hotshots and shots in the arm

“What are the termites in your  life? And what are your storms?” asks Dondon Hontiveros, known also by his basketball monicker The Cebuano Hotshot. I was taken aback, this was a guy who always had a huge grin on his face and never seemed to me capable of a serious thought. I exaggerate, of course, but I was seeing him in a new light today.

“The small things like termites you can handle. Take care of it. Get an exterminator, that’s easy to do,” he continues, addressing a room full of testosterone, 15 or so men from the Convergys Converters team, who are fresh from a 4-0 winning streak on a current league.

“The storms in your life, however, you have little control over. But good preparation can help you survive anything.” Dondon, who has been playing professional ball for almost 18 years now (famously in the MBA league, and then to the hallowed PBA), credits these words and ideas to his coaches. I am thankful he was listening that day.

I get random phone calls from this man asking me to join him for his charity missions, most of them centered on his alma mater, Don Bosco High School, to which he credits a lot of his molding.

This entire month of August, he subjects himself to the hectic schedule of flying in from Manila every weekend to conduct a basketball camp called DH25 in cooperation with his team, Alaska. Focusing on a 7-17 age group for this initial foray,  Dondon graciously teaches them the skills that made him who he is: a pro at something he loves, if anything.

Basketball has been very good to him, and now he intends to pay it forward.

“No one got here by themselves, we all had some help along the way,” he grins, making a lot of sense this evening. The old Dondon I’ve always loved slips out every now and then when he cracks a very personal joke at my expense, which has always been our thing. I cringe, of course, but what a small price to pay to see you shine like this.

(Registration fee for the DH25 Basketball Camp is at P2,500. Participants go through 10 sessions for the entire month of August on these dates and times: 9 a.m. to 12 noon on Aug. 1, 8, 9, 23 and 30 and 1-4 p.m. on Aug. 2, 22, and 29. Sessions are all at the Don Bosco Technical School in Pleasant Homes Subdv., Punta Princesa, Cebu City. Register at V-label inside Chains at JY Square or call Risa Gabonia at 09223399289 or 09154134373.)


Handpicked to dance


Art and I were never a good combination when I was growing up. I quit piano lessons early on because the legendary Miss Lygia Ybañez rapped my hands with a ruler whenever I made a mistake, and I wasn’t having anymore  of that. Ballet was simply out of the question, because a little boy absolutely could not wear a pink tutu.

For its many misconceptions, ballet in Cebu continues to thrive, in fact three choreographers have been invited to represent Cebu in the 1st Composition and Movement Analysis Program (C-MAP) Choreographers Festival on Aug. 14-15 at the University of Saint La Salle Coliseum in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental.

Johanna Mangubat, Marius Centino and Penelop Ong will be among top choreographers from all over the Philippines as they present their final works during the festival’s third and final gala. Participation in the festival is a requirement to complete the C-MAP program and be awarded as a certified C-MAP professional choreographer. On hand during the awarding ceremony will be five internationally-acclaimed Filipino choreographers and dance educators, namely, Agnes Locsin, Denisa Reyes, Edna Vida, Myra Beltran and Basilio Esteban Villaruz.

Six dancers have been handpicked by the three choreographers from Cebu to participate in the C-MAP festival. We bid them safe passage and to dance their hearts out for us. Godspeed, Pamela Mangubat, Marco Malait, Honney Boiser, Monica Villarica, Jeffrey Tapang and Sabrina Bogard.


The sails and winds of change

The Sails restaurant

The Sails restaurant

I like a man who shakes things up.

Just barely two months in his new position as General Manager of the Mövenpick, Frenchman Harol Rainfroy invites a select group from the homegrown (you know I detest the word local) media to introduce the new menu of their restaurant, The Sails. In quite the theatrical manner, which automatically puts him in my good graces.

Each item on the menu, scaled down to individual degustation portions that arrived as a carefully-curated mezze, came with a little ditty sung live by a dapper quartet, accompanied by Vegas showgirls in sequins, sky high heels AND feathers. What’s not to love? Each dish was also a little travelogue in itself, expanding the culinary repertoire of the restaurant and its habitués. Take the most alien to my palate: the seafood tabbouleh.

Seafood Tabouleh

Seafood Tabouleh

The traditional Arabic dish is, first of all, originally vegetarian—made of chopped tomatoes, parsley, mint, onions, and in this version, couscous. The seafood is an ode to the seafront venue, and the fact that Cebu is an island with a significant fishing industry. A bit sour to the taste, a flavor that most Cebuanos shy away from (our own versions of the Filipino sour soup sinigang are disappointingly watered-down) from the lemons and fresh tomatoes, the tabbouleh is meant to accompany other small dishes in a parade meant to build up to a main feast.

Tonight, there are no mains. And certainly no extras. The parade made each little entry a star, they even came with a custom theme song. I most certainly enjoyed the very Japanese Sukiyaki, the lovely Penang Salmon drenched in the curry named after one of my favorite Malaysian destinations (coincidentally, Mr. Rainfroy’s last post was on this lovely destination, which reminds me so much of Cebu), and that interesting and very Swiss rosti, a “pancake” made of fried grated potatoes, no doubt the chef’s nod to the hotel chain’s origins. I tell Mr. Rainfroy that my first taste of it was in a delightful foodcourt in Singapore called Marchè, named after the Swiss word for market. “That’s a Mövenpick brand, did you know that?” he exclaims.

Even on this roundabout tour of the world via The Sail’s new menu, life comes full circle on my plate. The only thing that could possibly best seal this deal was with a scoop of the famous ice cream this brand is known for, too. Vanilla, please. The finest of the flavors.

TAGS: basketball, dance, Don Bosco High School, food, Movenpick, PBA
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