Monday, January 26, 2015


GM Weseley So, left, plays GM Loek Van Wely in the last round of Tata Steel Chess Tournament.

Chess Grandmaster Wesley So outplayed Duth GM Loek Van Wely late last night to finish tied for second place with GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France, GM Anish Giri of Netherlands, and GM Ding Liren of China in the 2015 Tata Steel Chess Tournament in Wijk aan Zee in The Netherlands.
     So, Vachier-Lagrave, and Liren all tallied 8.5 points after winning their last round games. Vachier-Lagrave beat Fabiano Caruana of Italy while Liren won over Levon Aronian, the tournament’s defending champion. Giri, who was the erstwhile solo second placer, drew with GM Woztasjek, earlier in the last round.

     Current world chess champion GM Magnus Carlsen of Norway topped the category 20 tournament (average ELO rating of 2746) by scoring 9 points out of possible 13. Carlsen had a slow start in the tournament with two draws and a loss after three rounds but then won six straight games beginning round four.

     With white, So pounced on the hapless Dutch GM Van Wely, who was in time trouble by as early as the 17th move, and was poised to win the latter’s queen when he resigned.

     With a strong showing in the invitation-only tournament, So, who is currently ranked 10th in the world with an ELO rating of 2762, is expected to move up to 7th with a rating of 2788. This is the highest rating a Filipino chesser has ever achieved.

     So won over GMs Ivanchuk, Aronian, Saric, Jovaba, and Van Wely and drew with GMs Carlsen, Vachiar-Lagrave, Liren, Caruana, Radjabov, Wojtaszek, and women’s world champion Hifan. His only loss was in the hands of GM Anish Giri in the penultimate round.

     After So, Vachier-Lagrave, Giri and Liren scored their points, the attention shifted to the game between GM Carlsen and GM Saric.

Carlsen, who only needed a draw to win, seemed to be in trouble during the middle game. The possibility of a Carlsen loss would create a logjam on the leaderboard with five players (Carlsen, Vachier-Lagrave, Giri, So, and Liren) having an identical 8.5 points apiece.

     Carlsen, however, found ways to simplify the position by exchanging major pieces. When truce was finally declared after 49 moves, the players were looking at a drawn rook and pawn ending.

     So, a Cavite City native quit his studies at Webster University to turn professional this year.

He had a bumper year in 2014. He won, among many others, the Millionaire’s Chess in Las Vegas and the $100,000 pot money that goes with it. He also won the 49th Capabalanca Memorial in Cuba and some other pocket tournaments in the US and Canada.

Monday, January 5, 2015


She came home one evening with a different look on her face. She barged into our room and said it has to come from her because it may become a big deal to others. We looked at her, my wife and me, and asked what is she talking about?

Then she blurted: “I’m going on a mission!” She said she had given it a lot of thought – six months of thinking and weighing things. Some months back, she asked me about serving a mission. My quick response was: “Sisters are not really “required” to serve a mission; unlike the brothers who are commanded to serve when they are able.”

I also told her that serving a mission isn’t a walk in the park, that it requires hard work and sacrifice. I told her that she can finish her studies (she’s an incoming senior taking up Landscape Architecture at the University of San Carlos) then she can go and serve a mission if she really wants.

She said she has made up her mind. Her decision didn’t surprise us and so we told her that if she has the desire to serve then she has to start the ball rolling. I gave her hard copy of the Missionary Application and told her to read it then fill it out with pencil. I was then bishop of the ward.

I told her that after she’s finished filling the form, we need to sit down so I can tell her what to do next and at the same time interview her. In my watch as bishop, Kiyo was the seventh missionary applicant I had interviewed. The magnificent seven are: Ervin Loreno, Jason Osumo, Jinky Villoso, Kathia May Aguirre, Anthony Gracia, Jon Nathan Aldemita and Kiyo. So far, Ervin, Jason, Jinky and Mai-mai have come home with honor.

So we proceeded with her dental check-up with Sister Aldave. Then we had her laboratory work prior to seeing a doctor for a physical examination. Then she had to save some money for her portion of support. When all these were finally done, I sat down with Kiyo as we filled out an electronic missionary application. Before finally sending the form, I asked her for the final time if she’s truly prepared to serve a mission. Just like the others I had the privilege of interviewing, I asked her two more times, just to make sure, before I hit the send button.

We were able to trace her application. I would log-in at and find out one night for example that her papers are already with the area presidency in Manila. Then later we found it was already forwarded to Salt Lake. At least when we (Kiyo and I) last looked the call has been issued!

Now the waiting. The call takes only a few days to be issued; it’s the sending of the call to the missionary that takes a longer time. Kiyo was finally advised that her call had arrived. It was supposedly given to her Saturday evening but then our stake president changed his mind and said she can claim it next day. So we drove to Arlington Meetinghouse to get the call from President Maandig. He requested Kiyo to open it but Kiyo said she wanted to open it in Sikatuna. Kiyo was nervous on our way to Sikatuna. Her hands were moist and cold.

