Sun Soaked The Ilocos Sur Beach Fest 2018 . A Heck Of A Weekend!

New Venue. Three Sporting events. Burning Sand. Fantastic Beach Ultimate action. Parokya Ni Edgar. 

The 2018 Sun Soaked Beach Fest was definitely the perfect Opening Salvo of Beach Ultimate season in the Philippines. Now on its 5th season, Sun Soaked organizers finally found a venue in Ichthus Beach Resort located in Magsingal, Ilocos Sur that can accommodate all three beach sporting events in one place (Beach Ultimate, Beach Volleyball, Dragonboat). Though it was about 20-25 minutes away from Vigan City, Ichthus Beach Resort is the perfect venue for the event. Beach Volleyball stars like Bea Tan and Amanda Villanueva dominating the Beach Volley net; International Paddlers like the Boracay All-Stars charging the waters of Magsingal, Ilocos Sur; The highflyers of Ultimate led by our National players Boboy Famorcan,  Xtian Guerrero, Popoy Pascua, Dada liboon, Bolantoy Francisco, Qhinjune Villanueva, Jeff Dela Cerna, Brylle Quimintan, Kenneth De Guzman, Pao Peralta, Marv Debouzet, Mikko Gonzalez, Vincent Balucanag, April Adalim, Kyrah Tuvilla, Angelique Cortez, Ysa Chua, U24 National players, Dann Avena, Jessica Resch, AJ Baliong,  Diego Barrios, there's too many to mention. The playing field was full of stars and there's only one thing that you expect from these men and women when they step foot on the sands of Magsingal... Greatness. 

Most of the games ended quickly and you can easily identify the top teams of this year's Sun Soaked. As expected, the players tackled the sand with no fear, flying from one end zone to another, converting goals or grabbing an impressive layout D. But the real enemy was not the opposing team that you are about to go up against or the 8 hour road trip from Manila to Ilocos, but the unforgiving heat of the sun that makes the grey sands of Ichthus Beach Resort unbearable to walk on barefoot. That might be one of the reasons why some of the games ended quickly because the players wanted the games to be over as soon as possible, to stay away from the hellish sands. I've seen a lot of players wearing sand socks before, but last weekend was the first time that I saw a few players wore slip-ons during the game. Every time they score a goal, they all rush to the sidelines, make a sand pit, pour water in it and dunk their feet in for a few seconds of cool comfort. Did that make them stop from playing one hundred percent? No, it didn't. They all went out there with the same intensity all day long. 

The AAU crew started shooting Day 2 during the quarterfinal round as Manila United, Mulatto and Boracay NexGen went on cruise control during their games, dominating the still scorchy Magsingal sand. The Tandang Sora Pleasure (TSP) - Pancake game, on the other hand, was intense as the Popoy led TSP was up for most of the game. Pancake worked as a team the whole time to close the gap putting their female players to good use (Angelique and Ysa), but came in short and gave TSP the chance to battle Mulatto in the Semis.  The semifinal game between Manila United and Boracay NexGen was, in my opinion, the game of the tournament. The game was scheduled at high noon where the heat was unbearable. Both teams were mostly composed of the seasoned Veterans and the future of the Beach Ultimate Legends, The Boracay Dragons. If you were watching the game, it was basically a showcase of what was the past-present and the future of the said team. It was full of action, Intensity and quite a lot of fun to watch. The NexGen who were being guided by one the best handlers in the Philippines, Boboy Famorcan & Qhuinjune, AJ Maming and Jessica Resch leading the pack managed to cut down the big lead of Manila United and forced the game to Universe point. But experience always wins games as Xtian, Dada, Pao Peralta, and April Adalim scored the final point of the game and will face the unbeatable Mulatto in the 2018 Sun Soaked Beach Ultimate Championship game. 

