by Ronnie Nathanielsz
Internationally acclaimed referee Bruce McTavish may soon fulfill his desire to become a Philippine citizen after the Committee of Justice of the House of Representatives chaired by congressman Neil Tupas overwhelming approved a bill filed by Pampanga congressman and PBA coach Yeng Guiao seeking to naturalize McTavish.
The WBC “Referee of the Year” is a New Zealander married to Carmen Tayag of the illustrious Tayag family of Pampanga and has lived in Angeles City for some 47 years and besides being a renowned boxing official is well known for his civic work.
Guiao, in sponsoring the measure said McTavish “is best recognized for his exemplary contributions in the City of Angeles as manifested in the various projects that no other foreigner or natural-born Filipino has accomplished.”
He cited McTavish as “a sportsman, entrepreneur, civil leader, devout catholic and a philantrophist. As a popular sportsman he popularized international darts in the Philippines and has championed five international tournaments that were held in Angeles City and Manila."
Guiao said that as a civic leader McTavish became the president of the Rotary Club of Mabalacat in 1983 and also became the president of the Rotary Club of Clark Centennial and formed the street children’s foundation.
The congressman noted that above all his exemplary roster of achievements McTavish “is best admired for his philantrophic work advancing attention to the plight of street children and in fact consistently raised funds to support the education and subsistence of 71 school children, providing lodging for 35 of them.”
McTavish also encouraged street children to get involved in sports such as rugby and hosted the first pony league baseball tournament which was participated in by teams from Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Guiao vouched for the fact that McTavish has “embraced Philippine customs, traditions, ideals and has decided to become a Filipino citizen and make the Philippines his permanent home to which he shall forever pledge loyalty and allegiance.”
Congressman Guiao quoted columns of this writer as well as Quinito Henson of the Philippine Star in support of his bill to grant McTavish Philippine citizenship with Henson noting that citizenship is long overdue for McTavish.
We wrote some years ago, “Its not Bruce’s refereeing that has impressed us although he is among the very best. It is his down to earth manner, his inherent goodness. He is someone who cares for the fighters whose bouts he oversees, the men in the fight game and those who tell stories of fighters and although he has received some unfair comments the measure of the man is that he feels the pain but didn’t demonstrate a desire to get even. Therein lies the difference between a man and a gentleman.”