Category Archives: mall of asia arena

The return to watching them Tigers roar live.

Last Saturday, on a rainy day across entire metropolis with Typhoon Lando bound to hit Luzon bringing heavy rains and gusty winds over the horizon. It was an opportunity for me to do something I haven’t done in the last three years. Watch my beloved UST Growling Tigers live in action. 

 
The last time I watched the game, I witnessed my beloved Alma Mater lose in a two game sweep in their best of three finals series. As the victor celebrated a fifth straight championship. Since then, I was limited to watching the games on the television. Along that period, I’ve seen them come back for another crack on the title. But falling short in a epic three game series that featured a brother vs brother match-up. Then the following season, they fell down from heaven to a tough season which saw them miss the train to the Final Four.
 
Now, on that stormy Saturday afternoon in Pasay, I was back in the venue rooting for my Alma Mater. It was my first UST game since I became an alumnus of the university, and the first game I watched where their opponent is not named Ateneo nor La Salle.
 
The weather never bothered me to get to the game. The only thing I had to deal with along the way was my wet shoe as I went with me trip from home to the Mall of Asia Arena.
 
But before I get to see the Tigers play once again, there was the game between Ateneo and Adamson. The Soaring Falcons fought hard in that game, but the Blue Eagles found the breaks in the end game to seal the victory.
 
Then came the moment of truth, it’s game time for the Growling Tigers of España. They faced the National University Bulldogs. The lone team that they lost to in the first round of the tournament. Where they lost by a solitary point. It was their chance to get back from the defeat and pick up another victory. 
 
Of course with every UST game, the men on the floor are fueled by a boisterous crowd clad in yellow. Supporting the squad with all their heart and soul. From the place going crazy every time they score a basket to the Go USTe! chant which never fails to fuel up the crowd. The crowd makes every single game special.
 
As the ball game played along, it was a defensive oriented game with both teams picking it up on the defensive end. The Tigers had full control for most of the first three quarters and were poised to get the victory heading into the fourth quarter. But the resilient Bulldogs had an answer and they managed to complete a comeback to take the lead. But the Tigers had the counter response late in the ball game. As they came up with a 65-57 victory, and became the only team so far this season to beat the other 7 teams that make up the league. UST’s balanced scoring made the difference in this game. The bench players came through all game long, while the leading men had the final blow to seal the victory.
 
Photo ©Karl Carandang
 
For me, it was a great feeling to see the Tigers win the game as I watched it live. To tag along with the Go USTe! chants. Singing the UST Hymn once again in victory. Getting to see some of my friends along the way. Some of which I haven’t seen for quite awhile now. It was also the second victory for UST whenever I get to watch the game live at the arena. Which brings my record when watching it live at 2-3 (all three losses came at the hands of Ateneo).
 
The Tigers have been impressive this season. They overachieved and went beyond expectations where pundits in the preseason saw them miss the Final Four train once again. Although as I am writing this, they lost to the Blue Eagles to bring their record to 8-2 on the season. They have still done a great job of getting to this point in the season. We have two legitimate candidates for MVP in Kevin Ferrer and Ed Daquioag. Karim Abdul, though not yet in peak condition is getting there. Then the bench has been coming along well with guys like Marvin Lee, Mario Bonleon, Louie Vigil, Jamil Sheriff, Kent Lao, among others. Of course, gotta give a ton of credit to head coach Bong Dela Cruz. Last season, he had the task of succeeding the fiery Pido Jarencio and fell short on the goal. Now, that he got his second take on calling the shots, he’s responded well. If this great season of UST basketball continues, this could be the year we could see the title return to España after a nine year wait.
 
Returning to see the Tigers roar in UAAP basketball will always be a special moment. And if it permits (especially resource-wise), this will not be the last time this season I will get to see the Tigers roar in action live at the arena.
 
#GoUSTe! Viva Santo Tomas!
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Lolo Kiko, Thank You for the inspiration. You’re the real MVP. "Most Valuable Pope"

2015 has just begun. And for the last five days, the Filipino nation has been blessed with the visit of the Bishop of Rome himself, Pope Francis. With his departure back to Rome today, he will leave behind memorable moments and quotes that inspired a nation with one of the largest Catholic populations in the world. But it is not just Catholics who got inspired, even other forms of Christianity and non-Catholics living in our nation were in awe of his presence.


