Creating a Sustainable Sports Development Program for Bohol

Now in the twilight of my years, I still dream of being able to contribute to my beloved Bohol. I recall how in the early 90s, a group of Boholanos in Metro Manila formed the Tapok Tapok Bol-anon with the dream of reaching out to provide positive contributions to the province of our birth. (Please read: Tapok Tapok Bol-Anon Dreams Big for Bohol.)

We started off by donating computers to far-flung schools to address this lack. As technology developed, and more and more offices started offloading their old computers for newer ones, DepEd advised us to shift to technical and vocational equipment to address the lack of such for blue collar work. Thus, we moved on to distributing welding machines, sewing machines, cooking equipment and even musical instruments and garden tools, depending on what our students needed. Later, we became more ambitious and started to construct school buildings in the hinterlands, with notable partners such as the ABS-CBN Foundation and Bohol’s First Consolidated Bank (FCB) under that philantrophic icon, Richard Uy.

But our most ambitious project yet was the introduction of the sport of dragonboating in the province. In 2013, Tapok brought in instructors from Manila to develop, organize and train locals in a bold aggressive move to put Bohol in the international dragon boat arena. After having worked with the education sector, we felt that it would be refreshing and fun to diversify and work with the sports and tourism sectors. Today, the local dragonboating community is still going strong, and they have been able to sustain themselves. Getting to the next level however will be another matter. Tapok was able to provide that spark, but it is the Bohol community, at the end of the day, who will mandate its direction and progress.

Sports, to my mind, is one area where we can – and must – work on. Sports develops the youth. It paves the way to a stronger body and a clearer mind. It provides the discipline, develops leadership, character and nurtures the values of good sportsmanship, fair play and respect for your fellow competitors.  It builds trust and teamwork. If our children are involved in sports, they are better protected from the evils of drugs and other vices. Sports therefore is an avenue that will help build the foundation for a stronger community, and in our case, a stronger Bohol.

Hence, it is important to develop a sustainable Grass Roots Sports Development Program for Bohol. This program should be comprehensive, sustainable and participative. It has to be well-thought of, and must conform with the overall sports vision at the national level. With the limited resources available for sports development, it must be studied and implemented wisely.

The task of developing a cohesive sports program first starts with a clear study of which sports to push. Is basketball, being the most popular sport in the land, still the sport to push? Or perhaps it already has enough traction it doesn’t need the government’s support anymore. What about women’s football, with the Malditas’ sensational surge in popularity now? Should that include men’s football too? What about volleyball? TV ratings will show that women’s volleyball now has gotten the upperhand over the PBA. Should we then ride this wave of popularity to develop our youth? Which sports will favor the Filipinos’ bantam physique? Should we stick to boxing and weightlifting, 2 of our Olympic medal-collectors? Which other sports should we work on? How about track, table tennis, badminton, chess, etc? These are sports that do not need height and heft. What about the equipment and facilities needed? Which sports have ready facilities and equipment for use? These are just some of the factors that come into play when deciding which particular sports to push for the different municipalities.

Next, we talk of people. We need a structure with sports managers who will be in charge of recruitment, developing programs and timelines, organizing events, developing trainors and staff, finding funding opportunities, forming alliances with other organizations.

Talking of the structure and the participation of the different organizations, here is how I envision things:

  1. Provincial government – provides overall guidance, provides token initial funds, creates the Sports Committee which will handle the different Sports Managers.
  2. Philippine Sports Commission – provides the national sports vision and direction, provides available equipment, and directs National Sports Associations to support.
  3. LGUs – provides the support organization at the district and municipal level, provides officials who will undergo training in sports management, provides participants from the out-of-school youth.
  4. DepEd- gives direction to schools, ensures availability of students for the program, provide scholarships to athletes who have reached the ‘elite’ category, provides teachers who will also undergo sports management and officiating training.
  5. National and local private sector – provides additional funding (ie thru sponsorship, clothing/equipment merchandise, etc). This will form part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects.
  6. AFP – provides the soldier – athletes who will train beginners and nurture the elite athletes, provides additional sports management training to the LGU staff. Why is the AFP’s role crucial? This has always been the missing link – the availability of capable and credible coaches who can lead the training. While the LGU and the schools manage the training program, there are few or no capable trainors among the teachers who can jumpstart the training except present or past athletes. There are plenty of these active or retired athletes available with the AFP. This will form part of their Civil-Military Operations (CMO) effort.
  7. Sports managers – as stated, SMs will ensure the development of their respective sports, including but not limited to recruitment of participants; identification, development and maintenance of sports venues; creation of sports clubs; development of self-funding programs; conduct of clinics and coaching camps; creating the timelines for trainors, etc.

At the outset, the development of sports must not be treated as a revenue source. It will obviously entail some costs at first. It must first be allowed to develop from infancy, so that it becomes competitive and raises interest not just locally, but nationally. Outstanding performances and successes will come once the activities and competitions become a regular occurence. This is when sponsorships will trickle in, to include TV rights, etc. If sports managers will be myopic and think of immediate benefits, the sport will stagnate.

The timelines will be important. With limited military trainors, they will have to be rotated among the different towns properly. A 1-month stint per town is barely enough, but should suffice, depending on availability of the trainor-athetes. After the stint, the LGUs must have designated take-over trainors who will continue the drills, the exercises, etc as taught by the military guest-trainors. These soldier-trainors then are transferred to the next town. A sample matrix will be provided at a later time. As the training goes on, mayors and sports officials of the different towns can signify which particular sport they will support for training, depending of course on the interest of the youth, availability of facilities and equipment, availability of trainors, etc.

I dream of a stronger, more resilient, and proud Filipino people. But in order to bring that to fruition, we can make a test case of Bohol. We can make Bohol a sports giant. We can make Bohol a province that will be the model for other rising provinces. For marathons, triathlons, cycling, dragonboating, what-have-you. And in doing so, it can become a viable sports tourism destination. Sports is indeed a great equalizer. We develop our sports, we develop our people. We develop our people, we conquer the world. We don’t have to look far. We have the likes of Manny Pacquiao, Hidilyn Diaz, and our very own Mark Magsayo and Vanessa Sarno to prove that.

We can do it. But only if we work together as one. From the words of our PSC Head Butch Ramirez: “We win as one.” 

For a clearer view, just click on the pics. Cover photo courtesy of Manila Bulletin. Other pics courtesy of Pro Sport Development, CNN Philippines,, Tiebreaker Times, Daily Sabah, Eagle News, Business Mirror, Infobae,,, Shining Souls Trust and Active Halton.  


    1. Thank you, my friend! It is heartening to see your work appreciated. The recognition you have demonstrated inspires me to work even harder to be able to provide insights that could be of help to everyone.

      Liked by 1 person

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