Category Archives: philippines

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. 

Thank You 

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

13,705 km. Red Nation versus the world.

Today is the right time to put the inspiration onto clockwork and lay it all down. I am going to break the wall on this one.

So first of all, what’s with the 13,705 kilometers? Well, it is the distance from my hometown of Quezon City, Philippines to Houston, Texas. Houston is home to my favorite NBA team for a long time in the Houston Rockets. For all the years I have been a member of Red Nation (for starters it is how Rockets fans are called collectively), I have seen the ups and downs of the franchise. In some times, great moments and sweet victories. Most of the times bitter heartbreaks and tough defeats. Yet despite all of that, even though I am far from Houston, I passionately support this team wherever I go in my life.
In a country where the game of basketball is a way of life for many of its citizens, it is no surprise that the NBA has a very huge following here in my home country. However, the Rockets does not have a huge following among Filipino NBA fans. I remember vividly last year, when the announcement came the NBA will be playing a preseason game and the teams playing in it were announced (Rockets and the Indiana Pacers), most Filipino NBA fans wanted another set of teams instead, teams with a huge following. China, who has been hosting NBA preseason games for years since Rockets legend Yao Ming entered the league has been getting the teams with huge fan followings.
It is no surprise though, that people root for teams that have either a decorated franchise history or a transcending player/group of players who is/are making a huge difference not only for their team but for the league as well
Over 30 NBA games are shown on a weekly basis with the different networks that carry NBA programming. Some of the Red Nation family (especially those from the US) were surprised when I told them about it. The Rockets get a good share of games shown on TV here (Unfortunately for me, I can’t watch them all since I’m missing a network that carries the a good chunk of Rockets games. Still, I get to see on TV at least 50% of the Rockets games in the regular season and most of their playoff games). We also got the NBA Café Manila and recently the NBA Store opened their largest branch outside of the United States (It was always a struggle for me to find Rockets gear since most sports stores sell gear from teams with huge followings in the country, now it will be easy for me to find and avail them). In addition, NBA League Pass was made easily available in the country through mobile phone carrier Globe Telecom with their offering to Postpaid and Prepaid subscribers to make it available.
I was at the preseason game when it happened last October 10, 2013 as it was a chance to see my team live and in living color. I remember vividlyDwight Howard got the hostile treatment from the fans in attendance since his former team the LA Lakers have a huge following here. While ex-Rocket now Lakers guard Jeremy Lin got the warm treatment from the crowd, for the obvious fact that we Filipinos hope that someone will make the NBA like Lin who is Asian has done. Filipinos were happy when NBA veteran Andray Blatche was naturalized and donned the PILIPINAS jersey at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain. But of course, the dream that still hangs in the minds of Filipino basketball fans is to see a home grown Filipino player to play in the NBA.

This season, the dynamics have changed for the Rockets. They have taken over from the Miami Heat who lost LeBron James to free agency when he decided to return home with the Cleveland Cavaliers this season as the most despised team in the NBA today. It may not be at the same level as the Heat have encountered in the last four years, but the hate is real on all sides from both the media and the fans. 

Think about it, both of their superstars have been heavily criticized by the general NBA concensus. James Harden who has been called out as a star who can’t play defense. Yes, YouTube has that script covered with a viral video about his documented defensive lapses. Dwight Howard who has gotten the ire of fans especially of those from Los Angeles and Orlando has been called out for not being too serious in-game. At the start of the season, fans picked up immediately when Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant called him out for being “soft” as the Rockets were cruising to victory in LA

But not only the superstars has gotten the ire of fans and the media, guys like Patrick Beverley who has been called “dirty”, who can forget especially those from Oklahoma City, when he caused Thunder star point guard Russell Westbrook to miss the rest of the playoffs that disrupted the Thunder’s title hopes in 2013. Trevor Ariza, after he was acquired by the squad was called by most NBA fans a “downgrade” after the Rockets let previous starting forward Chandler Parsons walk off north to the Dallas Mavericks. And finally, recent acquisition Josh Smith who was waived by the Detroit Pistons has been ridiculed for his poor shot selection.

