Pages: My dad Bunny and the gift of sports

SunStar Pages
SunStar Pages

The Lord has gifted our family immensely. And of all the blessings that my sister Cheryl and brothers Charlie, Randy, Michael and I have received, none are greater than the gift of amazing parents. My mom, Maria Elena “Allen,” and my dad, Manuel “Bunny,” were always there for us.

My dad taught me about sports. He pedaled a “racer” (as the road bike was called in the ‘70s). He jogged. He walloped that pelota racket. He exchanged tennis volleys with Monico Puentevella at the Negros Occidental Tennis Association courts in Bacolod.

He showed me the importance of a daily sweat. He lived it. He practiced the age-old adage: “A healthy body equals a healthy mind.”

Bunny Pages played basketball. No, he wasn’t in the PBA. That was his younger brother Ray, who wore the Crispa Redmanizers jersey. My dad joined Bapro (Bacolod Professionals), a gathering of executives united by the same love of sport as Moses Malone and Paul Westhphal. This was in the 1970s and ‘80s and, as the eldest child, I’d tag along.

Six-foot-tall, my dad played the forward position and scored 23+ points; his corner jump shot was unstoppable, like George Gervin’s.

Because of my dad’s regular dribbling and shooting, my brother Charlie and I played basketball. We joined the elementary varsity team.

One of my life’s most unforgettable moments was in our Intramurals in La Salle Bacolod. We were the underdogs and faced a team in the Finals composed of the best in Grade 7. The game was close and it came down to the last few seconds. I was fouled. Make both free throws and we win the championship; miss both attempts and we lose. The La Salle Gym was loud and jam-packed with high school and college students — and we were only in elementary! I was 13 years old then but this memory is forever etched in my mind’s eye. It was unbearable pressure.

Swish. Swish. We won.

The reason for all this? My dad. He recognized our passion for sports and built, at our backyard in Mountain View Subdivision, a half-court so that all-afternoon-long, after school, we’d dribble and practice lay-ups.

Each night, after Charlie and I would rush to finish our homework, we’d turn on the spotlights and play until our elbows ached and our necks stiffened.

Thanks to the green-painted, La Salle-themed court, our skills improved. Our elementary team (coached by an amazing mentor named Bobby Coscolluela) won Bacolod’s overall championship. I was the point guard and was adjudged the MVP.

I cite this example because it’s personal. And as a father to my (and Jasmin’s) daughter Jana, I look back at what my dad did and apply the many learnings I’ve accumulated. (Jana herself turned out to be quite an athlete: a former No.4 junior tennis champ and Ateneo de Manila University team captain.)

My dad Bunny and mom Allen were always there. Always. Always. Always. Always. In basketball contests, tennis matches, declamation performances, PTA meetings — in everything that had to do with their most-loved possessions, their children… they were present.

Be present. Remember that presence is more important than gifts. Children spell love... T-I-M-E. Our life here on earth will be measured by how much time we spend with our children. I believe in this formula: the amount of time you spend with your children is commensurate to how good your children will become. Trust me on this. That’s what I’ve experienced with my own parents.

More time + attention = Better children.

Sports? Above all things, this is one activity where you and your children will bond best. Sport means playing. And don’t children love to play? Find the game that your child enjoys. Jog together. Swim. The more time you and your child spend playing, the healthier you become; the healthier your relationship.

To my dad Bunny… I love you! Thanks to your childhood present — that basketball court — and to your presence. Happy Father’s Day!

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