Look who’s guiding Benhur’s Olympic questBy Recah Trinidad
Philippine Daily Inquirer
THE VISITING expert, a balikbayan, was both effective and spellbinding he inevitably got asked a couple of pointed questions:
1) Is the Table Tennis Association of the Philippines (Tatap) aware of his presence in the country?
2) Is he getting any support or encouragement in his selfless crusade to develop talented poor kids from either the Philippine Sports Commission or the Philippine Olympic Committee?
Ernesto L. Ebuen, listed as a six-time Philippine national table tennis champion, was direct to the point.
“No and nothing,” he said in the middle of a busy training and demo session.
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This was on Tuesday afternoon in a crowded hall at the fourth floor of the refurbished Mandaluyong Elementary School (MES) off the busy G. Aglipay St. in the city proper.
A mingling crowd of kids, parents, media people and city hall executives were all hooked onto one table where a small boy of five was doing a display of ping-pong basics
The tyke in dark blue t-shirt and playing shorts was slicing, top-spinning, driving, playing in a delicious show of solid moves never seen among elder practitioners, like the creaky gang that plays ping-pong every morning in front of the Philippine Independent Church across the elementary school.
“These are all products of a visiting six-time national champion,”said civic leader Nandy Charvet, who invited the Inquirer to take a peek at the happy proceedings.
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Soon enough, Mayor Benhur Abalos materialized inside the hall, coming in 30 minutes late for his 2 p.m. appointment.
“We owe everything to a son of Mandaluyong who dared come home to establish a table tennis academy right in our city,” Abalos explained.
Abalos also ticked off the early achievements of the Philippine Table Tennis Academy (PTTA)—launched in August last year—that included a six-year-old greenhorn topping a teen-age national champion, another small and obscure trainee going all the way to capture the silver medal among elder and seasoned rivals.
“These were unbelievable achievements scored in less than seven months of the academy’s existence.”
There are currently a total of 18 young players under the PTTA.
Abalos said the academy will be expanded to involve all other city schools and barangays.
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Anyway, when Abalos asked the man of the hour to step forward, an athletic, firm-faced Pinoy in buttoned-up t-shirt and matching slacks, came over.
Ernesto Ebuen, turning 33 next month, explained he has no doubt whatsoever that the PTTA would soon be churning out classy native competitors who should easily shine internationally.
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