MANILA, December 5, 2003  (STAR) BIZLINKS By Rey Gamboa - While we all pray for the success of the whole 295-man Philippine team to the Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam that starts today (until Dec. 14), there is a very special place in my heart for the Philippine chess team.

More than a decade ago, when the Philippines hosted the world chess Olympiads, we had only Grandmaster (GM) Eugene Torre and just a handful of international masters (IMs). That year, 1992, Shell in the Philippines decided to hold a nationwide grassroots search for promising chess players, the Shell National Youth Active Chess competition.

Since then, the annual active chess tournaments have attracted thousands of students who continue to exhibit the keen interest and passion to play this highly disciplined mind game. Now, we have countless national and international masters who are products of these active chess competitions. Reaping The Harvest

By steadily supporting the yearly tournaments, (a project we launched with the late Art Borjal), I think Shell can say that their patience and hard work over the last 12 years is paying off.

Happily, of the 11-man SEA Games chess team formed, after the open competition sponsored by Shell, four are past winners of the annual active chess tournaments of Shell. They are GM-candidate Mark Paragua, IM Ronald Dableo, Women’s Fide Master (WFM) Sherrie Joy Lomibao, and WFM Kathryn Ann Cruz.

Why I Am Betting On Chess

To hone them in fighting form, the individual members of the men’s chess team campaigned abroad. Mac-Mac Paragua came home with a string of wins from his European stint; Dableo grabbed the Asian Zonal championship; Antonio won the Bangkok open; while Torre, Antonio and Villamayor posted a 1-2-3 finish in the recently concluded Belgium open.

Our women’s team, though less battle-scarred, will be expected to put up a valiant stand against the better trained and prepared teams of Vietnam and Indonesia. Together with Lomibao and Cruz are Cristine Rose Mariano and Beverly Mendoza.

Pinoys will excel in chess, you can bet on it

As I have often repeated, Pinoys have the talent and brainpower to reap more honors for the Philippines in the international chess arena. While we wait with bated breath for good news from the SEA Games, the effort to uncover new chess talents at the grass root level must be sustained.

Would you like to place your stake in the future of Philippine chess? Those interested may send their comments, inquiries and/or contributions to the Isulong ang Pinoy Chess Foundation with address at 156 Valero St., Salcedo Village, Makati City or visit the website at

Local Coffee’s Missing Roadmap

We received a letter and some documents from a concerned coffee grower and former exporter reacting to our column "Giving local coffee a break" in The Philippine STAR on 26th September 2003. Here is the letter.

"I agree with you fully in the opinion you have expressed in your column. Indeed why is the NCDB (National Coffee Development Board) spending so much money promoting our coffee when local production is too low it can’t even fill the local demand that we have to import our domestic requirements.

"To our coffee drinking Filipinos, we don’t need to promote our coffee and to the coffee consumers all over the world, there is no point promoting coffee that is not available for lack of supply.

"The NCDB is another useless and wasteful creation. What is our DA (Department of Agriculture) people doing to help the farmers make coffee farming profitable and worthwhile? Money spent for promotions would be better off spent for training and printing materials to update and educate the coffee farmers on best practice in coffee farming. I understand the NCDB has to date spent more than P1 million for printing promo materials, for organizing exhibits and trade fairs, and for marketing consultants’ fees. All of these expenditures only benefit members of the NCDB who are into promoting their own establishments and businesses.

"Where is the so-called ‘road map for coffee’ which the NCDB promised to produce at the cost of P300,000 from a DA grant. It’s almost the end of 2003."

Moving Forward From Assembler To Producer

And this is from another reader, Joseph Mercado, who reacted on a more recent BizLinks column:

"Thank(s) very much for dishing out good, informative and inspiring piece of news: Cars proudly assembled in the Philippines‚ (Philippine STAR, 1st Dec. 2003). It serves as a very bright morning star amidst the darkness generated by our politicians who are experts in partisan infighting and crabbing‚ destruction of the upright ones. Instead of legislating, they are obsessed with questionable investigating. No wonder, the Philippines is lagging farther and farther behind its Asian neighbors.

"Who engineered the death of Christ? Every one knows. Yes, the powerful, rich and famous (Pharisees, Saducees, Scribes, etc., the people in authority!) They cannot stand the message, correction and constructive criticism given out by Christ! We have more than enough Pharisees and Saducees in the Philippines! That is the saddest reality in the Philippines at present. The Bible is right, ‘the children of darkness are more clever than the children of light.’

"One point I wish to humbly point out: the Philippines should gradually move forward from assembler to producer. We should aim and really work hard to manufacture even a small car or mini-car. We have to start small. Few years later, this venture can grow to produce vans, small pick-ups and utility vehicles. Let us challenge our businessmen (the Sorianos, the Ayalas, the Tans, Sys, the Tys, the Jacintos, etc. We have legions of them.) to start something and put up that venture. There is enough money in the Philippines if only our businessmen could be reminded that we have to industrialize, yes, go into manufacturing. The Malaysians can do it. Why not Filipinos?

"I hope this sharing of thought will merit a bit of space in your column. Once again, thank you ever so much for waking us up from economic slumber and despondency if not despair. May you continue giving us good, informative and inspiring articles."

GSIS Issues On TV

"Isyung Kalakalan at Iba Pa" on IBC News (4:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., Monday to Friday) completes today the discussion of issues affecting the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). Is the crisis real or politically motivated? Watch it.

‘Breaking Barriers’ With Makati Mayor Jojo Binay

"Breaking Barriers" on IBC (11 p.m. every Wednesday) will feature on Wednesday, 10th of December 2003, Mayor Jojo Binay of the City of Makati. Join us break barriers with the Mayor and gain a better understanding of the conflicting interests in this city of contrasts. Watch it.

Should you wish to share any insights, write me at Link Edge, 4th Floor, 156 Valero Street, Salcedo Village, 1227 Makati City. Or e-mail me at If you wish to view the previous columns, you may visit my website at

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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