Iriga City poised to become Bicol’s volleyball center next year
ABS-CBN Sports on Jun 24, 2018 03:43 PM
Iriga City Mayor Madelaine Alfelor-Gazmen (third from right), owner-team manager of the Navy-Iriga squad, hopes to sustain sports awareness among her constituents through participation in the Premier Volleyball League. With her in the photo are (L-R) son and Star Music artist Brian Gazmen, Lady Oragon Grazielle Bombita and Ricky Palou, founding president of Sports Vision, organizer of the hugely successful V League series.
Iriga City bids to become a sporting mecca in the Bicol Region with the construction of a 5,000-seat gym in this city 400 kilometers southeast of Manila.
Mayor Madelaine Alfelor-Gazmen, owner-manager of the Navy-Iriga City Lady Oragons, said the gym is under construction and will be finished by December.
“Maybe next year the PVL on Tour could go to Iriga now that we will have the facilities to host some of its games,” she said, referring to the league’s program to bring the league's matches to the provinces, which started last year.
Sports Vision president Ricky Palou said Iriga City’s strong partnership with the PVL organizing outfit continues to serve “…our vision of promoting and upgrading volleyball in the country.”
Among others, the Iriga City gym will provide excellent facilities in volleyball as part of the mayor’s vision to restore Bicol’s lofty position in volleyball.
“It used to be that Bicolanos were highly regarded in the sport and regularly picked for the national teams,” she said.
When the sports arena finally rises six months from now, it will occupy pride of place with Iriga’s new city hall, already transferred to its new home in barangay Sta. Cruz Sur, new library, new public market and new slaughterhouse as part of the more concrete legacy the mayor wants to leave to her constituents.
But it is in sports where the sports-minded chief executive of this multi-awarded city wants to involve her young constituents to develop physical fitness, character and mental toughness, prerequisites, she said, to making the young transform into productive citizens and ideal leaders and followers of the future.
High sports awareness
At no other time has sports awareness in Iriga City been this incredibly high and involving as it is now.
Mayor Madelaine Alfelor-Gazmen fittingly provides the face to this exciting sports phenomenon happening in her city of birth, where generations from her side of the family have served and continue to serve their people through holding public offices.
The well-loved first and only woman mayor of Iriga said she keeps her balance by finding time to indulge her passion in sports. She is into a lot of sports for recreation or for competition. She still plays volleyball, lawn tennis, table tennis and badminton. At one time in elementary and high school she took up softball as a shortstop and even football.
It was her serious intent to lure primarily her youthful constituents into sports that led Mayor Alfelor-Gazmen to form her own club team that proceeded to compete in the 2016 nationally telecast season of the Sports Vision-organized V-League.
After seeing their mayor, her prodigy Grazielle Bombita from Camarines Sur and fellow Bicolanos tangle with the best players in Manila in a big time league on television for the first time ever, parents from even as far as Sorsogon and the Visayas, Mayor Alfelor-Gazmen said, would see her at the city hall or stop her in her tracks to recommend their daughters for training under her volleyball program.
As a result, the city government has tied up with elementary and high schools in Iriga to train kids of all genders not only in volleyball but in basketball, table tennis, lawn tennis and football as well. Scholarships are given to training program participants from San Miguel Elementary School, University of St. Anthony, University of Northeastern Philippines, Ceferino Arroyo High School and Rinconada National Technical and Vocational School.
Daughter of the late Camarines Sur Rep. Ciriaco R. Alfelor, granddaughter of the CamSur Gov. Felix O. Alfelor, and niece of ex-Iriga City Mayor Emmanuel R. Alfelor, Madelaine Alfelor-Gazmen became Iriga’s first woman mayor in 2004. She served for three consecutive terms via the biggest margin of votes in Iriga’s political history.
Younger brother Ronald Felix Y. Alfelor, an electrical engineer by profession, was voted into the same position next before she assumed the office again.
Under her leadership anchored on an advocacy on good governance and responsible citizenship, Iriga City has distinguished itself with several awards from national and international organizations.
Among these are the 2009 Award of Excellence in Good Local Governance given by the DILG; 2010 citation as among the Top 10 performing local governments under the component cities category from the DILG; 2010 citation as a Galing Pook Award finalist; 2010 citation for Best Practices given by the Asia Foundation and British Embassy for the city’s programs on people’s participation, revenue generation and environment protection; 2011 Region’s Best Outstanding Local Government Agency award given by the Civil Service Commission; and the 2011 Outstanding Human Resource Management award.
Mayor Alfelor-Gazmen finished BA Humanities in the University of the Philippines, BS Biology in Far Eastern University, but instead of proceeding to study medicine, she took up law in the University of Santo Tomas, a course she didn’t get to finish because of she said she was ‘sidetracked’ by marriage.
Mayor Alfelor-Gazmen’s children, all Ateneo students – Maria Cenen, 23; Brendan, 20; and Brian, 18 – may not have inherited her one-of-a-kind passion for sports but they support all her sporting decisions and endeavors.
Her only daughter gets to flex some athletic muscles, though, during university intramurals. Eldest son Brendan is team captain of the popular Ateneo Blue Babble Battalion. Brian, the youngest, helps her mom manage and cheer the Navy-Iriga City Lady Oragons in the PVL if he’s not busy with his commitment as a Star Music talent.