My 3-year tenure as the president of UP Pool Club, the first duly recognized student organization in the sport of pool/billiards in the Philippines, ended last October 31, 2015. I never thought that I would stay that long on the position, a position that nobody else dared to take for it meant dealing with the Goliath task on securing the pedestal that the organization has built for itself amidst the politics and conservative tradition, no matter how they claimed it to be progressive, inside UP.
It will come down as one of my greatest acts of defiance, clearly going against the flow. I was involved in a political strife that an undergraduate student would not wish to get involved with. I became the center of the tensions between factions within the campus. I became a subject of scorn and criticism from my adversaries which I met along my path. Though it is not as patriotic as what the unwritten laws of UP are “dictating” its student to do, the cause is one of my noblest.
I started my college days in the University of the Philippines Diliman as student of the Bachelor of Arts in Political Science program. I was reclusive from its society, being shocked by its tradition and boldness. I wanted to disassociate myself from the clash of ideas inside the campus.
I was a virtuoso already in billiards at that time, having playing seriously since 2008. To provide the remedy for the loneliness due to the solitude, I went around the campus to look for a pool hall. My efforts to look for one in my first weeks were in vain. Until, luckily, someone from Hardin of Rosas directed me to the UP Alumni Center, which was at the back of the Fonacier Hall.
UPAA Bowling and Billiards Hall, more commonly known as the UP Alumni Center, had been there for around five decades already. It had a duckpin bowling hall and a pool hall, comprising of 8 bowling lanes and 5 billiard tables. It was originally at the building that the College of Business Administration is currently occupying.
The pool tables were junior-sized pool tables, meaning they were one foot short in its longest side compared to the standard-size 4.5-foot-by-9-foot tables. The table clothes were already shabby, with holes littering some areas, exposing the granite (which I discovered to be concrete later) beneath. The house cue sticks, or the cue sticks that the establishment provided, were made of rattan. Its leather cue tips were substandard, susceptible to miscues.
Luckily, I have my own cue stick, saving me from any quandary in playing. I first played there, being watched by the manager, Cirilo Rosaceña Jr., and his co-manager, Angel Ariginio. They were impressed by my play comparing me to Jose Parica and they advised me to indulge myself into playing money games with the people in the establishment in the coming days.
I was determined to assert myself as the pinakamagaling sa bilyar in the campus. I played recklessly against adults (I was still sixteen years old at that time). I alloted a quarter of my weekly allowance for these games. My assertion indeed have attracted adversaries, virtuosos who were also students. I suffered a decisive defeat on one of them. His name was Michael Vizconde, Mechanical Engineering major, who was a freshman like me.
I frequent myself in the pool hall vowing revenge for that defeat. He showed up months after. I immediately issued a challenge, and in that match and the other that followed, I emerged victorious, thus giving me the satisfaction of settling the score. With that bitterness relieved, we became friends and often cooperated in milking money from the players there.
PREMISES LEADING TO FOUNDATION
Something happened in my second year in UP. Michael won a lot of money from the players, who were also employees there. But there was this one janitor, in order to gain favor with his superiors, sipsip in the Filipino language, informed the administrator, este his mistress, about the event. Students were banned from playing poker pool with the employees. The HR management would later fire some of its employees, due to absence during work hours (they were playing during their work hours), and to incredulous amount of cash advances, which I admit was because I beat them bad in the money games. I and Michael were banned from playing money games in the establishment.
With the money games out of the option, there was no other way to induce a competitive sporting environment in the billiard community in UP. It was when I often played with Beam Joseph Arada, a second-year Geology major at that time, when the idea of forming a student organization on billiards was conceived. We went to ask the managers for approval. They approved but they said we must get the approval from the higher authority. But that annoying janitor again barred us again from confronting the higher authority.
In my third year in UP, I was already a 2nd-year Civil Engineering major, having shifted-out of the Political Science department last April 2011. I just did my normal routine, I would immediately go to the Alumni Center after classes. I then met Jann Penny Clavecilla II, a graduating Civil Engineering major, who was affiliated to the EMC2 fraternity. I introduced myself by playing a billiard match against him. The normal response followed: he was impressed. We then often played on a regular basis. I knew his intent was to learn from me, but learning at that way was only half of the equation. A standardized training was needed to hone the skills. There was no formal procedure for training. I lamented to him that if only the organization that Beam and I had conceived would come into place, then it would be different. Penny then offered his services into forming the organization.
