Habitat’s Extraordinary Englishman

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Dave reminded me of that former NBA star, Bill Walton. (courtesy of ballerball.com)

I first met Dave last January when I went to inspect Habitat’s reconstruction projects in Bantayan Island. A tall, skinny guy with rather unkempt long hair, David Wilson looked like a smaller version of one of my favorite basketball gurus of old, Bill Walton during his younger, hippie days. I was almost tempted to put on my basketball jersey and challenge him to a game of hoops. But then I realized I was no longer the young speedy point guard I had used to be decades ago.

Dave was a walk-in volunteer, and he had indicated his desire to join our team in far-away Bantayan Island, one of the small islands in northern Cebu, which was devastated by Typhoon Haiyan. he would be assigned in one of our relocation sites, in Sulangan, Bantayan. Conditions there were less than ideal, hence his choice was a pleasant surprise to me.  Honestly, I was wondering if this Englishman would be able to last, with the harsh conditions in Bantayan. Making matters even more difficult, the first impression he left among the female staffers upon his arrival wasn’t too good either.

But to my pleasant surprise, he stayed on, proved me and my Bantayan staffers wrong, and endeared himself not just to the workers, but the beneficiary families who eagerly came to help out as well. I had expected  Dave to be gone after a few days, but every time I’d visit, I’d see him there, under the heat of the scorching sun, with his signature bandana, covered with sweat and grime, looking exhausted yet never dispirited, and armed only with his simple smile.

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David learned to eat with the workers and the home partners.

 And even when there were other foreign volunteer groups around, he would refuse to join them. He was more content taking his midday and lunch breaks with the regular workers. Describing himself, he admitted he was “not much of a conventional man, and somewhat more of a free spirit.” But I could see, just by talking to him, that he had strong family values, and had a clear sympathetic streak for those who have less in life.

Grudgingly, I began to admire the guy. This dude had a serious case of wanderlust. He had made one significant stop in India, where he did social work with the Sisters of Charity, whose work with the sick and the disabled is world-renowned.  He left inspired and ready to take on the world.

But after a while, he started feeling an emptiness inside once again.  “After travelling for almost a year, I found myself losing my sense of purpose. Without purpose, you can lose your mind and question your own existence. It brought me a sense of awareness that a major factor of travelling is that you cannot travel on the same path twice in the same way,  in order to get more depth out of your journey, you must give yourself. To not just travel, but to have an emotional journey.”

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He wanted to be treated just like one of the ordinary workers.

Dave related his experience in volunteering for Habitat:  ” As all things go as we grow, giving can be as rewarding as receiving. If we are lucky enough to take from this world, then we must also give back. We must not be so self-centered. And the people of this world that have the least, who go through the most hardship, we learn that maybe it might be them that share the most.”

“Working with the people on an emotional level is, in fact, the best way. Volunteering should be done from the heart. That is the only way to really learn as an outsider. And the more you put in, the more you are rewarded. The more you work, and with the dedication you give whilst also giving your heart, the more you emotionally receive, including the love you will receive in return from the people whose lives you touched significantly by volunteering.”

“As a traveler from the West, there is a great deal to learn from the hardships of poverty, sickness, the effects of natural disasters, but most of all, the human spirit. It is so easy to ignore some of the other problems facing the world, being tucked away in the excesses of the Western world, even though we also have poverty in our doorstep.”

Dave believes that while donating is greatly needed and commendable, it does not give the same perspective as volunteering one’s time, energy and physical resources.  “Volunteering is an emotional experience that can provide a profound effect on one’s heart and mind. Volunteering is, in fact, responsible for some of the best experiences of my life, and something where everybody connected to the project walks away with great benefit.” Dave actually did not intend to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity Philippines. He was just fortunate to meet a Habitat employee, Karla Jean Abraham, by chance. Karla would talk to him endlessly about Habitat’s work and advocacy – to build houses for those who cannot afford a decent place to live – and this would convince him, and as he would later admit: “this changed my journey here positively in ways I could not even imagine.” His orientation with Habitat work was in a project in Quezon City, where he worked along with the project beneficiaries and the victims of poverty. But it was in Bantayan Island where the magic and the transformation happened to him, “where you can feel the Philippines’ mighty heart.”

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David developed a bond with the construction workers in the project.

“Sure, it got exhausting at times, but I had no problem with it. I never was tired of working. The feeling of doing something positive, of doing good is truly addictive, and with the colorful individual characters you are constantly in contact with, the vibes in the area are also always amounting to good strong positive energy. One of the main things that really keep you going is having the beneficiaries – home partners as we refer to them – on site. You can not ignore the importance and greatness of the project when you can see exactly where it is going, meeting the beautiful families who have lived through such devastation, yet remain so positive. These people might well be the most emotionally and mentally strong people I have ever met. They might have lost so much, but their heart remains intact. I cannot imagine it possible to break such strong hearts.” “Even with all the travelling and places I have been to, I find that my mind and heart have never felt so open and as one, whilst working alongside these amazing people. I genuinely have never seen any of them having a bad day – they will never show you if they are feeling down, they never seem to stress or have an ounce of negative emotion or temper nor any sign of anger! Just warm smiles, that greet you even during the hardest and hottest day, always willing to share the little of what they have, or break any frustration you are having with a warm gesture or help. This also goes to the children that are always running free with nature – laughing and playing, sharing. Never a fight or a tear spilled, except for one tiny tot that burst into tears everytime she saw the crazy white man dancing about on his break. But she slowly warmed to me more towards the end of my time, as I waved at her from a distance and she followed and waved back, until my arm felt it would drop off.”

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David played foreman to the kids there who were eager to help out.

