ON the day his appointment as Philippine track and field coach was announced, American trainer James Lafferty ruffled a lot of feathers in this nation where rice is a staple food in most households when he bared his 'no-rice' policy for long-jumper Marestella Torres.
“Rice is not an Olympic food. No rice-eating nation wins Olympic gold medals,” Lafferty, who also happens to be the chief executive officer of British American Tobacco in the Philippines, bluntly said when he bared his dietary plan for the Rio Olympics-bound Filipina long jumper.
Count Rain or Shine's beefy 'Extra Rice Inc.' pair of Beau Belga and JR Quinahan among those who find the track coach's 'no-rice' policy simply hard to digest.
They Said It!
“Ewan ko sa pag-aaral niya ha. Pero parang hindi naman totoo. Kasi bakit sa Instagram (photos) nila (NBA star) LeBron James, nakikita ko minsan kumakain siya ng kanin." Rain or Shine big man JR Quinahan
Quinahan, for one, was quick to dispute Lafferty's claim.
“Ewan ko sa pag-aaral niya ha. Pero parang hindi naman totoo. Kasi bakit sa Instagram (photos) nila (NBA star) LeBron James, nakikita ko minsan kumakain siya ng kanin,” said the surprised Quinahan.
“Kawawa naman yung mga athletes niya kung hindi kakain ng kanin,” added the wide-bodied Cebuano cager. “Saka bakit naniniwala 'yung Kano na 'yun (sa findings niya) eh yung import nga naming si Wayne Chism, kumakain ng kanin eh!
"At kawawa naman ang mga magsasaka natin kung walang tatangkilik sa produkto nila," he added with a chuckle.
Belga also expressed surprise over the theory of Lafferty, who, with a team of experts, has been tasked by the Philippine Track and Field Association (Patafa) to train Torres in the run-up to the Rio Games.
“Hindi ako pabor dun eh, kasi hindi ako sanay. Pero kung 'yun 'yung pananaw niya, wala akong magagawa,” said Belga, a member of the Gilas Pilipinas pool for the Fiba World Cup and the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea. “Pero bahala siya. Kanya-kanya tayo ng nakasanayan eh!”
“Siguro based on experience niya 'yun kaya nasabi niya 'yun, or baka hindi lang talaga siya kumakain ng kanin.”
Like most Filipinos, Belga said rice has been his comfort mood - and he simply can't live without it.
“Kanin ang comfort food ko eh. Parang nanghihina ako pag hindi ako kumain ng kanin. Hindi ako sanay ng wala talaga,” said the well-known PBA bruiser.
Torres told Spin.ph she has never felt better since starting the no-rice diet last March 14.
"Hindi naman mahirap, napapalitan siya (kanin) ng mga vegetables. Mas mabilis ang recovery ko ngayon, compared 'nung puro carbo o kanin ang intake ko," she said. "Na-realize ko, hindi rin pala dapat. Mas malakas ako ngayon saka mas magaan talaga ang katawan ko."
But don't tell that to the 'Extra Rice' pair.
Quinahan claimed to have reduced his rice intake of late to just one-and-a-half cups per meal, but disclosed how he used to gobble up as many as 15 packs of the Cebuano rice delicacy ‘puso’ growing up.
“Oo, nakaka-labing lima ako dati ng puso (ng kanin). Ngayon lima na lang. Mas malakas ako ngayon sa ulam eh,” said Quinahan, who only eats twice daily: lunch and dinner.
“Malaki lang talaga katawan ko. Saka mas malakas ako sa ulam. 'Extra Ulam' nga ako dapat eh,” he said with a laugh.
Belga, meanwhile, bared he used to eat as much as four cups of rice per meal, but has since been limiting himself to just two-and-a-half cups.
But he insisted he can't survive without rice.
“Medyo nagbabawas na rin ako ng kanin. Pero hindi ko naman kaya na wala talaga. Mas manghihina talaga ako,” said the former Philippine Christian University Dolphin.
His only hope, Belga said, is that Rain or Shine won't tinker with the idea of hiring Lafferty as team trainer.
“Hindi. Hindi ko kukunin 'yun. At sana huwag namang maisipang kunin ng Rain or Shine,” said the Gubat, Sorsogon pride before bursting into laughter. "Patay tayo 'dun."