I lived through three Popes in my lifetime. I was just 8 months old when then Pope now Saint John Paul II visited the Philippines for the second time (first time was in 1981, a good 13 years before I was born in this world) as part of the World Youth Day festivities in Manila. When I was about to turn 11, he passed away and was succeeded by now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. 8 years later, he stepped down and passed on the reigns to Pope Francis

From the time he became the Pope he has gone away from tradition at the same time transcended borders that we people made for ourselves. He loved the children wherever he goes. He reached out to people in sickness. He helped resolved conflicts around the world. He has his words on current issues that every one of us face on a daily basis from poverty to corruption, from LGBT issues to scandals that have rocked the Catholic church over the past couple of years, from technology to climate change. He touched not only Catholics, but also non-Catholics, agnostics and atheists. Even though it’s only been less than two years into his tenure as the leader of the Catholic Church. He has indeed changed a lot of people’s lives, and continues to do so every single day.

When it was announced months ago that he was coming to the Philippines as a part of his trip in Asia, I could not help myself not to miss this opportunity. After all, you don’t often see these events come in your lifetime. I admit, I was not that much serious about planning what to do in that event. I didn’t have much for my own to make a better plan.

Then came his arrival on a cool Thursday night in Manila, as the SriLankan Airlines jet that took Pope Francis and his entourage from Colombo to our nation. Filipinos knew that something special is about to happen over the next five days. And true enough, everything took off from the time he stepped out on the plane and do his work on our home soil. I wanted to be there at his arrival, to do two things in one. One is to continue my hobby of plane spotting with my good friend as the jet that took the Pope was an airline that doesn’t have flights in and out of the country, and seeing the Pope live and in living color. Unfortunately, prior commitments prevented me to do so.

I knew I could not go into every event during his visit to our nation. I live far from his motorcade routes and the places he’s going around Manila. It would be a shame on my end if I did not go to at least one event to see him live in person. I really wanted to live the moment and share my stories for the next generation when the time comes.

So on a cool and rainy Sunday morning, together with my mother we went to one of the events of the Papal Visit, which was held in my Alma Mater of the University of Santo Tomas, which bears significance as it was given the titles “Pontifical” and “The Catholic University of the Philippines”. From a drop-off point, we walked around two kilometers to the university. At first, we’d just settle outside of the university and on to the motorcade route to see the Pope. However, due to my insistence we tried our luck getting inside the university to bear witness to the event.

They closed the gates 30 minutes earlier than expected since people were pushing to get in before the gate closes for good. Fortunately for me and my mother, around 15 minutes after the gates we’re supposedly be closed for good until the event ends. Out of my huge fighting spirit to get inside, contrary to a warning from one of my uncles living around the area of not taking a chance of getting inside. We managed to get inside the campus grounds. 

For two hours, we waited for his arrival on campus, I was able to catch up with my once history prof who got in earlier, as well as one of my college batch mates who joined me and my mother at a chance to get in. Then he arrived, he passed by the Arch of the Centuries which has been as old as the university itself, and the very place where as freshmen we are ushered in and as graduating students go out and into what lies in life after college.

Like the millions of people who attended the events of the Papal Visit, I tried my very best to get closer to the Pope. It is no surprise that in our generation, tablets, smartphones and cameras were rampant everywhere during the course of the Papal Visit in Manila. I admit, I had my smartphone ready trying to get a close shot of him for it will be a good memento for not only myself but for my entire family. Unfortunately, that was not to be as I the closest as I was to him was a good 20-30 meters away. I was unable to take a good close shot of the Pope for my own. However, despite the setback, I was able to see him with my very own eyes live and in living color. That was all good and fulfilling for me, as well as for my mother.

Throughout the event, we listened through the select youth that were given a chance to speak to the Pope as well as his message for the youth which was delivered in his native Spanish as it was an impromptu message, far from the original message that was written in English.

