I miss you, half a year later.

I’m driving home on a thursday aftrrnoon and Ed Sheeran’s new song, castle on the hill comes blasting thru spotify.  Suddenly I find myself tearing up and crying and sobbing. 

It wasnt so much me reminiscing about the days of youthful bliss, although almost all of the instances he sang about happened with me and my friends. It was more, the line,

 “and i miss the way you make me feel/its real.”

That’s when You came to mind. For every time i came climbing in thru your bedroom window smelling of cheap liquor  or cigarettes, it was always how you made me feel afterwards, that mattered. It was always about how home felt whenever I came home. It didnt matter if it was in a drunken mess, or flush with some kind of small victory or my head bowed over a failing grade or whatever, you always made everything feel better. Your hugs, your smiles were like balms to a broken and wounded spirit. They mended me. Made me whole again to get up for the next round.

And I dont know, maybe because i got the news as i was getting ready for work, maybe it was because i didnt want my son to see me break down, maybe because i was sad my flight back home was a week late. 

I visited you and dad by myself at first. I cried there, but not as much as i wanted to. Maybe because i wanted to not breakdown in fron of Mom. All throughout the novena nights, all throughout our stay, even as we got back here i didnt let it all out. I never felt the same since half a year ago. I tried to busy myself with taking care of your great grandson, tried to keep myself occupied with basketball and coaching and trying to be a better person to make you proud.

Up until a half hour ago. I finally mourned you.

I broke down. I cried out your name over and over. I let it all out. Im sorry we couldnt make it back in time. Im sorry i wasnt able to hold your hand, see you smile one more time. Hug you, kiss you. Tell you we’ll be fine,And thank you for everything you’ve done for me. Im sorry i wasnt able to be there to help carry you to your resting place beside dad. Terribly sorry, yrt i know you understood. Yet i know you knew i tried everything i could.

I will always mourn you. I will always remember you, my son and any other kids coming in the future will grow up with stories of you. And i’m crying again, but i know i’ll be okay, it will be okay. I know you know i miss you. And i love you ma.

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Dear Rohan

It is now December 22, and i always look forward to pickingyou up fromdaycare and us watching the lord ofthe rings or star warsmovies

In the mornings, you would wake up really early and climb into our bedto sleepin my arms. Itreasure tbesemoments andhope thatyou willremember them whenyou grow older.

Right now, i really have no idea what the future holds. Daddy has some perplexing health issues he cant seem to understand. I trust all will be well though. Because nothing is ever gonna take me away from you. I love you rohan… so much

Everyone Gets To Say Goodbye

In a few hours, there will be one last feast in your honor, and everyone in town will come to celebrate your life. there will be gongs, there will be laughter, there will be dancing as everyone you know and love will remember and appreciate your life the best way Ifugaos know how. Then after the feasting is over, your strong and sturdy kinsmen will carry you around the house you’ve come to call home for such a long time, a home that was built on the foundation of your love and care for anyone and everyone who came to stay under its roof, and then lead the procession down to the church. After the rites and the eulogies, which I am sure will be beautiful, as beautiful as your kind heart; everyone will take you to your final resting place, in the same tomb as Daddy King. Everyone will get to say goodbye and godspeed…well, mostly everyone.

I can’t, ma. not just yet. Even as i sit here trying to find my thoughts i keep stopping myself because everything I want to say sounds too much like a goodbye. I was supposed to sit by your side while you laugh and try to guess which of your grandchildren I was. I was supposed to sit beside you with Rohan on my lap touching your face and calling you Appu, a word he has come to learn while pointing at your photo on the wall. You were supposed to look at Myles and ask me who that beautiful woman is. then you were supposed to call her my darling while embracing her. then again, look at me and ask, what was your name again? And we were supposed to laugh, because it wouldn’t have mattered, if you called me Jeremy, or Michael, or Ricardo. It wouldn’t have mattered because you would be looking at us with this glow in your eyes, this warmth and love that just… emanates from you. I couldn’t care less if old age dimmed your memory and you couldn’t remember my name because I do. I remember, Ma.


I remember being a kid who had to stay with his grandparents in the province while his single parent mom worked as hard as she could in the city. I remember the warmth in your smile everytime you woke up early in the morning to prepare breakfast for us before we go off to school.I remember you giving me food off your plate when you notice i was still hungry while being too shy to ask for more. I remember you humming while you worked on your sewing machine, I remember  how we took turns crying, then comforting each other while daddy King suffered, taking turns putting lotion on his back and legs, emptying his colonoscopy bags…

In High school i remember  climbing through your bedroom window trying to sneak back in to the house, and instead of being angry or alarmed, you would just ask me if I ate and would i like you to prepare a plate for me. I remember you asking the principal to give us hard labor as punishment when we were caught drunk in class. I remember you being so happy crying tears of Joy when the parish priest visited our house to tell you that I passed the entrance exams to the seminary, not knowing i took those exams just to get out of a tougher math exam in school.