The criticism doesn’t only extend to the players, it also extends to the coach and the front office. Head Coach Kevin McHale who has yet to lead the team out of the second round has been criticized for his poor player rotation options especially in key situation, which personally I find it fair enough. Finally the General Manager in Daryl Morey who has been the “god” in the NBA when it comes to using analytics to determine the player personnel to join the squad. It has been ridiculed from traditional player recruitment where they look more into the background and pedigree of a player before pursuing an offer for their services.

With all the criticism and hate this team has endured throughout the off season and into the current season. I could have left and supported a team with a large following. I could have made more friends who share the same passion with the team as I do. I could share moments good or bad with a lot of people. I could have avoided all the earth shattering criticism and hate pointed out on the team. I could have said “I’m not from Houston, I’ll root for someone else.” and join the train to a beloved team today (say Warriors, Thunder, Mavericks, Raptors, Bulls, you name it).

But in the end, I will stay on with this team and I will seize the moment. This is the first time I will ever experience my team this ridiculed and criticized by many fans on a massive scale. So I will enjoy it while it lasts. Right now, the team has been playing great basketball, they have kept in touch with the best teams in a highly stacked Western Conference. This team faced the injury bug early into the brand new season and have shown resilience by winning games. Sure there have been a few terrible losses, but it’s part of the grind of a 82 game season.

James Harden has been playing like an MVP so far this season as he leads the league in scoring, and has significantly improved on his defensive game thanks in part to his stint at the FIBA World Cup with Team USA. Dwight Howard has been playing well and staving off the injury bug wisely. Trevor Ariza, Patrick Beverley and Corey Brewer have been doing it on the defensive end as well as hitting their three point shots. Donatas Motiejunas has been a revelation all season long as he gave up shooting threes for an improved and high percentage post game. If the team can get contributions from Jason Terry, Josh Smith, Kostas Papanikolaou, Isaiah Canaan, Nick Johnson and Joey Dorsey. This could be one of the teams to beat come playoff time.

We don’t know yet how our team will fare at the end of the season, we could see them get home court advantage in the playoffs or not, we could see another disappointing first round exit or go all the way to carrying the Larry O’ Brien title to Houston. As anything can happen in our beloved NBA

We don’t know how long will this moment in the franchise history of the Rockets will last. But right now, I’m savoring the moment. 

I hope the rest of the people who are a part of the Red Nation family stay with this team throughout every game, every win and loss that may come the rest of the way. Who knows? The time may come now.

Because it’s simple, it’s real. From 13,705 kilometers away, I’m a soldier of Red Nation and we’re going against the world.

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Gilas Pilipinas 2014: The team that brought Philippine basketball back on the world map.

Prior to writing this one, I have seen a lot of writers and bloggers that have already written their take on this matter. Even so, I will still write this one. The passion is burning high on my body, on my mind and in my heart. So let’s get to it.

For the last six days, Filipinos within our soil and around the world witnessed one of the defining moments in the history of Philippine basketball. The story of a nation’s unlikely love affair where in the eyes of anyone outside a Filipino is a genetic mismatch when it comes to the international stage.

For the last six days, Filipinos set aside their differences to unite as one nation in support of a team carrying “PILIPINAS” in their royal blue, white and red jersey. The nation went through a lot over these six days over Sevilla, Spain. From the glimpses of brilliance that shocked the world of basketball to the unimaginable heartbreak when we fell short after a great fight against the countries this team battled. When it all ended with a sweet and hard-earned victory over Senegal. There was pride, hope and optimism running through every Filipino who bare witness to this moment. Whether they were in Sevilla throughout their run, on home soil, or around the world where a Filipino is watching this moment.

Truly this was a team that despite falling short of victories on the win column will be remembered as the team that brought Philippine basketball to where it truly belonged, on the basketball world map.

Let’s run down a few of the memorable tournaments of this run by Gilas Pilipinas at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.

When Gary David or Japeth Aguilar, despite playing limited minutes giving a boost on the scoreboard whenever they score a basket. 

LA Tenorio competing tooth and nail with Puerto Rican NBA veteran J.J. Barea in a showdown of court generals.

Ranidel De Ocampo, Paul Lee and Jeff Chan dropping three point bombs on the scoreboard.

The grit of a Marc Pingris and Jayson Castro who played through the injuries to give everything they have and show the world what “PUSO” means to the Filipino nation.

Gabe Norwood’s work on the defensive end and two Kodak moments when he delivered two highlight reel dunks over Argentina. One of which was over NBA and international veteran Luis Scola.

