MANILA, October 14, 2005 
(STAR) Newly crowned 2005 US Billiard Open Champion Alex Pagulayan appealed Friday for an end to the ongoing political bickering and urged the people to come together and unite for the good of the country.

"We should focus our attention and talent on uniting the people, avoid wrangling and, together, work for the development of our country," said Pagulayan in Filipino, who also holds the 2004 World Pool crown.

The 26-year-old Filipino-Canadian billiard ace sounded his appeal during a courtesy call on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo this morning at the Music Room of Malacañang. Pagulayan bagged the US$40,000 championship prize of the 30th edition of the US Billiard Open.

The Toronto-based billiard champion admitted that he is affected by reports of the unending political bashing in the Philippines, especially when he is representing the country in international tournaments abroad.

He added that he gets frustrated over the bad image of the Philippines abroad as a result of too much politicking in the country.

Manila Mayor Jose Atienza Jr., Manila 3rd District Representative Miles Roces, Pagulayan’s manager Andrew Lee, and Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Butch Ramirez accompanied the billiard champion in his visit to the Palace.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita witnessed Pagulayan present to the President two signed billiard balls and a cue stick as his gift to her.

The President thanked Pagulayan, a native of Cabagan, Isabela, for bringing honor to the country once again and proving that Filipino athletes are world-class.

"Congratulations once again, congratulations on your continuing successes and you make us proud to be a Filipino," President Arroyo told Pagulayan.

The Chief Executive also wished Pagulayan well in future tournaments, including the Philippine Billiards Open on October 19, 2005; the 8-Ball Championship, the Japan Open and the Southeast Asian Games.

In winning the 2005 edition of the US Open held at the Chesapeake Conference Center in Chesapeake, Virginia, Pagulayan sparked the country’s 1-2-3 finish by beating countryman Jose "Amang" Parica in the finals, 11–6, for which he pocketed the top prize of US$40,000 (about P2.240 million).

Pagulayan also became the second Filipino to win the US Open. Efren "Bata" Reyes was the first to accomplish the feat in 1994.

The 5-foot-3 Pagulayan gave up his Philippine citizenship several years ago when his parents migrated to Canada. But he has reacquired his Filipino citizenship under the Dual Citizenship Law of 2003.

Pagulayan’s achievements in the sport include the 2004 WPA World 9-Ball Championship, runner-up finish in the 2003 World Pool Championship, the 2002 US Open, Joss Tour Grand Final Winner, runner-up in the 2003 IBC Western Canadian Open, and runner-up in the 2003 Reno Open.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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