MANILA, December 22, 2004 
(STAR) Philippine sports was blessed to have two athletes whose splendid performances against the very best in the world became a source of pride for the nation in the year about to end.

In a summer to remember in the United States, golf star Jennifer Rosales and ring idol Manny Pacquiao showcased the very best in the Filipino athletes as they dished out sterling stints to provide shining moments for RP sports in 2004.

Rosales, 26, finally ended a five-year drought in the lucrative LPGA circuit when she won the Chick-Fil-A Championship, beating the most revered players on the tour in Stockbridge, Georgia.

The victory was worth $240,000 and it staked Rosales’ claim as one of the future stars on the tour, a reputation she would further enhance by year’s end when she crashed into the top 10 of the tour’s money list.

Barely a week after that Rosales’ breakthrough win, Pacquiao held World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation featherweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez to a controversial split draw during their highly-anticipated 12-round title fight at the MGM Grand Arena.

The 26-year-old slugger from General Santos City dubbed Pacman, floored his tough Mexican foe thrice in the first round, and if not for a contentious scoring by one of the judges, could have won his third world title.

The fiery southpaw ended the year with a bang as he demolished Fahsan 3K Battery in four rounds recently before a mammoth crowd at The Fort in Taguig in a fight that served as his tuneup for the Marquez rematch.

It is no coincidence that Rosales and Pacquiao were born on the same year, and together, their impressive exploits are definitely one for the ages, living proof that Filipino athletes are truly world class.

Owing to that and for warming the hearts of Filipino fans in these trying times, the Philippine Sporstwriters Association (PSA) last night named Rosales and Pacquiao as its Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year during its Annual Awards Night on Jan. 13 at the Manila Pavilion.

The two lead more than 60 athletes and entities to be honored during a simple, 90-minute rites to be put up by the country’s oldest media group.

The award will be a record third straight for Pacquiao, having been also bestowed the highest accolade given by the body, in 2002 and 2003. Meanwhile, Rosales, a five-time RP Ladies Open champion, made it for the very first time although she has been a major awardee in the sport due to her achievements here and abroad.

Special awards are to be given to billiards player Alex Pagulayan for winning the 2004 World Pool Championship in Taipei and Olympians Jasmin Figueroa and Antoinette Rivero following their inspiring showing in the Athens Games.

Four-time PBA Most Valuable Player Alvin Patrimonio is the recipient of the Presidential Award while former Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Celso Dayrit will be honored with the Leadership Award.

Chess players Mark Paragua and Nelson Mariano II head the honorees in the major awards that include Liza del Rosario (bowling), Django Bustamante and Efren ‘Bata’ Reyes (billiards), Rhyan Tanguilig (cycling), Gabriel Espinas (amateur basketball), Angelo Que (golf) and Pat Dilema (horseracing).

Promising chess player Wesley So will be the recipient of the year‚s Tony Siddayao award, given to young athletes who made their mark.

To be elevated in the Hall of Fame are former Asian sprint queen Lydia de Vega-Mercado and Mona Sulaiman of athletics and cage greats Carlos Loyzaga and Lauro Mumar of basketball.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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