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Silence, mourning since fatal crash turn to hope at Chapeco

MAURICIO SAVARESE, AP Sports Writer   CHAPECO, Brazil (AP) — Silence and mourning are slowly being replaced by boisterous fans and hope. As the Chapecoense club rebuilds after the air crash that killed 19 players and nearly all members of the staff and board of directors, so is the town of 200,000. Like many in Brazil, football is the oxygen for everything: gossip, community pride and heated debate. On Saturday, Chapecoense's 20,000-capacity Arena Conda will host the team's first match since the tragedy almost two months ago. Lines outside are filled with fans excited about the club's and the city's restart. Fifty coffins lined the same field in November, where this time Chape's reconstructed team will play Brazilian champion Palmeiras in a friendly match. 'I bet I won't be able to sleep Friday night,' 19-year-old fan Marcelo Ribeiro said as he walked to the stadium. 'Since the accident the city is dead. The festivities were mostly canceled at the end of the year, and all most people are thinking about is the rebirth. I want to see what the rebirth looks like.' At the Hotel Bertaso, where most of Chape's players and coaching staff have traditionally lodged, the first signs of that rebirth are obvious. The second floor, which was home to many of the victims, including coach Caio Junior, is once again full. 'I can't help feeling a lot of hope for the future now,' said receptionist Gelson Mangone, who lost several friends in that crash on an Andean mountain side near Medellin, Colombia, on Nov.28. 'It has been a lot of work to settle all these new signings here, they are also learning their way here,' the receptionist said. 'But it does feel like a brand new start.' New coach Vagner Mancini is one of the hotel's new residents. He said the job makes him 'a better human being, but it's the most challenging to face.' 'We have to build a team, a coaching staff and a club infrastructure in a season in which Chape will be in demand,' Mancini told The Associated Press. 'I understand now that the city was so affected because the club and the city are run like a family,' he added. 'The players we brought are cut from that cloth, but we have to reach a higher level now.' After the crash, Colombian club Atletico Nacional, which was to face Chape in the Copa Sudamericana final in Medellin, awarded the victory to the small Brazilian team. That means that Chape qualified for South America's No. 1 tournament for the first time, the competitive Copa Libertadores. The team will also try to defend its title in the Santa Catarina state championship, try to stay up in Brazil's top-flight competition, and play in a pile of fundraisers, including one against Barcelona. 'We have to assemble a competitive team at the same time we need to hire someone to handle passports, contracts,' Mancini said. 'The club used to handle this well, but like a family run business. Now we are at a different moment.' Chapecoense had almost nothing left after the crash: six players that did not travel on the ill-fated flight, two physiotherapists, one goalkeeping coach, one doctor, one data analyst, one nurse and a few club officials. New chairman and club co-founder Plinio David de Nes Filho, a wealthy local businessman known as Maninho, is leading the charge to bolster club finances. Former players like Nivaldo Constante, who played as a goalkeeper until the tragedy struck, are approaching players that can help. And Chapeco Mayor Luciano Buligon is working as a kind of ambassador for the club and the city. 'Our weekends were about three things: family, church and Chapecoense,' Buligon said. 'It has been hard to get the city back on track because the wounds are still very open. But we are slowly moving on. On Saturday we will start getting a part of our weekends back.' Not everyone is happy. Rosangela Loureiro, widow of crash victim Cleber Santana, said she is upset because his belongings still have not been returned to the family. 'I feel sadness and rage. No one is doing anything to bring their belongings back. I plead with them to soften our pain and make us get the memories that we will hold dear for the rest of our lives,' she said on Instagram last week. Other widows have complained about damages not yet being paid by the club. Chapecoense directors say they are doing the best they can as they try to rebuild. There are even complaints at the joyous Hotel Bertaso. 'These new players love to make a mess in their rooms,' said a cleaner, who declined to offer her name. 'The other ones were older, more mature and the new ones seem to be more infantile. I hope they are up for the task. The city really needs that now.' .....»»