Here a few quotes from the event that have left a mark for myself. I’m sure, I’m not alone with these inspirational quotes.

“What you think, you must feel and put into effect. Your information comes down to your heart and you put it into practice. Harmoniously. What you think, you feel and you do. Feel what you think and feel what you do. Do what you think and what you feel. The three languages…Can you repeat this? To think. To feel. To do. And all in harmony…”

So when the next pope comes to Manila, please let there be more girls.” 

“This is the first thing I want to say: let us learn how to weep as she has shown us today and let us not forget this lesson. The great question of why so many children suffer, she did this in tears. The response that we can make today is: let us really learn how to weep.”

“Today, with so many means of communications, we are overloaded with information. Is that bad? Not necessarily. It is good and it can help. But there is a real danger of living in a way of accumulating information… We run the risk of becoming museums of young people that have everything but without knowing what to do with them. We don’t need youth museums but we do need holy young people.”

After the event, me and my mother went home and witnessed the papal mass in Luneta with the rest of my family on television. I thanked her for accompanying me to the event in UST, if it wasn’t for her, I would have missed the opportunity to see the Pope in person. For majority of the events of the Papal Visit, I had to settle on watching the television for it. Even so, each event left an impact on myself. From his arrival until his departure back to the Vatican. From his visit to Malacanang to the mass at Manila Cathedral. From the meeting of families at the Mall of Asia Arena to the meeting with the youth in UST. From the emotional mass on a stormy and tragedy-hit Leyte to the rainy Papal Mass in Luneta in which more than 6 million people bear witness to. From wearing a transparent rain jacket in

Here are a few quotes that have left a mark from the other events of the papal visit.

“So many of you have lost everything. I don’t know what to say to you. But the Lord does know what to say to you. Some of you have lost part of your families. All I can do is keep silent…But please know, Jesus never lets you down. Please know that the love and tenderness of Mother Mary never lets you down.” – at the Papal Mass in Tacloban Airport, Leyte 


“We forget to remain, at heart, children of God. That is sin: to forget at heart that we are children of God. For children, as the Lord tells us, have their own wisdom, which is not the wisdom of the world. That is why the message of the Santo Niño is so important. He speaks powerfully to all of us. He reminds us of our deepest identity, of what we are called to be as God’s family.” – at the Papal Mass in the Luneta Grounds

“To dream how will your daughter or son be. It is not possible to have a family without such dreams… When you lose this capacity to dream, then you lose the capacity to love and this energy to love is lost.” – at the Meeting with Families in Mall of Asia Arena, Pasay City

The Papal Visit to the Philippines renewed the hope and faith of the Filipino nation to live a life that is full of love and prayer. Pope Francis as he has said many times before asked for prayers for him. Let us never forget the lessons of this visit.

Sure, there have been unpleasant experiences and reactions during the course of his visit. Yet, the radiant optimism that this event brought on will forever be on the lives of the people who bear witness to these five days in our nation.

These fateful five days will live on for the rest of my lifetime. I will tell stories of these days for generations to come. This experience will also be an inspiration for myself in my future endeavors in life. We won’t know if he’ll be able to come visit our nation again, but as he said.

 “Let us allow ourselves to be surprised by God… …God reveals himself through surprises.”

I am forever thankful and grateful for this once in a lifetime experience. 

Salamat
Thank You 
Gracias
Grazie

Lolo Kiko
Pope Francis
Papa Francisco
Papa Francesco

Your radiant smile will forever live on with us all. You truly are the real MVP! Our “Most Valuable Pope

A dream is finally realized. The NBA Global Games/Red Nation experience.

I’ve been a member of Red Nation for 11 years now and I have embraced everything about the Houston Rockets ever since. Then one day in February of this year, the dream got closer as the NBA announced that the team alongside the Indiana Pacers will play the very first NBA preseason game in the Philippines. I made my move, saving up and working to get money for the ticket. Then a couple of months later, I went in and purchased my ticket on the very first day it came out to the public. I also got freebies that came along with the ticket and loaded myself with Rockets gear for the big game since it was a perfect time to buy since their gear are plentiful in anticipation of the game.

