How to get thoughts onto paper when you have a weeks worth of jumbled memories to sift through, you're tired, back at 'work', and still have a case of Delhi belly that just won't quit - although at least the two hourly toilet sprint is over - that was the first night in Hong Kong on the way home! But I digress, how to write about this, our first foray into a competition that is more than a couple of hours flight or drive away? 

So using my carb overloaded brain - I'll throw the experiences into categories, making them up as I go, and do a bit of analysis - a self debrief each time.
This might prove to be a bit therapeutic in fact, as obviously the results were not what we wanted, and looking back now while the memories are fresh should perhaps help avoid the same pitfalls in the future! So, we'll start with the travel, as you've got to get there eh, so start with the start, and finish at the end. 

ACCOMMODATION CEBU - PART I Well, what to say, not the flashest Motel, and not the flashest suburb.  It was real cowboy territory - a sign at the motel counter, no Dogs or Guns (in that order).  The streets outside, think third world.  We were certainly not in the  tourist brochure areas, more like the Police Ten Seven highlights reel area, it is really hard to describe unless you were there. 

A few highlights of our general area of accommodation to try and paint a picture for you!
* Going into the local supermarket / shopping mall.  Security at the door with metal detectors and side arms.  And they would pat you down on entry, I kid you not.  So instead of saying we're heading down to Countdown to get some milk (or whatever), it was I'm heading down to Patdown.
* The lady lying on her cardboard box breastfeeding her baby.  That was where she lived.
* The kids sleeping on the sides of the streets.  We went into the local McDonalds (Jellybee it was called or something) and bought them some little meals at one stage - it was just too heartbreaking seeing these little kids in such poverty.

* Paul Mountfort's Mum having her ear-rings ripped out of her ears as she walked up the street.  Hubby was ten yards back, so she was an open target for a couple of kids to launch onto her ears.
* Air conditioning unit making you think you were sleeping under the wing of a Boeing 747 on warm up.  Perhaps that would have been quieter on reflection...
* A toilet that blocked, or required at least 8 flushings after even a wee, let along a number two!!
* Beds to a standard that the NZ prison system should aspire too.  They were hard, the pillows thin, it was more like a concentration camp than anything else.
* This part I loved.  The Philippine organisers provided 3 nights accommodation, and the 4th night you had to pay yourself.  Sounds reasonable right?  Well, yes, until you have to stop off at the local organisers gym to pay the extra accommodation money.  Seventy Five US bucks for the night.  Fine you think, no worries.  Until you get to the Motel and check their rates.  We only paid double what we should have!  So the organisers (or rather organiser) successfully pocketed the other half of the money.  How many bodybuilders were at that Motel I don't know, but suffice to say he's have made a buck or two out of that little exercise.
* Guards at the doors to banks.  Two outside, one inside was the usual pattern.  The two outside beside a speech rostrum thing, one with a pump action shotgun and side arm, the other with just a side arm.  We didn't try to make a withdrawal...
* At the Jellybee drive through also armed guards, but this time not good enough to just have the pump action shot gun.  Nope, an M16 and a pistol on each hip.  I don't think there'd be too much trouble after hours there! Hmm, not a lot of talk about accommodation there, but you get an overview of our half star Motel and surrounds! 

ACCOMMODATION CEBU - PART II After two days of the above we'd had enough, and on the Friday morning rehearsal (more on that later) at the something or other Sports Centre in the 'Remuera' area of town (they actually stopped at traffic lights in this part of town), we crossed the road to the Marriott.  The Marriott certainly about a million star place compared to the half star we had been staying at. 

So we booked in for the
Saturday night - we didn't want to get tan all over the place at the Marriott- the Diplomat, it did not matter, would probably be an improvement! Anyway, this place was superb, and if you do ever go to Cebu on a tourist trip, this is the sort of place you'll be staying, and it's attached to a mall too, but not as 'western' as the one mentioned above!  If we had not had the first half of this accommodation experience I am sure we'd be extolling the virtues of a visit to Cebu.  But we did, so we won't be back in a hurry! 

I had been worried pre this competition that maybe we'd bitten off more than we could chew, also adding in North Harbour before the Cebu trip.  And so it proved, for me at least, to be a bridge too far. 

Vanessa though , she looked wicked, came in right, and we were pretty happy with how she looked - there was nothing more or less she could do.  For me at any rate it was not good, with the
body not responding as it usually does this time out.  
Just happened to coincide with the Philippines competition in Cebu - bugger!  It's a law of diminishing returns though, X competitions, in Y amount of time, will give you Z condition for each competition.  The only variable being the Z - how good are you going to look coming into competition?  To start with each 'Z' is usually better than the last, until you push the body too far and then the diminishing returns kick in!

Unfortunate the X ended up too high, and the Y too short, meaning the Z, when in Cebu was nowhere near the norm.  Flat was the word, and when you come off stage and your wife asks, "what's wrong, you looked terrible up there", you know something is not right!!  I think the travel, too many competitions, and the body finally saying, nope, you're not going to do that to me again buddy-boy, I know you're tricks now, and you're not going to get me lean and mean this time. 

Right, as the format of this competition was weird, I''ll add a few more headings, and explain the format (which we learned as we went, had no idea what was happening until the end of the first day). 