The sun finally decided to hide behind the clouds, and the sands in Ichthus Beach resort cooled down,  the stage was set for the final battle. Team Mulatto, led by Brylle Quimintan, Vincent Balucanag, Jeff Dela Cerna, Rex "Black Daddy" Villanueva, Kyrah Tuvilla and Mimi Balancar came out strong, putting up a very comfortable early lead in the game. Manila U tried to cut the lead down, but the lightfooted on sand players from Mati, Davao and the rest of Visayas and Mindanao took control of both ends of the field to improve their third place finish last year. Team Mulatto is the 2018 Sun Soaked Beach Ultimate Champions. A perfect way to start the season for the team who will represent our country in the upcoming World Ultimate Club Championships in Cincinnati, Ohio this July. 

As the day turns to darkness, all of the athletes from Beach Volley, Dragonboat and Beach Ultimate had a wonderful buffet dinner during the awards night, unlimited cans of beer being served and Sun Soaked would never be the same without a Band giving us a rockin' night in Ilocos Sur.  This year, Parokya Ni Edgar took the house with classic hits from the past and the present. It was a  perfect way to end a very successful Beach Fest. 

Filipinos are really good at Beach Ultimate. (We are number 4 in the world in both Mens and Mixed Division during The World Championships of Beach Ultimate in Royan, France) And we all know that we have a LOT of beautiful beaches around the country. It would be awesome to see if we also focus our attention on beach ultimate just like we are trying to focus our attention on single-gender ultimate.  Kudos to places like Ilocos, La Union, Siargao, Nasugbu, Mati and of course Boracay for putting up venues for Beach Ultimate through the years. And I'm really hoping to see more beach tournaments in our country in the coming years because I believe that we are really that good on sand.

Congratulations to all the organizers of the 2018 Sun Soaked Ilocos Sur Beach Fest. To the Provincial Government of Ilocos Sur. To Congressman Ronald Singson. Governor Ryan Singson. To Karen Cabrera for making this year’s Sun Soaked Beach Ultimate a success. And to all the teams who traveled for hours just to play and compete in the beaches of Magsingal, Ilocos Sur. It was definitely a heck of a weekend! 


With a glass of liquor in my hand, I couldn't hide my tears right in front of dozens of my close friends and families in the Ultimate community one Friday evening in Vigan. To be honest, I couldn't afford to have an upgrade. I'm almost maxed out in my budget for gear maintenance. And I am actually ready to turn my back to the people who I cared for, for the past 3 years. But there are still people in this community who are crazy enough to help me realize my dream. I guess the Ultimate dream lives on. 
As what Henry David Thoreau wrote: 
"Rather than love, than money, than fame... Give me Truth." In my case.... Give me Friendship.
To the people who gave me REAL Friendship all these years, Thank you for still believing in me.

Thank you for the lens. That's all I gotta say.

For more photos of Sun Soaked 2018:

Sinulog Open 2018: AAU's First Tournament Of The Year

The time has come for All About U's first tournament of the year. I've been flying back and forth to Cebu city almost three or four times every year, but I never had the opportunity to cover an Ultimate tournament in the Queen City of the South.  Every moment in this world has its own time, and I guess, 2018 is the year that I will finally get the chance to cover the 5th Sinulog Open Ultimate Tournament. What I was really excited about Cebu was not the Chicharon or the tasty lechon of Carcar (I decided to stop eating red meat back in June of 2017), but because of the talents that this city has to offer. This is the home turf of great players like Bruno and Oyok Subang, Jeff Dela Cerna, Wendell Go, Brian Paulino, The Resch Sisters Tina and Jessica and a lot more. This is also the home of some of our finest Sports apparels like Double Happiness, Trident Active Lifestyle, and Agile Gear. With 16 active teams in the city alone, Ultimate in Cebu city is pretty much alive. We can't deny that the talent in the city is overflowing, but with all these teams and players, they do have one major hiccup in their daily Ultimate lives. They don't have a playing field to play on. 

Well, they do have a few left around the city, of course; but because of the Sinulog Festival that is happening this weekend, all fields have been booked for the biggest event in Cebu, and all fields around the city were already reserved since day 1 of January for the said festival. There's also one other available field that they can rent out, but they have to pay 8,000 pesos PER HOUR in order for them to use the space. It was a bummer, really. But the organizers still did their best and never lose any hope of finding empty lands for the home teams and guests to enjoy the tournament. 

