PH team bags bronze at World Memory Championships

By Edward Lao, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

Posted at Dec 18 2012 03:04 PM | Updated as of Dec 19 2012 07:34 PM

LONDON - The Philippine memory team won bronze at the 2012 World Memory Championships (WMC) recently held in London.

The team of six males and five females, ranging from the ages of 11 to 39, finished third overall against 24 other nations including the USA, China, Poland, Norway, Indonesia, Singapore and Australia.

Nearly 80 competitors signed up for the tournament's 21st outing, which ran from December 14-16 at the Lilian Baylis Technology School in Vauxhall.

They faced ten tests focussing on different aspects like names and faces, abstract images, historic dates and numbers.

Among the Philippines' stand-out performers were 24-year-old pair Mark Castañeda, Erwin Balines, and 11-year-old Jamyla Domingo Lambunao.

Balines and Castañeda, both from Manduluyong, Manila, notched ninth and tenth respectively in the final individual rankings for adults.

Castañeda claimed gold in the Spoken Numbers discipline, whilst in the speed cards round, both he and Balines successfully memorized the order of 52 playing cards in under 55 seconds.

Additionally, both have now earned the title of international grandmaster of memory after satisfying three key requirements: one thousand random digit numbers in an hour, the order of 10 decks of cards in an hour and the order of one deck of cards in under two minutes.

Lambunao is the youngest member of the Philippine team. The kid from Marikina scooped seven awards in the children's category, which had four entrants this year.

She won two golds, three silvers and two bronze.

In the hour cards events, where Lambunao bagged one of her gold medals, she memorized seven decks of playing cards (364) in one hour.

It was the third time the Philippines sent a team to compete at the WMC.

Although they were unable to better last year's feat of winning second, team captain Almario Marlon Bernardino Jr. was proud of their achievements considering the tough opposition.

"Very proud ako kase last year sa Guangzhou, China, we finished 2nd place pero mga ibang player na hindi kasali kase medjo magastos, pero this year, nandito lahat ng best," Bernardino Jnr said.

"Naglaro ang USA, last year walang USA, then nag-improve yung Sweden, Germany," he added.

Roberto Racasa founded the team in 2008 and coaches its members.

"[It's a] great sense of pride for the Filipino people because once again we showed the world that Filipinos are at par with the world's best in terms of mind and memory," he said.

"Considering that we belong to a third world country, defeating the G4s, it's really challenging and exciting," said Christopher Carandang, who is two steps away from becoming a fully fledged grandmaster after memorizing 1,000 numbers in an hour.

Anne Bernadette Bonita added: "We feel so great and very happy for the Philippines, for getting the bronze."

The team from Germany, who favorites going into the tournament, finished first whilst Sweden claimed second.

Germany's Johannes Mallow was crowned this year's World Memory Champion.

Seven countries are currently bidding to host next year's WMC.

The Philippines has expressed an interest, but first it needs to conduct its own national memory championships as a requirement.