And as your grandchildren started going off to college in the city one by one, you would always be there redy to greet us whenever we come home with such a happy radiant smile, sometimes you would even be jumping! sometimes we would take the late night bus and arrive in the early morning, you would be sweeping the yard, and when you saw us come in you would drop your broom and raise your arms up for a tight hug and touching our foreheads giving us your blessing,  and i swear, that is what home feels like.Like your warm embrace.

And I remember the last time you gave me a hug, a kiss and a blessing. I remember you telling me to make sure i take care of my son and my family.

And just this Christmas, you sang me a Christmas carol and told me you loved me, again and again. and as I sat there in tears, I knew i had to come home, we had to come home. So i said we were coming home and you said you were happy to hear that… but i am late again, aren’t I?

I remember things so clearly…and sometimes I hate it… but only sometimes.  Only if it pains me so much to remember because it starts to hurt so bad.

But mama, thank you.for taking me in.for how you never stopped. and I  know you wanted to wait…I know you wanted to give me one last goodbye..I know you wanted to hold Rohan one last time…I know you tried so hard to hold on….but its okay. there’s no more pain mama, dance a waltz with daddy, i’m sure he has been waiting a long time. I’ll see you when i get home. Its okay mama, rest now. We’ll be okay.. coz we will always remember. I will miss you terribly, but we’ll be fine.I love you so much.

This is not goodbye.I love you.we love you.

photo credit to adrienne.

 

National 2 Teams and Foreign Players.

Just recently, an opinion article came out on RTL about the state of Luxembourg basketball in the national 2 level because of the number of foreign players that are on the roster for some of the teams. 6 teams, including BC Mess, according to the article have 3 foreign players in the roster, 3 teams play with 2 and 1 team plays with just 1.

I understand that this has been an ongoing issue of contention in the past years, the gist of the article is that too many foreign players (non JICL) in the league is counter productive to the development of local players (JICL) and that fans of the clubs or the league are no longer happy since who wants to watch a game where there are 3 foreign players playing in a team for almost 40 minutes against another team doing the same?

Let me just be clear that this is only a reflection of my own opinion and pertains only to the National 2 league where the team I coach is currently competing in. The opinion reflected in the RTL article is, according to some, a very popular opinion and there have been some well thought out responses as well as some knee jerk reactions towards it. My only caveat with it is that it is terribly one sided where no coaches, club managers or even players were interviewed about it to make sure that both sides of the discussion were thoroughly represented. Does BC MESS have 3 foreign players in the roster? yes we do. However, that is not the end of the story. unlike other teams, we do not play 3 foreign players 40 minutes each, taking playing time away from our local guys. our third foreign player does not even average 15 minutes a game! like I said, 2 sides to every story. I only wished that before writing the article, the author would have sat through some games in the league, or watched some games before writing. Our team is perhaps the youngest in the league with an average age of 21, and we have a rotation that for the most part is 11 man deep, and making sure that we give our young guys the proper exposure they need to mature and grow, not only as basketball players but as young men. I cannot speak for the other teams who have 3 other non JICL players on their roster, or how they distribute their minutes or even shots but i can say quite honestly that lumping us in there is just a tad bit unfair, especially since no one even spoke to our club regarding this.

A couple of months back in Basketnews.lu’s National 2 review and preview article, they noted that there was a curious anomaly in BC MESS where we still manage to win games, in spite of the fact that our Pro player, Elijah Bonsignore was “only” averaging 10;8 points per game. Although I agree that scoring wise, Non JICL players normally tend to dominate that aspect of the game it isnt necessarily true for all cases.Screen shot 2016-02-01 at 9.14.03 PM

from the table above, in spite of the fact that BC MESS has 3 foreign players, the scoring load is almost even between our non JICL players and JICL players. its all a matter of finding a middle ground where the non JICL players do not dominate possessions, or where you give equal opportunity to both groups in terms of all aspects of the game.

but this piece is not just about defending our club but rather also, trying to find a solution or a recommendation as to what can be done. should we limit foreign players to 1 per team? will that truly be the answer?

One thing we must take into consideration is that, limiting the number of foreign players who can play in our league will perpetuate exclusivity instead of inclusion, and would be terribly discriminating. Luxembourg is a country where nearly half the population are expats, as such should we then tell a foreigner living,working or studying in Luxembourg that, no you cannot play in our top leagues, because we have a cap on foreign people allowed to play? that would leave a very bad taste in the mouth.

In conversations recently that I’ve had with Christophe Ney, head coach of the East side Pirates who got promoted to National 2 this year and have steadfastly played with just 1 pro player the entire season, we both agreed that maybe we are looking at it from the wrong angle.

The Proposal.

How about, instead of limiting the number of Non JICL players, all the teams and the leagues meet and decide the following:

  1. Create an across the board definition of a non JICL professional player and a non JICL amateur player
  2. Limit the number of professional players ( for example 2 in the N1, 1 in N2 1 in N3)
  3. If teams want to add amateur foreign players, these players should only be considered as amateur if:
  • they can show that they have lived, worked or studied in Luxembourg atleast 2 years before they have their players license.
  • they do not get salaries from the clubs they play for. (this is to prevent clubs from finding a loophole where they hire foreign players for job positions within their club or finding jobs for foreign players just so they can play for them.

then maybe after setting these parameters clubs can figure out rules like again for the sake of example, a maximum of 3 foreign players can be in the playing roster for a game but only 2 can be on the court at the same time, etc. etc.

