The Dream Continues

Written by Asuncion Badminton Center on . Posted in BX Magazine

“Masakit.” That’s what Coach Nelson Asuncion replied, when asked about how he felt when his children Kennevic and Kennie Asuncion did not qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

It was one word loaded with too many meanings and too many emotional complications. After all, the family practically spent all their lives training and competing all over the world, to prove that Filipinos can excel in the highly competitive sport of badminton.

For the past four years, their schedule was unforgiving. Kennie and Vic were almost living out of their suitcases. In between their almost monthly international tournaments, there were the non-stop (and tiring) training sessions here and abroad. Rest time was spent writing endless letters to prospective private sponsors, finding the lowest hotel rates, booking the cheapest flights and finding the next tournament to compete in. Theirs was a single-minded attitude towards Beijing. But they fell short.

“I felt so disheartened,” Kennevic says. “All the frustrations welled up, and I didn’t feel like training for a time. More than the physical exhaustion, the emotional strain was very difficult for me. People thought we had an easy time, almost privileged. They don’t know that Kennie and I practically beg for sponsorships, so we could compete internationally to gain the points.”

There were many frustrations, and most of them happened off the court. A major sponsor suddenly dropped its support at a crucial time, leaving them unable to compete for three months. They were all set to leave for a major tournament, only to be told they weren’t qualified because their entry form was somehow misrouted. They lost their luggage and their uniforms on their way to France, forcing them to borrow and play with uncomfortable shoes and gear. In almost all their international tournaments, Kennie and Vic traveled without a trainer or their own coach, simply because they couldn’t afford it.

Despite all these challenges, they pushed on, driven by an almost obsessive focus on their goal. Coach Nelson even jokingly said, “Wala na daw kaming ginawa kundi mag-badminton. Pero sabi nga, di naman nakakain ang shuttle cock.” While this may be literally true, badminton for the Asuncions is food for the soul. Their passion for the sport transcends money, physical challenges, and even their own personal lives outside of badminton.

“While I felt bad about the Olympics, I also believe that we have to look at the many blessings that came our way. Focusing on our Olympic misfortune makes us miss the big picture,” Kennie says.

And surely, they have been blessed. Kennie and Vic are arguably the best badminton players the country has ever produced. Mention Philippine badminton, and their names come to mind.

They elevated the Filipinos’ awareness of the sport, using their celebrity and popularity to promote badminton. They are world-ranked and have put the Philippines on the badminton map with international victories. Locally, there simply isn’t any competition, hands down. Because of them, badminton became a mainstream sport in the country.

Perhaps these blessings, and the responsibilities that come with them, have hardened their resolve to carry on with their dreams. “Our dream does not end with us. Our real objective is to eventually produce Filipino badminton champions, whoever they may be, who will make it to the world’s top ten,” Kennie says.

And Coach Nelson couldn’t agree more. No one can break the man’s belief that Filipinos can and will excel in badminton. And given the proper training and support from the government and private sectors, it will not be long before we see a Filipino Olympic medalist in the sport.

The Asuncion Badminton Center will continue to be the training ground of champions, through the developmental programs of Coach Nelson’s Golden Shuttle Foundation. Coach Nelson, Kennie and Vic will continue going around to spot potential badminton champions, and train a new generation of players to become globally competitive. They will continue to champion badminton, harnessing their own wealth of international experience both inside and outside the court, to produce even better competitors.

And so the dream continues. And if there is any positive effect of their failure to qualify for the Olympics, it is the fact that their resolve has been strengthened even more: to find, teach and guide those young kids who dare to dream of being world badminton champions someday.

The Asuncions do practice what they preach: “Dream your dream and do your best. Never doubt, never rest. Until that dream is yours.”

