There’s hope away from POC and PSCBy Recah Trinidad
Philippine Daily Inquirer
HE WAS not a main character but it’s a pity his name had been disposed of and sliced out of my last column.
His name is Michael Landers, a youthful table tennis sensation who will represent the United States in this year’s London Olympics.
Blame it on space constraints. In the concluding part of that column which was junked, it was noted that Ernesto L. Ebuen, a six-time Philippine national table tennis champion, migrated and “gained respect and recognition from the US Table Tennis community.”
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Ebuen was made to lay the foundation for young American players many of whom he guided to the top like Landers.
Ebuen was in the country recently as a guest of Mandaluyong Mayor Benhur Abalos.
As noted in that column, he was the main founder and pillar of the Philippine Table Tennis Academy (PTTA), which was launched in August last year.
Abalos acknowledged how in less than seven months, the PTTA, which he had helped establish in Mandaluyong, has achieved astounding results, including a six-year-old who bested a teenaged national champion, and another small and obscure trainee who went all the way to finish with a silver medal ahead of older, seasoned rivals.
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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.
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.
Asked if he thought the Philippines could also produce table tennis Olympians, Ebuen flashed a broad smile and nodded wholeheartedly.
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“But of course, Filipinos are a natural for table tennis. They are gifted with the necessary instincts for the game,” Ebuen explained.
More gifted than Americans?
Ebuen, who said he grew up in the Mabatay area around the Mandaluyong City Hall, serves as a registered nurse in New York.
He first flew to the US in 2007 to participate in tournaments.
As noted in an info sheet: “He was honored as an alien with extraordinary ability in sports and was granted permanent residency by the USCIS. He competed against some of the best US players and, in most cases, triumphed.”
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Ebuen “reaped the fruits of his labors in 2009 when his protégé, Michael Landers, became the youngest US Men’s National champion at the age of 15.”
Ebuen, who flew back to New York on May 10, was asked why he was making all these sacrifices.
“I want to give back,” he explained.
A product of the Don Bosco Catholic School, Ebuen supported his schooling through athletic scholarship.
He continues to monitor all games and activities under the PTTA, currently based in the Mandaluyong Elementay School on Rev. G. Aglipay Street, through the magic of the Internet.
But why was he cool about coordinating with major national sports organizations like the Philippine Olympic Committee and the Philippine Sports Commission?
“I don’t want to be tied down or beholden to any national group or sports agency.”
Was he afraid the criminal dirty politicking in Philippine sports would spoil his crusade?
More from this Column:
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- Can Miami go home again?
- LeBron dominates by scoring less
- Will they try to use another NBA script?
- Great expectations in boxing, the NBA