Aiming to build on the success of the Filipino keglers in the last 31st Vietnam Southeast Asian Games, the Philippine Bowling Federation board last Friday night unanimously elected bowling great and ex-PBF secretary general Olivia “Bong” Coo as president of the federation.
Coo, 74, became the first female head of the PBF, which replaced the defunct Philippine Bowling Congress in 2016, during the board meeting held at the Sofitel Hotel that preceded the victory party of the national bowling team organized by the federation.
Also named were Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III as chairman, Atty. Ed Santos, vice president; Gina Avecilla, secretary general; and Lorna Ferlaca, treasurer, with Philippine Olympic Committee deputy secretary general Bones Floro as the POC observer.
The PBF earlier held a general election last April 24, and also elected as board members were national men’s coach Biboy Rivera, bowling legend Rafael “Paeng” Nepomuceno, Salome Lopa, Steve Hontiveros, Dyan Cheng and Jean Marie Farcuri.
Coo takes over the top post held by architect Steve Robles, who was not elected to the PBF board that decides to elect among themselves the new set of officials that will serve a three-year term, based on the PBF’s constitution and by-laws.
The board decided to defer the election of its officers to focus on the national team’s preparation for the 31st Vietnam SEA Games, explained Coo, a three-time world bowling champion, five-time Asian Games gold medalist and inductee into the International Bowling Hall of Fame.
“I believe Bong will do a good job as PBF president because she has the experience and dedication. She has been the secretary general for a couple of years so it is about time that she becomes president. I totally support her,” said Nepomuceno, who will head the national team bowling program.
“I wasn’t able to sleep (after being elected) because of the big task ahead. There are so many things that I want to accomplish in the next three years. We have to sustain our success in the last Vietnam SEA Games,” Coo said.
The Pinoy bowlers were a pleasant surprise in Vietnam SEAG kegfest held in Hanoi, bagging two golds with a sweep of the men’s singles and four-man team events plus a silver medal in the women’s singles courtesy of Alexis Sy.
After more than a decade in the doldrums in the regional meet, Merwin Tan ruled the men’s singles then anchored the squad that also included Christian Dychangco, Ivan Malig, and Patrick Nuqui to the team mint a few days later at underground Royal City Hanoi Mall underground bowling center.
“I told the PBF board that we should all work together because I cannot do it all alone. We have to work as a team,” Coo stressed.
“I want to bring all of the bowling stakeholders together under one roof. Wala nang away-away (No more quarrels and infighting),” added the newly-elected PBF president, who listed 4 “Rs” as her mission during her term: restoration, reconciliation, reunification and reformation.
“Based on our recent success in the Vietnam SEA Games, we aim to restore bowling to its former place of prominence and excellence, reconcile all of our members then unify them to achieve our goals and execute reforms in the PBF to meet the needs of the times,” she explained.
Aiming to strike the iron while its hot, Coo intends to revive the PBF’s grassroots programs to lure more young players to the sport while asking the different member associations for the schedule of their respective tournaments now that bowling competitions are allowed under the prevailing COVID-19 conditions.
For the elite bowlers, she was hoping to raise funds so the PBF can buy more computerized bowling equipment that can help them analyze and break down their games, which is a tool that regional powerhouses such as Singapore and Malaysia regularly use to make their bowlers play better.
“This equipment will help our bowlers plot their performance and hit more accurately and provide a bowling profile for our players. We have only and we need at least five more for our national team,” Coo noted.
She revealed that the PBF was planning to organize the Philippine Bowling Championships in October at the AMF Puyat Bowling Center, the competition venue of the 2019 30th SEA Games kegfest, at the Starmall in Mandaluyong.
Coo said this will serve as a tuneup tournament for the national team that will compete in two major overseas competitions later this year.
With the help and inputs of Nepomuceno, Coo said that they would hold national team tryouts for the World Cup scheduled Nov. 3 to 16 in Queensland, Australia and the Asian Bowling Championships from Nov. 20 to 30 in Hong Kong.
“We need to prepare our national team long and hard for the Asian championships because this will serve as the qualifying tournament for the next International Bowling Federation world championships,” she said.