Sure, there were times during the hard, hot days when the sun would make conditions difficult, but he would always stay focused, simply by thinking of how the houses he was building would benefit the children and their families. He would reinvigorate himself with the thought that the kids and their families would be safe in their stronger and more resilient homes.

Dave worked a total of 320 hours in the Habitat community in Bantayan Island. He worked with the local team on 15 duplex units (30 houses), and himself laying 2112 hollow blocks. This, according to Architect Kris Faeldonia, was enough to construct 2 duplexes out of the 15! “I can honestly say work has never felt so rewarding and fun as the experience I have had with Habitat for Humanity Philippines, 3D construction and Loloy Amon, one of the best bosses I have ever had as a foreman. I have learned a lot through them as a team.

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Dave proudly built an equivalent of 2 complete units for the people of Bantayan.

But apart from the construction work, David learned much from the Filipino crew with whom he became quite close with. He learned a bit of the local  dialect, making him a hit among the kids. He also learned how to sing, something quite common among Filipinos. On Sundays, they would have karaoke sessions and share some beers before getting ready for the next week’s work. This, he felt, contributed to lighten the mood. So that, despite the difficulties, “they would remain in such high spirits, and won’t let life break them. Their zest for life and love for each other and humanity is always so apparent. From their first welcome, I never felt like a stranger and even after I left, I felt I gained so many friends.  I have never seen such beautiful community spirit in my life.” 

Dave also had a shorter stint in Bohol, another island that had been the victim of a different type of disaster – an earthquake. A different environment, a different challenge, but the people’s demeanor remained the same.  There was patience and perseverance, there was so much sharing around, there was music and laughter.

No matter. There were songs and smiles a-plenty.

There were songs and smiles a-plenty.

“The shyness in the Filipino caused by a lack of spoken communication can always be broken with laughter. The genuine laughter shared is a big part of my memory, and although I didn’t have the chance to build such great relationships during my time in Bohol, I did what I could in the  little time I had and I would not change a thing, It was also nothing but a positive and completely enjoyable experience. Bohol’s hospitality might even have raised the bar.”

“The Philippines is a continuous revelation of surprise. I just wish I had more time, as I felt I could have done more,  but unfortunately, I had to get back to my own family for another wedding.”

“A very special thanks to Habitat for Humanity Philippines for being the reason these projects are going on, for welcoming me to join in. I don’t believe anyone who has an emotional journey through volunteering ever walks away the same as they arrive. These experiences do stay with us. I would like to see more western programs for younger people in the west to volunteer before leaving school to help eradicate social problems we have in our countries.”

Dave’s stint as a volunteer has sparked a positive change in him. He states: “We are all connected. And humanity is very precious. The experience seems to do everyone involved a world of good. And I am very grateful and honored to have been part of the Philippine team. I look forward to visiting you all again in time.”

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“You’re from Bohol and You’ve Never Been to Balicasag??? What the…”

Third of a series: Suggestions for Summer 2015

My wife glares at me with contempt in her eyes, scoffing: “You should be ashamed of yourself!” Instinctively, I open my mouth to defend myself. But on second thought,  I opt to disengage in silence, knowing full well the consequence of risking a Word War 3. 

So I just give my flabbergasted wife my game-face sweet smile. And remain silent. Silence, at that moment, seems the best defensive option, not unlike the Mayweather dance-away. But I digress.

What’s with Balicasag anyway? What could be so fascinating there that could cause me such great disfavor and distress?

So the next time I go back to Bohol, I dutifully march off to Panglao Island like the good soldier that I am, to catch a boat-ride to that mysterious island called Balicasag. Heck, just to humor her, I tell myself, and collect some trophy points to give me some valuable lead time before the next volcano eruption.

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Balicasag is asmall flat island off the coast of Panglao, Bohol. (courtesy of vigattintourism.com)

Turns out that the-then Navy Chief, Adm Ernie De Leon – a good friend and mentor – was there to dive. And he asks me to join him. I try to wiggle out of the difficult situation, not having prepared to dive. He wouldn’t take no for an answer. And so I soon find myself suiting up, to the amusement of some Navy Seabees present. Who then proceed to give me a peptalk. Shades of a resigning plebe being given a sympathetic talk by his upperclass squadmates.

So after suiting up, I’m on the rubber boat on the way to our dive site. And I have this strange, uneasy feeling, considering it’s been quite a while since my last dive. I am bewitched, bothered, and bewildered. Just like the song. What have I gotten myself into?

But the moment I enter the crystal-clear waters, the gloom I had pictured so vividly in my mind slowly begin to fade. Right at the surface, a school of tiny colorful fish come to welcome me. What’s truly amazing is that the fish don’t scamper away from you as you enter their domain. Instead, this bunch of little Nemos and their friends race towards you with their imaginary arms a-kimbo, demanding: “So where’s our food-fee, mister? You’re  supposed to feed us, remember?”

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Balicasag: a snorkeling and scuba-diving paradise. (courtesy of scubadivingbohol.com)

We tread the water ever so slowly, trying to enjoy the sights unfolding before us. The water is alluringly calm and clear. Even the taste of the water is not as salty as one would imagine.

The colors of the corals are so vibrant. There is a broad variety of them nestled peacefully on the sea bed. And if you look closely at these brightly-colored corals and sponges, you discover tiny, shy fishes peeking at you.

But most of the bigger fish will be playing around, so active and friendly. They know that by showing off their swimming prowess, the clumsy creatures from above will marvel at them and feed them generously. This is Balicasag’s Fish Sanctuary, where the fish reign as masters, and we their slaves.