Again, this is not a perfect proposal, nor was it intended to be a solution to the issue, but rather some thoughts that the powers that be can take into consideration when reviewing the league rules.

Nothing can be resolved if nobody takes the initiative to get everyone together and figure out a win-win solution for all concerned, what will be important, in my humble opinion is that we should start taking and creating concrete steps forward, instead of just pointing out that there is a problem.

anyway, cheers!

 

An Open Letter to the PBA and SMC

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I am, quite honestly at a loss. I woke up earlier this morning to the news that Gilas 3.0 is scrambling to form a national pool a few short weeks before the start of the 2015 FIBA ASIA tournament while the rest of the powerhouse teams have been practicing for weeks now. What sucker punched me however, was the news that many holdovers from the Gilas team in Spain, are unsure to return to the team. No JuneMar, or Paul Lee, no LA, maybe no Ping and no Marcio. 2 years and a day ago, on the eve of the FIBA ASIA competition held in the Philippines, I wrote this blog post; Dear Gilas Pilipinas  and now, here we are again. So I would like to get things off my chest, and I promise I will do my best to be nice, and cut out all the cuss words that are running through my head as I try to process the fact that a year removed from our return to the world stage in Sevilla, nothing much has changed.

Dear Almighty PBA Commisioner, PBA Board of Governors, and SMC Overlords,

Sirs, a blessed Sunday to each and everyone of you. you don’t know me, I am not some big important personality, or someone with clout, heck i can’t even get to 200 followers on twitter. I wont blame you if you consider me a nobody, but I would still like to introduce myself. My name is Nigel, and I have been a basketball fan ever since my grandfather put up this makeshift basketball hoop when i was about 3 years old, and told me to shoot it like Jaworski, you guessed it, I’ve been a Jaworski fan since that very moment. Like millions of young Filipinos, the streets were my playground, makeshift courts at kantos, playing for ice water or pop cola, dreaming of playing in the PBA one day while hoping to get the chance to  meet Jerry Codinera or get Alvin Patrimonio’s autograph.  Unlike the talented few who made it to PBA rosters throughout the years however, I along with other dreamers, learned to let go and move on to different careers, still playing ball on the weekends or company leagues, and living out our hoop dreams vicariously through the PBA. yes, I may have a name, but i can be just any other Filipino who loves basketball and the PBA.

Last year, I was fortunate to have already been  living in Europe when the FIBA WORLD CUP in Spain electrified the basketball loving world. I took a week’s leave of absence from the team i was coaching even if it was at a pivotal point in our preseason, to fly to Seville to be one among the thousands of Filipino fans who went there to make sure that our contingent had a rousing welcome back to the world stage.

Gilas before their first game in Sevilla

Gilas before their first game in Sevilla

My seats were at the nosebleed sections, but every Gilas game i would try to charm, or scurry past the guards and ushers to be able to sit courtside. I was successful every time too, probably because my determination, or maybe desperation to be as close to the action was was so clearly etched out on my face, they didn’t have the heart to say no.

Sirs, i was behind the Croatian bench when they were panicked and flumoxed, not knowing how to stop the barrage of Jeff Chan in the closing minutes of Gilas’ first game, the Croatian coach, cursing and sighing with relief as they escaped with that overtime victory. I sat behind the Gilas bench when the frustration showed as they couldn’t close out Greece in a game they were in for 35 minutes. Sirs, I jumped out of my seat when Gabe threw down on Luis Scola and was reduced to a grown assed man crying and bawling while the Argentine bench erupted in cheers in front of me as our team’s rally, led by the mighty mouse Jimmy Alapag fell short. I cursed as we lost to Puerto Rico, and I held up my Thank you Jimmy sign,my voice long gone from screaming as we finally defeated Senegal and Giorgu Dieng for our first victory.

jerseys given by Gilas Players

jerseys given by Gilas Players

What’s the point of all this you may ask? it is really quite simple sirs, through our team’s victories in FIBA ASIA and all through the FIBA world cup, this team galvanized Philippine basketball that has sunk into unfathomed depths of stagnancy specially in international competition.MVP deserves all the praise and accolades he is getting for reenergizing Philippine basketball, but you want to know the funniest thing? we the fans only saw them for what they were, FILIPINO PLAYERS, NOT A TEAM PLAYING FOR A CORPORATE SPONSOR.OR A CORPORATE RIVAL

There have been reports and allegations that SMC is no longer willing, as in the past to loan out their talented players to the Gilas squad. now players like JuneMar, LA, and Marcio are being branded as heartless, guys only motivated to play for money, no sense of patriotism or nationalism as their excuses to beg off from National Team duties are skewered by a public no longer buying into the same old.. well, BS.

