Saturday, September 03, 2011

Jawad Cup: Cebu's longest running table tennis event

This one is not about football, but this is a very interesting story of how one family's passion--despite the circumstances--had led them to organize the Philippines longest-running table tennis event without much fanfare.

For original story, click here

NOBODY knew that a young man’s dream shattered by a heinous crime will go on to become the biggest and longest-running table tennis competition in the country.

The Erne Jawad Cup celebrated its 20th year in existence with hundreds of participants from all over, including the country’s top players.

However, little did everyone know that the tournament was actually the idea of a slain RP team member, Erne Jawad, who came home after disappointment with the discrepancies in the national ranking.

Having been told to intentionally lose during the ranking, Jawad refused, but sensing that he could not do anything about it, he did not finish the tournament and came home.

It was here when the idea of hosting a Cebu Open and to focus on the grassroots was hatched. However, Jawad never saw it come true after he was stabbed while waiting for the vehicle that would transport the borrowed pingpong tables to the tournament.

“When he died, a lot of people—his students, even our family—turned their backs on the sport,” said his youngest sister Jessica Jawad-Honoridez, who was the one who continued the tournament in her brother’s honor.

“Our mom Esther told us, ‘Undangi na ninyo. Madisgrasya lang mo anang pingpong,’” said Honoridez.

But passion for the sport will always run in the family’s blood.

It was in his first death anniversary when the tournament started.

“The three kids who stopped playing after his death played and we decided to turn it into a mini-tournament and my mom even gave them token cash prizes,” said Honoridez, who gave up a career as a chemical engineer to teach the sport to kids.

After that year, it became something not just all table tennis players look forward to playing every year, but the event her 78-year-old mom looks forward to attending.

Honoridez added even if finances are a little steep, the tournament still pushes through.

“The thing that has kept this tournament going is the spirit of volunteerism,” Honoridez said.

“For the past 20 years, we survived with very little. Our officials are all volunteers. Mostly former players, who have taken to the spirit of volunteerism.”

“Financially, I just do not have the guts to ask for assistance, Mauwaw ko. But there are those who believe in what we do and are ready to help,” she added.

Honoridez said that she is touched when former athletes would take time and their own resources just so the tournament will continue.

“Even ang pinaka ordinary nga tao, mutunol ug P100 para mutabang sa tournament. The older ones will take a leave of absence to help us officiate for free. Who would not be touched?” said Honoridez.

The next thing they knew, the tournament was already on its 20th year—the country’s longest-running table tennis tournament—and most importantly, his brother’s legacy continues.

“We are still playing with borrowed, substandard equipment. But these are the equipment that had produced Palarong Pambansa champions and some of this country’s top players and we can’t be any prouder,” said Honoridez.

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