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Balicasag Fish Sanctuary, where the fish are kings. (courtesy of wanderingwanderer.com)

Different schools of fish parade around in the oddest formations. At one point, we make a turn off a cliff wall and encounter another huge dark wall. But as we come closer, we realize it is a wall of fish that magically opens up to let us pass through.

Looking up, I spot a young boy snorkeling aimlessly at the water’s surface. He has a fish entourage following him around, like a Santa Claus with a bag of goodies.

I am so absorbed by the beauty around me that I don’t realize it is now time to come up. Indeed, if there is an underwater heaven, then surely this must be it.

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The corals teem with tiny fish. (courtesy of vintourist.com)

Thus begun my romance with the waters of Balicasag. I have since returned, countless times over. I have gone back to diving, and convinced my wife and kids to dive with me. The kids actually didn’t need any convincing, but the wife did.

We have been able to dive all over, and have marveled at the unique and spectacular offerings of the different dive spots in the country. But my love affair with diving was only rekindled when I went to that tiny speck of an island off Bohol. Thanks for forcing me into it, Sir Ernie! You’re the man!

So now, it’s my turn to harrass you guys. You’re going to Bohol and you’re missing Balicasag? That’s treason to the nth degree! You should all be arrested, tried and sentenced to be fed to the fishes! May your example be a moral lesson to all mortals. And may the tiny Nemos in Balicasag have mercy on your morsels!

(Pictures courtesy of pinoyboyjournals.com, scubadivingbohol.com, cheapestboholpackages.com, feel-free-travel.com, summersunscreen.wordpress.com, tripadvisor.com, cebucruising.com, chachic.wordpress.com, youtube.com, vigatintourism.com, vintourist.com)

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Philippines’ U-23 Wows The Home Crowd!!!

See what a little international exposure can do? The Philippines’ Under-23 Team, belatedly assembled amid volleyball political intramurals, saw action in the recently-concluded 2015 Asian Women’s U-23 Championships and made eye-popping strides forward, despite registering a mere 7th place finish.

Led by Ateneo’s superstar Alyssa Valdez and setter non-pareil Jia Morado, plus NU’s vaunted frontline of Jaja Santiago and Myla Pablo, the Philippines started out tentatively with a 4-set loss to an Iranian side everyone thought would be our best chance for a win.

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The team had very little time to practice together, but jelled fast enough during the tourney. (courtesy of cnnphilippines and leo lopez)

Their backs against the wall, Coach Roger Gorayeb’s charges surprised most everyone by hammering out a decisive straight-set shellacking of the stratospheric, yet totally perplexed Kazakhstan side. OMG! Our lasses are going to the next round!

No one had expected the win against the Kazakhs, but Alyssa just wouldn’t be denied. Despite being hobbled by a thumb injury – shades of Pacquiao’s rotator cuff, ehh? – Alyssa led our scorers by banging home a variety of winners to the delight of the fans. Along with Myla and that Cebuana wunderkid, Gretch Soltones, Alyssa and Jia produced one highlight moment after another, getting the crowd all worked up.

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A great learning experience. (Courtesy of asianvolleyball.net)

But the next round was a quick workshop of sorts for our youngsters, as they absorbed invaluable lessons from the likes of Japan, Chinese Taipei and finally, the eventual champion, China. Clearly, the lack of experience coupled with the big disparity in height were key factors leading to the debacles absorbed.

Still, the big stunner during that losing run was the country’s first-ever set win against the powerhouse Chinese side. Savor this, if you will, for this was a huge shock that no one had expected. That the ‘great wall of China’ could be breached after all. And it took a diminutive, yet spunky Philippine side to show the world it could be done. The Philippines had taken the measure of China, proudly claiming the first of only four sets lost by that juggernaut, China, on its way to the crown!

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Small, but terrible. (courtesy of Power Pinays FB page)

For those who have been following women’s volleyball, this was as big an awe-inspiring sight as any. In basketball, it would be like the Gilas team leading the US Dream Team in the 1st quarter. It would be like the Azkals going toe-to-toe with Germany in the World Cup. It would be like Manny banging up Floyd in the 4th round of the Fight of the Century. Despite the losses, our ladies have clearly shown what they are capable of doing.

For their final match, our lady boomers were pitted ironically against their first round tormentors, Iran. But this time around, Alyssa and company punish the Iranians with a dominating 3-set shutout.

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Making the country proud. (Courtesy of rivals.ph)

And as Jaja walloped home the game winner off a perfect set from Jia, a message to our Asian neighbors resonated. That the Philippines is ready to reclaim its place as a contender in Asian women’s volleyball. That our players have what it takes to pit physical and mental abilities. That given a little more exposure, we will start to collect some scalps out there.

Kudos to Alyssa and company for a job well done. To Jia, the lone setter; to Myla, Gretchel, Tin Agno, Risa Sato, Ella De Jesus, Bea De leon, Jhoana Maraguinot, EJ Laure, Ria Meneses, your solid support for each other contributed much to the success of the team.  You all are an inspiration to our people. You have provided us a poignant lesson not just in playing a superior game, but in epitomizing unity and national pride.

Kudos too to Jaja who was reportedly offered a spot in a commercial volleyball team in Chinese Taipei. If I were Jaja, I’d take the offer and try to get as much volleyball smarts and experience from this foreign league. International exposure, as mentioned, will be the key to accelerate the learning process. And this is an opportunity that Jaja – and the country ultimately – can benefit from. The local scene could lose her for a few months, but she comes back just like June Mar Fajardo who dominated the PBA after his stint in the FIBA World Cup.