I immediately informed Beam and Michael about the formation of the organization, and on July 6, 2012, we deliberated on the name of the organization. Penny and Beam wanted the organization to be named as UP Billiards Club, however, as I pointed out, the abbreviation of the org’s name would be mistaken as the bowling club, UPDBC, and that UP Pool Club would be a more fitting name for I was envisioning of not only limiting the org’s scope on billiards alone but also to the other cue sports in existence. Thus on that day the UP Pool Club was founded.
The next agenda of our deliberation was on who would be the founding president. The three would point their finger to me as I tried in vain to point my finger to Penny. It was a majority decision among founders on which I had to accept.
There was supposed to be a fifth patriarch of the organization. I only known him as Gorby. He was my first apprentice. Our training sessions were the reasons that I was often late on the Geol 11 class of April Lim around 2011. Ma’am April later asked on the reason of my tardiness. I just showed her my cue stick. She then pointed out that her husband was also a virtuoso (at that time was better than me). She and her husband were later enlisted as members and they provided most of the monetary needs of the organization.
The three virtuosos, namely Luigi Consulta (CBA), Vinnie Alip (CHE) and Geoff Rodriguez (Educ) who also often played there expressed their intent to join on which I granted.
My apprentices, Gabriel “Gabe” Mendoza and Rogelio “Rogie” Maglinas, who were both from the football varsity, enlisted themselves to the organization.
I also invited my groupmate in GE 10, Ephraim Inong, to join. Ephraim would later invite his colleague, Jose Eleazar Concepcion, to the organization.
I coerced my other apprentices, Kenaz Evangelista, Lorenzo Tabao and John Elagio, into joining in order to formalize the training sessions that I was doing on them.
Due to the activities of the organization, I was often late in my ES 11 class under Phillip Lapidez. As audacious as I am, I invited him to join the organization. He was reluctant at first, but when he saw the difference in our abilities (I have to put it that way) and the potential for his growth, he complied.
I drafted the constitution of the organization. And believe me when I tell you, it was very crappy. The other founders, who also conceded about the difficulty of drafting a constitution, have to concede into signing that provisional constitution. I enlisted the help of an architecture major in TUP, Jason Labacanacruz, into making the logo of the organization.
But our efforts to put the organization into recognition were in vain for the organization was founded a week after the deadline of the org registration. Maybe, when I looked back into it, the lack of formality due to our failure to register the organization right by its founding date would be the main cause of its disorganization by the end of my term as president.
I was not alone in recruiting members for the organization. Beam would enlist some of his orgmates in UP Lakan. Penny enlisted some of his brothers in the fraternity. Vinnie, Luigi and Geoff would enlist Carl Natividad, Hari Orosco and Sophie Lu, who then became the org’s muse.
Guys dumarami na tayo… sa mga di pa nakakaalam. UP Pool Club ay para sa mga taong gustong magrelax, magseryoso o gawing career ang billiards. May libreng lessons para sa mga gusto. Feel free to ask at set tayo ng date. Venue pala eh alumni center.
-Jann Penny Clavecilla II
Despite the org being having an anti-elitist notion, who was open to those beginners who wanted to learn, I as its president, have an elitist outlook. The sporting environment that I was in for the last five years, where the only way to learn is to learn from the mistakes of the countless losses, molded that outlook of mine.
Gorby was very unfortunate that he had to experience the harshest of ‘training’ from me. But I see myself in my starting years from him, he was not discouraged and he trained harder. And indeed, it did pay returns to him. Penny also experienced the same as Gorby but on a lesser extent. I would rather discourage the people who have weak wills into playing than to teach them only to received a half-hearted response. Michael was the more magnanimous with regards to teaching people. However, I was the more keen in teaching.
I finally realized that my teaching methods were very archaic for the academic environment in UP. So I tried to be as magnanimous as Michael in teaching the sport to others. But later on, I found out that my training manual was also archaic and less technical, when I was teaching Sophie during the semestral break.
Thanks to the tutorial book given to me by Edfer Lim, Ma’am April’s husband, I was able to revise my training manual to make it more systematic and do-able.
What I hated most during those times was using the sport as means to showboating. People pretended to be good in order to impress others. Many were bluffing that the sport was too easy for them, putting me, my ideology and my hard work into indignation.
I am a very different man when I am holding my cue stick. It gives me abnormal courage to put myself a thick face to issue challenges to those that I found showboating. I gave them a hard beating, much to my satisfaction and dissatisfaction. I then believed that the typical response would be same as mine, with vengeance fueling the urge to be better. But the opposite always happened.