The overall efficiency that June Mar Fajardo brought throughout the tournament and a inside presence this team lacked in previous tournaments that spanned over generations of basketball.

The play of Andray Blatche, our naturalized NBA player who lit up the scoreboard with three pointers and drives to the basket. He also played through injury showing that he may not be a born Filipino, but his heart and passion showed the grit of a Filipino.

The Captain Jimmy Alapag who played in his final international tournament carrying the PILIPINAS blue, white and red. Dropping three point bombs that were beyond NBA range. The steady play on running the offense and sending us home with our heads up high by nailing clutch free throws in the team’s final game over Senegal.

Of course the coaching staff, led by Coach Chot Reyes together with assistant coaches Norman Black, Jong Uichico, Josh Reyes and consultant Tab Baldwin. It was with their sacrifice of calling the shots for the team that bare fruit. They went through a lot especially in a nation where both players and the coaches are under the microscope at all times.

For everyone following the PBA every conference, they set their differences aside for each other. Imagine this, Alaska fans cheering once again for LA Tenorio. San Mig Coffee fans cheering every Jeff Chan and Paul Lee three point bombs or Gabe Norwood tearing the rim down and stop. San Miguel Beer fans (just like me) cheering a Jimmy Alapag long bomb or Ranidel de Ocampo bucket. Rain or Shine fans cheering on the grit of Marc Pingris.

This team gave the world of basketball something to remember. Who would have thought that this team would compete in close games to some of the world’s best countries when it comes to basketball? Prior to the tournament, people expected Gilas Pilipinas to lose by huge double digit margins. This team proved to the world otherwise. 

They only lost by three points in a game that went into overtime, in the very first game of the whole tournament against 16th ranked and 2013 Eurobasket 4th placer Croatia

They lost twelve points to 5th ranked and one of four tournament wild cards in Greece

They only lost by four points to 3rd ranked and one-time Olympic champions Argentina.

The biggest heartbreak came when we competed well against 17th ranked and 2013 FIBA Americas runner-up Puerto Rico only to fall short by four points. Sealing our fate of not advancing into the next stage of the competition.

The final game against Senegal is when the door was finally broken as they won in overtime by two points ending their run on a positive note and to the delight of every Filipino as they win a game for the first time at the FIBA Basketball World since 1974. Imagine that, 40 years since the last time a team carrying “PILIPINAS” won on the world stage of basketball.

What also made it special is that this team gained new found respect and along the way. From international sports writers and analysts like ESPN’s Mark JonesMike Prada of SB Nation, and NBA writer Couper Moorhead. To  who is in a way a Spanish equivalent of Grantland writer, Pacific Rims author and Pinoy Hoops host Rafe Bartholomew, who followed this team starting from their tune-ups in Guadalajara, Spain against teams like Angola, Egypt and the Dominican Republic and drove 600 miles to Sevilla to follow the team into every single game of this tournament. 

The team also gained the respect also from opposing players and coaches, Argentine coach Julio Lamas was quoted that their game against the Philippines was “the most difficult game he coached” in his coaching career. Puerto Rican point guard J.J. Barea giving props to Gilas guard LA Tenorio. Greek coach Fotios Katsikaris acknowledging the tip he got from his Philippine-based friends about how good the team is.

Also on a personal note for me, there was also a guy who goes by the name of Jason Williams who like me is a huge Houston Rockets fan. From the first game of the team in the tournament, he fell in love with the team. He said to me after the Philippines lost to Puerto Rico that it was like seeing the Rockets misfortunes the past season all over again. But when the win over Senegal came. He gave me a nice shout-out.

