Over the weekend, Camp Phillips hosted the Del Monte Cup – the seventh of an annual series hosted by the Del Monte Football Cup in cooperation with the Bukidnon Football Association (BUFA). Teams from all over the country came to compete in what could possibly be the most credible amateur football tournament in this part of the country.
For Del Monte residents, football is the national sport.
I hardly remember any significant basketball tournament,although I am sure there were. Of course, the Del Monte Golf Club plays host to golf tournaments ever since Frankie Minoza made international headlines, and the tennis clubs have their own matches as well, but it was always about soccer.
The Camp Phillips Football Field serves as the centerpiece of the camp. It is where future soccer superstars are trained. Today, we have people like Francis Rizon and Eduardo Corbit acting as coaches, but in our time there was Alex.
I forget his last name now, but I knew Alex because he was the boyfriend (or was it suitor) of my cousin Jennifer Abellera. Taking over Julius Lim who was the previous coach, Alex trained a whole generation of soccer players in the early 80s – a lot of them were my classmates: Rico Laguerta, Julius Estacion, Maximo Estacion, Roman Cutillas to name a few. In fact, most of the Xavier University Soccer Varsity team members came from Holy Cross at that time. If I am not mistaken, XU goalie was Robert Rizon who is now a practicing veterinarian in the US after he ended his stint with the US Army in 1998. I remember him well because when we were in second year high school, Jenny had this huge, huge crush on Robert because, apparently, he looked like Barry Manilow – as if Barry Manilow was hot! Maybe he was when he was still young. I don’t know.
Anyway, when we moved to college, Alex and Roman continued to train the next generation of soccer players, and they continued to bring home the bacon. I believe that it was because of their performance in the 80s that soccer became very popular in Del Monte. Those guys were pioneers.
Sadly, these two met tragic accidents. Alex died in his farm while playing with his gun. It was the usual story of him thinking that his gun was empty, so he pulled the trigger. Roman was with him when Alex died. Just this year, we heard that our friend Roman died of an accident in Canada.
Tragic as their endings maybe, but I think the present generation of football players ought to know and remember that they owe this tradition of soccer excellence because of people like Alex and Roman.