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Midlife Halftime: Manolo for GAB Chairman

The Games and Amusements Board (GAB) plays an important role in the conduct of professional sports in the Philippines.

GAB is the body that ensures there is a conducive and healthy environment where professional sports can be played and can further develop in the country. It is only when these requirements are met in the athletic landscape can professional sports truly flourish. This is because all play-for-pay sports should be beyond reproach, its main denomination being its credibility.

The new administration has yet to fill up the position of GAB Chairman. But there is one name that I will go out on a limb and dare say should be considered for the position. He is someone who knows the ins and out of Philippine sports probably as well as anybody.

His name is Chino Trinidad.

There are a number of prerequisite qualifications, in my opinion, that a GAB Chair has to possess, and Chino ticks these boxes by virtue of his lengthy experience and character traits.

The GAB Chair has to have the administrative and managerial savvy to run the organization in a professional manner. Chino fits this bill to a T. His years at the helm of the Philippine Basketball League resulted in a vibrant and dynamic amateur basketball scene that produced quality games and players who went on to have successful careers in the pros. As the PBL Commissioner, he was a stickler for discipline, fair play, and organizational efficiency, qualities that will come in handy if he does become GAB Chair.

Chino has established links with various stakeholders that reach every corner of the country. This network will no doubt be beneficial for the GAB in its mission of enriching all aspects of sports across the archipelago.

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Part of the vision of the GAB is to establish mechanisms that will safeguard both the integrity of professional sports and the welfare of athletes. This means aside from having a well-balanced appreciation of concepts in regulation and supervision and the processes and structures necessary for these to take effect, the person in charge of the GAB must also have the empathy to put himself in the shoes of athletes to fully understand their plight, their conditions, and even their aspirations.

Chino has always had a feisty personality. He is uncompromising and opinionated, qualities that have earned him the admiration of countless sports fans. These same qualities have also earned him the ire of sports officials and personalities that have tasted the brunt of his fearless commentary.

I once told him that he initially rubbed me off the wrong way because of his constant outspoken criticisms of the happenings in and around Philippine sports. He laughed at my revelation and took it in stride. I learned that day that as much as he dishes off, he can also take a punch.

I also realized that Chino has his heart in the right place. He is combative when being combative is what is called for. He gives credit when it is deserved and earned. All these emanate from nothing but a genuine love for Philippine sports and sincere care for athletes.

Chino was at ringside in Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, on November 13, 2009 when Filipino boxer Z Gorres collapsed after defeating Colombian Luis Melendez. Before flying back to Manila, Chino looked out for Gorres and made sure was taken care of. Chino also went out of his way to help Gorres and his wife set up their own small business so that their family could still have the tools to support themselves after the abrupt end of the boxer’s career.

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That is Chino being Chino. It is not uncommon to see him to this day seek out athletes who need attention and get them the resources and support they need. In basketball parlance, Chino is the pass-first point guard whose fulfillment stems from issuing the assist that aids in other players scoring the bucket.

It would be unwise to appoint an outsider to handle a critical position like the GAB Chairmanship. The country needs someone with knowledge and experience. Chino has been serving Philippine sports for three decades. This, of course, does not entitle him to the position of GAB Chair.

But his love for Philippine sports cannot be questioned. His integrity has remained intact, even in the face of the politics that often rears its ugly head in Philippine sports. He is willing to lead and he is able to lead. He is the GAB Chairman that Philippine sports needs.

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