MANILA, August 28, 2003
(MALAYA) Members of the Bacolod team that ruled the girls' 13-14 Little League World Series in Kirkland, Washington, recently paid a courtesy call on President Arroyo yesterday shortly after returning from the United States.

The girls showed their victory banner to the President and presented her with an honorary jacket symbolizing their feat in the last World Series. In return, the President presented the Paglaum girls a check for P1 million as their incentive.

The team's 2-0 win over Puerto Rico in the title match gave the Philippines its first World Series crown since 1992 when a team from Zamboanga was stripped of the crown it won in Pennsylvania after it was established the squad was reinforced with players from other regions.

After being assured there was no such thing this time, a visibly pleased Arroyo congratulated the girls for "a job well done."

"We're proud of you," she said.

There was no formal dinner, only merienda for the world champions at the State Dining Room, yet they appeared overly ecstatic over the chance to meet the President who spoke to them in Ilonggo.

"So, how was your game," she asked the girls.

"Okey lang po," was the reply of Aiza de la Torre, the 14-year-old pitcher of the team. "Di man po namin ini-expect na manalo kami. Pero fight lang."

"Para ito makapag-training pa kayo lalo," the President said after presenting the team with the P1 million check.

Bacolod Rep. Monico Puentevella, who accompanied the girls along with PSC commissioner Leo Montemayor and and the team's coaches, was also pleased with the time spent by the President with the girls.

"It only shows she cares for sports, specially to those who bring honor to our country," said Puentevella, the chairman of the House committee on youth and sports.

In recognition of their achievement, Puentevella said he will ask that a marker be placed in the Bacolod City plaza proclaiming it as the "Home of the World Series Champs."

The Bacolod girls, mentored by Reynaldo Fuentes, first beat West America (California) 3-0, then went on to clobber Central America (Ohio) 9-0 and South America (West Virginia) 7-0 before defeating Southwest America (Texas) 3-1 on their way to the championship. Along the way, they lost 1-2 to Puerto Rico but made up for it with a win in the match that mattered most.

The members of the team are Ma. Rossini Antipatia, Ailyn Benedicto, Fairbee Cabugnazon, Bebian Deala, Nelsa Delagente, Christian Jade Declines, Angeline Delbugado, Rachel Fuentes, Ana Marie Moneva, Tresha May Rodriguez and Jelyn Pabiona.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved