From pomp to social conscience, the Fila Cup rebranded its polo tournament as the iSportlife Ministry Cup to raise funds to help orphanages.
Maricris “Cris” Albert, president and CEO of iSportlife, the company behind Fila Philippines, explained that Fila pioneered in consumer branding in the Manila Polo Club (MPC) season. Since Fila is an aspirational brand, it would be a good fit to have its presence felt in the game of kings. Since 2005, the Fila Cup has been known for its fashionably dressed guests, theatrical entertainment and sumptuous food.
Last year, the once-glamorous event was toned down and renamed, after the corporate social responsibility arm of iSportlife. Cris’ husband, José Mari “Butch” Albert, chair of iSportlife, is very active in corporate social responsibility projects. The ministry has helped “Yolanda” survivors and committed to supporting orphanages.
The last polo match raised close to P1 million.
A veteran polo player, Butch hosted the MPC’s last game of the season.
“People have known the Fila Cup as having a fashion show, entertainment and overflowing food. Now many are wearing white. The iSportlife Ministry Cup is still classy but held with a higher purpose. People quietly give donations after reading the pamphlets. We take care of the children and go to adoption areas,” said Cris.
The tournament consisted of a round-robin series. Butch led his team—Jun Juban, José Constantino and Anthony Filamor—to victory, scoring 6-4 over the Black Team.
Master of ceremonies Jack Clark teased that the Black Team consisted of men of the right age—Jun Eusebio, Stuart Tomlinson, Fred Borromeo and Tonypet Albano.
The second match was a close fight at 4-3. The Red Team beat the Black Team of Jam Eusebio, Marty Romualdez, Angelo Licaros and Jim Donovan.
The high goal was an exciting game, as the Red Team led by polo patron Iñigo Zobel clobbered the Black Team of Jay de Jesus, Coco Garcia, Santi Juban and Ray del Rosario.
“It was a great game because it was a homegrown Zobel team,” said Jimboy Dulay, a pioneer member of Zobel’s team.“Manot Montilla is in charge of the Zobel crew. Tommy Bitong is Zobel’s apprentice and the man, Iñigo.”
Jack said, “Iñigo has a good understanding of the strategy and the players. He’s a leader out there. Being more experienced, he is respected.”
The emcee also commended the host for his comeback: “Butch took a break. Polo is a dangerous sport. It takes courage to come back and be with younger players. He’s riding and hitting the ball much better. He set the example for his team.”