(STAR) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (photo at left) has been invited as special guest of honor when the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) honors the best and the brightest of 2009 during its Annual Awards Night presented by Coca-Cola.

Set on March 1 at the Manila Hotel, the event is the last Awards Night to be held under the term of the President.

Mrs. Arroyo shares the stage with an all-woman group composed of billiards player Rubilen Amit, long jumper Marestella Torres and taekwondo jins Rani Ann Ortega, Janice Lagman and Camille Alarilla, who had been conferred the highest award handed out by the country’s sportswriting fraternity.

To be honored, too, during the colorful, hour-long program also presented by Smart, Pacific Online System Corporation, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Harbour Centre and PCSO is boxing great Manny Pacquiao, named Athlete of the Decade by the country’s oldest media organization composed of editors and sportswriters from the daily broadsheets and tabloids.

Meanwhile, 19 personalities make up the year’s major awardees. They are women’s boxing champion Annie Albania, young chess whiz Wesley So and celebrated pool sharks Efren ‘Bata’ Reyes and Francisco ‘Django’ Bustamante.

Rodel Mayol, Marvin Sonsona, Donnie Nietes, Brian Viloria and Nonito Donaire Jr. all of whom reigned as world boxing champions in 2009, will also be feted with a major award alongside Jayjay Helterbrand (pro basketball), Cecil Mamiit and Francis Casey Alcantara (lawn tennis), Chihiro Ikeda (women’s golf), Elmer Salvador (men’s golf), Jesse B. Guce (horseracing), Joel Calderon (cycling), Arniel Ferreira (athletics) and John Baylon (judo).

No major award yet has been given by the PSA for Horse of the Year.

Still to be named are the National Sports Association of the Year, the Tony Siddayao award, the President’s award and the numerous citations on sports personalities and entities.

<source: SPORTS HUB-
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The year 2009 was indeed one of the banner year for the Philippine sports, it is the year Manny Pacquiao cemented his status as a phenomenal boxer in the world by demolishing fancied boxers like British Ricky Hatton and Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto. With Pacquiao's formidable performance in the ring Floyd Mayweather Jr. was seen making alibis to avoid direct collision with the world's current pound-for-pound king. Pacquiao remarkable achievements in the boxing ring will surely help him cruise to being named as a Hall of Famer in the near future and at the same given the distinction of being one of the greatest boxer of all time if not best. His seven world titles in seven different weight categories will take years to duplicate if not surpassed.

Though Pacquiao's star luminously glitters there are more brighter side in Philippines sports aside from Pacquiao, and they indeed gloriously shine deeper in different sporting fronts. Filipino's sterling performance indeed brought home pride and honor to the country as they inspired their compatriots amid the poverty and natural calamities that made life for them even more difficult so as to speak.

Manny Pacquiao, together with the brightest Philippine athletes will be feted in the coming Philippine Sportwriters Association Annual Awards Nights. The group of athletes truly bucked all odds thrown on them as they managed to overcome them in their respective chosen field of endeavors in various sports discipline.

Leading the march of Filipinos in limelight includes female amateur boxer Annie Albania, Chess Whiz Wesley So, the tandem of pool sharks Efren "Bata" Reyes, and Django Bustamante. This awesome group of outstanding athletes form the nucleus of the 19-athletes that will be given due accolades and recognitions, that is, in the much-coveted major awards in the PSA 2009 Annual Awards Night.

Pacquiao will be honored as the Atlhlete of the Decade, while five female sportswomen was named co-winners of the Athlete of the Year Award, namely: long jumper Marestella Torres, billiards queen Rubilen Amit and the World Champion poomsae trioka of Rani Ann Ortega, Camille Alarilla and Janice Lagman.

Other major awardees are five professional boxers who won world titles last year and they are Rodel Mayol, Ronnie Nietes, Brian Viloria, Nonito Donaire Sr., and Marvin Sonsona.

Rounding out the major awardees are Jayjay Helterbrand (pro basketball), Elmer Salvador (men's gold), Chihiro Ikeda (women's golf), Arniel Ferreira (athletics), Joel Calderon (cycling), John Baylon (judo), Cecil Mamiit and Francis Casey Alcantara (lawn tennis) and Jesse B. Guce (jockey of the year).

Albania unleashes her fierce fighting form by bagging the gold medal in the third Asian Indoor Games in Vietnam and in the 25th South East Asian Games in Laos. So, created shocking results in the previous Chess World Cup held in Russia. He posted impressive victories over superior and highly touted opponents like GMs Gader Gusseinov and former world championship contenders GMs Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine and Gata Kamsky in Russia.

The tandem of ageing pool sharks Reyes and Bustamante, regained old fiery form as they grabbed their second ever World Cup Pool Title on their own turf. The Filipino won their title first at the inaugural of World Cup by upending the gritty pair of Thorsten Hohmann and Ralf Soquet of Germany in the finals.

A bright prospect in lawn tennis, Alcantara became the first Filipino to win a Grand Slam tennis title. Teaming up with now overaged Hsieh Cheng-peng of Chinese-Taipei they captured the 2009 Australian Open Boys doubles crown.

Mamiit the country's vanguard in tennis for the past several years wove again his old magic as he steered the Philippines team to the tough Asia-Ocenia Group 1 in the Davis Cup. Mamiit also bagged two gold medals in the recent Laos Games by cornering the singles title and the doubles title with fellow Filipino-American Treat Huey.

Helterbrand the feisty Barangay point guard was named as PBA's MVP last year, whilst Ferreira nailed his 4th straight gold medal in SEA Games in a record-breaking fashion. Calderon claimed the top honors in the gruellsome Padyak Pinoy (Tour of Champions), Baylon, the legendary force in Judo in his country and in South East Asian region collared his astounding ninth straight SEA Games gold medal in Laos, and Ikeda bouyed by his triumphs in several international tournaments, captured two gold medals in the SEA Games, Salvador's prowess in golf help him claim one of the slot in the elite Asian Tour and Guce was the winningest jockey in the Philippines.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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