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It cannot be a coincidence that suddenly all of these players begged off, and almost all of them belong under one umbrella corporation. and as long as the PBA and the SMC stay silent on this issue we will never ever progress, you would have done a disservice to your fans and to your country. As i read LA’s reasons, citing injuries and a dip in form, I find it hard to believe that this is the same LA Tenorio who got into a shoving match with a Greek player because he felt that he disrespected our team by making a 3 pointer at the end of the game with Greece comfortably ahead. I find it hard to believe that JuneMar, this same giant of a man, who came into his own in Seville and played a monster season, would beg off, just because of plantar fascitis. no matter how that hurts, how can you really say no to the flag when an OLYMPIC BERTH is on the line not to mention, a spot in the 2019 FIBA WORLD CUP that we are bidding on hosting. who would say no? shouldn’t every player on every PBA team be dying for a spot in the line up?  shouldn’t the PHILIPPINE BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION do every thing it can to ensure that the best players are available for stakes this enormous? do you see what’s wrong with this picture, most esteemed gentlemen?

At a time where the best players in the NBA are scrambling  all over themselves and everyone else to get to a team USA minicamp to make sure they are atleast in the conversation for the national pool, and where even Andrey Blatche’s Chinese team refuted reports that they are not allowing him to suit up for the national team, and where a retired legend, you honored in a retirement ceremony has signified his willingness to come out of retirement to play due to a lack of players available, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING???!!!

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If you gentlemen feel like, business wise the PBA will lose money if the stars wont play for half a conference, heck, the PBA survived the best of what the MBA offered, the PBA lived through the infamy of the Fil Sham scandal, what makes you think the fans will turn away from the product even if the stars aren’t there? they will do the opposite, they will shower you with gratitude for allowing your best players to fight for the country’s stake at an Olympic berth, and a return to the World Cup!

you feted the Gilas players as heroes upon their return from Sevilla, yet you now allow them to be branded as traitors by a basketball loving nation who clearly sees the self interests that pulls the strings behind the curtain. At the very least, don’t let our basketball heroes take the fall for the greed and antipathy and envy that forced them to make half hearted excuses to beg off from National team duties. Atleast don’t insist on wearing the white hat and pretend to be on moral high ground. It’s not too late, you can start the next PBA conference late, or shorten it, or whatever. just please allow our best to play for our flag. If you cannot find a way to do this, then you might as well change the name of the PBA, remove the P because you surely don’t stand for the Philippine basketball fan. If you do not allow your finest players to play for our country just because a competing sponsor has their company logo attached to the jerseys, what does that say about your sense of nationalism, or at the very least, your loyalty to your fans who have stood by and cheered for your teams and your league throughout these years?  if the PBA does not act on this, if SMC  will stand by its decision, then  have the balls to admit to your fans, how you are screwing them,  how you are screwing  the national team out of a possible Olympic berth and a triumphant return to the World Cup, just for the bottom line.Yet like a lot of my basketball crazy countrymen, i still hold out hope.  I, we, beg you one last time to let the players play. #LabanPilipinas #puso

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existential crisis

A friend asked me why I don’t write anymore.

I didn’t know what to say

maybe its the fact that I’ve been walking, breathing, waking, living under a proverbial storm cloud for quite some time now.

maybe it’s because it feels like I’m always at the verge of an explosion,  and it takes everything  I have to stop myself, til i have nothing left, atleast that’s how it feels sometimes.

The problem is, i can’t be fuckin selfish.

I can’t. I tried, it doesn’t work. I’m wired to put everyone else before me and biting the bullet. no this is not a glorified self gratification post.

this is not a “wheeee look at me and how connected I am to the universe” thing.

i just suck at making decisions based on what’s good for me and me alone.

I can sit here and type out expletives, but I’m editing myself because maybe people i love will get to read this and be hurt by all the rage pouring out. shit they might even think it’s their fault.

Thing is, I thought i’d be okay. with all this, parenting duties, hubby duties and coaching basketball. but as  pointed out, I’m so much more, so fuckin more than that. and it irks me, and it bugs me and it hurts me. it eats at what’s left of my soul and i’d love to just start punching walls and screaming at the fuckin mirror, but i can’t. my son is sleeping.

I’ve been out of the corporate world for almost 6 years now, that’s eons. i dont even know where to start, how to start fuck.. what to start.

It’s hard looking for a corporate job in a  country whose main industry is not yours. harder still if the language barrier is so goddamn high that learning one language to try to get a foot thru the door ain’t enough, coz you gotta learn three.

I admit that i’ve been looked down on quite a lot, dismissed and disregarded often too. i don’t wanna think It’s because of my nationality, maybe because they don’t see me in a suit and tie and automatically assume I’m just an ex jock coaching basketball coz heck, what else could i be?

I used to pride myself at being one of the best at what I did, all humility be damned.

maybe it ain’t too late.

Thanks gene.

PILIPINAS PRIDE IN SEVILLA

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Dear Rohan,

it says it all. COPA DEL MUNDO. basketball’s world cup.

i’ve been staring at a blank screen for the better part of an hour, thinking of how to start telling you about this experience that your mom graciously allowed me to savor. someday in the not so distant future i hope to re-experience this with you all over again, as spectators, or maybe, just maybe, cheering you on as you take the floor with the words PILIPINAS on your chest.

