Pacquiao, Pimentel banner chess fundraiser

MANILA, Philippines – Whenever their loaded schedules permit, Senators Manny Pacquiao and Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel usually play chess to relax and relieve stress. What more if the games would be for a fundraiser.

Pacquiao and Pimentel are expected to banner participants in the first Helping Hand Executive Online Chess Challenge on May 5-7 via Lichess.

Dubbed "Luzon-NCR vs VisMin Executive Challenge,” the event is organized by the Philippine Executive Chess Association (PECA) for the benefit of needy woodpushers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pacquiao, who sponsored the 2013 Asian Continental Men’s Championship in Manila, will head Visayas-Mindanao, while Pimentel will lead Luzon-NCR in the 30-board dual match pitting the country's top chess-playing executives.

The eight-division boxing world champion’s passion for chess is so strong he plays it during breaks of his training for a fight and even during flights to the United States and back to the Philippines.

During Senate breaks, Pacquiao also plays with select groups, including titled players at home.

Pimentel, on the other hand, was a former chess player of both Ateneo de Manila University and University of the Philippines.

After a Senate session in 2016, they played a friendly game which ended in a draw.

PECA president Dr Fred Paez, who will play for Luzon-NCR, and Lito Dormitorio, who will play for VisMin, said the highest-rated players from each team will battle each other from boards 1 to 30 twice with white and black pieces.

Each participant will pay P1,000 as contribution to the fund drive targeted to generate at least P200,000.

The team with the highest cumulative score will be declared champion.

"But everybody is a winner here because we get to play chess while raising funds for our fellow players affected by the outbreak of this coronavirus," said Paez.

"We are hopeful that with the help of friends, we can raise P200,000 for distribution nationwide. PECA will take charge of the technical aspect of the match as well as distribution of aid," said Dormitorio. "One consul for Hong Kong is also playing and donated P5,000 to the cause."

Among the notable entries are:

Luzon-NCR: Dr Jenny Mayor, Atty Jose and Cris Aspiras, Atty Paul Elauria, Atty Rodrigo Aquino, Atty Berlin Berba, Vice Mayor Ramon Espela, Richard Villaseran, Emmanuel Asi, Joselito Cada, Capt. Doroteo Whigan and Fr Emil Valeza.

VisMin: James Infiesto, Atty Cliburn Anthony Orbe, Atty Leo Ausan, Atty Jong Guevarra, Atty Jason Bandal, Dr Leo Lofranco, NM Jonathan Tan, NM Rogelio Enriquez, Fr Vic Arellano, Professor Rey Reyes, Kevin Mirano and Rocky Pabalan.

For inquiries, call or text Dr Paez at 0921-2728172; Dormitorio at 0935-5149805; and Wilfredo Neri at 0998-5346842. – Rappler.com