Saltimate Tres: Salt City Is Sweeter Than You Think

The weather was cool and mostly cloudy, as Day 1 of Saltimate Tres was about to begin last Saturday. The 16 teams from all over Visayas and a few guests from Mindanao was a perfect number of teams for a growing tournament in this simple town of Maasin. As expected, Day 1 kicked-off at a very easy pace for most of the participating teams, but you can easily determine which teams will go all the way to the last rounds of the tournament.

 Though, the games were obviously dominated by Teams like Mohawks of Tagbilaran, who played their first game with only 6 players. A strong ringer team that was composed mostly of one of Tacloban’s best teams, DBN. Team “Oldies But Goodies” who were composed of, you know – OLDIES. Then, a younger generation of ultimate players from Bohol who call themselves “The Mercenaries” who wowed everyone with their athleticism and age (15-16-year-olds). Of course the host team, “Maasin Pirates” that is always a dangerous team to play against with when you have Jayke and Japhet in your line-up. You can’t easily weed out the rest of the pack, as most of the teams have their own bag of tricks to win a game. Sadly, the champion team of last year was not here to defend their title. That simply means the Saltimate Crown is up for grabs.

Everyone was greeted by tons of rain showers on Day 2. Now that the fields were a little smoother than Saturday, the players went out flying and charging every bid that they could possibly handle. I wrapped my camera with my trusty garbage bag and went out on the muddy field to enjoy the day with these daredevils. It was quite a lot of fun shooting under the rain again.

The action kept on improving by the minute as we were closing into the elimination rounds.  Now with a decent number of players in their line-up, team Mohawks began to rally up. Giving everyone a hard time. Team Ringers with Noel, Kim, and Russel are in control, managed to defeat the Dada led “Oldies But Goodies” in the semis. Mercenaries had a huge chance of moving on to the championship round, but their more experienced Ate's and Kuya's knocked them out in a very tight defensive battle in the semi-final round. Giving Mohawks the chance to go head to head with Team Ringers in the finals.

We are down to our last day and under this dark cloudy skies, the championship game of Saltimate Tres has begun. It was an exciting game in the beginning, but team Mohawks showed its teamwork and dominance as Jordan and the rest of Tagbilaran’s finest worked together to put on a huge lead and sealed the win! The Saltimate Tres Pool A Champions are Team Mohawks.

Maasin is much sweeter the second time around. Their outstanding hospitality the moment I arrived in Cebu, all the way to Hilongos and Maasin city. The help that they showed me from the start of this trip was beyond awesome. This year, they are definitely at the top of my list of cities that hosted really comfortable trips for me. To the people involved, I truly appreciate all the things that you did for me, and for making this tournament a much more improved than last year. Even the socials night was a lot of fun.

I genuinely had a great time in Maasin this year.

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Trident Ultimate Battle Grounds 2018

The Gates of Daro Rusi Ballfield, located in the city of Gentle People has finally been unchained under such perfect ultimate weather -cloudy overcast skies. Not too cold but not too warm. Free coffee and early morning greetings from friends. It was just right for day 1 of the 2018 edition of Trident Ultimate Battle Grounds. 

The first set of games has finally begun in all three pitches. When I got there, it was quite nice to see some returnees like the “Niños” and “Niñas” from Cebu; “Adan” and “Eba” from Negros Occidental; the powerhouse home teams with a much stronger lineup, “Negro” and “Negras” from Dumaguete; 
the “Boholanas” -though they only have a line and two subs on their roster, these tough ladies from Bohol still managed to battle it out against the best of Visayas and Mindanao Ultimate. Daddy Libo-on’s Trident team composed of players from Maasin, Tayasan, Manila and other parts of the country; and a few familiar faces that represent diverse team before but now playing on new teams here in UBG. 
The teams started out at a very easy pace, trying to get to know their teammates during the first couple of games. I guess being a mixed dominated community, sometimes it’s not easy to immediately switch to single-gender games. But as expected, the games went rocking later that day. 