So it was a two show format, like the standard NABBA show, but instead of morning and evening, it was Thursday and Friday.  There the similarity ends.  Thursday judging was for to select the top 6 in each division.  But you didn't know WHO was the top 6 until you turned up the next day at the show and your section was called out on stage, all 10 or 15 or however many, and then you did a bit of posing, and then they'd call out the top 6, everyone else, thanks for coming, and tanning up, and waiting for five hours, but you can go home now...  You then did your routine, a two hour posedown (or so it seemed, certainly a lot longer than the 30 seconds that we do in NZ), and they name the winners - something like that anyway.  I am sure they were making it up as the went.  On with the show though... 
  Competition day 1 (Thursday pre judging). 
Well, we should have know from here how Mickey Mouse this was going to be.  First the height measure - drawn in vivid marker on the advertising posters on the wall at the venue - it was being measured and drawn while I was being processed.  And then when I stood to be measured, they'd only gone up to 5' 9", so my towering 5' 10 and a half was too much.  

They asked what my height was, so I said 5' 11" and then went over to the scales.  It got even better here, the scales were the old school type you see at boxing matches in the movies  But wait, there's more - there was no official for me to weigh in, so I did it myself with the help of  a competitor, and then went and told the officials what my weight was. 

Not that I think it would have mattered, I could have said 105kgs for all they know or care.  So the weigh in was a farce to say the least, and also it means that I could have started carbing up a bit further out, it may have helped me, who knows, but we should have know from here on in that this whole competition was going to be 'interesting' to say the least. 

The figure girls, well, even better, they didn't have a weigh in at all.  So Ness making sure that she is going to come in at the right weight was little more than a joke.   

So the weigh in was a waste of time for all concerned, and it was all downhill from there.  They had a running order on the wall, and of course you think that the order of the show will follow that, yes?  Nope, not at all.  I did a duple up, entering the Masters Physique too, that class being the one immediately before the Athletic category, so I would be pumped, primed and ready to go my main target, the Athletic.  Well, we're out back preparing Vanessa for her prejudging (as per the back stage marshal, because the time table by now was about as relevant as a 1940s movie guide - in fact, the guide might have been more helpful), and then the Masters is called.  Panic stations, we're on.  Both Mark Dreyer and myself, next to zero prep.  Then the fun began, half the time we couldn't understand the caller, asking for "double lattimus dorsi spread" and all sorts of other slightly bizarre calls, "face the back and side chest".  It became a bit of a lottery and if we were not so carb depleted, it would have been funny! 

THEN Vanessa hit the stage, after about three hours worth of pumping up, she looked pretty good I thought, but then I am biased, and after that, I flat lined again in the Athletic Class!  And thinking back, probably a mistake to do the two classes, as I started to get a few cramps through the Athletic pre judging. 

It was after all 30 something degrees, with humidity at about a million percent!  So that was really dumb idea number one doing the two classes in the insane heat, at the time seemed a good idea for the logic expressed above!  So that was the pre judging, not the most well run event I have been a part of, in fact, probably the dead opposite, it was a shambles from go to woe!   

Competition day 2 (Friday - finals). 
Friday, the debacle continued.  We had to be at the venue at 8:30 for rehearsal.  If any athletes did not show up, they would be disqualified.  It was there in black and white on then schedule sheets, but it mattered little, as you will find out.  Anyway, rehearsal??  WTF? 

As this was a big show for the locals, with government officials coming along and the fledgling industry trying to get
media coverage, they wanted a rehearsal.  And that was all the different classes heading up on stage in order, to music, popping out some poses and then buggering off.  It was a joke, and some of the big steroid boppers (turtle bellies) were not happy to be having to be up and around this early. 

Some turtle bellies didn't show in fact, and at the briefing this fact was bought up and the squeeky little organiser wormed his way out, saying a lot of nothing, including NOT saying that those not there would be disqualified.  And they were true to their word of saying nothing, as the bloke that won the overall title did not turn up at the morning rehearsal, and thus should have been disqualified.  He wasn't, and that about summed up the whole show, Disneyland, with Mickey Mouse running the show.   Night show though, seemed to go forever, so next time someone complains about a NABBA show taking too long, give them a bunch of fives from me, but once a few categories had been done and dusted there was more room out the back and it was not so bad.  And it did run to the timetable they had pinned up out the back, so that was a bonus. 

The show though was at times like being in a live infomercial.  Mickey Mouse (the organiser) owns, I think, 4 gyms in Cebu, and with the audience being mainly wealthy fat people (Cebu no different than the rest of the world - there are LOTS of overweight unhealthy people there), he grabbed every chance he could to extol the virtues of doing weights and cardio each day, and of course at your local gym, run by him!   


The Kiwi team as a whole did pretty well I thought, for a bunch of amateur hobby bodybuilders, as opposed to the full time, and in some cases, full blown steroid heads we were competing against (and I'm picking that is both male and female).  The Ladies grabbing 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th, with the men grabbing a second, two 4ths and a 5th. 

IT'S A WRAP - 2011 OVER 
So what could have been done differently?  Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but an imperfect 'science' at the same time.  In hindsight perhaps doing the North Harbour NABBA was not a good idea.  But as we did not carb up fully as per a usual competition I don't think it really had much effect in the overall scheme of things.  And the bonus of doing that competition means that next season there is no pressure next season to compete and qualify for the Nationals. 

THANK YOU Thank you NABBA NZ for the selection to go on this trip, while we feel pretty gutted with our results and performance, (feel like we've let the side down), but hell, you don't know until you try do you?  Next time, if there is one, perhaps it'll go better!

Thank you to the Whangamata community for the great support through the 2011 bodybuilding season too.  Generous support during our mega raffles to raise funds to get to Cebu. Thanks of course to our families who keep the home fires burning while we are away competing - that's Mum and Dad, brother Michael, and daughter Renee.Also thanks to our neighbours for feeding the cats and keeping the mail from piling up! 

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