When Kiyo was waiting her call we told her that the “world” is her mission – she could be assigned anywhere. After she received her patriarchal blessing she told us that she knows where she will be called. She said it’s indicated in her patriarchal blessing that she will serve in the “land of her forefathers” of sort of like that. She’s aware of the fact that Mama, Jason and me all served in the Manila Mission. Would it be cool to serve in the same mission? Then there’s Iloilo Mission or the land of my birth. How about the US, Latin America, Hong Kong or even Japan? The anticipation grew each day as we anxiously waited for the call.

When we finally arrived at the meetinghouse, members have gathered in the cultural hall. The whole ward was there. Kiyo nervously tore open the envelope and then read: “you are hereby called to serve as a missionary… in the Philippines Butuan Mission!” For Kiyo it was an answer to her prayer. She would love to serve wherever the Lords wants her to serve but she said she will freeze if assigned to a mission where they have winter! She’s right. With a paperweight frame, she will truly freeze in let’s say Utah winter.

When my wife posted Kiyo’s opening her call in FB, comments from people we know and don’t know flooded her account.

This is it, we told Kiyo. We sat down and listed the things she would need.
First – set of scriptures. Astrid, upon my request, shouldered this.
Second – luggage. Inday Julie sent $100 for this.
Third – camera. This is for Mama and Chona to take care.
Fourth -  temple endowment. Kiyo have to attend a temple preparation class to be issued a temple recommend.
Fifth – work with missionaries. I have to drive Kiyo to district meeting of the missionaries every Monday morning. She also worked with the sisters in Labangon and Capitol.
Sixth – cooking skills. We have to request Kiyo to cook breakfast or dinner so she can cook in the mission.
Seventh – hard questions by investigators. I had to scribble some notes and discussed it with her. These include some of the hardest questions I have ever been asked as a member of the Church.

There were other needs but I guess they were not very essential. Kiyo was to report to the MTC on September 26. So from the date she received her call, she had more than 60 days to prepare. And prepare she did.

Her scriptures won’t be delivered until the first week of September so she used Mam Sir’s. I told her that if in case her scriptures won’t be delivered in time, she can bring Mam Sir’s scriptures and when she gets hers then she send back Jason’s scriptures. Things happen. Sister Osumo didn’t get her scriptures until she was already in the MTC, through Elder Perez formerly of Labangon Ward, who is currently serving in the Caribbean.

One Monday morning while were driving to Labangon, Kiyo asked me: “Pa, ma miss ko nimo?” I was taken aback! I think it was two more weeks before she goes to the MTC. I said: “Of course, Inday!” I told her that thinking of you being away for 18 months make me miss you a lot. I told her; however, it’s part of the game….like when Mam Sir left for his mission in 2010. I have to bear with it.

We (my wife and me) accompanied Kiyo to the temple for her endowment. That was September 11.
I was tasked to buy her a pair of garments. When I got the TG’s they were big for her! I forgot my daughter is petite or even smaller than petite. We have to change some pairs of garment we bought at the distribution center after the session. It was a great blessing to be able to attend a session with my wife and Kiyo. We encouraged Kiyo to attend more sessions before she goes to the MTC so she can comprehend what the endowment is all about. She did.

As I said earlier, things happen.

President Taylaran was late for Kiyo’s setting apart! I don’t even know why it was delegated to a counselor, the setting apart. During the time of President Montera, the stake president sets apart the missionary. My wife was already losing her cool. We were planning a few more things like taking a family picture in our neighbor’s studio but then they were already closed when we arrived. We also to buy some other stuff for Kiyo but then we were exhausted already.

Geccie and Mary Ann, two of Kiyo’s friends slept at home so they could come with us when we drive Kiyo to the airport. ZB also wanted to stay with us but then I received her text too late to say yes. I don’t think I slept much that night. I woke up at around 3 a.m.; drove to MacDonald’s to get Kiyo something to munch knowing they don’t offer anything anymore in the plane.

After saying bye to Jason and James, Sister Osumo finally boarded Puti with Geccie and Mary Ann. Ayi and Leah also made it so they rode with us. Ayi and Kiyo were classmates at Zapatera Elementary School. The drive was smooth because there was no traffic. We took pictures at the pre-departure area. In one shot I caught Mama’s tear as it was welling on her eye! I took a picture of Kiyo as she was making her way to the pre-departure lounge.

Carlo was in Manila on the day Kiyo was to fly there. So he waited for Kiyo at the airport and drove her to the MTC. He took pictures. And as we got them, posted them on FB with the other shots we took at Mactan.  When Carlo brought Kiyo to the MTC there was a little commotion. MTC staff claimed that they sent a van to fetch Kiyo from the airport and was surprised when she appeared at MTC’s doorstep. Carlo told the staff he’s Kiyo’s uncle and that there was no advice that she’ll have transport from the airport. Had we known, Carlo explained, “I won’t be here to pick her up” Another guffaw from our stake leaders. Well, Kiyo knows her way to the MTC but then I don’t know about the welcoming party from the MTC.