Friday. January 12, 2018. We found ourselves traveling for about 40 minutes to Minglanilla and Naga City for Day 1 of Sinulog Open 2018. This year, Sinulog Open is a three-day tournament with 24 teams lining up to battle it out all weekend long to get a hand on one of the first trophies to be given out this year in the Philippine Ultimate Calendar. As expected, Day one was “the getting to know you again” stage.Especially that it was the first tournament for some players after a long while. Same with the AAU crew. Last weekend was also our first tournament of the year. So yes, we were also having a rusty time on Day one. But that doesn't mean that I wasn't having a great time. I was so glad that shooting season has finally begun. One major bump in Day one? The two-hour ride home to the city after a long day in the fields under the hot sun and pouring rain. Welcome to Cebu City!

Saturday games were all being played in Naga City Sports Complex (Except for the first set of games that was still scheduled in Minglanilla about 30 minutes away from Naga... I think).  Games went to full throttle in the afternoon as the matchups took the fields by storm. The Vice Boss and Thunderclap on pitch two and the Blacklist-Fasa Fuego game on Pitch one was the spark that led into a very competitive and intense battle from the top teams of the tournament. There were a lot of great games in Day 2 of Sinulog Open, but the Quarterfinal between Uranus and Thunderclap during the scheduled night games was definitely one of the most exciting and breathtaking matches of the tournament. I mean, literally. Even the biggest stars of the game were all catching them breathes just to give their teams the much-needed lead to win the game. 

You can eerily feel the calm before the storm, on Day 3 as the top four teams in Pool A were preparing to clash in the semis. On a cloudy afternoon with a chance of rain, It was home teams Uranus and Fasa Fuego, top two teams in Cebu city go head to head for the first time this year. Though I'm sure they have been playing against each other on a daily basis in the city, this one is different. Same with Team Vice Boss and Blacklist on the other side of the pitch, Vice Boss was mostly composed of players from Dumaguete, and some of the Blacklist players mentioned that playing VB was like playing against their brothers and sisters back home in Daro ball field. They knew each other that well.  In fact, All four teams knew each other for years. And that makes the Pool A Semifinal games a must watch battle between friends and families. It was intense. It was chaotic. It was Visayas Ultimate at its finest!

The Blacklist of Dumaguete fought hard trying to even up the semifinal series against Vice Boss (They also played against each other in Ormoc city during the semifinal round of Sugar Ultimate last October 2017) But, it still wasn't the right time for them to score a Win against the Bosses of Visayas. Fasa Fuego, on the other hand, worked together as a team like they always do to score all the breakpoints that they could get to cut down the big Uranus lead forcing the game into Universe point. There was a long discussion during the final point of the game. Everyone was fixed in the middle of pitch one as the two teams were trying to state their cases. In the end, Fasa Fuego gave in and the disc went back to team Uranus’ side. Just like the dark gloomy sky at that very moment, Fasa Fuego's chance of winning the game goes grey as Uranus scored the final point and won the ticket to the final dance of the tournament against Team Vice Boss.

The game exploded right from the get-go as both teams threw punches like their lives depend on it. Jeffleonard vs Alex, JakJak vs Paloy. Even Chubby and Franco came in with a lot of intensity. It was a battle just like what everyone expected it to be. But as Wendell Go of Thunderclap predicted on the sideline, Whichever team has the legs, in the end, will win the game. Team Uranus decided to stick on to their Strong line for almost 6-8 straight points while Team VB kept on rotating their fresh legs all throughout the game. Unfortunately, as much as they tried to rally back into the game, team Uranus ran out of legs in the end and Team Vice Boss came out victorious and has the right to call themselves as the Sinulog Open 2018 Champions.

