Moving boundaries

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By Joel Panes

Optic Yellow

Monday, March 17, 2014

HOUSE Bill No. 3784 to naturalize 6’11 American Andre Blatche has passed the 2nd reading at the House of Representatives in order to make the Brooklyn Nets behemoth available to the Gilas Pilipinas team as a naturalized Filipino citizen for the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain this August. The country’s pursuit of national basketball glory is being undertaken by its managers with extraordinary zeal. Has any of our elected, distinguished and intelligent representatives in Philippine Legislation bothered to reflect on the question and answer beyond the boundaries of legalese, “What makes one a Filipino?” before conferring the esteemed Filipino citizenship?

The services of Blatche in addition to the existing Marcus Douthit will not come cheap in the peso terms. The minimum NBA contract paid to veterans is in the tune of US$1.2M or P45 million per season or P3.75M a month. Chances are this amount is his minimum take. On the other hand, PBA pros are presently paid a maximum of 375K monthly while the minimum wage worker in Metro Manila grosses P11K monthly. For the hope of restoring of athletic glory, this wage distortion separated by 4 zeros after 375K is mind-boggling. Contrary to the postulate that the number zero has no value, the abundance of zeros to the right a whole number but before the decimal point counts after all.

Philippine basketball is fortunate to have a generous patron but the terms defining athletic glory and being Filipino are becoming gray. Apologetically, the spirit of compromise attendant to popular religion and the order of business transactions has invaded the discipline of sports. Preparing and playing hard have not become enough. Obtaining prestige and victory at whatever cost have become necessities in exchange for surrendering something of timeless value. The matter has become like having given up pristine waters for factories by the riverside; trees for megamalls and symbols of development; and honor and values for money. Mankind is lulled by the sweet notes of piper’s music. The fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is constantly being bitten by modern days Eves and Adams and the temptation at the Garden of Eden actually is being re-lived each day, each having a shot for redemption. With this scenario, still most are failing while a negligible number of contrarian voices are being drowned by the periodic waves of permissiveness.


Well, most could say basketball is just a game. Or any other game like softball is a ho-hum. Contrary to the cursory notion, what administrators and managers do in sports reflects the inward spirit controlling the destiny of the athletes and the future of the game. Business organizations can conceal purpose and activities under a corporate veil but the same cannot be hidden in the management and conduct of sports.

Spectators intuitively perceive an arranged game. Even athletes and fans detect intensity and desire. Deep and covert designs whether noble or sinister, are easily discernible to the common Juan and Maria. Now in respect of Philippine basketball’s FIBA campaign by naturalizing Blatche for a shot of respectability in the international arena, is this within the ambit of Ninoy Aquino’s testament, “The Filipino is worth dying for?”

The world is changing at an unprecedented pace. Age old values are seasonally sacrificed by egoistic grumps and Cruella de Vil-like characters at the altar of a different god and its promise of glory. Now for those out there with genuine and noble spirits who fear the Great and Eternal Spirit to whom all life’s accounts are submitted for accountability, is it really the time to move the ancient boundaries? Should we yield to the serpent this time? This strain of thought undoubtedly appears old fashioned and anti-progressive to most but a ready rebuttal is in the bag for that verbal offense: heaven’s ancient ways is the perfect future our futile minds fail to comprehend.

A few days ago, I had dinner with a cousin who tried his fortunes in a land somewhere near down under. Over generous servings of hamburger and potato salad in a restaurant, he spoke of an enchanted place in real time where from the faucet, he could drink water; fresh milk was free in schools and neighbors would bring to share fresh chicken and newly caught fish at his door. Our cherished past as young kids had returned to become to his present and he vowed to return. His stories and accounts of his experiences left fascinated all night. Baguio, Benguet and the Cordilleras are fast losing these wonders. Baguio, Benguet and the Cordilleras it is not too late to stand, you know.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on March 18, 2014.


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