THE 13th The Daily Guardian (TDG) Badminton Cup will be a sight to watch as four champions will test each other’s mettle in men’s open doubles at the CitiSports Badminton Courts on Nov. 10, 2018.
Expect a battle of champions as veteran Negrense shuttlers set their sights on the trophy, which is held by a pair from Iloilo.
Playing for the TDG Cup for the fifth time, Negros smasher Alem Palmares will pair with fellow Negrense Mike Minuluan on Saturday.
Both players are the heroes for the National University (NU) Bulldogs in winning the fifth straight title in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men’s badminton.
Before making a name in the national collegiate games, Palmares of Cadiz City, Negros Occidental is already a mainstay in the annual TDG Badminton Cup where he always dominated the men’s doubles open category.
The 22-year-old colossal shuttler believes that badminton will open more opportunities for him.
Palmares pocketed two championships in open men’s double in 2014-2015 and a third place finish in 2016. Last year, he and Minuluan settled for a second place finish.
The fourth child and only son among five siblings, Palmares’ mother Emmie works as a sales supervisor while his stepfather is a former welder.
“I started playing badminton when I was nine years old as it was introduced to me by my classmate and former teammate/partner, Robert Aloyan. I earned a college scholarship at NU and became the school’s varsity player under the NU Bulldogs team,” Palmares said.
The Negrense athlete continued his badminton career by joining Jaguar Badminton Academy which led him to roughly 40 tournaments locally and internationally and clinching almost 20 gold medals.
Aside from TDG Cup, Palmares also joined the Philippine National Games, University Games, Age group National Tournaments, Open National Tournaments, and Equie Parco Cups.
“This year, I want to regain the title against our rivals from Iloilo. With my new partner, I think, we are ready to bring home the crown,” he added.
Minuluan of Bacolod City, on the other hand, also finished atop in the just-concluded UAAP men’s badminton.
The 24-year-old athlete said playing for the first time in TDG Cup excites him, especially that they are expecting to clash with the defending champions from Iloilo.
“Before tournament, we always prepare hard, then after that, extra multi shuttle like smashing kung baga controlling of shots then strengthening condition of my body para iwas injury. I started playing badminton since elementary until now,” he shared.
But more than achieving his goal, Minuluan plans to take a master’s degree after graduation.
“I’m gonna take the master’s degree while working as a teacher in National University. Then after that, I want to coach for NU, but will still play and join other big tournaments,” Minuluan added.
But it will not be an easy game for the Negros duo as defending champions JC Clarito and John Gregg Paz are also raring retain the tiara.
Clarito, 23, and a native of Leon, Iloilo is also a TDG Cup sentinel. He considers badminton as long and rocky journey, but a game of mind and physicality.
The youngest among the five siblings, Clarito is one of the players in the annual TDG Badminton Cup who pocketed many championship titles in the tournament’s reaches 13 year history.
His journey in badminton started when he was 10 years old and a Grade 4 pupil of Leon Elementary School. His former coach in Leon, Jorex Cajilig, discovered his potentials while playing on the road outside their school.
Coming from the bottom and then given a chance to be a UAAP player was big leap for him and his family. He was also given the privilege to be sponsored by Yonex, the No. 1 clothing line in badminton.
“With all these blessings, I tried my best to excel and to contribute for the team and been awarded as most improved player last 2012 in UAAP,” Clarito said.
2015 was one of the most unforgettable experiences for him after he was chosen by Graham Lim to join the Universiade Tournament held in South Korea. The experience was very surreal for him because he never imagined that he will be part of that big event.
Clarito was also offered by FESSAP organization to volunteer in training and molding young athletes.
“I was sent to Russia by Mr. Lim to take part in the most outstanding conference of FISU volunteers. I owe my life to badminton as it offered me many great opportunities to enhance not just my skills, but also taught me life’s learning,” he added.
Clarito said they are serious in retaining the TDG Cup title but admitted that this year will be tougher since they will face tougher opponents. But he is banking on his partner, John Gregg Paz, in defending their crown.
Paz is also a veteran badminton player in the country.
The 28-year-old smasher first played badminton at the age of 15 years old during their Physical Education (PE) class.
“My PE teacher told me, I had a potential and my skills are trainable. I got motivated and continue playing this craft, especially that my friends and family are always supporting me,” he added.
Aside from pocketing the title in the last year’s TDG Badminton Cup, Paz also won the men’s open doubles in the 2016 Dinagyang Badminton Cup, his first Iloilo tournament.
He also expressed his gratitude to TDG Badminton Cup for the skills development it provided. Now that they are gunning for their back-to-back title, he said he wants to focus and trusts his partner to pull off a back-to-back win.
“Joining this annual TDG Badminton Cup helps me in developing my badminton prowess. But every time I get to play with opponents who have different techniques, I always over think of what game plan we should use to beat them,” he added.
Paz also said that despite the pressure of competing against powerhouse pairs, they want to imbibe the never say die spirit, especially when challenges arise.
“Every time I play, I always make it sure that I’m focused and when crucial games happen, it makes me think not to give up. I am thankful to the TDG Badminton Cup and to my team, Team Prima, for helping me achieve my goals,” he said.