Minus the heavy traffic and not enough playing fields to play on, Cebu has a lot to offer when it comes to Ultimate. Cebu city is like an Ultimate Portal for all of us. The center of every place in the country that has Ultimate tournaments. You can easily fly all the way to Clark up north or take the boat and go all the way down south. Cebu city has all the access. We can't deny the fact that Sinulog Open 2018 sure does has some lapses all throughout the weekend, but if you are organizing a 24 team tournament. Feed them. Making sure that they have a transportation to bring them home. (It's not easy to find a dozen of buses every day. And it's not cheap either). Making sure that they all have roofs under their heads by the end of the day. Making sure that they are comfortable all the time, and there's only four of you to tackle all these things. You need to have great passion and patience to do all these. So instead of bashing them with a few unnecessary punch in the gut, why don't we just give them some love and appreciation? Lend a hand. Share what you know. Help them in making Cebu tournaments bigger and better in the future. I think that's the right thing that we all need to do. 

Kudos to Apple, Boobie, Nadine, and Hannah. To the Marshals and to all the people behind these four who have done their part to make Sinulog Open 2018 a success. 

The first tournament of the year for All About U was a blast. And I can feel that the rest of the year is going to be spectacular. 

Time to bring your A game, folks... 

We are on our way. Wherever you are.

For more photos:

What Does It Take To Represent Your Country: U24 Philippine National Ultimate Team.

What does it take to represent your country in an international arena like Worlds U-24 Ultimate Championships in Perth, Australia? Here are their answers.

Ladies and Gentlemen, The U-24 Philippine National Team Players!
"To be part of the national team is a dream come true for me. And now that I’m here, it’s time to work. We will be playing at a higher level of competition thus we must work harder than ever in order for us to bring our game to the next level. With this privilege given to us, a great deal of discipline, determination, and commitment is needed since nothing will come easy. We must always keep in mind to work together as a team and that we are doing this not for ourselves but for our country. We are all honored to be given the opportunity to represent the country and show the world what the youth of Philippine ultimate has to offer."

- Dann Avena. The Philippines. U-24 Men's Team

Photo shared by Chelsey Aquino. Photographed by: Diego Zuluaga of Philippine Ultiverse 

"Being able to represent the Philippines in the upcoming World U24 Championships is truly an honor. Besides the physical preparation, the mental preparation is just as important.
I really want to make the most out of this opportunity to grow in the sport that I love and hopefully, make my country proud."

- Chelsey Aquino. The Philippines. U-24 Women's Team

Photo shared by Christian De Vera

"It takes determination to compete in international arena"

- Christian De Vera. The Philippines. U-24 Men's Team

"Representing the country is more than just wearing the flag on our jerseys; it takes a lot of heart, mind, and determination for us to be able to achieve what we want to achieve. We have to work together, lift each other up, and make sure that we have the same mindset all throughout the tournament."

- Gabbey Rodil. The Philippines. U-24 Women's Team

"It takes a lot of hard work and determination to represent the country. Having that mindset of never settling for less and to keep working for the team and for the country in mind. Never settle. Never give up and keep learning in the process. I think that’s what it takes."

- Ian Joseph Quimio. The Philippines. U-24 Men's Team

"Puso, sakripisyo, at pagkakaisa."

- Jam Macaraeg. The Philippines. U-24 Women's Team

Photo shared by Javi Escasa. Photographed by Juna Dela Cruz of Philippine Ultiverse.

"It takes a high tolerance for blisters, sunburn, cramps, sprints ni coach Jamel, muscle pain, and hours of training. It's tiring as heck but totally worth the effort."

- Javi Escasa. The Philippines. U-24 Men's Team

"Aside from the physical aspect, I think it takes a lot of mental preparedness, too. I've been massively fortunate to have played for the Philippines in the past 3 years. This is my second (and last!) Worlds U-24 tournament, and from my learnings from the previous one, the headspace you're in is just as important as being physically ready for the games ahead. Don't psych yourself out too much as you can never truly be prepared for anything, but we have done our best to. Relax, be calm, trust in yourself and your teammates. Also when you're there na, have fun!"

- Jess De Leon. The Philippines. U-24 Women's Team

"Out of all the good players in the Philippines, I am proud to say that my passion and dedication for Ultimate helped realize my dream to represent our country. This fuels me to go the extra mile. Being part of the Philippine Team, participating at Worlds, shows the fruit of my trainings and experiences gained from the tournaments that I have participated here and outside the Philippines. It is not just about playing for the flag but I also want to share with the world what ultimate is about."