Finally, on one rainy Thursday afternoon, the dream was realized as the NBA Global Games Philippines 2013 finally came along at the Mall of Asia Arena to grace one of the most passionate countries in the world when it comes to basketball.

I arrived at the arena as soon as gates opened just after 4pm. Then, once inside, I finally got to roam around the arena for the first time in the three times I’ve been at a venue to witness a basketball game. I was with my then schoolmate, once my brother’s classmate and Red Nation buddy Ronny who I haven’t seen in 8 years when were just young kids at school. Then we loaded up with gear to buy, before going to our seats and wait for the game to start.

90 minutes until tipoff
Photo ©Karl Carandang


Some of the players were already practicing once we got in and the arena was loaded with white shirts containing “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” since the Department of Tourism stepped in in and supported the event. Along the way I saw some players from the UAAP near the spot where I was sitting. Then moments before tip-off, the Rockets Launch Crew alongside Clutch the Rockets Bear and Boomer came in for their performances. So yeah, I got to see some great mascots around especially Clutch who is one of the best mascots around the world. Then with less than 20 minutes until tip-off, both teams came out of the tunnel for their pregame warmups.

Rockets Launch Crew

 

Clutch and Boomer
 
 Rockets and Pacers go with their pregame warmups
Photos ©Karl Carandang


As the buzzer sounded, the teams lined up and the starting lineups were introduced as both the Rockets and Pacers played pregame videos alongside the introduction of the starting lineups. After the introductions, the Commissioner himself David Stern was also in Manila to grace the event and gave his gratitude to the crowd in attendance. Then after a few moments, we have tipoff!

Rockets pregame video

 

Pacers pregame video
(I loved the fact they added a local flare in their message for the crowd at hand.)

 

NBA Commissioner David Stern addresses the crowd at the arena
 
We have tipoff from Manila!
Photos ©Karl Carandang
 
As for the game itself, well it was pretty much a one-sided affair as the Rockets never trailed in the game despite comeback bids by the Pacers all game long, as they come up with the win by 20 points 116-96.
 
James Harden led the Rockets with 21 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals on 6-12 FG shooting. Isareli swingman Omri Casspi added 17 points and 10 rebounds. Lithuanian big man Donatas Motiejunas chipped in 16 points. Chandler Parsons had 15 points, while Jeremy Lin added 14 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. Patrick Beverley added 12 points and Dwight Howard only scored 9 points. 
 
Paul George led the Pacers with 17 points, while David West added 14. Orlando Johnson scored 11. While George Hill and Luis Scola added 10 each. Danny Granger only scored 9 points alongside CJ Watson while big man Roy Hibbert was only limited to 6 points.
 
The final score. Rockets 116-96 Pacers
Photo ©Karl Carandang
 
Box scores:
Houston Rockets (116) – Harden 21, Casspi 17, Motiejunas 16, Parsons 15, Lin 14, Beverley 12, Howard 9, Brooks 5, Jones 5, Brewer 2, Canaan 0, Covington 0
 
Indiana Pacers (96) – George 17, West 14, Johnson 11, G. Hill 10, Scola 10, Granger 9, Watson 9, Hibbert 6, Stephenson 4, Armstrong 4, Copeland 2, S. Hill 0, Sloan 0, Butler 0, Mahinmi 0
 
Every timeout, there were performances by Clutch, Boomer, the Rockets Launch Crew and the Pacemates. As well as the fact they were handing out free t-shirts even Clutch gave his Clutch dolls amongst the crowd. There were also fan contests throughout. In addition, they honored NBA legends Clyde Drexler, Robert Horry, Ron Harper and Jalen Rose who graced the country for the series of events that transpired over the past couple of days. As the final buzzer sounded, the players came out to hand in some freebies to the crowd in attendance.
 
The Indiana Pacemates doing a dance for the crowd.
 
NBA legends Clyde Drexler, Robert Horry, Ron Harper and Jalen Rose.
 
Clutch and Boomer up with their crazy antics during the timeout.
 
Rockets Launch Crew wowing the crowd.
 