2008 Yonex-Sunrise National Open: The Present and Future of Philippine Badminton Meet

Written by Asuncion Badminton Center on . Posted in BX Magazine

by Dan Rupinta

Youth, power and athleticism. Three elements which undoubtedly powered Antonino Gadi to his first Open Men’s Singles Title in the 2008 Yonex-Sunrise Philippine National Open Badminton Championships held at the YPBC, Shaw Blvd, last November 30, 2008. The 19-yr old Gadi from the Golden Shuttle Foundation overwhelmed former Philippine team mainstay, Ian Gil Piencenaves of Butuan City Badminton Club/PLDT, in one of the most dominating performances in the tournament’s Open Men’s Singles history.

In the first set, Gadi led all the way and even raced to an 8-point advantage. Piencenaves tried to use his experience and was successful to trimming down the deficit to 3, bringing the score to 14-11. But it proved to be Piencenaves’ last stand as Gadi closed teh set 21-11, with a combination of power and amazing display of intricate net shots. Apart from the early lead of Piencenaves at 3-0 in the 2nd set, it was all Gadi, as once again, his power and precise smashes proved to be too much for Piencenaves to handle. The final scoreline: 21-11, 21-12. The win solidify Gadi’s No.1 ranking in Philippine Men’s Singles and he will be expected to banner the Philippine team’s campaign in the next Southeast Asian Games in Laos.

Earlier in the afternoon, Golden Shuttle Foundation’s title campaign started with a bang as Kennevic and Kennie Asuncion re-captured the Open Mixed Doubles title after their two-year absence in this annual tourney. The Asuncions defeated the very talented teenagers from Allied Badminton, Ronel Estanislao and Malvinne Anne Alcala, 24-22, 21-10. Kennie Asuncion later teamed up with Karyn Velez to capture the Ladies Doubles crown by defeating the pair of youngsters, 13-yr old Malvinne Anne Alcala and 14-yr old Gelita Castilo of Allied Badminton, 21-16, 21-15.

In the Men’s doubles open category, Ian Gil Piencenaves won his 4th title in 5 yrs in the Men’s Doubles category, this time pairing with Marlon Villarin. They defeated Arolas Amahit and Mark Natividad, 20-22, 21-18, 21-16.

In the tournament’s finale, Gelita Castilo of Allied Badminton completed her amazing run in the tournament as she defeated her good friend and doubles partner, Malvinne Anne Alcala, 20-22, 21-10, 21-19 in the Ladies’ Singles Open category. It was the 3rd meeting of these two talented players in this annual tournament, with Castilo winning their two previous title encounters in the 14U and 16U categories in 2007.

And in the Corporate Category, Philippine Star recaptured the title they won in 2005 by defeating Robinsons Land, 2-nil.

In a battle for team supremacy, Whackers Badminton Academy (WBA) of Laguna took the most number of titles in the Juniors event having won the 14UBS, 14UGD, 16UGD, 16UXD and 18UBS events. One of the biggest wins for WBA was in the 18U BS event wherein 207 14U Boys Singles champion Philip Joper Escueta defeated fellow WBA standout, Aries De Los Santos, 21-15, 21-12.

COVER STORY – FDG: A boost to the Ateneo Badminton Team

Written by Asuncion Badminton Center on . Posted in BX Magazine

On the 2nd floor of the Moro Lorenzo Sports Center at the Ateneo campus in Katipunan, members of the collegiate varsity badminton team were practicing when their booster – Ateneo speak for team manager – FREDERICK D. GO walked in.

After an exchange of high fives and friendly shoulder taps, the team was called back on court by Coach Alma Ledesma. Afterall, they cannot afford to be lax in practice, as the UAAP meet is in the offing. With stiff competition coming from other universities, the Ateneo badminton team is hard at work to perform well.

As far as Mr. Frederick Go is concerned however, there shouldn’t be any pressure.

“Any success in badminton or any sport is a bonus. We emphasize hard work and training but Ateneans are, first and foremost, students. Education comes first,” aptly said by the man who heads the very successful real estate company, Robinsons Land and was Jesuit-trained all his life.