Photo ©Karl Carandang
Well, there will always be scrutiny about how this team played out. Filipinos whose love for basketball is unlike the world has ever seen (take Lithuania as our equal when it comes to passion) will have something to scrutinize. As they say, it’s always easy to scrutinize whenever you’re sitting at home eating good food, drinking a good cup, and being with your family watching the game. 
People pointing on coach Chot Reyes and his choice of rotation of players, on why he didn’t play certain players in crunch moments. People pointing on Andray Blatche’s play in which some critics reminded them of his notoriety during his playing days in the NBA with the Washington Wizards and the Brooklyn Nets. People pointing on Jayson Castro’s late game decisions. And a host of other scrutiny a person can think of.
And also the thought of racism among some Filipinos over opposing players. One notable victim was Croatian player Dario Šarić who was born with a cleft lip, bore the brunt of racist comments by Filipinos on the FIBA Facebook page showing his photo. Again, just like everyone who carried the “PILIPINAS” royal blue, white and red. He was carrying the “CROATIA” red and white and the hopes of another nation.
Nobody wearing their respective colors, whether it be PILIPINAS, USA, España, Lietuva, Brasil, México, Srbija, Dominicana, Slovenija, Hellas, Türkiye, France, Puerto Rico, Senegal, Angola, Croatia, Argentina, Finland, Australia, Ukraine, New Zealand, I.R. Iran, Korea or Egypt (Yes, I have to mention what is on the jersey of every nation that played in this tournament) deserves to be disrespected like that.
But enough with my rant, let’s keep this as optimistic as possible. The run of our national team may have come to an end. However, we’ll come out of this with renewed optimism. Optimism and hope that this run won’t be the last one we’ll see in our lifetime. For Team Gilas Pilipinas, this ain’t the end but only the beginning of something special
I believe, we believe. Let’s move forward, on to the next tournament, in the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea and the next FIBA Asia Championship in China come 2015. Hopefully we can play on the Olympic stage on the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. And I am supporting our bid to host the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup which will grow from 24 teams this year to 32 teams.
Let me say this with pride once again. 
“Ako si Karl Carandang, pinanganak at lumaki sa Quezon City, buong pusong sumusporta sa Team Gilas Pilipinas.”
In English:
“My name is Karl Carandang, born and raised in Quezon City, wholeheartedly supporting Team Gilas Pilipinas.”
THANK YOU GILAS PILIPINAS. For giving us a reason to come together as one nation. Looking for more journeys with our team in the future. Thank you for a great run at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

Pinoy Hoops on Pacific Rims.

Three Mondays ago, it was the middle of my semester break from school as I was getting set for aa transition from academic life to going into the workplace for my practicum. I was surfing chnnels on TV, when I got to the National Geographic Channel, it was about 5 minutes to 9pm. The 8pm show was finished, they showed a promo that Pinoy Hoops is coming up next. I got curious about what’s with it, so I did not switch channels as I sit back on the sofa and prepare to watch what is to come. Little did I know, I was in for a treat unlike any other.

 Photo ©National Geographic Channel Philippines
“Pinoy Hoops: A National Obsession” is a three-part documentary series that was shot in 2011 shown within a three week period. It shows the travels of Rafe Bartholomew, an American sports journalist and “hoop nut” as he goes for a journey across the Philippines to explore the very roots of Philippine basketball as he seeks to discover why is the country obsessed with the sport despite the fact that Filipinos lack of height as it is an important aspect of the sport especially on the international stage like the Olympics and FIBA Basketball World Cup. At the start of every episode, Rafe tells something about himself, from his beginnings in New York to writing the book “Pacific Rims” which I also read and I will also have something about it on this entry later, and the fact that he was a one-time soap opera star on Philippine TV.

The first part of the documentary, focuses on the grass roots of Philippine basketball, where Filipinos form basketball courts on any place and surface from abandoned hotel halls to dirt fields in the mountains, to streets outside their homes and even near sanitary landfills. It tackles street ball within the country as it serves as a mean to keep people away from unwanted vices especially in rough conditions most of our countrymen are living into. It also states that footwear like shoes or slippers is not necessarily required whenever playing on the basketball court. It also states a myth where deep in the mountains, the military and the communist forces drop their arms and play basketball over dirt surface courts. Another distinct fact is basketball karaoke where basketball highlights from NBA players like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, etc. are put into the karaoke which is another Philippine pastime. As well as their obsession with basketball video games like NBA 2K played on coin-operated machines.