So for the whole day of September 26, Sister Osumo’s FB page was bombarded with pictures of her at Mactan, Manila airport and MTC!

Sister Osumo had Sister Paca as companion at MTC. They got along together very well. Sister Paca will be assigned in Laoag Mission. A picture of faith and diligence, she lost her mother and brother when Ondoy hit Cagayan De Oro some years back. But it didn’t deter her from serving as missionary. Sister Osumo has in her batch sons and daughters of missionaries that Mama have known while serving in Manila Mission.

After 12 days at the MTC, Sister Osumo finally arrived in Butuan Mission. President and Sister Torres welcomed her in the mission office and assigned her in Buenavista. This is a town some two hours west of Butuan City.  Her trainer was Sister Sanchez from Paranaque.

As of this writing, Sister Osumo already had several baptisms and had a follow-up trainer in Sister Garciano from Mandaue First Ward.

We were able to speak to her on Christmas Day and she sounded fine and very upbeat! On December 26 she will be out three months already!

Thursday, October 20, 2011


I don’t usually run on a Sunday.

This Sunday, I’ll break protocol and join the Run in Peace, Melinda Ponce, a tribute run for a fellow runner whose life and those of her three children were snapped in a gruesome massacre last Sunday by her husband Emmanuel, right in the confines of their own home.

I’m running a fever as I write this blog. But come Sunday, even if I have to drag myself to run or help to make the run successful, in any way I could, I’ll do it.
Ma’am Melinda, as we fondly call her, every time she visits Runnr in Ayala, would come with a smile on her face. You could never find a trace of suffering or abuse on her face. Now after what happened, we know that running was her diversion – the only reason why she could wake up in the morning and run furiously along the streets of Cebu – whether she’s preparing for a race or just keeping herself in form.

We would cross paths along Jones Avenue during my early morning runs, she in those running shorts she wore when she was gunned down. I would usually take the center island along Jones Avenue and Ma’am Melinda would be running towards me on my right, on the other side of the road. Every time she sees me, she would wave her hand! She would always be the first to wave at me!

I will miss that familiar figure on the road, a fleeting figure that would dart towards me! Now that we have a little glimpse of the life she lived, I even miss her more. If there’s an example of rising above your trials, Ma’am Melinda is the unanimous choice as a poster girl. I have asked our store supervisor that we retain the picture of Ma’am Melinda posted on our Runner’s Central at the office as our loving, lasting tribute to her.

The fun run on Sunday will start at 5:30 am at the Terraces. The route will traverse Cardinal Rosales Ave., Gorordo Ave., Gen. Maxilom Ave., Fuente, Osmena Blvd. going to Capitol, Escario and back to the Cebu Business Park. After the run, there will be requiem mass in honor of Ma’am Melinda.
I understand there are two races scheduled on Sunday and most of the runners have registered in those races. I say those races you could MISS but not the Run in Peace, Melinda Ponce.

Registration is now on going at Runnr Ayala and Clinica Melgar (The clinic of Dr. Humility Melgar Egana on top of KFC Fuente). Registration is P150 pesos and bibs are now available as you register.  

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Weeks after the Aboitiz Race to Reduce Challenge, I still get feedback about the race. Some of the comments I brush aside but then some just rubs in. The other day, a friend told me there were runners who made shortcuts specifically on the way to the finish from the foot of Marcelo Fernan Bridge. He said a runner coaxed him to just go straight from the foot of the Marcelo Fernan Bridge, and bypass the turn in front of Mandaue Metro because there were no marshals there!  He said he ignore the invitation knowing he will be fooling himself if he made the shortcut.

To those who, in any way possible still think of getting a little advantage, whether in running or other sport or endeavor, should learn from a recent incident in the World Cup of Chess 2011 at Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.

Czech GM David Navarra and Ukraine GM Alexander Moiseenko were the only ones playing a tiebreak match in the third round of play as they other players have finished their games. It was already very late in the evening. Navarra was winning the match having gained material advantage over his rival. On his 35th move, however, he touched his king when he was trying to move his bishop! In chess, when you touch a piece, you must move the piece. Moiseenko reminded Navarra of his error but then both players played on. The game was already more than 100 moves and in the final position, Navarra had a queen and king while Moiseenko had a rook and a king – obviously a win for Navarra! But in a twist of events, Navarra offered a draw, after working so hard to attain a winning position, because he felt he had no moral basis for the victory! (The whole story is here:

Now that is FAIR PLAY!

NOTE: Those who want a print or soft copy of their picture in any running event in Cebu that are seen in the FB account YENDYS PICS may order them. Just visit the said FB account. An 8"x10" print is P150.00. Those who want a soft copy of a picture will be asked to pay an additional P50.00. Seems like a good deal.