The Jesuit training urges FDG – as Mr. Frederick D. Go is called by friends and associates – to give back to the school which is highly instrumental to what he is today.

“It probably sounds like a cliché, but there’s no other way to put it,” FDG says. He adds that when the opportunity came for him to manage the varsity badminton team, he didn’t hesitate.

While FDG hopes for UAAP medals, he is not about to compromise the university’s academic standards.

“Many young players want to play for Ateneo. If it were an issue of finances, I can help. But I can’t do anything if they are academically unqualified,” Mr. Go says.

His live for is alma mater is perhaps only equaled by his passion for badminton. A known badminton enthusiast, FDG is a regular in corporate tournaments and is competitive enough to hit smashed with the pros.

He even encouraged his Robinsons Land staff to organize a badminton team. Today, the Robinsons Land badminton team is one of the best and competes in many corporate tournaments.

He is also the man behind the FDG Cup, an annual badminton tournament that attracts amateur, professional and even international players.

“Badminton is a sport for everyone. It chooses no age, sex or social status. On court, everyone is equal,” he explains. “I always say that badminton is a sport that I can grow old with.”

Badminton is also a sport that keeps him young. After our brief interview and photo shoot, FDG changed into his badminton gear, stretched, then joined the team on court for some friendly but high quality badminton games. And true to his statement that everyone is equal on court, the young players of the Ateneo team played their hearts out and kept FDG on his toes the whole time.

And so every time FDG steps into the More Lorenzo Sports Center to visit the team practice, it is like coming home to two of his favorite things – Ateneo and badminton. And we can only expect better and greater things from the Ateneo Badminton Team with FDG at the helm.

Afterall, it is not everyday that a team gets a boost from a man as passionate to the team and the sport as Mr. Frederick D. Go.

SINGLES MATCH – Lee Chong Wei: World’s Number 1

Written by Asuncion Badminton Center on . Posted in BX Magazine

Lee Chong Wei is the current number one singles player in the world. He took the silver in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and is a sports hero in his home country Malaysia. I have long known Chong Wei in the badminton circuit and he is considered one of the most liked. He is quiet, unassuming but very friendly. On court however, he is transformed into a fierce competitor whose speed and power are unmatched.

I got hold of Lee Chong Wei recently and took the opportunity to ask him some questions. Find out more about the world’s number 1 player, Lee Chong Wei.

KVA: You won the silver in the last Olympics, how does that feel?
LCW: As for me, I have actually achieved what I wished before the games which is to be qualified to the final. Thus, I should feel proud of winning silver. Anyway, I feel sad because I might have disappointed all Malaysians who really hoped that I can bring our country’s 1st Olympic Gold Medal.

About the match, I would say that Lin Dan was extraordinary on that day. He was too fast for me. Indeed, I have never seen him to be that fast.

KVA: Is it your goal to get Malaysia’s first Olympic gold medal in 2012? How do you plan to achieve that goal?
LCW: I will definitely try my best to achieve the best result in any tournament. The only way to achieve better result is through hard work. No short cut.

KVA: How does it feel to be a national hero and celebrity?
LCW: Actually, I don’t consider myself a hero or a celebrity. It’s very clear to me that I’m still a badminton player. No matter what, my focus is only on badminton. Not on fame. So I really don’t think about these things.

KVA: How does it feel to be the world’s number one player?
LCW: I can feel some pressure at the beginning but I believe I have adjusted in quite a short period by reminding myself not to think about the position. The most important thing that I should focus on is to improve my skills.

KVA: To what or to whom do you attribute your success?
LCW: I will not be successful without the love and support of my family members, my loved one, my best friend and all my coaches especially Dato Misbun Sidek. Of course I will not forget my badminton supporters who root for me every game.