Day 2 went smashing under the cloudy Sunday morning where the teams finally turned their switches on and went full battle mode all throughout the day.  The Women’s division was on the spotlight, teams like “Niñas”, “Subanas” -of Dipolog city, “Eba”, “Argens”, and Team “Negras” leading the pack of amazing women who put on great ultimate action for all of us to witness. The Magnificent Seven of the home team “Negras” really stole the attention of my camera, as they performed amazing plays every time they were on the field. And check this, they were all high school students with ages between 15 to 17. I can’t wait for all of you to see these future stars of Negros Oriental go “all in” in the upcoming Nationals in Bacolod city.

The finals on both divisions were all about Cebu and Dumaguete. Team “Negras” went on to play against “Niñas” of Cebu for the Women’s division. Trailing since the first pull of the women’s finals, Team Negras managed to cut the lead down, but with time wasn’t on their side and Len together with Cheska pounding them with huge goals every time they get close, the ladies from Cebu finally came out victorious.

Change the A’s into O’s and that’s what you get for the Men’s division finals. What would you expect if you have Oyok, Jeff, Jeff Leonard, Noel, Petra, DaDa, Tajji, Maki, Isoy, Kboy, and Alex -to name some, all in one playing field? It’s literally a contest of greatness in this side of the country. It’s a no-brainer, you never know who will actually win it all. 

Just like in the Women’s division, Negro was trailing all throughout the game, patiently trying to cut down the Cebuanos’ lead. It was totally a heavy hitting “title bout” game –it’s actually more of a rumble. Jeff Dela Cerna vs Tajji and Kboy; Jeff Leonard vs Tajji; Jeff Leonard vs Alex; and Kboy vs Jeff Leonard. Kboy with a monster layout near the end a monster grab from the Freak himself -Tajji. With Dada, Bao and Isoy controlling the pace to catch up, while Oyok, Petra and Noel stepping on the gas pedal real hard just to maintain their lead. It was fantastic! 

As the day goes dark, the final announcement for last point was announced, the game was tied with Negro working their way with the disc. A high pass from Dada to Maki sealed the victory and gave the Dumaguete boys their back to back UBG championship! 

After a short but sweet honest talk with Jazper who amazingly and kind of single-handedly made UBG 2018 a success, a short stay at the after party and an early trip back home, I thought all the while that everything was A-Okay.  But then again, may it be good or bad, the world really moves in mysterious ways, and it really saddens me that it always happen to good people. People who are making a difference in this world. I have nothing against people owning a gun, but having a gun and using it in such evil acts is what I really hate the most. 

Together with our brothers and sisters in Ultimate in Dumaguete, please join me for a moment of silence and prayers for the repose of the soul of Mr. Calixto Favor. Father of our dear friend and Brother, Jazper Favor who was killed at around 2:00 pm in Dumaguete last Tuesday, March 27, 2018. I think this is one of those times that we need to be together to give a brother our love and support. 

I am so sorry for your loss, Jaz. I truly hope that your father will find justice in the end. 

Nandito lang kami.


Boon Rockstar Cup 2018: All You Got To Do Is Believe

All You Got To Do Is Believe.

“There are a lot of great places to climb,” Aldwin said. “But the reason why I keep on coming back to that one place when I do my climbing is that of the friends that I see every time I go there. It’s all about the people around me. And that is what I wanted to happen here as well. We will play a high level of ultimate and enjoy each other’s company at the same time. It’s like a reunion of old friends and new.” 

For the second straight year, Aldwin Ibanez, John “Jolas” Larracas and the rest of the Boon Team did the impossible as their dream of bringing the best of the best of Ultimate in our own soil become a reality. Beau Kittredge, Jimmy Mickle, Tom “Cupcake” Tullet, Team Colony of Australia and of course, the great Matsuno and the Buzz Bullets of Japan. Opi Payne is back together with Amanda Meroux and Cheryl Hsu of Polar Bears, and GB U24 national player Catherine Pope who played for the Aria Stars last weekend, headlining the women’s division. With teams and players from all over the globe matching up with the best that Philippine Ultimate has to offer. The event at the Villages in Clark, Pampanga was just the same as the weather that weekend, it was scorching hot.