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Neri-Chaves Clan: A Tale of Southern Nobility

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, the crown jewel of Mindanao, is the country’s newest boom town, experiencing an accelerated level of modernization and real estate investments. Infrastructures such as hotels, malls and condominium towers are vigorously constructed one after the other to accommodate the influx of new residents and visitors to the city. Proof that, Cagayan de Oro as it is fondly called, had long since shed its small-town roots, to become the mega melting pot of pioneering entrepreneurs and upwardly mobile young professionals that it is today. Apart from the perks and comforts of living in a highly urbanized city, people who call Cagayan de Oro home also bask in its rich and colorful history that dates back to pre-colonial times. One clan in particular has been a prominent figure in the city’s enduring saga and cultural evolution. The Neri-Chaves family are descendants of a strong-willed Rajah whose resoluteness drove him to seek out dominions beyond his stronghold’s fertile terrains in Lanao province. The Malay prince, whose name was Samporna, or Sanskrit for ‘perfect’, decided to invade Cagayan or Kalambagohan as it was then known. Excerpts from the writings of the Neri-Chaves family historian, Filomeno M. Bautista, recounted how a potential bloody struggle was averted, when the then chief of Kalambagohan, Datu Bagani, sent his beautiful daughter guarded by his bravest warriors to meet Rajah Samporna. She was to initiate the conditional surrender, so that their people would not be enslaved by the invaders. It was told that the Rajah, captivated by Datu Bagani’s daughter, ended up marrying her. The prince also built a fortress around their village in Kalambagohan to protect them from other conquistadores. Rajah Samporna later succeeded the Datu as ruler of Cagayan. He also converted from Islam to Christianity to solidify his devotion to his wife’s religion, and in 1779 was baptized by a Spanish priest with a peculiarly Italian name, Neri. It ushered an era of peace in Mindanao, when Muslims lived harmoniously with Christians. The Neris intermarrying with the Chaveses of Cagayan was perhaps providential as it produced one of the most enduring clans in the country. Today, the Neri-Chaves clan is many thousand strong. Well-known lawyer and congressman Rufus Bautista Rodriguez attributes the successes enjoyed by many family members throughout many generations to the tireless pursuit of life’s true purpose. “We are hardworking people. We are also fortunate to have had many individuals in the family who continue to inspire us, like Vice President Emmanuel Neri Pelaez and Ambassador Felino Neri”, Rodriguez said, adding in jest, “At mga gwapo, gwapa pa!” Most if not all of Cagayan de Oro’s earliest leaders, from Governors to Mayors, were members of the Neri-Chaves family. Some became pioneers in other fields like business, education and the arts, from Chief Justice Marcelo Fernan to musicologist and concert pianist Vilma May Chaves Cataylo. The clan has had three grand reunions, first in 1985, then in 1993, and the most recent one took place in August 2016 where hundreds of family members came together from all over the world to rekindle family ties. Jessica Dingcong, who spearheaded the recent reunion held at the Chaves family-owned Chali Beach and Mallberry Suites in Cagayan de Oro City, wants to inspire the next generation to carry on the legacy of benevolence and integrity of their forebears. “We should be proud that we are very family oriented,’ Dingcong said. In attendance at the grand reunion were the Neri-Cheves clan’s many young professionals and millennials. Sixth generation Neri-Chaves and journalist Alessandra Marie Chaves Jalandoni, who carries her nickname Apples professionally, admits feeling the pressure of belonging to a family of achievers. “We have some pretty big shoes to fill, so we soldier on, and never give up,,” Jalandoni said, adding that, “We have always been taught to do the right thing, and not just what looks good on paper.” Jalandoni’s maternal grandfather Engineer Camilo Vamenta Chaves was a World War II veteran and subsequently Dean at the family-owned Liceo de Cagayan University. Her mother Alma Marie Chaves Jalandoni is a pioneer in garments manufacturing and export in the Philippines. Current Social Security Services Commissioner Pompee La Viña will head the next Neri-Chaves grand reunion in 2018. La Viña is the son of Lourdes Chaves Maestrado La Viña who was the first woman elected to the City Council in Cagayan de Oro. His younger brother is former Ateneo School of Government dean and climate change lead negotiator Tony La Viña. Commissioner La Viña hopes to welcome many more family members to their tight-knit Mindanaon clan. “It roots us in Mindanao, the blood of Mindanao is running through us,” he said. La Viña also ponders on how leadership is ingrained in the members of the clan. After all they are descendants of a warrior prince. But the word is also taking on a new meaning as the Neris and Chaveses usher Mindanao to its most vibrant era. “We will always be leaders, we are simply inclined to lead,” La Viña maintained, “but to lead as serving the people rather than ruling them.” (By J. C. Bautista) &'160; 121&'160;total views, 121&'160;views today.....»»

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