I remember that there was this one guy who was gloating in front of his girlfriend about his ‘prowess’ in the sport, telling her that he was formidable in the money games, that was ironic from the performance that he was showing, which in my judgement was that of a 5-year-old. My temper quickly flared up and I challenged the guy into a pool match on which he accepted. 30 minutes later, his girlfriend became mocking him. And to save his pride, he enlisted himself into the organization. But I never saw his face again.
Michael and I started to argue on my methods. I finally agreed to cease doing those things only with an agreement that I would only employ this as a last resort, once indignation of the sport from the act was also felt by the others.
Our first event, the 2012 UP Sem-ender Pool Tournament, was to be held on October 16, 2012. Michael went home to the province a week before the tournament so he was unable to join. Beam and I have registered for the tournament and Penny promised that he would bring some of his brads to join.
I was expecting 16 participants for the tournament. The 7 slots were assured already, namely, for me, Beam, Luigi, Vinnie, Ephraim, Jaric (Lavalle) and Enzo (Librojo). But the 9 slots that Penny assured was never filled out. The tournament proceeded with 7 participants with the results as follows:
Alip 9 – 1 Inong
Librojo 9 – 8 Consulta
Librojo 13 – 7 Alip
Agar 13 – 5 Lavalle
Agar 18 – 2 Librojo
Although I won the tournament, there was still dissatisfaction that soured the victory. The premises of that act of no-show rooted from my reluctance to join their fraternity, EMC2. Maybe, it was their way to showing me what I would lose if I were to refuse. I accepted…the consequences of my reluctance and by the next semester, a huge block of the members were practically inactive.
The sour atmosphere of the first internal strife was still fresh at the start of the second semester. I was reluctant into recruiting more members. It would be unless I saw a potential in them.
I was able to recruit Anna Carolina, another potential virtuoso. Her skills were at par with Sophie’s.
Beam became the president of the academic fraternity of his institute and Michael became busy (Maybe dating his childhood sweetheart). So practically, all the administrative duties rested upon me.
My policies focused on the internal relations. I introduced members to each other, had them played games. The memories of those bonding moments brings me back to nostalgia. It was also what I envisioned: all of them smiling, comfortably having conversations with each other despite their academic differences, while playing the sport they enjoy playing.
It was practically the zenith of the internal relations, with the organization acting as one big family. We would play in the afternoons, two or three tables were occupied, each being played by five players. When they were playing against me, out of necessary fear, they cooperated their play even though they were opponents to each other just to have me eliminated based on the rules of the game we were playing.
Of course, academics is still the number one priority. They were then apologetic in not being able to participate another sem-ender tournament, the 2013 UP Pool Championship. I lamented about the downturn of event where they were only two participants: me and Vinnie.
By the end of the first academic year of UP Pool Club, the member count reached 40. Some of the notable members that joined at that time were Mark Benjamin Pacheco, son of Dr. Benito Pacheco of UP-ICE, and Rhey Joseph Daway, son of the former dean of the UP College of Law.
I GOT THE REST OF THEM SIGNED UP
At the start of the first semester of UP Pool Club’s second academic year, five members were having a formal training under my tutelage, namely Mark (Pacheco), Rhey (Daway), Joq (Abad), Cocci (Alferos) and JR (Isaga)
Recruitment of new members were difficult for the students were becoming more ignorant and conceited. Maybe they already know of my notoriety in the establishment and has decided to ignore it. To them, I was omnipotent. My last defeat was still on that money game against Michael 2 years ago.
Things took a turn when we decided to hold the 2013 UP Sem-ender Pool Tournament a month earlier than scheduled, on a September. For me, it was the biggest tournament, skill-wise, that took place inside the campus. Ever since, the rating the system was included in the constitution, the members were rated based on their skills, with Class D representing beginners and Class A representing the cream of the crop. Four Class A(Agar, Alferos, Consulta and Vizconde) and two Class B(Alip, Pacheco) participated in the tournament.
It was a tightly-contested bout. In the final, it was me against Michael. In the match, I surged into a 4-1 lead, 7-4 lead and 12-9 lead, but then lost the match 13-12. I was shocked on my first defeat in years.
But in turn, my image of ‘omnipotence’ was disestablished in the public. My elitist notion was defeated. And more students have joined the organization. The member count at the end of the first semester was 51.