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Jaja towers! (Courtesy of cnnphilippines.com)

With the Southeast Asian Games just around the corner, our ladies will need all the help and the morale support to push them further forward. That short tourney taught our charges some vital lessons. In teamwork, in mental toughness, in winning. With a little more jelling, and some more tune-ups (preferably with the men’s teams), we should be dancing with the (volleyball) stars soon.

(Pictures courtesy of fivb.com, asianvolleyball.net, rivals.ph, cnnphilippines.com, interaksyon.com, Power Pinays FB Page)

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So Who Really Lost in the Mayweather – Pacquiao ‘Fight of the Century’?

When Floyd Mayweather emerged victorious in the super-hyped ‘Fight of the Century’ with Manny, not a few boxing pundits and fans voiced their disapproval and displeasure.

Interviewed after the fight, Manny gave a straight-forward answer: “I thought I won the fight. He didn’t do nothing.”

Former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, a cinch to land in Canastota’s Boxing Hall of Fame, said he also thought Manny won the fight. “That’s crazy. I don’t know how in the world… I don’t know how they scored that.”

Shane Mosely, another future Hall of Famer, chimed: “I don’t know about the decision being unanimous, but it was close. Rounds were close on my card,” adding, “It was 7 rounds out of (12) for Manny.”

Another retired boxing legend, Oscar De La Hoya tweeted: “I’m just not into boxing, running style. I like jumping out of my seat because a fight was existing.”

Mike Tyson felt the fight was tied up to the 10th round.  Many UFC stars were in unison, convinced that Pacquiao had won that fight.  Formula 1 world Champ,  Lewis Hamilton, echoed: “I felt Pacquiao won. He was the attacking one.” ESPN analyst Skip Bayless, and even Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen voiced their vehement disagreement over the absurd unanimous decision win by Mayweather; and the list goes on and on.

In fairness, Mayweather is undoubtedly one of the greatest boxers of today. His 48-0 record speaks tons of his talent, his work ethic and his ring smarts. His defensive virtuosity is simply the stuff for legends.

Floyd made good use of his 5-inch reach to keep Manny away from him. (Photo courtesy of sltrib.com)

But the three judges had Floyd way ahead, one by a highly questionable 118-110 massacre, while two had identical, yet still-overwhelming 116-112 unanimous decision wins for Floyd. True, no one can question a judge’s scoring, but the lopsided scores give rise to questions about the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s impropriety in choosing 3 American judges, 2 of whom come from Nevada, Floyd’s home state. One of them, Bruce Clements, was the same judge in Manny’s first Juan Manuel Marquez fight who erroneously scored the first round a 10-7 instead of 10-6, which eventually made the fight a split draw.

Compubox provided overwhelming numbers in favor of Mayweather: 148 to 81 total punches landed; 67 to 18 total jabs landed; and 81 – 63 power punches landed.

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Manny would find occasional success when he got past the left jab from Floyd. (Photo courtesy of ibtimes.com)

Chided for simply counting the paws with the jabs and the straights, and not the hugs, the clinches and the escape-and-evasion tactics, Compubox officials were quick to wash their hands clean: “Compubox was never designed to score fights. The program was created to provide a barometer of a fighter’s activity. We’ve never said, and we never will say we’re the be-all and end-all when it comes to scoring fights, as there are more elements to take into consideration.” Duhh… then why the hell do we rely on them then?

That said, who really lost in the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight? More than Manny – who has fans worldwide who continue to believe he deserved the win – the real loser in this bout was boxing itself. The sport of boxing, widely believed to be in the throes of irrelevance, was dealt a severe blow in this bust-of-a-‘Fight of the Century’. That bout could well be the knockout blow, the last nail in the coffin for a dying sport, unless clear changes are implemented on how judges score a fight.

People watch boxing because they want to see modern gladiators try to bamboozle each other. We watch with baited breath for a fighter to batter, bludgeon, and butcher his adversary in a violent, yet largely-controlled environment. It used to be that fighters would get rewarded for being aggressive and taking the fight to the other guy on the floor. It used to be that hugging and holding were taboo in this sport.

Today, things have apparently changed. What we saw was a showcase on how not to get hit, when what matters more should be how to hit and hammer the opponent senseless.

That both fighters finished the match without a cut, a bloodied nose, a bruise, not even a blemish is not a good testament to their boxing skills. Rather, it is a clear sign of a lack of decisive activity within the 4 corners of the ring. There was obviously more love (as in hugging) and more running and holding and dancing. Unfortunately, this was not supposed to be a love story we were watching. Neither was it a ballet repertoire.

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More dance, less duel. (Photo courtesy of fox8.com)

I tried to get my kids to watch the bout, thinking they’d get excited watching boxing’s best in a duel to the death. Instead, what they saw was a cha-cha, which they dismissed with a ho-hum. “This is boring, dad,” my son yawned. No wonder kids nowadays know more about mixed martial arts and the UFC.  Ronda Rousey’s glare is simply far more decapitating than Floyd Mayweather’s powder-puff right straights. And that there is a portent of boxing’s future as a mainstream contact sport.

(Pictures courtesy of mashable.com, sportingnews.com, usatoday.com, ibtimes.co, rappler.com, phillymag.com, variety.com, cnbc.com, khon2.com, sltrib.com, sports.inquirer.net.)

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Mayweather – Pacquiao: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Come May 2, Who’s Gonna Fall?

For this special, historic occasion,  I went up the attic to visit my enchanted kingdom. I took out my crystal ball, shuffled my tarrot cards, spread some potion with my magic wand, and lifted the sheets over my magic mirror.  And then I huffed and I puffed, I said my abracadabras, boomed my best Merlin voice, and croaked:

Mirror, mirror, on the wall

Come May 2, who’s gonna fall?