KVA: Can you tell us your usual day?
LCW: I start my day with training at 6 am and I finish at 11am. After that, I take lunch and break until 3pm. Then I am back to training from 3pm to 6pm. After 6pm, that’s when I do my other activities or I simply relax. I usually sleep at 10:30pm.

KVA: Aside from badminton, what other things do you enjoy?
LCW: Actually I don’t have much time beside training & tournaments. So I spend most of my time with my family & friends since I don’t have much time to spare with them during my training. If I have a longer vacation, I love to travel and eat.

KVA: Badminton fans would like to know about you and Wong Mew Choo. How did it start and when?
LCW: We knew each other since we were classmates in Badminton School. We then become very close because of our many school activities. We are together for more than 6 years. (Wong Mew Choo is Malaysia’s number 1 badminton ladies singles player. She is Lee Chong Wei’s girlfriend. -EIC)

KVA: Is it hard to have a professional badminton player as a girlfriend? Or do you help in each other’s games? Do you train together?
LCW: I don’t think it’s hard. We love each other regardless of our profession. Although we train under the same coach, we seldom train together. Our coach has different programs for male & female badminton players.

KVA: What do you do together for fun?
LCW: We love to travel and look for good food.

KVA: After competitive badminton, what do you plan to do?
LCW: I’m doing some business related to IT products. I will continue doing that and hopefully be successful.

KVA: What are your plans and goals for 2009?
LCW: I will continue to train hard to improve my badminton skills.

KVA: What is your message to Filipino badminton fans?
LCW: My heartiest thank you for supporting badminton and for watching our games. I hope to see you all soon.

HOLDING COURT – Youth Invasion

Written by Asuncion Badminton Center on . Posted in BX Magazine

by Kennie Asuncion

I believe you will all agree that it is noticeable from last year’s results of our local tournaments that indeed our younger players have slowly found their way to placing in the top of our roster of badminton athletes. The tryouts for the composition of the national team have a lot of young faces but, of course, it had to be since the PBA (Philippine Badminton Association) set rules that allowed aspiring national wannabes to be below 25 years of age. That is why everyone looked forward to last year’s year ender national open because it allowed former national athletes and practically anyone who wanted to win different titles join the tournament.

It was a delight for a badminton enthusiast like me to see a lot of young kids play in their own age groups. I am proud to see more competitive kids in the badminton scene. Though some of the looked over eager and I only fear that they burnout faster than they could be able to maximize their skills and so I can only hope their coaches and parents work hand in hand to ensure that these kids still enjoy what they do and not be too pressured at such a young age. However, I must say that the highlight in my opinion would be the men’s singles title. As we call attest that men’s singles is very very tough and in all honesty it is the event people are excited to watch. Seeing Antonio Gadi or better known as Toby age 19, slowly climb up the ladder to be the youngest men’s singles title holder was a sight to see. He is a very young and passionate athlete who knew what he wanted to achieve, very composed, very focused and he surprisingly won most of his matches in straight games. But I must give credit to all who participated whether they were former national team members or present ones because they all played their hearts out and the games were a lot of fun to watch. The Ladies’ Singles is also won by a young junior by the name of Gelita Castilo. She is showing a lot of potential and she is only 14 when she won her ladies’ singles title. Her single final match was an exciting match to watch as she played her fellow teammate Malvinne “Poca” Alcala. Up until the last part of the 3rd game, you couldn’t tell who was actually going to win it. It was a very tight match and both were looking exhausted but Gelita managed to stay more consistent till the end. These young badminton players will definitely be at the forefront of our national badminton squad in the near future.