ESPN ranked the Philippines as the second lowest team in the tournament, this despite the fact that we placed second in Asia, beating out South Korea in a thrilling semifinal a little over a year ago. and for the first quarter of this game, we somehow seemed to play that way, turnovers, no ball movement, a stagnant offense, a sketchy defense in the face of a taller more experienced Croatian squad. but I feel like i’m getting way ahead of the story.

going to the arena in this beautiful city of Sevilla, the energy was contagious, Filipinos from all walks of life, some flying in all the way from the Philippines, others taking time off from their jobs all over the world, lined the streets, shouting PUSO! and PILIPINAS! exchanging smiles and greetings like only Filipinos know how,  it was…electric.

the entire stadium was filled to the rafters with everyone decked out in the PILIPINAS colors. it did not matter if you were seated beside someone you did not know, or someone you probably would not meet again. for the next couple of hours you will sit there and talk about the game during timeouts or in between quarters. you will be exchanging stories and jokes like as if you knew each other for years. it felt like home, it felt, frankly, like family.

as I watched these young (and in the case of captain Jimmy Alapag, not so young ) men stare at an 18 point deficit nearing the end of the first quarter, with around 3000 of our country men, sitting beside each other, waving flags, shouting themselves hoarse, i kept thinking, how could you not be moved by this? On paper, we were the smallest team. on paper we were the least heralded. on paper, we were the weakest team. That is why the game is not played on paper, because paper can not account for the heart the passion and that never say die spirit instilled not only in these players but in all Filipinos, a never say die spirit born out of necessity to exist amidst the hardships, the daily grind, the poverty,the hunger and the stinking mess of a government. A never say die spirit that makes Filipino resilient, and strong enough to bear everything, to be away from families to work abroad, the strength to rise up after calamities hit, this is the spirit of Filipinos the world over, and by God! these boys of ours will show the world just that! paper be damned!

a wise man once said that you have to strive to be better. it doesn’t mean that you have to be better, but you gotta try, that is where character is defined. in the trying. in that moment where against all the goddamn odds, you rise up, just because you know you have to at least try. and try they did, slowly, inch by damn inch, they clawed their way back into the match.

suddenly, shots were falling in, as the confidence grew, the defense came to life, and then it happened. a momentum swing. Jimmy Alapag, with the shot clock winding down and a defender hounding him about 28 feet away from the basket, heaved what seemed like a hail mary, straight and true and hit nothing but net plus a foul. the crowd, literally exploded. As one, our team, with Andray Blatche taking a breather on the bench subbed by Junemar suddenly found new life, moving around fluidly and cohesively to end the half on a good note. it felt to me like, the team suddenly figured out for themselves that they belonged here. that they can go toe to toe with the best in the world.

As the Third quarter started, the tide swung ever so slowly in our favor as Jeff Chan led the rest of Gilas in finding the bottom of the net with their outside shooting while our big-hearted “big guys” led by Marc , Ranidel Junemar and Andray battled for every lose ball and every rebound.

I was seated behind the Croatian bench and could see how they could hardly believe this resurgence. “who the fuck are these Filipinos and why are we not blowing them away as the script says?” must have been on the minds of every concerned person on that Croatian bench. led by Andray Blatche, faking and driving, Marc Pingris and his battle for every offensive rebound and putback We came storming back to cut the lead to single digits as we headed to the 4th quarter.

Ahhhh the 4th quarter.for about 7 minutes in, we struggled so hard, to get close, a 3 pointer by Croatia was answered by a 3 of our own and add a driving lay up or a putback shot in for good measure. with 2 minutes remaining we found ourselves down by only 2 points and at this point, the crowd had already whipped itself into a frenzy.GILAS GILAS GILAS thundered through out the stadium as two missed free throws by Croatia was followed by a foul on the other end, as Jeff chan lined up a 3 point shot that would’ve went in.

coolly and calmly he made all 3 free throws and suddenly we were in the lead for the very first time. Croatia rushed their offense in the next play then Andray Blatche drove down the lane, missed grabed his own rebound and made the put back and I started fistbumping other people and just screaming my lungs out while the Croatian bench  furiously called for a time out. but this was Croatia, a top ranked team and they came back with a vengeance. with a chance to take the last shot, Jeff Chan went for a go ahead jumper that went in and out, to the dismay of everyone watching. OVERTIME.

In the overtime period, both teams hit big shots til we found ourselves down by 4 with less than 15 seconds left. Andray hit a 3 point shot and suddenly we were down by just 1 with about 7 seconds left and no time outs remaining.  Croatia made both free throws and we had to convert a 3 to extend the game.

I wish there was a story book ending to this narrative, but we missed that last shot, and Croatia escaped with the win.

Son, years from now, the record books will show that Croatia won and we lost. supposedly, there are no moral victories in sports. you lost. that was it. That’s what the record will reflect.

but no one, no record book will ever quantify just how much pride this team gave us.how much of themselves they poured into this match and the preparations leading to it. that was a gutsy stand by a team that played it’s collective heart out to the joy of the Filipinos and earning the respect of opponents, and the entire basketball loving world.

heading out of the arena, you can see Croatian fans approaching Filipinos and saying things like, “congratulations, that was a hard fought game by a fighting team, we will be rooting for you in your other matches.”