Web search for 'the fairest of them all'.

My magic mirror, Moira, fidgets. ‘Been programmed to figure out who’s the fairest, not who’s the better banger, boss!’ (courtesy of cartoonstock.com)

My magic mirror, Moira, she with the gift of grave discernment. She hemmed and she hawed, she fiddled and diddled. Then, like the ominous Nostradamus of old, she quatrained her vision with her spittles and riddles.

I see two noble warriors of a different breed. In a huge Roman arena, so festive, so cruel. One is an archer, raining deadly fire from afar. The other is a swordsman; he will close in, to bludgeon and jar.
The sharp-shooting archer, he will ‘hit-and-hide’. With moves like a panther, he shall ‘strike-and-slide’. But the brave little swordsman, with his trusty shield at hand; he will ‘hide-then-hit’, he will ‘block-and-rock’.
Whosoever exacts his trade on the other, with speed and guile and stamina put together, in this dance of death, he shall be rewarded; honor and glory shall be his forever.

Thus spake the mirror, Moira. As you can see, Moira can also be deft and diplomatic at times.

Indeed, in this epic duel featuring the best of boxing’s best, we see a study of contrasts. On one hand, we see Floyd with an impeccable defense that has never been solved before. Manny has never encountered a defensive genius with a record as immaculate as Floyd.

Floyd, the defense specialist.

Floyd, the defense specialist. (courtesy of morgancampbell.com)

On the other, we see Manny, whose unmatched offense is like a stacatto burst in a carpet-bombing mission. Floyd has never been tested by an offensive machine as destructive as Manny.

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Manny, the offensive machine. (courtesy of scmp.com)

Floyd is a righty. His ring IQ is flawless. He always outwits his foes. He is cautious and cunning; he is the consummate counterpuncher, masterful in setting up traps in the ring.

Manny is a lefty. His work-rate doesn’t allow his foes much time to think. He is fast and furious, he comes in from the weirdest of angles, and is known to take risks just to get his shots in.

Floyd is the finesse boxer. Like a deadly sniper, he will use his longer reach to give him more space and time to protect himself from Manny’s marauding fists.

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Floyd, the stealthy sniper. (courtesy of dirtiestpicks.com)

Manny is the fearsome slugger. He’s like a ranger, crawling silently below the radar, to close in on the enemy; to destroy, to obliterate, to administer to him the  fatal blow.

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Manny, the raging ranger. (courtesy of hbo.com)

Floyd has the great boxing pedigree, having come from a family of vaunted pugilists who gifted him his ring smarts early in life.

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Floyd, with the boxing pedigree. (courtesy of craveonline.com)

Manny comes from the school of hard knocks, learning the ropes from sandlots and streetfights.

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Manny, from the ghettoes. (courtesy ofimgarcade.com)

Outside the ring, the schism further widens. Floyd is flamboyant, and loves to flaunt his material wealth.

Manny has only recently become a spiritual person, preaching Godliness and love for his fellowmen.

Floyd has been known to do battle early, trash-talking and playing mind games to unnerve his opponents. Manny has never been known to disrespect his opponent, content to let his fists do the talking. (Surprisingly though, today’s version of Floyd has been relatively silent, while it has been Manny’s coach, Freddie Roach, who has been doing most of the trash-talking.)

Recently, Floyd acquired the services of Alex Ariza to be his strength and conditioning coach. Years ago, Manny had expelled the same Ariza from his camp. (Was Ariza truly hired to condition Floyd? Or was it plain and simple gamesmanship? There are speculations he was hired to gain more info on Manny’s training preparations. Others claim that Floyd’s camp simply wanted to ensure he didn’t give Manny any magic potion of sorts.)

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Alex Ariza, switching sides. (courtesy of philboxing.com)

Recent developments in the Mayweather camp however convince me that Floyd is ready for the taking. Consider: Floyd stated recently that he no longer enjoys boxing and is looking forward to retiring.  Manny, on the other hand, has shown nothing but confidence and eagerness to ‘bring it on’ come May 2. Consider: the distraction caused by Alex Ariza recently exposed by Floyd Sr. Consider: the uncharacteristic lack of trash-talk from Floyd, a clear deviation from the persona of brash confidence he used to exude. Consider: Floyd has been receiving more punishment in his latest fights due to a diminishing foot speed. Thus, he has added more training in power punches, borrowing a page from JuanMa Marquez’ blueprint to beat Manny. It seems that Floyd knows he now needs more artillery to counter Manny’s superior firepower.

That said, it’s time for me to make my choice now. And Boxing being a game of hits and not of misses, I say that Manny’s going to come home victorious in this fight. And not by a mere decision, but by a big knockout. In the middle rounds. And I’m betting everything including the mother-in-law and the kitchen sink here. Let’s get it on!!!

(Photos courtesy of nypost.com, betboxing.org, hbo.com, dailymail.co.uk, latinpost.com, theguardian.com, philboxing, manilatimes.net)

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In Money-Pacman Classic, It’s Pacquiao by Shock KO

by: Manny Pinol

PhilBoxing.com, 5 March 2015

My good friend, Manny Pinol, is a well-respected sportscaster who later became the Governor of the province of North Cotabato. When he was Governor in 1999, he brought Manny Pacquiao – the then newly-crowned WBC Flyweight Champion – to defend his crown against Todd Makelin in Kidapawan. I was there that fateful night to witness Manny annihilate the game Aussie in 3 rounds. Right then, one could see the bright future ahead for the young Pacquiao.  Manny Pinol went back to his first love, sports writing, after giving up on Philippine politics.