As an older player to the younger new generation players, there are quite a few things I’d like to share. Since you are all at the beginning of your careers, do remember that passion and dedication to the sport is key. Success doesn’t happen overnight, it requires a lot of sacrifices. It’s not to sat that you cannot enjoy your youth but you definitely have a different life than the rest of people your age, learn to balance things. You should know what your priority in life is and the best exercise of being the best is doing everything in your capacity to achieve what you want. Whether you actually get to your goals or not, you will definitely be better in all aspects of your life. Another is to not let your achievements get to your head. My dad would always remind us to stay humble because in his words, the people you meet on your way up to the top, will the same people you meet on your way down. We all know for a fact that you can’t win every time all the time and so be a nice person so people will always remember you at your best. Respect all players, especially the senior athletes, because believe me, there are a lot of things you learn from them both in and out of the court. Be picky and wise enough to know which role model has led a good and praise worthy in and out of court attitude. Last but not the least, have fun playing. After all, it is the enjoyment that kept you staying and training for the sport.

CRAMPS: The Painful Truth

Written by Asuncion Badminton Center on . Posted in BX Magazine

by: Jose Raul C. Canlas, MD

Whether you are a professional athlete or a weekend badminton player, chances are, you have suffered from muscle cramps at one time or another. Muscle cramps are no laughing matter. For one, they are really painful and can debilitate and sideline an athlete for as long as a day.

How do you prevent cramps? What’s the game plan to defeat muscle cramps?

First, understand what causes cramping. Muscle fatigue, salt loss, and dehydration – all three acting together – play a role in muscle cramping. Cramps are particularly common in badminton players because of excessive sweating. After doing a sweat test at the Gatorade Sports Science Institute, we found out that badminton players lose 5-8 liters of sweat per hour of play. This is the highest rate among all sports; football players lose about 3-4 liters, while basketball players lose at the most 5 liters per hour of play. In losing this much sweat, players also lose sodium chloride.

Sodium is necessary not only to maintain blood volume but also to help nerves fire and muscles work. Sodium depletion short-circuits the coordination of nerves and muscles as muscles contract and relax. The result can be muscle cramping.

Players in organized sports usually practice everyday. They are usually dehydrated after practice and will only rehydrate during practice the next day. So they don’t actually realize that they are starting practice dehydrated. And the deficit increases as they practice.

Scientific process requires athletes to be weighed before and after the game. The amount of weight loss aids us in determining the amount of fluid that needs to be replenished.

Rehydrate after practice and the provide the players with the basic requirement of 3-4 liters during the following day’s practice.

While sodium loss and dehydration are the main causes of muscle cramping, there are other causes. Magnesium and potassium insufficiency may also cause cramps. Professional medical testing may be necessary to determine the actual cause.

Eat a balanced diet and drink the best beverages before, during and after every practice or game. For badminton players and professional athletes, a sports drink with enough electrolytes is necessary for hydration. In hot and sweaty weather, it is vital that athletes choose the right fluids to stay hydrated and maintain a healthy balance of electrolytes, most importantly sodium, to help prevent muscle cramping. Water, which contains almost no sodium, is not the best choice as your only drink in hot, humid playing conditions.

If you suffer from cramps during the game, you can stretch the muscle and ice it down a little. For professional athletes, is it quite difficult to get back to the game once muscle cramps have set in especially for badminton because it is quite a short game and there are no player substitutes. So the best game plan is to avoid cramps.

Angelu de Leon: No Angel on Court

Written by Asuncion Badminton Center on . Posted in BX Magazine

Angelu de Leon’s love affair with badminton started because of a love affair with a badminton afficionado.

Her boyfriend was playing badminton regularly with Kennevic Asuncion and some friends and Angelu was merely a saling-ket, a cheerleader and spectator, always ready to lend the bf moral support.

After weeks of going to the court and doing nothing else, Angelu was finally persuaded to try badminton. She got hold of a racket and after a few shots, she got hooked.

That was three years ago. Today, with the bf already an ex, Angelu still plays regularly with friends. Unlike other who were into badminton because it was the “in” sport and everyone was doing it, Angelu’s love affair with badminton continues and is still going strong.

“Badminton is my sport,” Angelu says. “It’s a sport where I can still talk while playing, socialize with my friends, and be my competitive self.”