Air Clutch and Air Boomer with the Rockets Launch Crew and the Pacemates.
Photos ©Karl Carandang
 
The game also gave me an opportunity to see the players and legends I only see on television live in person. At the same time see both teams play their brand of basketball right before my eyes. From the Rockets players like James Harden, Jeremy Lin, Dwight Howard and Chandler Parsons to the Pacers players like Paul George, Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert, George Hill and Luis Scola. At the same time, seeing coaches Kevin McHale and Frank Vogel. Even Rockets GM Daryl Morey and Pacers President Larry Bird.
 
James Harden at the line
 
Dwight Howard taking free throws
 
Jeremy Lin at the line
Photos ©Karl Carandang
 
As for the crowd atmosphere, well it’s a different sight. As for most of the game. Filipino basketball fans were not as rabid and wild as if it were a college basketball or PBA game. The crowd was very attentive to every play, every basket, every block, every three pointer that came along during the course of the game. You can even hear the coaches give instructions on their players. I even saw fans of the Pacers who came all the way from Indiana to see their team play here. There was one guy who came to the game with the sign “I Love the Pacers” and at the back “Mahal ko ang Pacers”. An irony about the fan reaction during the the game, there were cheers when Jeremy Lin gets a basket or touches the ball and he was given a nice ovation when his night on the floor was done. While Dwight Howard got jeers whenever he has the ball or takes free throws, when he got his fifth foul, the crowd just went crazy. The Mall of Asia Arena also wasn’t filled to capacity as only around 15,000 were in attendance to watch the game. One factor could be the ticket prices as well as the bad weather around the area. The fans were wearing either Rockets or Pacers gear as well as NBA gear from other teams.
 
Well, the Global Games/Red Nation experience was all worth it. Not only because the Rockets won the game which I would say was a bonus, but the experience of seeing my favorite players and legends from both teams at the same time the once in a blue moon experience of an authentic NBA game on Philippine soil. Well, I would say it would have been better if a Filipino was on an NBA roster and the fans will come out with their all-out support. Similar to what Yao Ming experienced when the NBA came over to China in 2005 and what will Jeremy Lin experience up in Taiwan as both the Rockets and Pacers made their second stop in their NBA Global Games trip. At the same time, they can improve on ticket prices to make the experience affordable to every Filipino, the next time the league decides to come back and play on Philippine soil once again which I believe will happen sooner than many people expect.

To wrap up this entry I would like to thank the NBA and NBA Philippines for bringing the Global Games here in the Philippines. I hope it’s not the last time they will do this on our shores and I always believe that one day, a Filipino player will shine bright in the league. Someday, I will get to watch the NBA in the United States.

 
From a member of Red Nation in the Philippines,
K-Smoove
 
P.S. Is the NBA Cafe at SM Aura in Fort Bonifacio open already?

It’s been a while. A lot has happened since.

As the title of this blog entry states. It has been a long time since I last wrote an entry here, and a lot of things has happened since.

After the victory I had in the middle of July, I went back to work and focus on all the subjects I have right now. The feeling of victory gave me the boost and inspiration I needed as I

July has passed and now we’re in the month of August. Right now, we are smacked in the middle of the Preliminary Examinations. So I have been busy lately studying and preparing for the exams that will come starting tomorrow until Friday (with a break on Wednesday as it is a holiday at the university.) Apparently, we had two examinations that were finished last Friday. We still have 6 exams to finish.

Another thing that kept me busy from writing is the event we are preparing and going to execute soon. I know I played the role of a “leftist” since I showed my doubts and concerns about the concept. But now, I’m all in and ready to make this work. 3T5, we know this won’t be a smooth sail, but let’s enjoy the ride and we can put up a great event.


Also, I went for a new haircut during this stretch. Because I always believe, that it’s a new beginning in a new haircut. Sounds weird, but that’s my belief. I really pushed for a comeback this time and give out a strong commitment on my craft.

Photo ©Karl Carandang

But of course, despite of the busy schedule I had. I found time to do something for myself. As yesterday, I watched the game between UST and DLSU at the new Mall of Asia Arena. It was my second time watching a UAAP game live at the game venue, and my very first time inside the new arena which is similar to arenas that can be found in the United States on NBA games with the marquees on the sides, the state-of-the-art jumbotron on top and the deluxe suites between the lower box and the upper box sections of the arena.

