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Southpaw

A very private Ronda Pilipinas

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ROGER, my Canadian neighbor, has sold his beach house he had touted could withstand earthquakes and tsunamis.

The last time I heard, he has flown back to Toronto with his profit and his Filipino wife, a public works engineer.

Not to worry. I still have Neil March, the chap from Great Britain, to walk the beach with from our neighborhood to the fish sanctuary guard post and back—a good three kilometers both ways.

Neil, 53, came to surf our turquoise blue waters six years ago and never left. He has seemingly forsaken merry old England in favor of “stress-free” surroundings and Carol, the woman he loves, a local lady he met in Singapore.

He and the missus make do with his pension from Her Majesty’s Army. After the initial culture shock, the chap has come around to love the food, the awesome vistas, the laid-back lifestyle and the brown bottles of beer at Happy Hour.

How does he like living around these parts? “You know it’s like being in “Little House on the Prairie,” he told me, alluding to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s tale of rustic life in the old American West.

The government’s drumbeat is being sounded for the likes of Neil, a native of Ramsgate, Kent, about 90 miles from London. It is more fun in the Philippines—as a destination for sports tourism and a haven for retirees.

Mr. March’s story is a very private Ronda Pilipinas; he chose Candon City, Ilocos Sur, the roundabout way. He’s been to other exotic places in the islands, but stuck with his damsel and chose our seaside village as his home away from the British Isles.

A child of cyberspace, he keeps in touch with a shrinking world. He is well-informed, and follows sports, especially cycling via the Internet.

“The bloody bastard still has to come clean,” he shouted this morning as he and his four feisty mongrels disgorged from his tribike.

My walking buddy was of course talking about American cyclist Lance Armstrong, who has fallen from the pantheon of sports heroes into the dump of dopers among athletes.

Armstrong, stripped of all of his Tour de France titles and banned from professional cycling for life, has left the sport’s followers the world over hooked. Will he or won’t he admit to his doping ways and methods and move on?

The suspense is killing Neil as he and I walk the shores of our emerald city.

* * *

I queried the Philippine Olympic Committee brass how much does PH get in Solidarity Funds from the International Olympic Committee?

Swimming’s Mark Joseph says the money amounted to a little over $1 million, about the same that each of the 205 IOC member countries got for the years 2009 to 2012.

The sometimes controversial funding is handed out in so called World and Continental Funds from the profits of the IOC after each Olympics.

Roughly, there are about 17 local Solidarity programs that run the gamut—from the training of coaches and sports administrators, both from the national sports associations and local government units, to the hiring of “itinerant” mentors from abroad.

Joseph says the disbursement of Solidarity moneys figured in recent POC planning sessions to improve the performance of NSAs—in pursuit of the IOC’s desire to heighten Olympic values among the youth.

Olympic Solidarity Funds are audited to the bone, assures Mark without me asking.

More on Solidarity and the POC’s plans in a succeeding column.


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