Angelu’s may be one of the most beautiful faces in show business, but make no mistake about it, she is no angel on court. A self-confessed trash talker, Angelu plays mostly with guys.

“I prefer playing with guys, kasi ang mga girls, di ba, medyo emotional, madaming mapiko. E ako, I’m very competitive, I trash talk and I don’t have any qualms hitting the shuttle straight into my opponent’s body. And besides, it feels better to beat guys,” Angelu says with a chuckle. So competitive is Angelu that in almost one year of playing with the same group of friends, she says her team was only beaten once. That means that they only paid once for the court fees and were always treated to free dinner.

When asked whether her guy friends give her some slack on the badminton court, Angelu defiantly says, “no way! They do not treat me like a lady and play against me like I’m one of them. And I won’t have it any other way.”

Her hard-hitting moves and competitive nature weren’t without a consequence. She suffered a minor knee injury during one of her games. But she isn’t cowed.

“I won’t give up badminton because of a minor injury. I’m tougher than that.”

Besides, badminton gives her too many positive benefits. Like her leaner, sexier body.

“I lost twenty pounds in four months. Regular badminton, diet and a lifestyle change did it for me.” Angelu adds that she researched the best diet for her and didn’t prescribe to a quick-fix diet.

“A diet that works for someone may not necessarily work for me. So I googled and researched my body type, my body chemistry and from there, formulated my own diet. I do not advice everyone to do it, but hey, it works for me.”

It works beautifully, indeed. Angelu looks so good and so young that she landed the pivotal role of Dingdong Dantes’ schizoprenic girlfriend in GMA 7’s hit show Ang Babaeng Hinugot sa Aking Tadyang.

“I wanted to go back to work, but I feel I’m too young for mother roles,” she says and adds proudly, “now I’m back to girlfriend roles, at girlfriend pa ni Dingdong.”

Her revitalized showbiz career means more taping schedules. Does it mean less time on the badminton court?

“I usually play every Mondays and Thursdays. But I have M-W-F tapings now for Babae. It’s a good thing my friends are willing to shift their playing schedule. I guess they’d miss me on court and would want a chance to beat me,” Angelu laughs.

Angele de Leon may play different roles on screen, but she won’t pass the chance at playing her favorite role – a trash-talking, hard-hitting, competitive badminton player.

Pinoys Can Excel in Badminton

Written by Asuncion Badminton Center on . Posted in BX Magazine

by: Kennie Asuncion

As a young child, I always remembered hearing my dad speak of why we Filipinos can excel in badminton. I guess I believed him then because I was young. As I grew older and started competing internationally, it felt like a long, hard road to get to. But as time went by, I must say, as an adult, with my own free mind and thought, with my experiences, I do believe Filipinos can excel in Badminton!

Why? Simply because Badminton is a sport that doesn’t require a certain criteria. You don’t have to be of a certain height and weight to excel. Needless to say, we all know our neighboring Asian countries are proving it. Although, it’s the world’s fastest racket sport, anybody and do I mean anybody can excel in it, as long as they understand their body structure, know their strengths and address their weaknesses. Badminton is game for the physically and mentally fit people. It’s not all about strength, yet a combination of both is hard to perfect. It can also be looked upon by recreational players as a total workout.

Let me just add, that badminton’s most costly investment would be the shuttles. Other musts like rackets and your whole gear and rubber shoes can adjust to your budget. An expensive racket doesn’t always mean it is better. For me, I always hold the racket and get a feel of it before using it. I like my racket a bit on the other side as I fell it suits my style and game play. And though there are a lot of expensive rackets, there are also cheaper ones that are good.

I strongly feel that we have a large group of new and more talented young players whom I really look forward to cheering for in tournaments in the near future. I would just like to remind these kids that they need to be very patient. Success doesn’t happen overnight. If you really love the sport and have that desire to be the world’s best, you need to be prepared for a lot of hard work and a lot of stumbling along the way. But you’ll know what I mean when I say no matter how long and tiresome the road may be towards victory, there will be a lot of lessons along the way that will surely benefit you as a person. And whether or not you actually reach your final goal, there will be a lot of small victories along the way that make you say all the hard work was worth it.

