10:20 PM January 27th, 2013

By: Manolo R. Iñigo, January 27th, 2013 10:20 PM

PBA commissioner Chito Salud turned around the sagging fortunes of the Philippine Basketball Association within two years, which only deepens my respect for the man’s management and marketing expertise.

The lawyer-son of the late Rodrigo “Rudy” Salud, who took over the commissionership of Asia’s first play-for-pay league from the venerable Leo Prieto, is bound to go places.

Chito is well on the way to making Asia’s first pro league great again mainly because he has a very capable staff around him, led by PR man Willie Marcial. And Chito is keen on solving the perennial problem of officiating.

One of the youngest PBA commissioners on record, Chito is in the class of the late Jun Bernardino, Noli Eala and Sonny Barrios. The PBA has done enough to relive the good old days in the 1970s and ‘80s, when the league enjoyed its finest years.

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I am sorry to my friend, coliseum owner Nene Araneta for not coming out with the World Slasher 8-Cock Derby story, the toughest cockfighting event in the world. The Slasher Derby has a long story behind it, starting in the year 1960.

Those mainly responsible for the derby’s drawing power included great Filipino cockfighters such as Dr. AP Reyes, who once owned the Sta. Ana Race track in Makati; shipping magnate James Chiongbian, noted politicians Ramon Mistra, DO Plaza and Ricardo Silverio, business tycoon Jose Lanuza, the Cojuangcos of Tarlac, the Montinolas of Negros, and the Lacsons of Bacolod.

In those days, the much-feared imported roosters came from the farms of the legendary Duke Hulsey, Oscar Aikins, Joe Goode, Billy Abbot, Billy Ruble, Johnny Jumper, Dee Cox, Dan Gray, Richard Bates, Bob Howard, Tom Wilson, Ray Alexander and Carol Nesmith.

Next to basketball, cockfighting has become so popular that the sport appeals to both the rich and poor. According to a recent survey, between 8 and 10 million people (mostly males) are addicted to it.

Cockfighting has even captivated the fancy of many artists.

During the last Philippine Independence Day Celebration, the lobby of the Philippine Center on Fifth Avenue in New York displayed the works of Fil-Am artists Lenore RS Lim, Christina Quisumbing Ramilo, Athena Magcase Lopez, Rebo Marquez, Mario Fernandez, and Al Ompod in an exhibit called “Sa Pula, Sa Puti…”

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