I love underdogs, which is why I am rooting for Manny Pacquiao in his classic match with the undefeated Floyd Mayweather.

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Don’t miss the Fight of the Century: Mayweather – Pacquiao on Saturday, May 2. (courtesy of badlefthook.com)

Beyond my sympathy for underdogs, however, I am convinced that the Pacman could yet prove to be the most difficult opponent for Mayweather.

In fact, this early, I am convinced that Manny could deal Floyd his first knockout loss.

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Will he finally succeed where 47 others have failed? (courtesy of hbo.com)

Consider this: Mayweather has never fought a left-handed fighter who is as shifty and as powerful as Pacquiao.

In his previous fights, notably against Miguel Cotto and lately against the bull-like Marcus Maidana, Floyd succeeded in outwitting his opponents inside the ring.

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Cotto gave Money May a run for his moolah. (courtesy of craveonline.com)

Mayweather backs off to avoid the punches and waits for the opportunity to unleash his counterpunches.

When cornered, he ties up his opponent thus rendering them ineffective.

But both Cotto and Maidana are conventional and orthodox fighters. In other words, predictable.

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Maidana wrestled Money May in this bit of action. (courtesy of dailymail.co.uk)

When they throw jabs, it is almost certain that what would follow would be a right straight or a cross.

Added to their woes, both Cotto and Maidana are flat-footed fighters who source their strength from firmly-planted feet before throwing punches.

Inspite of these weaknesses, however, Maidana, for one moment in the dying seconds of the third round of their last fight, showed to boxing observers with keen eyes that Mayweather is glass-jawed.

A looping right by Maidana which hit Mayweather in his left face badly hurt the American and he walked back to his corner as the bell rang with rubbery legs.

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Angling Maidana almost made it. (courtesy of roundbyroundboxing.com)

Against Pacquiao, Mayweather’s left shoulder defense will offer little protection because Manny will not be throwing right straights.

Being lefthanded, Mayweather’s right flank will be vulnerable to the left cross of Pacquiao and his left lower body will be open to the thunderous right of the Pacman.

I believe Manny’s shifty movements will somehow destabilize Floyd and the American will not be able to employ his grappling defense with which he had been successful in his previous fights with on-rushing and slower opponents.

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Floyd may be fast, but Manny’s ferocious. (courtesy of knockoutnation.com)

I am not saying that Floyd could not win this fight. He could if he is able to neutralize the aggressiveness of Manny and immobilize the whirlwind-like movement of the Pacman.

If he is successful with that, Floyd could win by decision.

The chances of Manny winning this fight by knockout are a greater probability that Floyd pulling a decision victory.

The wise money bet, however, would still go to Floyd Mayweather.

But if you love the idea of great returns on minimal risks, Manny Pacquiao is your man.

(Pictures courtesy of boxingvideo.org, philstar.com, cboxinginfo.com, reddevilsboxing.com, forbes.com, theinsidedrop.com, ringcraveonline.com)

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The Pacquiao-Mayweather Clash of Titans: This May 3, Where Will You Be?

This is it, folks! The fight of the century. The biggest fight EVER. The fight for all the marbles. The fight for honor, pride, and everything else including the mother-in-law. This is not just the mother-of-all-fights, folks, for this is the great-grandmother-of-a-fight itself! This is the circus, the concert, the blockbuster movie, the political rally, the religious assembly all rolled into one.

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At long last…. (courtesy of foxsports.com)

And the boxing crowd – nay, it’s not just the boxing crowd, it’s the fight crowd, the sports crowd, the circus crowd, and the entire society for that matter! – everyone’s abuzz and waiting in nail-biting anticipation, fixing their TV sets, calling out friends, preparing the beer and the bbq’s, buying their plane tickets, haggling for even the sleaziest of Vegas joints, just to be a part of this much-awaited, historic hullabaloo.

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Finally jousting after years of waiting. (courtesy of taringa.net)

Hear ye, hear ye!!! Mayweather-Pacquiao. It doesn’t need a sub-title to sell. Mayweather-Pacquiao. It just goes beyond the sport of boxing. Mayweather-Pacquiao. High treason and death by ignominy to those who fail to watch or read or even hear about this biggest sports spectacle the world has ever seen! Mayweather-Pacquiao.  It doesn’t get any BIGGER than this.

Mayweather Jr. of the U.S. celebrates his victory over Alvarez at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas

Mayweather – Pacquiao: This May 3, let’s get ready to rumbleeee!!! (courtesy of zimbio.com)

On May 2 (May 3 in the Philippines), be there or be square!!!

(Pics courtesy of lbtimes.com, latinopost.com, christiantimes.net, dailymail.co.uk, boxingvideo.org, newsflash.org, youtube.com, dpccars.com, mrcheapjustice.com, boxingtopics.com, insidethegame.biz, morgancampbell.com, usatoday.)

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Mayweather vs Pacquiao: How They Fared Against Common Foes

by Emmanuel B. Villaruel

The Freeman April 13, 2015

Manny Villaruel of Cebu’s ‘The Freeman’ regales us with a look at the 5 common opponents that Money May and the Pacman have faced. Oscar Dela Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Shane Mosely and Juan Manuel Marquez are undoubtedly all a cinch to enter Boxing’s Hall of Fame, and they have one thing in common: they have all been in the same squared arena against today’s hottest and most revered boxing gladiators: Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. While it is said that styles make fights, these encounters will show a general view of how the two stack up against a common protagonist in offense and defense, in stamina, boxing IQ, in the ability to adjust to the opponent’s arsenal of tricks, and more. Here’s the writer’s take on how Floyd and Manny fared against this star-studded quintet.