 Photo ©Karl Carandang

The battle between UST and DLSU is very much anticipated as it was the battle of the Teng brothers. Jeric, UST’s 4th year gun-slinging veteran going up against his younger brother, rookie slasher Jeron of DLSU. The game was a treat for the people who watched the game at the arena, both teams battled with true grit and will. It was a up-and-down game with both teams trading baskets and runs. At the end of two quarters, UST was trailing DLSU 29-30.

Photo ©Karl Carandang



At halftime it was a great sight as the UST Yellow Jackets and Salinggawi Dance Troupe together with the DLSU Animo Squad put up a great halftime show as both cheering squads went together and did each others school cheers which showed that despite the intense battle. Both the Thomasian and Lasallian communities can co-exist in the spirit of sports.

Photo ©Karl Carandang
 
It was a tight battle in the 2nd half with UST dominating the 3rd quarter as Clark Bautista came alive nailing three pointers for UST. While DLSU made their comeback in the 4th quarter. And from their on it was a tight battle. After Aljon Mariano tied the game at 71. La Salle’s LA Revilla nailed a floater at the buzzer, and we thought La Salle won the game. But once the replay was shown, the ball was still in his hands when the buzzer sounded. The basket was waived off and the game goes into overtime. The first overtime game of the season.
 
Photo ©Karl Carandang
 
But one overtime did not settle the contest, As the score went dead even at 80 at the end of the first overtime. So the game went into double overtime. La Salle went up by 2 on a L.A. Revilla jumper. But Aljon Mariano responded with 2 baskets, on a drive to tie the game with 51 seconds left in the game and a jumper with 7 seconds to put UST up 84-82. La Salle had their chances to tie/win the game, first was Yutien Andrada who tried to tie the game with a hook but his shot got blocked by Karim Abdul. La Salle had 0.6 seconds on the clock. L.A. Revilla tried to save La Salle with a flinging three point shot, but came up short as UST beats DLSU in double overtime 84-82.
 Photo ©Karl Carandang
 
This is one of the greatest basketball games I have ever witnessed. Both teams played their hearts out. The crowd from both schools were electric and very supportive. But in the end, the UST Growling Tigers survived with a impressive victory. Kudos to the DLSU Green Archers they had a lot of heart in this game. Talk about the ever famous Ateneo-La Salle rivalry. Watching a UST-La Salle game is a great experience to say the least. It makes me wanna watch their meeting in the 2nd round live again.
 
Now I’m 1-1 on the games I watched live at the game venues. The first game was last season when UST lost to Ateneo in a blowout in their 2nd meeting in UAAP Season 74 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
 
Aside from the UAAP action, I’m also pumped up about the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Unfortunately, It’s been a tough ride for our athletes as 8 out of the 11 Filipino athletes at the Olympics have been knocked out of competition. Mark Anthony Barriga our lone boxer at the Olympics and our best chance at winning a medal recently suffered a tough 1 point defeat against Kazakh boxer Birzhan Zhakypov.  
Aside from the Filipino athletes, Olympic basketball has been a great sight as we have an intense competition there. Don’t expect a smooth sail for Team USA on winning the gold medal this year as they have tough international competitors, the most notable nations are Spain, Argentina and Russia who can challenge the Americans for the gold medal. And also, in this Olympics. American swimmer Michael Phelps has won the distinction as the “greatest Olympian of all-time” by winning 22 medals at the Olympics (18 of them are gold medals) *as of August 5, 2012.
Another thing I’m pumped about is Game 7 of the PBA Governors Cup Finals between the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters and the B-Meg Llamados today. Will the dream season of the Elasto Painters come into fruition? or will the drive of the Llamados give them a 2nd trophy for this season? That we will find out today starting at 5pm at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Like I said, this blog entry is going to be long. Because, I won’t be back until the examinations are done at the end of the coming week. Until then, enjoy the ride and I’ll be back soon.
 
Let’s Go and Bring it all on the line.
K-Smoove