Mikee Romero – the man intent on putting Philippines polo on the international polo circuit
By Victoria Elsbury-Legg
As Sir Winston Churchill so famously said ‘A polo handicap is a passport to the world’, with polo now being played in so many parts of the globe, it would truly seem if you have a number from -1 to 10 after your name there are now a multitude of pitches worldwide, with some of the most spectacular of backdrops, just waiting for you to swing your stick across.
One of the top businessmen in the Philippine’s with a passion for polo has been set on ensuring that his country is very much a part of this international polo scene. Michael L. Romero, known as Mikee Romero to most people, not only heads up many business ventures in his country (including being Vice Chairman of AirAsia Philippines), he also owns two baseball teams – Manila Sharks and Globalport Batang Pier (which is part of the Philippine Basketball Association – PBA). Alongside this he captain’s his own polo team Globalport, is patron of Polo in Manila and is also the brainchild behind the Philippine Polo Open which he chairs at the Manila Polo Club.
First played in 2014, the tournament which features six teams has grown rapidly in a short period, becoming one of the top polo events in Asia – included in the team line-ups this year was English Pro Max Charlton who flew out to play in Los Tamaraos – who were the winners of the 2015 Philippine Polo Open. Last year the tournament included Globalport (Philippines), Tang Polo (China), King Power (Thailand), Royal Ahmibah (Brunei), Ayala/San Miguel (Philippines) and ADEC (USA). This year the six international teams competing in the 12 goal tournament, which was held from 3rd– 8th March, were: Globalport (Philippines) – Mikee Romero, Adrian Garcia, Santi Lujan and Mariano Obregon, Ayala/San Miguel (Philippines), Inigo Zobel, Gregorio Gelosi, Alfonso Aranteta and Guillermo Cavanagh, Tang Polo (China) – Shilai Liu, Nan Liu, Miguel Diaz and Benjamin Urquiza, King Power (Thailand) – Tal Srivaddhanaprabha, Santi Galland, Lucas Lujan and Antonino Menard), Polo Escape (Thailand) – Robin Lourvanu, Miguel Ayala, Gundon Webster and Eduardo Venturino and Los Tamaraos (Australia/UK) – Cole Aguirre, Gus Aguirre, Max Charlton and Ignacio Ithurburu. The Final was held at the Manila Polo Club, with a gala show raising funds for the charity for the families of the Fallen 44 heroes, taking place alongside the 12 goal polo Final. League matches were played on several different pitches including Globalport Polo Field in Calatagan, Batangas, Hacienda Bigaa Polo Field in Batangas, and the BF Polo Field in Paranaque.
With polo having been played in the Philippines since the early 1900’s in colonial American times, the country is the first in South East Asia to have taken up the sport. With Mikee Romero’s passion and determination behind it, there seems little doubt that polo in the Philippines can but go from strength to strength.
The Belo/Globalport Cup (12 goal Exhibition match) will be played on March 29th 2015 between Globalport and King Power.