The boxing world is literally at a standstill, with the fans eagerly waiting for the megabuck showdown between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, Jr, considered a lock to obliterate pay-per-view records, revenue and live gate sales.

Mayweather - Pacquiao. (courtesy of thesweetscience.com)

Mayweather – Pacquiao. (courtesy of thesweetscience.com)

Already ensured of a place in the Hall of Fame, the greatness of these two brilliant boxers is being measured in the manner by which they deal with and eventually blare the victory trumpet over their high-profile rival in the course of their journey to stardom.

It’s only the first time that they are going to slug it out inside the ring, but it’s an interesting thing to note that Pacquiao and Mayweather have common ground, having fought against not only one, but five of the best fighters of their era that greatly define their respective careers.

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The Fight of the Century. (courtesy of pisportsinternational.com)

Here’s a quick look at some of the most memorable ring battles of Pacquiao and Mayweather, and how they fare against the same opponents of legendary status in the mold of Oscar de la Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Shane Mosley and Juan Manuel Marquez.

Most probably this will help not just the experts, but also the mere fans in coming up with a more sound analysis and a better insight on the possible scenarios when two of the biggest and brightest stars in the boxing constellation today collide on May 2 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Against Oscar De La Hoya

Mayweather agreed to move up from 147 pounds to 154 to take on De la Hoya in May 2007. The undefeated American then proved that size doesn’t matter, using his excellent defensive skills and superior speed to eke out a split decision win De la Hoya.

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Mayweather wins via split decision over De la Hoya. (courtesy of zimbio.com)

While Mayweather labored hard to victory, Pacquiao, in a masterpiece of a performance, completely dominated the bigger and taller De la Hoya in December 2008. The Pacman moved up two divisions just to challenge the ‘Golden Boy’, but what he lacked in size he made up for his big-fighting heart. His non-stop, two-fisted attack was too much for De la Hoya to handle. With a busted face and a swollen left eye, De la Hoya quit on his stool at the end of round eight in a painful defeat that eventually sent him to retirement.

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Pacquiao TKO’s De la Hoya on the 8th round. (courtesy of boxingnewsonline.net)

Against Ricky Hatton

In the clash of the ‘Undefeated’ in December 2007, a dominant Mayweather pummeled Hatton into a 10th round submission. Hatton was the aggressor from the start, but he eventually lost steam ffrom incessantly chasing Mayweather around the ring. Mayweather capitalized on the opportunity to finish off Hatton off in round 10.

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Mayweather KO’s Hatton in the 10th round. (courtesy of knockoutnation.com)

Pacquiao was far more impressive when he fought Hatton in May 2009. With his jack-hammer fists at work, Pacquiao knocked down the British star two times in the opening round, first with a right hook and then with a solid combo. A powerful left by Pacquiao sent Hatton into the dreamland for good in round two. Referee Kenny Bayless didn’t bother to count upon seeing Hatton wallowing in pain on the canvass.

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Pacquiao KO’s Hatton in the 2nd round. (courtesy of theguardian.com)

Against Miguel Cotto

Coming off spectacular wins over De la Hoya and Hatton, Pacquiao further galvanized his road to greatness by decimating a gritty but overmatched Miguel Cotto in November 2009. Throwing punches like machine-gun fire, Pacquiao floored Cotto twice and turned his face into a bloody mess before finishing off the battered Puerto Rican with 55 seconds left in the 12th round.

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Pacquiao KO’s Cotto in the 12th round. (courtesy of boxingscene.com)

Three years later, Mayweather jumped to light middleweight to slug it out with Cotto. He did absorb some punishment from a very game Cotto, but Mayweather held his ground using his speed and accuracy. When the dust settled, Mayweather came through a unanimous decision victory, but not without some bruises and a bloodied nose from a hard fight against the relentless Puerto Rican champion.

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Mayweather beats Cotto by unanimous decision. (courtesy of que.es)

Against ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley

Mayweather and Pacquiao both came up with lopsided unanimous decision wins over ‘Sugar’ Shane, albeit in different fashion. Mayweather had to withstand a second-round scare before getting rid of a tough Mosley. Mayweather found himself in big trouble after absorbing solid rights from Mosley in round two, but he bravely weathered the onslaught and went on to take complete control of the bout the rest of the way.

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Mayweather takes a unanimous decision win over Mosely. (courtesy of roberto00.wordpress.com)

In sharp contrast, Pacquiao was in full command from the start until the end. After being knocked down by Pacquiao in the third round, Mosley was never the same again.

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Pacquiao wins by unanimous decision over Mosely. (courtesy of espn.go.com)

Against Juan Manuel ‘El Dinamita’ Marquez

Against Marquez in September 2009, Mayweather’s all-around savvy as a fighter was evident. His defense was at its best, and he was simply too fast and too frisky for the Mexican dynamite. After decking Marquez midway in round two, Mayweather deftly worked his way out to outbox Marquez, who would later suffer a cut over his right eye, and a bloody nose. Using his quickness and trademark defense to parry Marquez’s attack all throughout the 12-round skirmish, Mayweather safely cruised to a resounding win.

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Mayweather takes a unanimous decision win over Marquez. (courtesy of telegraph.co.uk)

Pacquiao and Marquez, on the other hand, figured in one of the fiercest rivalries in the annals of boxing. Pacquiao triumphed in two of their first three meetings by the closest of margins. (Ed’s note: the first was a controversial draw.) Each decision was wrapped with controversy though, with Marquez always claiming he was robbed of victory.