The second part goes inside the Philippine Basketball Assocation, it was the 2011 Commissioner’s Cup Finals between the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters and the Barangay Ginebra Kings (now known as Barangay Ginebra San Miguel). It showcases the history of the league which is the second oldest professional basketball league after the NBA. It goes inside the Ginebra lore starting from the days of “The Big J” Sonny Jaworski who was made “Never say die!” the battle cry of the Ginebra faithful over the years and made it the most popular franchise of the PBA. It also stated that unlike the NBA where franchises are representing locations, PBA franchises are based up product names. The second part also gave an all-access pass of the Finals, from both Talk ‘N Text and Ginebra’s practice sessions as well as the games itself. Back then, Talk ‘N Text was coached by current Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes and Ginebra was coached by one of Reyes’ assistants in the national team in Jong Uichico. It showed highlights of Game 4 which Talk ‘N Text won to take a 3-1 lead, Game 5 where Ginebra kept their season alive, to the title-clinching Game 6 victory of Talk ‘N Text. It also showcases the life of a PBA import as they got into the life of TNT’s import during the conference in Paul Harris. The PBA sets height limits for imports (people of different nationalities other than Filipino) which is a distinct feature of the league as compared to other professional leagues around the world.

The final part focuses on four individuals where basketball plays a huge role in their lives. First was Sharon, who is a saboteur hired by different teams to distract opponents in games using different methods which I cannot state here in whole. Tony Lu, the PBA’s legendary photographer who covered the league from it’s humble beginnings to the present, the documentary got into his house where it was stacked with game photos, unorganized but spanning decades. Mang Tom, Alaska’s practice coach and a former PBA referee where they went to the ruins of his old house that was destroyed by Typhoon Ondoy in 2009 and will soon be demolished as it was bought by a development firm as well as his new home up north in Bulacan, and finally JC, the MVP representing Quezon City playing in inter-barangay leagues and his hopes that basketball will bring him a better standing in life. The final part describes what happened to the four as Sharon and Tony Lu continued on with their jobs, Mang Tom retired and is now with family, and JC was given a athletic scholarship.

As I watched Pinoy Hoops, I noticed that he wrote a book about Philippine basketball called Pacific Rims. I wanted to the read the book for myself, so I went out to look for and buy the book. It took me a couple of days of searching through different bookstores across the city, then on a Sunday before the last episode of Pinoy Hoops, I finally was able to secure and buy the book.

Photo ©Rafe Bartholomew

“Pacific Rims: Beermen Ballin’ in Flip-Flops and the Philippines’ Unlikely Love Affair with Basketball” is a book written by Bartholomew in which he writes about his earlier travel to the Philippines as a scholar in 2005 where he went deep inside the story behind the Filipinos love affair for the game of basketball. He spent three years in the country, where he got an all-access pass of the Alaska Aces in the PBA during their Fiesta Conference run in 2007, back then Tim Cone (the legendary coach of the Alaska franchise, is currently the head coach of the San Mig Coffee Mixers) was the head coach. The Aces were led by Willie Miller and import Rosell Ellis. San Mig Coffee was known as Purefoods, Petron was still the San Miguel Beermen, the Tropang Texters were called as the Phone Pals. Rain or Shine was still known as Welcoat, and the Red Bull franchise was still relevant. It also shows his search for the history of the sport from the time of the American occupation of the archipelago to the golden years of Philippine basketball to it’s role during Martial Law with the introduction of the PBA to the time of the legendary imports like Billy Ray Bates and Norman Black until the Fil-Am/Fil-Sham controversy which was a issue in politics. Outside of the league, Bartholomew travels around the country to explore how lives of the Filipino people changed with basketball from stories of good basketball courts being built even in the most remote areas of the country to their lore of watching the sport whether it’s a simple barangay league or watching the PBA live at the venue or the NBA on television where he also stated that the country has a basketball-devoted cable channel in Basketball TV (BTV).

What touches me the most about Sir Rafe Bartholomew was he did took the time to learn the Filipino language, during the entire Pinoy Hoops documentary, he was speaking the language fluently, as he was talking to people throughout the course of the story. No wonder, people gave him a nice Filipino name in “Paeng Bartolome” and “Kuya Raphael”. He really wrote a great book in Pacific Rims and an excellent documentary in Pacific Rims. One cool thing about him, was during the course of watching the documentary as well a reading his book. He is a very approachable person on the web, as he was replying to my posts about him on Twitter which in turn for me is a great thing to experience.

As many people who watched the documentary said three episodes weren’t enough and I definitely agree with them. Even with that being said, I thank Sir Rafe as well as the National Geographic Channel in the Philippines for pulling off this wonderful treat for the Filipino audience. I really hope they can pull off another opportunity to shoot another documentary about Philippine basketball especially the country is back on the international stage as they qualified for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.

Someday, when he comes back for a book signing, I will definitely have him sign my copy of the book and take a picture with him.

