The Cavite Naval Base was a haven for sports lovers and the athletically inclined for a whole lot of sports facilities at their disposal. There
were two basketball courts, a tennis court, a mini golf course, a
bowling center, a swimming pool, and playgrounds where to play softball, volleyball, and football.
When I was still in my preteen, I would tag
along and be content with just watching in the sidelines, as my eldest
brother and his playmates would play basketball. Sometimes, I'd be
asked to fill in when they don't have enough numbers. It is a rugged
game and they were very careful as I had a very frail frame at that
time. Of course, as I grew older, I began playing with them.
the sports activities available at the base, I developed the most
passion for basketball as it was, and still is, a very popular sport in
the country. During my teens, especially throughout the summer months, I would be playing most of the time under the heat of the sun from 1 pm till early evening,
since that was the playing schedule of sailors on their athletics
days. My teammates and I would play with navy men assigned ashore or
aboard ships docked at the base. However, during school seasons, our
playing times were restricted to Saturday or Sunday mornings and
holidays, if I were not fishing with Dad. These regular games with
navy men helped a lot in honing my basketball shooting form and skills, so much so that I easily made it to my college and dormitory teams later on.
Another sports activity which caught my fancy was golf.
Since the parade ground was only to the right front of our quarters
just across the street, it didn't escape my notice when a mini 9-hole
golf course was constructed within it. I started visiting the driving
range, which was just across the street from the swimming pool, to
observe and befriend the enlisted man-in-charge, CPO Delima. Later on, I
would work part-time as a tee-boy, an activity which I kept from my
parents' knowledge, to see how the different clubs
were being used, and at the same time raise some cash to pay for the
buckets of golf balls that I would be hitting at the driving range
later on, using borrowed clubs from the supportive CPO Delima. I recall
the instances when I tried to hit the ball real hard and the club
would slip from my grip, soar high into the air, and land on the grass
some distance away. Luckily, the clubs didn't break or hit someone on
My parents somehow got wind of my activity and bought me a half set of used golf clubs.
I didn't disappoint them though for I bagged the Class D championship
trophy on the very first tournament that I joined. There were two
participants in said category. Lol! Joking aside, there were several
participants in class D. In this game, I befriended a lot of young
officers, as well as enlisted men, who would eventually become big names
in the Navy and the Armed Forces.
Long before Manny "Pacman"
Pacquiao became a boxing sensation, we had another boxing great during
our era. Gabriel "Flash" Elorde knocked out Harold Gomes at the
Araneta Coliseum to take the world's junior lightweight crown, and
become its longest reigning titleholder. He repeated the feat months
later during a rematch. If gyms now are enjoying the patronage of male
and female boxing students and enthusiasts as a result of Pacquiao's
popularity, we also had our backyard gym where we were taught the
rudiments of boxing.
Our neighbor's relative, CPO Monching
Lauson, kindled my already burning interest in boxing. He put up a
backyard boxing gym behind their quarters, equipped with only a
sandbag, a speed ball, a skipping rope, the small weights boxers would
enclose in their palms when they run, and of course, two pairs of
boxing gloves. What a gym! Ha ha ha.
We used the space between
our quarters and theirs as our sparring area. Unlike now where you
have your trainer teaching you to throw punches at the trainer's
gloves, Monching just demonstrated to us how to deliver jabs,
uppercuts, straights, and crosses, how to parry and duck punches, and
how to move with your feet and body. Boy, I love how this fellow would show off his boxing form and moves, naive as I was then
at my age. He would referee, comment, and teach as we, my playmates
and I, would spar with one another. I have been, since then, an avid
follower of boxing , especially developments in the international
It was probably due to the availability of and easy
access to different sports activities that not a single soul in the
neighborhood I know would ever stray into the wrong path.
[Odd Summer Jobs]