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In the first 3 matches, Pacquiao took 2 bouts by split decision, while the third was a draw. (courtesy of philstar.com)

That resulted to a fourth bout between the arch-nemesis in December 2012. Pacquiao wanted to prove something, but Marquez shocked the world with a devastating sixth round stoppage of the eight-division world champion. As he went for the kill in the middle of a heated exchange, Pacquiao was a bit careless and in the process got hit by a power-punch of Marquez that him sprawling on the mat in a very frightening sight for his legion of fans. It’s a major weakness that Pacquiao needs to figure out as he heads into the biggest fight of his life.

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Marquez KO’s Pacquiao in the 6th round of their 4th match. (courtesy of sportige.com)

Mayweather is not really known for his power. All these years, he has managed to keep his unbeaten record intact (47-0) because of his ring craftsmanship, accurate counter-punching and superior defense. He is also too quick and clever that no one has so far succeeded in beating him.

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The unbeaten Mayweather. (courtesy of bbc.co.uk)

On the other end, Pacquiao is known not only for his ability to unleash power shots at will, but also for the unpredictability of his punches. He throws punches in flurries and in all angles that is oftentimes hard to handle for any opponent he is faced with. Since his devastating loss to Marquez, he has evolved into a more complete and wiser fighter, although many still doubt whether the fire in him is truly back. That is something that remains to be seen.

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The underdog: Manny Pacquiao. (courtesy of getnetworth.com)

In summary, their varying skill-sets make the much-awaited megafight more exciting and interesting. A highly defensive fighter with slick boxing skills going up against a relentless, double-barrelled punching machine. Many experts have already said their piece about the possible outcome of this $400-million battle-for-the-ages. You may also take your pick on this one. But if you ask this corner who among the two legends will eventually come out banging the drums and spraying the victory champagne, it would be safe to say that let’s just wait and see until the big day.

(Pics courtesy of mp8.ph, hbo.com, youtube.com, craveonline.com, bryanboy.com)

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Tribal Madness to Hit Baguio This Saturday

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Let the Tribal Wars begin!!!

This Saturday, April 11, expect the Baguio Convention Center to go rockin’ and rollin’, and heating and sweating, as exciting mixed martial arts action beckons the warrior spirit from the mountain tribes of the north. Pitted against equally talented ring gladiators from as far south as Mindanao and the Visayas, northern pride – along with their type of training and discipline – will be highlighted in “Tribal Madness”, a joint presentation by Tribal Submission Philippines, and the newly-formed i Fighting Championships, with the Underground Battle Philippines.

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Baguio beckons. For the budding MMA practitioners, Baguio is where to get your ‘baptism of bash and brawl’.

Tribal Submission Philippines (TSP) is a MMA Fitness Club based in Baguio City. It takes pride in the fact that it has produced many pioneering Pinoy MMA fighters, some of whom have reached the professional circuits here and abroad. TSP is at the forefront of the MMA grassroots development in the northern highland regions of the Philippines. TSP is proud to showcase their new talents, as well as their training system, their martial tradition and culture, and hopes that – with a strong showing this coming Saturday – more fight enthusiasts will flock to Baguio as the Mecca of MMA development in the country. TSP’s main man is the dynamic Christian Villareal.

The i Fighting Championships (iFC), on the other hand, is a newly-formed promotions team for MMA events. Through its subsidiary, Underground Battle Philippines (UGB-P), it has developed an aggressive track record of having promoted numerous local MMA events featuring professional and amateur combatants in many cities and regions of the country. iFC was born with a strong advocacy of spreading the gospel of MMA in the country. With the growing popularity of MMA as a combat sport, particularly among the youth, iFC is focusing where other MMA events teams do not thread; that is, to create a grassroots appeal by taking the sport to the provinces, and finding the diamonds-in-the-rough.

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UGB-P, through its founder Ferdie Munsayac, strongly believes in fighter welfare; hence its programs include player training and management, player discipline and development, to include player quarters and scholarships for those who have no means to advance their formal education. Aside from player welfare, to further whet fan appetite for the games, UGB also introduced more excitement with the Round Girls Search, through veteran US bikini contest promoter, Fernando Laguda. (video courtesy of iFC and UGB)

This Saturday, at the Baguio Convention Center, be there!!!

(Pictures courtesy of dojodrifter.com, coffeewithnadine.blogspot.com, fightsportphilippines.com, thefightnation.com, youtube.com, UGB-Philippines, Tribal Submission Philippines)

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Pamilacan on My Mind

cbholganza:

For this summer 2015, let me dish out some local summer treats for you to consider. Earlier, we talked about Malapascua in Cebu. This time, let me take you to another small island so obscure you won’t find it in most big maps in the bookstore.

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Pamilacan: pure, pristine, private… perfect! (courtesy of asiatravels)

Pamilacan is a small islet off the main island of Bohol. It is noted for dolphin-watching, and occasionally you’ll find whales as well. Explore Pamilacan now, before it gets too commercialized.

Originally posted on charly's blog:

(Second of a series: Suggestions for Summer)

During one of those occasions when I had some time off, my wife and I travelled to the Pamilacan Island in Bohol for some precious private time. Pamilacan Island is a small island off the southern coast of the town of Baclayon. It was made famous very recently by the dolphin and whale-watching tours, and the well-preserved marine reservation they have there.

pam9 Pamilacan is famous for dolphin and whale watching tours. Its marine sanctuary boasts of a variety of sea creatures for the viewing pleasure of serious divers. (Courtesy of boholislandtravel.com)

The island’s name came from the word ‘pilak’, which is a large fishing hook previously used by the islanders to catch whale sharks, dolphins and manta rays. For some reason, these sea treasures loved to converge near the island. Today, the ‘pilak’ is no longer used, as the island’s inhabitants have learned to value the…

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March 28, 2015 · 7:37 am