I looked around me, and our country men were, as expected still smiling, ruing some non-calls in the game that could’ve won it for us, as if they just weathered another super typhoon and having assessed the damage, still smiled because they were alive.

“we could’ve won that one” “sayang. muntik na” were the common sentiment. but it was not said in sorrow or sadness. they were saying it with pride. PILIPINAS!

 

Conversations with a sleeping six month old baby.

Dear Rohan,

Has it really been 6 months 5 days 13 hours and 21 minutes when we heard you cry and saw you for the very first time?

has it really been 6 months 5 days 13 hours and 21 minutes since my heart stopped for a second and my world changed?

it doesn’t feel like it at all. My phone says i have 2045 photos and videos, almost all of them yours, from the moment you were born up until today. 2045. wow.

and I’ve spent the better part of the last thirty minutes scrolling through all those photos and daily videos as i do every day, just to remind myself that I’m not dreaming. although sometimes, your colicky screams and cries at all hours of the day when you were a bit smaller also served as  reminders that not everything was dreamy. not that I’m complaining though.

There’s a quote by Elizabeth Stone that reads “Making the decision to have a child is momentous.it is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”

how devastatingly accurate! every time i wake up, or you wake me up whichever comes first and i feel like i wanna pretend that I’m still asleep for a few minutes, i cant. because that’s a few minutes less of the time i can spend playing with you, or changing your nappy, or taking you out for our daily morning walks or just looking at your big shining brown eyes and that smile that just melts me.like, really melts me.

Of course you gotta know that your mom has been the star parent these past six months. well, she’s always been a star, and as you will get to figure out, will always be. she’s super woman. something that you should keep in mind as you grow older. be a better son to your mom than I’ve been to your grandma, little one. be a better man than I am.

Every day it seems, comes with new milestones, from touching your toes, to holding your milk bottle, to rolling over and today, to finally being able to sit and keep your balance for well over a minute. it’s funny how such little things are such great sources of happiness as we watch you continue to discover your world.

earlier today,  we were playing and you were too busy to realize that you were actually sitting up by yourself. however as soon as you noticed that i was not holding your back anymore you instinctively lurched backwards.  i was right there to catch you of course.  and the moment you felt my hands prop you back up, you looked at me and smiled this dazzling smile, then leaned forward to balance on your own again.  I wouldn’t have given it a second thought, except you just sat there for a couple of seconds and looked at me with that pacifier in your mouth , as if saying, “I know you’ll always have my back, dad.” before you went back to unloading the blocks from your toy truck. and i just sat there with my phone still capturing every moment on video; and as you started to fall again and i reach out to catch you, one thought kept running through my mind, I got you son, i got you.

 

Dad.

rohan

to my wife, on your birthday.

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I realize that i haven’t written to you in quite a while. caught up as we are in this adjustment to parenthood, for that I apologise.

let me take this moment then, to share what and how i feel.

Each and everytime, I am thankful. I may not be the type of person who falls to his knees in supplication every weekend, reciting scripture and singing praise.
i want you to know though, that each time before sleep claims my consciousness, I thank whatever higher being there is, that I have you.

I am thankful, because you gave me the opportunity to be a father to such a wonderful little boy.

I am thankful,  because he will have a mother whose love will be the greatest he will ever know.

I am thankful, because I have you as my safe harbor. my northstar. the steady calming influence to the havoc that I am.

I am thankful because although you and I have been through so much,  we never gave up.

I am thankful. because as much as i am Mr. impulsive, you balance me, you do not control, rather you allow me to figure things on my own, always by my side.

i am thankful that although i made a lot of wrong turns on this road called life here we are;  i must have done something right, to have you in my life. you are not just a wife, a partner, or whatever labels there are;

you are the air i breathe
you are the smile i always long to see
first thing when i wake up.
yours is the last kiss i look forward to when we say good night
my travel  buddy who keeps asking if I have the keys
the reason why i face tha day with reckless abandon. you are my superwoman
  my bebi my one true north. happy birthday. i love you.

the list can go on and on

but there is just one more thing…

thank you. words will never be enough..
and i love you with all that i am. and all that i can and will be.

GINEBRA.

 

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isa na akong kabaranggay, bago pa man naging uso ang baranggay Ginebra.

sa isang lumang photo album merong isang litrato na nakahawak ako sa isang ring na pinako ng lolo ko sa poste.

dalawang taong gulang ata ako nun . mahalaga yun sa akin. kasi yung bola ko nun eh lobo, minsan tennis ball, o kaya maliit na bola. dun ako unang natuwa sa pagbato, kahit kapos para lang maka “shoot” pag sasabihin ng lolo ko na, “shoot the ball Nigel!” pasikat naman ako.yung board at ring na yun, kulay dilaw, tapos nakasulat, TOYOTA 7.  at sa mumunting edad ko nun eh pag sinasabi ko “lolo what it say?” sasabihin nya, “Jaworski”. di ko mabuo buo nun ang pangalan na yun, sinasabi ko “jawoki” sumisigaw ako ng “jawoki!” pag nashoshoot yung bola. mula nuon, na-associate ko na ang saya ng paglalaro ng basketball kay Jawoki, hangang sa matuto akong buuhin ang pangalan ni idol na Jaworski.