Basketball will always have a special place in my heart and soul.

Tragedy in paradise.

I woke up late this morning, when I turned my computer on and start the day. Unfortunately, once I logged in on my social media accounts. Photos came out from the Visayas which left me very sad. It all happened 3 hours before I woke up, just past 8 o’clock in the morning here. When a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the island province of Bohol which was felt all over the Visayas region as well as some parts of Mindanao. The photos that came out were very tragic, as damaged and collapsed buildings and roads were all through my timeline. As of this moment, 67 people were killed with hundreds injured. But it is expected that the death toll will rise as most areas are unreachable at this point of time.

It’s a personal tragedy for me, in a sense that two years ago, I came to these magnificent places as part of the Domestic tour organized by the university. When I came over to visit both Bohol and Cebu, it was all a sight to savor as I was able to see these wonders that are a part of the history and culture of the the Philippines as well as destinations which make the country stand out with the rest of the world.

Jumping over the Chocolate Hills from the view deck circa. 2011
 Baclayon Church in all it’s majestic glory circa. 2011
Inside Dauis Church in Panglao Island circa. 2011
 Inside the Basilica Minore of Santo Niño in Cebu City circa. 2011
Photos ©Karl Carandang
As with every earthquake which we can never predict when it happens, never did I think it would come too soon after my visit to these wonderful tourist destinations. Yet it did, and the photos were very tragic.
 One of the hills inside the Chocolate Hills National Park collapse.
Photo ©Robert Michael Poole via Twitter @tokyodrastic
The view deck of the Chocolate Hills collapsed.
Photo ©Robert Michael Poole via Twitter @tokyodrastic
The collapsed bell tower at the Basilica Minore of Santo Niño 
Photo ©Reuters
As a future tourism professional, it is heartbreaking to see these sights as these destinations are a part to the growth of the tourism industry of our country. The destinations that we market not only for domestic tourism but also to attract visitors from abroad. In addition to the fact that these destinations played a part within our nation’s history at the same time it has it’s own significance to the residents and locals who live along these destinations. We could all say that this is a national tragedy, especially after the war in Zamboanga a couple of weeks ago, and recently Luzon was devastated with a typhoon that came along a few days ago.
Despite this tragedy that shook our nation, I believe all in well in the ability of the Filipino people to rise up from the tragedy and rebuild from these unfortunate times that the people there are experiencing at this moment. Especially with aftershocks expected within a week’s span from the earthquake. Now, we must come out and help those who are in need in these tragic times in our nation. In addition to funding the rehabilitation of not just the localities but also the heritage sites that were damaged and destroyed in this earthquake.
I’ve seen paradise in this land, and I believe that one day after all this tragedy, I will see it all again in all it’s crowning glory.
Pray for Bohol and Cebu, Pray for our nation.

Missed opportunity to see "The Great Wall"

Yesterday, the Philippine men‘s national basketball teambattled against the Shanghai Sharks in an exhibition game at the Mall of Asia Arena. But with all the basketball happening on the court, one guy stands out among the crowd. I mean he literally stands out. That person was Yao Ming, the former Houston Rockets center who is the owner of the team he played for before he was drafted by the Rockets #1 overall in 2002.

Yao and the Sharks arrived in Manila over the weekend, where Yao met with Vice President Jejomar Binay for “Basketball diplomacy”as well as conducting basketball clinics to aspiring Filipino basketball players before his Sharks played against the national team yesterday. The national team would end up defeating the Sharks 80-72. When I said he stands out, he really is as shown on this photo with the Vice President.

Photo ©Yahoo News Philippines
Yeah, I’m having a bit of a regret that I was unable to see him in person. I knew about his visit weeks before he arrived here in the Philippines. I mean he’s the reason I became a member of Red Nation (Houston Rockets fanbase for those who don’t know it.) from the time he was drafted to the NBA. Even though he hanged up his jersey for good two years ago with all the injuries he got throughout his 9 year NBA career. He’s still one of my favorite basketball players of all-time and I’ve been riding with Red Nation since he left the league to include those 9th place finishes as well as their recently concluded playoff run
Then again, I’m saving up for the NBA preseason game between the Rockets and the Indiana Pacers this October which could possibly be worth a lot of money but it will be all worth it if I can get the tickets to see my favorite team in the NBA play on Philippine soil. So yeah, I must control my spending to get a better seat once tickets of the game come out very soon.

