Sport for charity: How this Filipino golf society finds meaningful ways to give back to the community

FIGME, whose mantra is Live, Laugh and Golf, promotes camaraderie, fellowship and sportsmanship through the platform of golf, says its Chairman Ramon Navea

By Leslie Wilson Jr.

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FIGME was dounded by six friends back in 2008. - FB
FIGME was dounded by six friends back in 2008. - FB

Published: Tue 19 Dec 2023, 10:54 PM

Last updated: Wed 20 Dec 2023, 6:08 PM

When six friends from the Philippines got together to establish a golf society in Dubai, they could never have imagined the incredible journey that they about to start.

Sixteen years later FIGME (Filipino Golfers in the Middle East) has established itself as one of the most vibrant and inclusive golfing communities in the GCC, boasting over 220 members, with 100 active golfers based in UAE.

Ramon Navea, FIGME’s dynamic Chairman and one of the six friends who gathered together one evening in 2008, (the others being Chito, Emil, Randy, Giuseppe & Jon {RIP}) opened up about how the ‘boys club’ changed his life and opened doors to so many opportunities.

“The beauty of our golf society is that it is not just composed of Filipinos, we have 19 different nationalities as members,” said Navea. “This is one of the unique features of FIGME. From the onset, we havebeen an organization which promotes camaraderie, fellowship, and sportsmanship.

Ramon Navea. - Supplied photo
Ramon Navea. - Supplied photo

“Yes, at heart we are a golf society, but one that embraces diversity and social responsibilities by giving back to the wider community through our many charitable programs via the platform of golf,” he adds.

“Last year we were able to contribute Peso 100,000 raised through an auction conducted at the Philippine Independence Day tournament at Jumeirah Golf Estates. To the Camillian Sisters Philippines, Antipolo is a charitable institution which takes care of senior citizens who have been orphaned or abandoned.

“Right from the start the core values of our society has been responsiveness, team spirit and best practice all of which are conveyed to every new member upon joining FIGME,” Navea added.

Navea says he and his team, that also comprises Randy Lanza, Joey Halago, Rufino Canlas, Angelo Reston, Kenneth Cornelia, Greg Gonzales and Joseph Mogallos, have always sought to create pathways for talented golfers to grow their game and move on to a higher tier.

FIGME boasts over 220 members. - Supplied photo
FIGME boasts over 220 members. - Supplied photo

“The aim has always been to encourage junior golf and to develop talent through a strong grass-roots program,” said Navea. “Jamie Camero, who won at the UAE World Amateur Junior Championship at Ras Al Khaimah, and Alessa, who has been with FiGME since 2016.

“We would also like to attract more lady players, this is one of our long-term goals. We don’t want to be known as just one of the longest-running golfing societies in the GCC but one that is forever evolving.

“While we encourage our members to support the values of Filipino golfers in the Middle East, something that we are very proud of, we support camaraderie and team spirit.”

Navea says that FIGME also gives a lot of importance and meaning to the prize presentation ceremonies at the many events that they conduct on the calendar each year, as it adds another dimension to what the society aspires to achieve.

“We always try to ensure that everyone who participates does not go home empty-handed,” he said. “While we give away crystal trophies to the winners we also give them a golf bag or a driver. We also have a lucky dip where everyone else stands to win something. We never send them home without winning something. That’s a unique feature of our events,”

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Given the positive and inclusive approach that has driven the Filipino golf society higher and upward for the past 16 years, it is not surprising that the mantra by which they abide is Live, Laugh and Golf.


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