I must thank, firstly, Iggy Dee for the info. Yesterday, President Arroyo dropped in at the Duty Free Fiesta Mall in Paranaque to formally open the 1st GMA Cup Open and Chess Challenge.
The president and top seed of the tournament, American GM Alexander Onishuk, executed the ceremonial moves at 10AM local time.
Via the press release, NCFP boss Congressman Prospero "Butch" Pichay was quoted as saying, "It’s all systems go. The players , both local and foreign, are all ready to make the first move in this biggest international chess tournament to be held in the country in recent years."
And an update on the list of foreign combatants: Zhang Pengxiang (2636), Ni Hua (2621) and Zhang Zhong (2609), all of of China; GM Varushan Akobian (2598) of the United States; GM Vladimir Belov (2589) of Russia; GM Utut Adianto (2589) of Indonesia, GM Viktor Mikhalevski (2580) of Israel; GM Edhi Handoko (2441) of Indonesia; and IMs Tahir Vakhidov (2522) of Uzbekistan, Wang Rui (2463), Zhou Weigi (2435) and Wang Li (2226), all of China.
Locals will include GM Eugene Torre, of course, and grandmasters Mark Paragua, Rogelio Antonio Jr., Nelson Mariano II and Buenaventura “Bong” Villamayor. Recently returned from their European stint - Wesley So, Darwin Laylo and Oliver Dimakiling will also play.
One item we must mention is that the prize fund, contrary to the NCFP info page, is actually as much as US$30,000. Six thousand US dollars will go to the overall winner, $4000 to second placer and $3000 to third.