It was one of those weekends that it is hard to put your camera away because of the great games that were happening on the field. Fewer bids, full of high flying grabs and amazing disc movements. Most of the games were perfectly executed, and it was quite exciting to witness it. With the band of Black Widows coming back to defend their 2017 title, the level of competition in the Women’s division was off the charts. Teams like Sunken Pleasure, Vicious Girls, Alpha Female, Aria Stars and the lone provincial team Lady Bandits, stepping up to the plate trying their best to dethrone the Widows. Let’s not forget the Archipelagirls and the Sirens from China who fought hard all weekend long even with just a handful of players on their rosters. At one point, the ladies took control of the weekend.  It only shows that the level of Women’s ultimate in this region is improving quite rapidly. 

After hard-fought semifinal matches, the Lady Bandits and the Vicious girls took center stage to battle it out in the Women’s division final. It was an absolute grudge match from the start, but the Lady Bandits was just too tough to handle and won the 2018 BRSC Women’s Division Title. 

“Marv, Give me one big air battle against that guy.” I said to Marv Dubouzet of Sunken Pleasure while pointing to Sid Vicious’ number 50 player, Beau Kittredge. Knowing and seeing how Marv does all his vert trainings for moments like these, I knew that he was up for the challenge. That moment came when a huck from Derek Ramsey to Beau in the end zone came, and there goes Marv with his outstretched arms and fingers only to miss the disc just a few inches off his right hand. But that did n’t break him. He came back on the field and battled it out again with Beau. In the end, SP won the game to face another giant in Team Colony in the semis.  

The boys of Team GG also had a great opportunity to test their Dumaguete, run and gun style of Ultimate. With Dada, Tisoy, and Chubby leading the brados from Dumzville, they played the Buzz Bullets not just once, but twice during the weekend, And they were the only Filipino team in the tournament who came in close against the Japanese. Though they fell short of winning, Team GG battled it out against Buzz Bullets in the semis all the way to the end. 

Sunken Pleasure also had an exciting match up against Colony on the other semifinal game. Trailing against the Australians, Felix Angue of SP went for one of the craziest air battle of the tournament going up against two US National Teams in Jimmy Mickle and Chris Kocher. Fel won the battle as he prevented an easy goal by Colony. 

Though SP and GG did not reach the finals of the BRSC Men’s Division, they showed the world that the Filipino teams will always go up for the challenge. 

The Men’s Finals between Colony and Buzz Bullets was definitely one of the best non-Filipino championship games ever played on Philippine soil. It was definitely a treat and such an amazing opportunity to photograph these two great teams in the final. The speed and size of Colony vs the unique gameplay of the Buzz Bullets. Two different styles of Ultimate in one playing field. It was mind-blowing. Honestly, there was one instance that I wanted to stop shooting and just enjoy the rest of the game, but then, I would never forgive myself if I missed one great moment in the game. Matsuno and the Buzz Bullets did the best they can to cut down the Colony lead, but the trio of Mickle, Cupcake, and Kocher was making tons of damage to the Buzz Bullets defensive line. Team Colony of Australia is the 2018 Boon Rockstar Cup Men’s Division Champions. 

At the end of the day, we the Philippine Ultimate community will take all the benefit from this wonderful experience. Boon gave us the opportunity to witness high level of Ultimate for the past two years. A photographer like me can only take this experience as an opportunity to see if I can actually capture some highlights from great players like Opi, Beau, and Jimmy, how much more for a Filipino ultimate player who can share the field with these athletes? It’s a one time opportunity to go up against Matsuno. And if ever that opportunity will ever come again here in our country, and if you are serious enough to be the best at what you do, I would suggest for you to grab that chance. All you got to do is believe in yourself that you can do it. Believe that we can give them a high level of competition if we put ourselves into it. Aldwin and Jolas believe that you have what it takes. It’s one of the reasons why they are doing their best to bring these great teams in the Philippines for us to challenge ourselves, and maybe someday will be in the same level of elite club teams like Buzz Bullets, Colony, and Fury.  All you got do is believe.

Congratulations Aldwin, Jolas and the rest of The BOON team for another successful Rockstar Cup! Thank you for giving us this amazing experience and opportunity, bringing the best of Ultimate in the Philippines. 

The Boon Rockstar Cup 2018 will definitely be marked as one of the most successful International ultimate tournaments that happened in the Philippines and to the rest of Asia-Oceana as a whole. And it was truly an honor to be a part of it.

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