MANILA SEPTEMBER 14, 2006 (STAR) By Aurea Calica - President Arroyo yesterday congratulated Efren "Bata" Reyes for his victory in the IPT World 8-ball Championship in Reno, Nevada, saying his triumph once again proved that Filipinos are indeed "world class."

At the same time, Malacañang said Reyes, who bested the finest players in the world to bag the richest purse in pool history ($500,000), might also receive the "Champion for Life" award for his achievements in his sport.

"His triumph comes at a time when we are halfway around the world trying to win over other countries to take a second look at the Philippines and what the Filipinos can do," Mrs. Arroyo, who is on a trip abroad, said.

Reyes arrived yesterday morning without much fanfare and is set to leave today, along with buddy Francisco "Django" Bustamante and Rodolfo Luat, for Jakarta for the fourth and final leg of the San Miguel Asian 9-ball Tour where the Filipinos are eyeing a rare sweep of the circuit.

"Once again, congratulations Efren. You have made every Filipino proud of your triumph," the Chief Executive added.

The Champion for Life award is given to Filipino achievers in sports and similar fields of competition "that foster extraordinary national pride and inspiration toward excellence."

People’s boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, Miss International Precious Lara Quigama, the SEA Games gold medalists and the Mt. Everest conquerors are the early recipients of the award.

Mrs. Arroyo announced the additional rank of "Champion for Life" (Kampeon Habang Buhay) to the Order of Lakandula award on the eve of Pacquiao’s fight with Mexican Oscar Larios last July 2.

The President said achievers like him must be feted like the national artists and scientists.

Meanwhile, billiards patron Aristeo "Putch" Puyat said Reyes is committed to play in the IPT King of the Hill Invitational Shootout in Las Vegas in December, thus keeping him out of the Asian Games slated in the same week of the IPT event.

There had been clamors for the 52-year-old pool legend to reconsider his earlier decision not to suit up for the RP team in the Asiad following his victory in Nevada.

"Efren was invited there by IPT officials, and being the reigning champion, he is required to defend his title," said Puyat, the long-time benefactor of Reyes.

Reyes beat Mike Sigel to win last year’s IPT King of the Hill crown worth $200,000.

The King of the Hill is set Dec. 12-17 at the Wynn Hotel.

Another Puyat ward, Bustamante, also didn’t commit to play for Team Philippines in the Dec. 1-15 quadrennial meet due to recurring back and elbow injuries.

"Django always takes anti-inflammatory shots every time he plays," Puyat said.

Bustamante was the other half of the team — the other being Antonio Lining — that won the gold medal in the 9-ball doubles in the last Asiad in Busan, South Korea four years ago.

The Billiards and Snooker Congress of the Philippines (BSCP), the association in-charge of the sport in the country, said despite the absence of Reyes and Bustamante, the Philippines remains a force to reckon with in the Asian Games.

Filipino awarded by Singapore Sports Council The Philippine Star 09/07/2006

The iconic 6-star Raffles Hotel in Singapore was filled with over 200 VIP's to pay tribute to what the media described as the "unsung heroes" in the field of sports in Singapore. To arrive at the most inspirational nomination, thousands of names pass thru several committees until it reaches the Sports Minister to arrive at the winner.

In previous years, only the biggest names in the corporate field have been given the award and for the individuals, the winners have become role models in the competitive and highly funded sports industry in Singapore.

Despite a quiet effort on his part, our very own Paul Infante Monozca was recently awarded the 'Sporting Singapore Inspirational Award' by the Singapore Sports Council and Singapore Sports Minister Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan. Paul is the only filipino ever to receive such a prestigious recognition in the history of the SSIA awards.

Based in Singapore for the past 14 years, Paul was cited for his exemplary contributions and ideas to the Singapore Sporting scene having founded and served as tournament director for the Asian Celebrity Golf Classic and the Gatorade Basketball Academy. He has also brought in the first Formula One simulators to position Singapore's F1 bid with the public and is currently assisting in Singapore's Sports Hub initiative by advocating regional athletes to converge in the city state.

In the Philippine community in Singapore, Paul is known for his support for various filipino basketball teams. His family business, Parmon Group is a consistent sponsor since 1995 and has helped numerous basketball players gain a start in Singapore.

His efforts has also raised over $300,000 for various charitable institutions most notably the Children's Cancer Foundation in Singapore, the Golf Community Fund and the Dr. AB Monozca Foundation, which provides medical missions to the Philippines.

A keen sportsman, Paul counts equestrian, golf, shooting, karting and basketball as his passions. Outside sports, Paul always extends assistance to the filipino community leveraging on his various positions in organisations both in the private sector and government.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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