On the other hand, I do believe a good coach is essential in an equation the has success as its outcome. Proper motivation and knowing what your player needs help make the journey to get a Gold a bit faster.

So what are you waiting for? Now is the only time to start going for your dreams. No excuses, no ifs or buts… and your training regimen. The road to anywhere starts from where you are. The Philippines is waiting for the FILIPINO World Badminton Champion.

The ABCs of Proper Grip

Written by Asuncion Badminton Center on . Posted in BX Magazine

by: Coach Nelson Asuncion

Good day my badminton players. Welcome to your first day of training.

If you wish to be a good badminton player, it is very important that you know all the basics. If you start playing with good fundamentals, you will find it easy to learn more complicated moves. In badminton, as in all sports, muscle memory is the key. If you start using improper moves, then those can easily become bad habits.

Perhaps the most basic in badminton is the proper grip. Afterall, the racket is your extension. And a good, comfortable grip is the start of your successful badminton career.

So take a hold of your racket and follow these steps:

Step 1: Hold the racket handle with your thumb and forefinger

Step 2: Slowly close your three other fingers around the racket handle

IMPORTANT: Never grip the handle too tightly. There must be a space between your palm and the handle.

– Hold the racket with the side of your thumb touching the handle.
– Hold the racket at the middle of the handle. By doing so, you can easily move your racket without the base of the handle hitting your wrist.
– You are using the proper grip if the side edge of the racket frame is pointing towards the ground and a straight line is formed your arm down to the racket.

– Do not press your thumb against the handle.
– Don’t hold the racket at the uppermost part of the handle. This will constrict your wrist movement and may even cause injuries.
– You are using the wring grip if the face of the racket is pointing towards the ground and your arm does not form a straight line with the racket.

Practice the proper grip on and off the court. Once you get used to it, gripping the racket the proper way will be second nature to you.

Remember, perfect practice makes perfect!

The Emergency Man Goes On Court

Written by Asuncion Badminton Center on . Posted in BX Magazine

Arnold Clavio’s might be the first face we see on the television in the morning, and the last one at night.

This hardworking kapuso reports at the GMA Center before 5am, Monday to Friday for his early morning show Unang Hirit. Then at around 11pm, he on-cams again for the live nightly news Saksi. In between his two live daily shows, he tapes for Emergency, writes his articles for his regular newspaper columns, attends to his foundation, plays husband and father, and yes, plays badminton. The question begs to be asked.How does he do it?

“Kailangan,” he says. “Health is the most important thing. Kung titigilan kong mag badminton, sandali nyo na lang ako mapapanood.” He adds that a tight schedule should not be an excuse not to play badminton or engage in physical activities.

While he jokingly talks about mortality, he is very serious about his health. Having been diagnosed with diabetes four years ago, he felt the need for more and better exercise. He does play other sports like basketball, golf, bowling and billiards, but according to him, “kulang pa.”

So when his colleagues at GMA asked him to join their badminton games five years ago, he was instantly hooked. Badminton gives him the exercise he needs, the camaraderie he enjoys and the high he craves for.

At the peak of his addiction to the sport, he played three times a week, sometimes even on Saturdays. He even built his own badminton center with friends. He also organized several badminton tournaments for the benefit of his Igan foundation.

Currently, he plays twice a week at the Power-Up Badminton Center with friends. He plays competitively but with a lot of fun. “Masarap yung kantyawan. Pero siempre, masarap ding manalo,” he says. He adds that he has been practicing his cross court drop shot.

Our favorite Igan will be a mainstay in badminton. He says it is something he will always find time to do. Thanks to the sport, his diabetes is under control, his sugar level is manageable and his adrenalin continues to be on a high.