I may not have seen him when the opportunity was within reach. But definitely, I hope I will get to see him very soon. He’s one of those guys you’ll love and look up even if his basketball career was cut drastically short.

The Great Wall lives on.

Back when OPM had a life of it’s own.

When I was browsing through my music playlist on my PC and on the iPod, I noticed most of my OPM (Original Pinoy Music) songs were from either the 90’s or the early 2000’s, with a small touch from the old classics of Apo Hiking Society and a few songs made in the late 2000’s. It made me think, how come I‘m not downloading much OPM songs today as I was before.

Well, OPM music has changed over the times. One thing I can’t get enough of OPM music on the playlist I have is the message of the songs in which some I can relate to in my life. Take for example, the late great “King of Rap” Francis Magalonaand his song “Kaleidoscope World” which shows that we live in a world full of color, both good and bad. Let us also not forget that he is a patriotic person in his songs from hits like “Mga Kababayan Ko, “Ito Ang Gusto Koand “Man from Manila”. Come and think of it also, his raps were clean and really sends a great message and an inspiration to many who have come to listen to their hits. He may have passed away, but his hits will live on many Filipinos for many years to come.

Francis M

Also, I’m a huge Parokya ni Edgar fan because their songs talk about life itself. Take for example “Harana” which talks about how Filipino men of the time woo a lady through singing to the tune of their guitars in front of the lady’s house. “Buloy” which talks about the everyday hardships of the average Filipino. Sayang” which talks about missing the opportunity to get the right person in life. “Barkada” which talks about the features of a tightly knit friendship with a bunch of people with different upbringings in life. As well as “Halaga” which talks about the importance of taking care of a good lady in life.

Parokya ni Edgar

Well, you don’t know Filipino music if you haven’t heard about the Eraserheads, dubbed as “The Beatles of the Philippines” for bringing songs that go straight to every Filipino. From their hits “Ang Huling El Bimbo”, “Alapaap”, “Tindahan ni Aling Nena“, “Toyang”, “Magasin” and a ton of others over their years as a band from the 1990s until they disbanded in the early 2000s.

There have been a lot of other noteworthy bands to include like Rivermaya, Hale, Cueshe, Sponge Cola, Sandwich, Bamboo, Kamikazee, 6 Cycle Mind, Silent Sanctuary who have also made great hits which can relate to a ton of people who have listen to their songs. Even with the changing times, I still listen to their hits, because they gave me a lot of inspiration to live my life to the fullest and brought me a lot of lessons about everyday life. Finally, one thing I like about those songs is that they came out of the blue and when the people behind those songs thought about it when they least expected.
Which brings me to the question, how come I’m not into OPM songs which come out at the present time? Unfortunately on my part, I don’t like watching music channels anymore because most of the times, they’ll put up a ton of Korean songs which I’m not into that much, unlike most people do nowadays. Right now, it’s unfortunate that if you’re going to be a singer here in the country, you must have the looks and the flair, while they don’t touch a lot on the music and the message of each song, which is a hit on the face on my end. Especially, music on my part, motivates and drives me to get better in life. Also, most Filipino singers nowadays just do covers of songs, and if they do come off with an original composition, it would not have a deep and strong message to show to the people. Don’t forget, there is no day here in the Philippines when the people do not put those people on the “Trending Topics” list on Twitter, not only here in the Philippines, but also Worldwide which can be somewhat an eyesore for some people including myself.
I remember Ogie Alcasid who is an advocate of OPM music. It’s good to see people still advocating the best of OPM music has to offer. I admire his passion and patriotic ideals in promoting Filipino music not only to Filipinos but also to other walks of life. However, nowadays based on the songs of the present OPM scene. It can be an eyesore and definitely not worth listening to on the radio, computer or mp3 players. However, these things can all change if the current artists can go back to the roots of OPM music in order to make hits that will touch a lot of Filipinos here and abroad.
As I wrap this entry up, I like to thank my buddy Sam for giving me the inspiration to write this entry today. It was all worth the talk we had last night about these things and I hope to see you around very soon. I hope the inspiration I gave you will be good for you to write your own blog like mine, and don’t forget to hook me up when you’re blog is live and kickin’
OPM will always be a part of every Filipino’s life