[PHOTO - President Arroyo poses with sports officials and medal-winning athletes of the Philippine delegation to the 15th Asian Games in Doha, Qatar and 14th Asian Masters Championship at Malacańang yesterday. - Photto by WILLY PEREZ ]

MANILA, DECEMBER 19, 2006 (STAR) By Abac Cordero - President Arroyo hands out a total of P13.5 million in cash incentives as she honors all Filipino athletes who won medals in the recent Asian Games in Doha, Qatar today.

The Philippines won four gold, six silver and nine bronze medals in the 15th staging of the quadrennial event for the country’s best showing since its 7-6-24 haul in the 1962 Asiad in Jakarta.

Under Republic Act 9064 and an additional incentive package prepared by the President, each gold medal is worth P1.5 million, silver P800,000 and bronze P300,000.

For most of the Filipino athletes who won medals, this will be the biggest paycheck of their lives.

The athletes will gather at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex at 8 a.m. and will leave for Malacańang shortly after. The President will welcome the victorious athletes at 10 a.m.

Philippine Sports Commission chairman Butch Ramirez and commissioners Ritchie Garcia, Joey Mundo, Leon Montemayor and Ambrocio de Luna will accompany the athletes to the Palace.

Invited to represent the Philippine Olympic Committee are its president Jose Cojuangco, chairman Robert Aventajado and vice president Monico Puentevella.

First Gentleman Mike Arroyo is also expected to be there, and might announce his intention to once again throw his full support to the athletes as they gear up for the 2007 SEA Games in Thailand.

Winning the gold for the Philippines were cue artist Antonio Gabica, boxers Violito Payla and Joan Tipon and wushu’s Rene Catalan.

Winning the silver were taekwondo’s Mary Antoinette Rivero and Tshomlee Go, cue artists Jeff de Luna and Gabica, karate’s Ma. Marna Pabillore and Eduard Folayang in wushu.

Coming home with the bronze were taekwondo’s Kathleen Alora, Veronica Domingo and Manuel Rivero Jr., boxing’s Godfrey Castro and Genebert Basadre, golf’s Michael Bibat, tennis’ Eric Taino and Cecil Mamiit, and karate’s Noel Espinosa.

For winning the 9-ball gold and the 8-ball silver, Gabica will come out of Malacańang the winningest of all with his P2.3 million.

Meanwhile, President Arroyo is also set to confer Friday the Order of Lakandula with the rank of Champion for Life awards to three Filipino Mt. Everest conquerors. The three who reached the world’s highest peak were Romeo Garduce and partners Leo Oracion and Erwin Emata.

Manny’s wishes for his Princess By Joaquin Henson The Philippine Star 12/19/2006

GENERAL SANTOS CITY — Boxing icon Manny Pacquiao celebrated the christening of his newly-born daughter Mary Divine Grace — whom he fondly calls Princess — on the day of his 28th birthday with hundreds of well-wishers in his hometown Sunday.

Pacquiao’s wife Jinkee said preparations for the day-long festivities, which included the blessing of the couple’s P40- million mansion on NLSA Road, took over a week.

"We’ve hardly slept the past few days," said a smiling Jinkee, still radiant despite the tiresome schedule. She was the gracious host at the baptismal reception in Rosewood Place where guests were treated to a sumptuous lunch.

Pacquiao played the role of a caring father during the 45-minute ceremony at the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage Parish Church on Laurel East Avenue. He carried Princess lovingly in his arms, fanned her, and proudly welcomed her to the Christian community.

Fr. Vic Supranes, a vicar assigned by Passionist parish priest Fr. Luis Fuentespina to preside in the rites, baptized Princess and 11 other babies in the church that was packed by relatives, friends and fans. There was no special treatment for Princess although Pacquiao’s family and godparents occupied half of the pews. Fr. Fuentespina said the parents, including the Pacquiaos, paid the usual P300 fee for the baptism.

When the Pacquiaos are in town, they attend Mass at the parish. Fr. Fuentespina said Pacquiao has donated P150,000 so far to the church.

Most of Princess’ 26 godparents attended the baptism. Arriving by private Lear jets that morning were San Miguel Corp. president Ramon Ang and businessman-sportsman Hermie Esguerra. Among the absentees were Kris Aquino-Yap, Sharon Cuneta-Pangilinan and Willie Revillame who had prior commitments.

The other godparents, in order as they appeared in the baptismal invitation, were ABS-CBN chairman Gabby Lopez (who came with network executives Charo Santos-Concio and Monchet Olives), Jinkee’s twin sister Janet, Gov. Chavit Singson, Bacolod City Mayor Bing Leonardia, appliance store owner Joaquin Yuong (with wife Victoria), Benjie Lim, Tony Antonio, Thunder Energy Drink owner Jeffrey Mangali (who is chairman of the Palms Country Club basketball committee in Alabang), Education Secretary Jesli Lapus, Emily Uy, Ali Atienza, Angelie Reyes, actor Rudy Fernandez, Pacquiao’s chief of staff Jayke Joson (with wife Tricia), Rep. Miles Roces, lawyer Franklin (Jeng) Gacal, Solar Entertainment chairman Wilson Tieng (with Solar president William Tieng, chief operating officer Peter Chanliong and events organizer Rico Arce), Salvador Dumago, Mon Dizon, comedian Bayani Agbayani and movie producer Mommy Rose Flaminiano.

Pacquiao’s manager Shelly Finkel and trainer Freddie Roach flew in from the US. Roach, who planed in with best friend Billy King, said he may fly to Cebu today to confer with ALA boxing stable owner Tony Aldeguer on plans for a triple world title card early next year before leaving for home tomorrow. In line to fight for the championship in the soon-to-be-announced card are Rey (Boom Boom) Bautista, Z Gorres and Gerry Peńalosa who are all trained by Roach.

Finkel said it was a long flight from New York to this city after stopovers in Los Angeles and Manila.

"We came over to celebrate with Manny and his family, not to talk business," said Finkel. "It was my first experience to witness a Filipino baptism and it was great. I won’t be able to stay long because last Friday, the eight-day Jewish holiday called Hanukkah began. It’s the first time I’ll miss being with family for the holiday but I’ll catch up. Manny’s a special person and I wanted to come and wish him the best on his special day."

Pacquiao said his wishes for Princess are for her to grow up to be a kind and responsible person, to be respectful of others and to be God-fearing. Princess is the Pacquiaos’ third child after Emmanuel Jr. or Jimuel and Michael Stephen.

Pacquiao said his birthday wish is for the country to be united. And if it will take for him to use his fists to unite the fragmented nation, then he’ll just do it and continue boxing.

As for his next fight, Pacquiao begged off from disclosing what’s in the works. Facing Marco Antonio Barrera in a much-waited rematch is an option but Pacquiao said he’s not thinking about it at the moment. Things should clear up after Christmas, he added.

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Mayor Leonardia, who held up Pacquiao’s World Boxing Council international superfeatherweight title belt in the ring before the "Grand Finale" with Erik Morales last month, sent this message on the occasion of Princess’ baptism as a godfather:

"A daughter is what probably what Manny wanted to ‘complete’ his family. Indeed when it rains, it pours. Manny got his wish and the whole nation celebrates with the Pacquiao family. We wish Princess will grow to be a good daughter and a citizen who will follow her father’s footsteps in caring for the less fortunate ones. May she follow and lead by example the Manny Pacquiao virtues of hard work, determination and unwavering faith in the Almighty."

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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