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Pangarap ng nanay ko na sumunod ako sa yapak ni Felix Barrientos. sino yun? isa syang manlalaro ng tennis. dinadala pa ako ni ermats sa tennis court sa opisina nya sa MWSS para magaral mag tennis. kaso wala talaga eh, iba talaga hilig ko.maski nung pinag aral ako sa probinsya. basketball paggising bago pumasok, maski umuulan, basketball pag uwian ng lunch time, tapos basketball ulit sa hapon. minsan si lola umuwi galing palengke meron binigay sa ain na mumurahing short pants, minahal ko ng todo, porke’t merong numero syete na nakatahi sa gilid. suot suot ko yun hangang masira na sa kakagamit. pag summer at nagbabakasyon kami sa maynila bumibili ako ng litrato ni Jawo at mga iba pang ginebra/anejo players  sa mga over pass. yung isa pa nga,  pinirmahan ko sa likod. to Nigel from Jaworski #7, para ipasikat pagbalik ng probinsya. jusme, para namang may maloloko ako sa mala kahig ng manok kong sulat. pati sapatos nun, kahit uso ang mighty kid, kaypee ang sapatos na gusto ko, kasi yun ang sapatos ni Jawo.

Pag umuuwi lang ako ng manila pag bakasyn ako nakakapanuod ng basketball sa TV, kadalasan nung elementary eh nakikipag agawan ako sa pagkuha ng dyaryo sa tindahan para lang mauna akong makabasa ng score ng laro sa PBA sa inquirer. ganun ako kaadik nun.

tumataya lang ako ng ending pag ginebra ang naglalaro, at sa minsan na nanalo ako ng ending pero natalo naman ang ginebra, halos ayoko nang kunin yung pera. kung meron mang steady lang sa buhay ko mula namulat ako hanggang sa kolehiyo, si jawo yun, at ang ginebra. biruin mo, mula 1984 hanggang 1998?

1988 all filipino conference. lahat sa bahay sa kamuning maka purefoods, tinitilian sina Patrimonio,Codinera at Lastimosa. ako lang ata ang maka Anejo nun. ako pa pinakabata, kaya inaasar nila ako, pag lamang ang anejo ililipat ang channel. yung TV pa yun na black and white tapos de-pihit yung channel. grabe sigaw ko nun! akalain mo, champion! paborito ko nung iniinterview n Romy Kintanar ata yun, si Jawo, puro sya puri, sa diyos, sa team, sa fans. lagi nyang binabalikbalikan paulit ulit, para to sa lahat ng sumuporta sa amin, yun ang tumatak sa akin. sa hirap ng buhay nung mga panahon na yun, kudeta, brownout, at kung ano ano pa, basketball ang libangan ng bawat bahay, Anejo ang koponan ng masa, at si jawo ang hari at poon ng relihyon na basketball. Never say Die ang koro.

 

1991, highschool na ako nun, open conference, Ginebra na ulit ang pangalan ng koponan, kalaban sina Paras,Magsanoc at Parks.

3-1 na ang score ng serye. lahat ng tao sinasabing inutil  ang Ginebra, talo na to, wala na to. iyak na lang ulit. Colored na ang TV namin nun, may remote control pa. ako lang na naman ang nanalig at naniwala, puro kutya at asar ang inaabot ko. game 5 panalo! chamba daw, game 6 panalo ulit! luto daw. game 7….DISTRITO!!!!!!!! alahoy na tira, pasok! champion! muling nadagdagan ang tinatawag na nila nuong, Jaworski mystique. sinong magaakala? sino nga ba?  pagkatapos ng laro nagiinuman sa labas ng bahay ang mga tito ko, at dahil paos na ko at masakit ang lalamunan kakasigaw, nakiinom ako ng akala kong tubig. ang unang alak na natikman ko at nalunok at lumabas sa ilong ko? ano pa nga ba kundi Ginebra?

taong 92 at 93, walang magawang matino ang Ginebra. paano mo idadraft si Vic Pablo tapos ipagpapalit mo lang kay Manny Victorino at Ponky Alolor??? 1994 nung nadagit natin si Noli “the tank” Locsin sa draft, pero kadalasan, olats pa din. alala ko nun nasa chem pavilion ako ng UP, may higanteng mama na dumaan, si EJ Feihl, suot pa ang kanyang Adamson na jacket, matangkad nga, kaso bano. nanalangin ako nung draft day. sana si duremdes! wag si feihl! kaso sabi ni Jawo hindi daw araw araw kng makakadraft ng 7 footer. may isa pang draft pick ang ginebra pagtapos kunin si Feihl, kaso ang pinili… si DODOT?????!!! patay tay jan! Image

parang bangungot sa isang ginebra fan ang makita sina Feihl at Jaworski jr. sa starting 5. lagi tayong olats nun. olats din ako nun sa pansariling buhay.nag AWOL ako sa UP pero kunwari pumapasok pa ako at kadalasan, nakikipaglaro ng basketball pustahan sa mga dorms. tambay sa org, nagkagelpren….   dun na lang dinadala ang asar sa Ginebra. buti na lang dumating ang 96, si Marlou si Bal at ang pagdagdag nina Pido, si Vince the prince at si Mr. instant offense Jayvee Gayoso. di man nag champion nung taon na yun, binura naman ang bangungot ng 95.

