Johann Abrina, 28, and Robert Racasa, 34, along with their coach, the chess master Almario Marlon Bernardino Jr., will form the first team to represent the Philippines in memory sports. Abrina and Racasa have been training each other in a sport that has yet to gain government recognition. According to an email interview with Abrina, the Philippine Sports Commission currently does not recognize memory sports but has shown support by giving them travel tax exemptions and other benefits.
In the email interview, Abrina said that he first learned about the sport while searching for materials on memory training on the Internet. In a press conference reported by Inquirer
, Abrina mentioned that he would have aced the nursing board exams had he known these techniques two years ago.
In addition to acing exams, Abrina said that other practical applications of these memory techniques include memorizing phone numbers, PINs, names and faces of people and anything we want to learn. In the interview, Abrina said that memorizing people's names has been the most challenging for him.
When I asked Abrina to describe his technique, he explained "I convert anything that I memorize into a mental picture (through) association and imagination then visualize them in certain locations." But it has not always been this easy. "The first time that I memorized a deck of cards, it took me almost an hour," Abrina added. He then shared that memorizing in front of people is very difficult. When he first did a demo on memorizing cards, he said "parang sasabog puso ko sa kaba
," (I was so nervous I felt like my heart was going to explode) even though there was just one other person in the room.
In order to prepare for the competition, Abrina and Racasa have been undergoing training on the basics of memorization; visualization, imagination and association. They then apply these in practicing for specific events in the competition. The World Memory Championships website
lists out ten events; Abstract Images, Binary Numbers, One Hour Number, Names and Faces, Speed Numbers, Historic and Future Dates, One Hour Cards, Random Words, Spoken Number, and Speed Cards. Abrina told Digital Journal that before going to China in December, he and Racasa will compete in the UK Open International Memory Championships in London on August 26 and 27. Inquirer reports that the two had to complete a battery of tests on the World Memory Championships website to qualify for the UK competition.