Before there was an Efren “Bata” Reyes, and after there was an Alex Pagulayan and Ronnie Alcano, there, too, was, a Francisco “Django” Bustamante.
Seven years later, Carlo Biado added his name among the greats of Filipino billiards by crowning himself the 2017 World 9-Ball Champion, beating Thailand-based compatriot Roland Garcia on December 14 2017 at the Al Arabi Sports Club in Doha, Qatar.
The 34-year-old La Union-born Biado of became the fifth Filipino to ever win the title, and the first since Bustamante in 2010, ending up on top of the world following a tough competition that saw e128 players from over 40 countries in quest of the $30,000 top purse.
What was historically significant in Biado’s victory was he fashioned it out in an unprecedented all-Filipino finale
“I’m so proud to be in the company of Bata, Django, Alex and Ronnie who are all my idols, “ Biado told this OUTSIDER in an interview last week while working out at the Gameball inside the Philippine Sports Medicine building in the Rizal Memorial Complex. “This is the best thing that could ever happen to me. I have worked very hard for many years and now my dream of becoming a world champion has finally been realized.”
And like what his predecessors had done, his triumph is hoped to lead the resurgent of the sport that once overtook basketball in popularity. .
Billiards was a sight to behold on a pool table. Filipino cue artists are acknowledged the best in the world. They had the eyesight of a circling eagle and he boldness of boxers. Biado is. Like his countrymen who involved themselves in the sport, there seems no ball he couldn’t pocket. Yet, like his nickname indicates, He’s “cool” on and off the cloth-coated pool table.
Bid might not be as magical as Bata is known worldwide. Nor a power breaker like Django, but his decent demeanor, certainly, augurs well to his new role as the new ambassador for the sport of billiards.
“He’s a true gentleman, desente, ” national coach Boy Luat attested. “At magaling.”
Carlo talks in whisper. He always says the right things. He says things softly as if in confessional booth. Not a hair out of place. Smooth skin. Athletes aren’t supposed to be like this. Why, even the similarly soft-spoken Bata speaks harshly sometimes. Not Carlo. He almost always has good words for the guys he beats. In week or two, he’ll be flying to China to again carry the country’s colors in a tournament there.
“Pupunta ako doon para lumaban muli. Para dalhin ang ating bandera at ang salitang Pilipino,” he vowed. “I will be a very busy world champion carrying our flag showing the entire world what kind of a country the Philippines is and what kind of people we Filipinos are.”
Biado has been playing his favorite sport since he was 14. He learned the rudiment of the sport accompanying his father Celso, who now works as mechanic in Honduras. His father though was, at first, opposed to his playing the game, except as a leisure. And when he sensed the son was falling into it, he tried to stop him.
“Ayaw ng Tatay ko na maglaro ako. Masisira daw ang pagaaral ko. Pero, ewan ko kung may katigasan ang ulo ko or gut. Feeling ko kasi gagaling ako sa bilyar at magagamit ko kong hanap-buhay. I stopped schooling at naglaro na lang ako. Medyo kumikita-kita sa pustahan. Nawili ako. Nakakatulong na sa pamilya at kahit sa ibang tao, “ he related. “So, ang nangyari, laro, praktis … laro, praktis … hanggang sa marami na akong tinatalong may pangalan.”
“Aral at trabaho sa araw at bilyar sa gabi. Yaan naging buhay ko, nakakapagod. So naisip ko bilyar na lang kikita pa. Mas maraming matutulungan. Pamilya at iba pang nangangailangan,” he said
“No regret ako sa desisyon ko. Wala namang dapat pagsisihan. Natutuwa na nga ang Tatay ko sa kinalabasan ng aking desisyon na ituloy ang career ko bilang billiards player. Kung ano ang nawala sa akin sa di ko papapatuloy sa pagaaral, nabawi ko sa pagalalaro, “ he philosophized. “Malinis naman ang trabahong ito, huwag lang sasamahan ng pagluluko. Nakakatulong pa ako maipakilala ang bansang Pilipinas sa mga lugar na pinupunahan ko para maglaro.”
“Hindi nga gaanong kalakihan ang kinikita ko dito kumpara sa, say, boxing, golf, tennis and other pro sports. Pero sapat lang para mamuhay ng marangal. Ang pangarap ko naman simple lang kaya naman simple rin ang ibinibigay sa akin ng Panginoon,” he stressed.
The Qatar victory capped the best year in Biado’s career. He first won the World Games 9-Ball event in Poland in July, his first time to participate in the competition. In the Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, he also secured the gold medals in the single and doubles. He also had a victorious campaign in the Japan Open 0-Ball singles.