Ang sarap maging Ginebra fan nung panahon ng 1997-98, kahit may ugong ugong na tatakbong senador na si Jawo, ang sarap panuorin ng Ginebra nun! Aquino sa gitna, Locsin Hizon sa forward, Bal david sa point, at….. tae… si dudot sa Dos. pero pag andyan na sina jarencio, cheng,ong saldana gayoso, at nasa bench ulit si dodot, ang saya!patayan ang laban. minsan at sa huling beses pa magchachampion ang gin Boars, tinalo nila ang Alaska, 4-2, at kahit anong sigaw ng mga fans ng jaworski! jaworski! ay ndi na tinanggal ni jawo yung twalya sa balikat nya, di na sya pumasok sa laro. si Dodot lang ang kaway ng kaway sa bench, feeling nya sya yung sinisigaw?Image

Aaminin kong pag retiro ni Jawo para sumabak sa pulitika eh unti unti na ding nawala ang gana ko sa PBA.bukod sa pagkakaroon na ng cable at pwede ka na manuod ng NBA, eh kelangan na din magtapos ng pagaaral at magtrabaho. oo andyan pa din yung susulyap sulyap ka pag naglalaro, may trabaho na ko kaya kaya ko nang bumili ng ticket para manuod ng live, pero nakakawalang gana kasi palipat lipat na ng mga players, kada conference, may trade, may bago, tapos mawawala ulit sa susunod na taon. yung rigodon ng  coaching staff, yung kaartehan ng mga manlalaro, ndi na old schol ginebra  yung timpla, yung gin bilog na dating hinahalo mo sa gin pomelo, eh napalitan ng Gin Blue, parang ganun pa din ang itsura at lasa, pero nawalan ng tapang. nawalan ng lakas. hindi ko na nga mabilang ilan sa mga naglalaro sa PBA ngayun ang dating player ng Ginebra, halos kalahati na ata. bunsod din kasi ito ng pag acquire ng sister teams, etc etc mejo pumangit na sa panlasa ko ang PBA. hanggang sa mapadpad sa ginebra si The Fearless Ronald Tubid.

Walang sinasanto, may angas sa katawan na puro tattoo, scorer, pangasar, defensive stopper,mautak, magulang. andaming asar sa kanya, pero sa barangay, tanggap na tanggap sya. sa tingin ko, sya lang nun ang nagbigay buhay ulit sa never say die mantra ng Gin Kings. Image

OO na, andun na sina MC47, jayjay, menk, at kung sino sino pa, pero si Tubid? may gusto kang masira ang laro? ngingitian lang ni Tubid sa depensa, mapipikon na yung bantay nya. kelangan mo ng kukuha ng offensive foul? buwis buhay sa pagslide para isakripisyo ang katawan. hustle player, throwback player sa panahon nina distrito at gonzalgo, sumunod kay jawo sya na yata ang pinaka paborito kong player. nagchmpion ulit sila, tanda ko yun, co MVP sila ni menk, tapos nung trinade na naman sya sa barako bull, ayun na. ayoko na.  ayoko nang maginvest ng oras at emosyon sa PBA, at sa SMC. lalo na nung umupo si Noli Eala.  ginebra pa din ako, paminsan minsan na lang.

sasabihin ng iba kong kakialang gin die hards, “ayyyy di ka pala die hard!”

easy muna mga tol. nagbago na kasi lahat, pamamalakad ng liga, pagpapatakbo ng mga koponan, pati mga players. wala na yung laro para sa mga fans, anjan na ang usaping bentahan ng laro, pampadami ng kita. anjan na yung usapang under the table, mga kontrahan sa SMC at MVP sa pagbuo ng national team, inuuna na talaga ang kita, hindi na yung kapakanan ng fans, at ng estado ng basketball sa atin.

Hindi ko to sinasabi dahil natalo tayong muli kanina .minsan nga para nang hindi pagkatalo yun kasi, parehong kumpanya lang naman ang San Mig at Ginebra, asan pa rivalry dun? ang akin lang, maaaring ndi na nga maibabalik ang Ginebra na minahal ko mula pagkabata maski ilang bisita ni jawo sa locker room para magpangaral. pero Ginebra pa din ako dahil kahit kailan kahit san lupalop ako mapapadpad ay bitbit ko habang buhay, ang pagmamahal ko sa laro ng basketball dahil minsan, natutunan kong bigkasin  ang pangalan ni Jaworski, at nakita ko ang saya ng paglalaro ng basketball, nung minsang nanunuod ako sa isang lumang black and white na TV habang ang buong bansa ay sumisigaw ng …. GINEBRA! GINEBRA! GINEBRA!

NEVER SAY DIE.

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