New day for bowling By Bill Velasco


    Industry News

    Republished courtesy of The Philippine Star (March 12, 2011)

    20101205PaengNepomuceno.jpgPaeng (pictured left) and Pinky Nepomuceno and the Puyat Sports Group have a new baby. Thursday evening, the Astrobowl B bowling center was formally inaugurated at the north wing of Starmall in Alabang. Strangely enough, Astrobowl has already long been in the mall with a similar facility in the south wing.

    The new 26-lane facility illustrates how big the market for bowling is, particularly in the southern part of Metro Manila and its environs. Beyond the lanes at Starmall, the nearest bowling center would be on the other side of Cavite and the lanes at the Tagaytay Highlands. Muntinlupa is thus the only city in that part of Metro Manila with competitive bowling lanes.

    "This is part of our commitment to grow the sport, thanks also in part to the support of the mall and local government," said Joey Puyat, treasurer of the AMF-Puyat, Inc. "Who knows? Perhaps our next world champion will come from here."

    The affair was attended by Muntinlupa Vice Mayor Artemio Simundac, Starmall CEO Jerry Navarrete, and the great athletes supported by the Puyat Sports Group. Winner of four major international tournaments in 2010 Efren "Bata" Reyes was in attendance, along with 2010 World 9-Ball champion Francisco "Django" Bustamante and former World Open 9-Ball winner Rodolfo "Boy Samson" Luat were present, as well as four-time bowling World Cup winner and holder of three Guinness World Records Paeng Nepomuceno.

    The bowling center also has three billiards tables, which will be added to in the next few months.

    "The location here is ideal because this is the junction to the south," says Pinky Puyat-Nepomuceno. "Everyone who passes the Alabang-Zapote area and lives south of Bicutan eventually will come here."

    Bowling was a showcase sport for the Philippines from the 1980's to the 1990's, with big names like Nepomuceno, Bong Coo, and Sen. Tito Sotto leading many outstanding players in bringing the game to prominence.

    In the 1988 Seoul Olympics, Arianne Cerdena won the gold medal when bowling was introduced as an exhibition sport. Since then, it has found a comfortable niche in corporate leagues and community-based competitions, as well as the monthly tournaments hosted by member clubs of the Philippine Bowling Congress.

    The inaugural fun games drew companies from nearby areas as well as the export processing zone in Carmona, Cavite. All 26 lanes were filled with the addition of the Muntinlupa Youth and Sport Development beneficiaries. Gold, silver and bronze bowling pin trophies autographed by Paeng were given to the best teams. Gift certificates for Magoo's Pizza for special "red pin" strikes and spares were handed out to dozens of participants.

    The Puyat Sports Group has big plans to push the sport to the forefront of the competitive sports market. One of the priorities is the creation of a collegiate league to get young people interested in bowling. It is a sport that is easy to learn, and hard to fail at. And like ice skating and dancesport, it is something you can take up any time, and play practically for the rest of your life.

    "Bowling is a sport that people at practically any age can pick up," says Nepomuceno, who picked up the sport in his early teens before becoming a global phenomenon. "And people can play it with their families until very late in life."

    The group's next big event is a fund-raiser for the Movie Workers Welfare Fund (MOWELFUND) next month. This will generate more buzz for the sport, especially if bowling celebrities enter. At some of their bowling centers, they even have DJs playing on Friday nights, in an effort to attract the youth to try the sport.

    Nepomuceno himself has been busy with his "Learn from the Master" series of clinics which are open to group bookings, as well as his duties as an ambassador for the US Bowling Congress. Nepomuceno has been to most English-speaking parts of the world to certify coaches for the USBC. He has also been invited to compete in an open event in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia two weeks from now.

    "The certification we do is basically for those who want to make teaching their livelihood," Paeng explains. "It's for coaches at the club level and national teams."

    Participants and visitors to Astrobowl B got a special thrill by having their photos taken with Nepomuceno and our champion pool players, to the point that it held up parts of the program. At any rate, it was a great experience for everyone there, and signals the renaissance of bowling, which has never stopped bringing honor to the country.