- Jessica Resch. The Philippines. U-24 Women's Team

"To represent the country in the international arena, it takes hard work and determination. Going up against competitors that I know will be harder to beat, the amount of sheer focus and heart I need to put in will definitely be more than ever."

- Kurt Dee. The Philippines. U-24 Men's Team

"Being able to be chosen as one of those players who will represent our country in the coming January 7-13, 2018. It reminds me of my humble beginnings of how it all started. From the day that I started learning how to play ultimate, I did not only liked the sport, but fell in love with it. That's why I never stopped traveling back and forth to Dumaguete no matter how difficult it was for me, just so I can play and train and learn the sport first hand from one of the best teams and players we have in the country living in Dumaguete. So for me, it takes passion and love. You need to give all the best of your God given abilities in this sport of ultimate, because this opportunity only comes once in a lifetime."

-Qhenjune Villanueva. The Philippines. U-24 Men's Team

"It takes a lot of heart and courage to represent our country on an international level because you're never really going to feel prepared for what's to come, even after months of training. It's an amazing opportunity though, and we just have to face it with the proper mindset and ready to learn!"

- Stella Escasa. The Philippines. U-24 Women's Team

"Representing the country in such a big event will never be easy. With everything that I have in my mind, I guess it will always take to have that BIG faith in God. Hard work is nothing if it ain't for the Lord. I have prayed for this nearly a hundred times and I must say, "Lord, para ni nimo tanan."

- Wilbor Ogic. Team Philippines. U-24 Men's Team

To represent our country is an honor and a great experience. This is not just about sharing our talents but its about showing what a true Filipino/ Filipina can be in and outside the field. Being part of this team is such a blessing and a big opportunity to learn more and meet new friends and family. Each team will be representing their own country as well and a big tournament like this needs a big effort with a big heart. It takes a lot of hard work and courage but with our love for this sport, the support of all the people who believes in us, and the guidance from the guy up there, keep us going.

- Zashi Pelegrino. The Philippines. U-24 Women's Team

It takes a great deal of responsibility. Representing the country in realm surrounded with people from across the world means great opportunity, along with great responsibility. Given the privilege, too much is expected. Therefore, its the responsibility for discipline, commitment for the performance, and the opportunity to grow learn and raise the Philippine pride.

-Gerard Castor. The Philippines. U-24 Men's Team

The biggest event in my Ultimate Life so far, My first time participating in Worlds Ultimate Frisbee, the very first time that I get to represent our country. An honor and privilege that I once wish to come true. Behind these things, I had to overcome trials. Recovery from my hyperextended knee was one thing, the short amount of time I need to get all the requirements done, and to train on my own. I strive hard to be better in training and studying for the tournament. But above, I trust that I can do all these things through Christ who strenghtens me. The love from my family, friends, home team and my special girl drives me to train harder, be better, not just for me and my team but also for our community. I am now ready for any battle together with the team.

- Rainerius Sanggalang. The Philippines. U-24 Men's Team

"I asked myself several times, "Can I make it?" I am so doubtful. Because I know, our community has a lot of great talent., There are more players better than me. Then I started to BELIEVE and have the COURAGE to join the tryouts (twice) and luckily, I was accepted!! A dream that became a reality. It takes COMMITMENT & SACRIFICE, being away from my parents, to give more time in training and prepare myself physically, emotionally psychologically because nothing great was ever accomplished without making sacrifices. And KNOWING MY PURPOSE, this is to Honor Him, in everything that I do and being thankful for this Talent, the love from the frisbee community, friends, & family most especially my parents. This Opportunity is also to let the world see how Pinoys play this game, how dedicated we are in this field of sport and to make new friends & learn different culture. To sum it up, It takes a lot of, "Laban lang, Puso at Tiwala lang, Para sa Bayan"

- AJ Baliong. The Philippines. U24 Women's Team

These are the young Men and Women who will make us all proud this coming week in Perth, Australia.
Best of luck Team Pilipinas!

It's time to get to work!