino Athletic Club will be staging the 10th Edition, of what is beyond dispute, the most prestigious non-commercial basketball tournament in this city of ours. I must apologize for my little braggadocio. But I just could not restrain myself from expressing my excitement and disbelief as well at what this cage competition has turned into. I should know. I was there right at the beginning when the idea of staging this kind of hoop contest was first thought of. From "TKP 1", I was the Master of Ceremonies then. Now, it's "TKP 10", and I'll still be the emcee.

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Basketball is the only sport I learned to play and love as a kid. I learned the rudiments of the game in that old court "CYO" behind the then San Diego Parish Church in my hometown of Silay City. It was this love for the game that prompted me to join the Fil-Sino Athletic club some time in 1989. When I first joined the club some time, I was one of the youngest members.

Now, I am the second most senior active member. At my age, I still play the game purely for the exercise aspect and most of all, the camaraderie I've established with my Fil-Sino friends. So when the idea of staging this tournament was first hatched, it was envisioned to be purely an "inter-club" affair. The most unique if not controversial feature was (and still is), the "No-Varsity/Commercial-Player-Rule" - to level the playing field. Even the timing of the tournament was purposely set in the month of January because it was a "lean month" after the holidays. And so it was when TKP 1 opened its doors in 2001, there were only six competing teams. Now we have twenty-seven teams in three different brackets. Not bad at all.

So who's Tan Kek Pin, in whose honor this tournament is being staged? The late Tan Kek Pin was a Chinese businessman from Xiamen, China, who migrated to the Philippines and settled in Bacolod City in the 1950's. After years of struggle, he eventually founded the Olympia Auto Supply in 1963, which has grown into one of the biggest automotive parts suppliers in the city. But aside from being a businessman, he was also civic minded as he actively supported various community activities especially sports. Thus for the past ten years, the Tan family through Mr. Andrew Tan (the youngest in a brood of five), has been the generous benefactor of this tournament and will continue to do so in the years to come not only to perpetuate the memory of their late father but as their family's contribution to youth and sports development in Bacolod City as well.

There is a saying that imitation is the greatest form of flattery. Well, modesty aside, the TKP Cup from its inception, has been copied, imitated, and aped by other clubs but the TKP has remained the only constant every January for the past ten years. Isn't that something to brag about? So see you at the Po Hang Gym at BTTHS this coming Sunday.