Z GORRES never said a word during the Sportswriters Association of Cebu-San Miguel Beer Sports Awards, but what he did will be remembered, forever.
I’m a sucker for sports dramas and I relish watching the sports films—The Blind Side, the Rookie, Invictus, Remember The Titans, The Game, you name it.
I never thought, despite being in the business of writing about sports, that I’d be in one.
It really wasn’t intended to be dramatic but it turned out to be—as what the most senior in our group Nimrod Quiñones called it—the most moving moment in SAC-SMB history.
Gorres, or Butchoy, was the presidential awardee this year. He didn’t win a belt, but he won the greatest battle—a battle to save his life.
There are times, when I sometimes feel so full of myself, that I think there’s nothing I couldn’t write about but this time, I wish I’d be good enough to capture the drama of that moment.
Butchoy was the last to receive his award last Thursday. There was a short presentation before he was to be awarded, and while it was being shown, the sportswriters, who were in the stage, decided to step down.
Butchoy was in a wheelchair, we thought, and since there was no ramp, it would have been very difficult for him to get up the stage.
We should have stayed where we were.
After his name was called, and while we thought Butchoy’s wife, Datchess, was going to push his wheelchair, he stood up.
Z Gorres stood up.
I’ve seen the faces of people in sports when they are in a crucial moment—hitting a crucial free throw, making that free kick, or going into the ring.
Butchoy had that look. You could see it in his eyes, the determination to walk that few steps to receive his award.
His wife was helping him walk but the guy, who doctors said three months ago needed a miracle to live and another one to have a normal life was determined to do it on his own.
His eyes, his face showed it all.
We were all clapping. I looked around. Everybody was on their feet, applauding. There was Ed Hayco, our Sportsman of the Year, applauding so wildly as if his life depended on it.
Not a few in the audience were in tears.
As I looked around me, a couple of sportswriters were in tears. They told me something. I didn’t listen because I didn’t want to join them. I just looked at our awardee and the people who were on their feet, applauding wildly.
Butchoy was still halfway there and nobody let up in their applause.
Afterwards, I asked ALA Promotions top guys if they knew that Gorres was going to do that. They said no.
ALA, our guest speaker, later told me that Butchoy didn’t want us to approach him when we handed out the award, he wanted to come to us.
I’ve been in a few of these SAC Awards and the speech, is always at the end. It used to be the speaker would have a hard time getting attention. He’d be lucky, I say, to get half the awardees’ attention.
Everybody listened to what ALA had to say that night. Not a soul moved.
It was so quiet that I heard a kid, on the other end, say something to her mother.
ALA had a five-page speech prepared. He worked on it for two days he said. But he never read a word from it.
Instead, he recalled the story of Butchoy, of that fateful Nov. 13 day. Nov. 14, RP time, as sportswriters call it.
He said, “I am supposed to be the inspirational speaker but there is nothing that I could say that is more inspirational than what Gorres just did.”
Butchoy may never be the world champion he wanted to be, but he’s my kind of champion.
He's yours too.
He's our champion.