Have you ever felt so frustrated that any moment you feel like you can burst like a bubble? Yeah, its always like that for me when I see empty seats in the stadium. It is also kinda depressing. Why are people not coming in if we’ve been doing so well after 5 years? Why are people not coming if the team have been phenomenal?
Do you know what its like when you’ve played your heart out, almost losing a limb in the process and yet nobody seems to know? Nobody’s watching? Yeah, tell me all about it. That’s the most painful that after you’ve given everything you’ve got, nobody cares. I should know coz I’ve been playing football for 3 years (not an athlete just to be clear) and the teams I’m with still struggle, begging for people’s attention. But its quite understandable coz we are not a National Team.
But for a National Team like the Philippine Rugby Team Volcanoes, who’s been existing, playing and doing really, really well for the last 5 years, not getting the people’s attention sucks big time.
For the past 2 years that I have been volunteering and helping out in organizing the tournaments & handling International teams for the Union, this always get my attention — empty stadium seats.
We’ve been struggling (pretty damn hard to be honest) to fill the stadium with audience who can cheer & vie for the team. With a capacity of just 13,000, Rizal Memorial Stadium (RMS) is considered one of the smaller venues for football here in Asia. Best we can do is an almost (but not quite) full grandstand during the final game with still empty bleachers (the green & blue area).
yep, that green area –> bleachers of RMS. Still empty seats.
So you ask yourself, what seems to be the problem? The team have been doing really, really well, on top of their game since the team formed & played year 2008. And to prove just how good, no, how PHENOMENAL the Philippine Volcanoes are, the International Rugby Board (IRB) applauds the team citing its remarkable climb to the top of the rankings. IRB says & I quote; “Of these seven nations, the Philippines are the ones to have left their mark, ending the year 15 places higher than they entered the rankings after winning the HSBC Asian 5 Nations Division 1 title on home soil in April to earn their place alongside the continent’s elite in 2013.” And its not only the 15s team who’s cited with remarkable performance, the 7s team as well as they have qualified for the 2013 Rugby 7s World Cup in Russia for the first time in record history.
Read IRB’s full article here: http://www.irb.com/rankings/news/newsid=2064835.html
Well perhaps the sport Rugby is too foreign to Filipinos. We’ve been known for ages as Basketball and Boxing country and these two can be quite hard to contest with. Rugby is totally foreign to us that we’ve got no historical ties with it. And we also cannot deny the fact that its hard to endear yourself to a team looking too foreign, sounding so foreign too, speaking any language but not Tagalog and know nothing about the Philippines, not until they made it into the team.
But I dare not to lose hope. I started out as a soccer player but I fell head over heels in love with Rugby. The discipline, fitness and the confidence it gives you, something that I never found in Soccer. Its really not hard to love and embrace the sport, if you just give it a chance.
And what’s not to love about the team? Well for girls, you can see the very “obvious” reason why they hound I mean support the players as most of them are good-looking sons of a gun and can give David Beckham a run for his money!!! But kidding aside, they may look & sound too foreign having no knowledge about the mother land and cannot sing the national anthem in whole, believe me, they’re Pinoys through and through and here is why:
1) Like most of us Pinoys, they too love to take their pictures of new places, stuff, and what have you. Look at Ollie Saunders here with his new furniture & that other photo taken when he first got on board NTT Shining Arcs RFC of Japan! :)) I must say, that is just so Pinoy, Ollie! and that peace sign.. Pilipino ka nga! :))
2) Ask Matt Bellenie “What about you is Filipino?” His answer? “My rice consumption & dashing good looks!” ahahaha! read full article here: http://www.teamphilippinevolcanoes.com/1/post/2013/04/10-questions-for-mat-bellenie.html. But I think, the way you sleep is the most Pinoy in you! :)) photo courtesy of Ollie! :))
3) One of the most favorite food of Darran Seeto is Chicken Inasal! Whether it’s from Bacolod or Iloilo, it doesn’t matter, as long as it is Inasal!
4) Ask Lolo Austin Dacanay of how proud he is of his Filipino heritage & of being a Philippine Volcanoe, here’s what he said:
“We represent 92 Million people every time we put on that National Team jersey. And although the brotherhood is very loose & fun, from the most senior players to the rookies, we all understand that it’s an honor and privilege to represent the Philippines. Our words, actions and performance is just a result of that understanding. Being a Volcano finally validates all of the years of sports where I fought with the White, Black and Hispanic kids that I never fit in with, but tried so hard to. It has given me an identity that I am forever proud of, and that honestly, I’m ashamed not to have known much about until 2007. It’s something that I will pass on to the players that follow me, to my children, and every Filipino that I meet anywhere in the world until I’m gone. I’m proudly Pinoy, and that’s what it means to be a Volcano.”
Lolo is definitely one proud Pinoy! Fact: Austin Dacanay is one of the few team members who’s pure Filipino, both parents are Pinoy. read full article here: http://www.teamphilippinevolcanoes.com/1/post/2013/04/10-questions-for-austin-dacanay.html
Just give ’em a chance, will ya? They all have a different way of thinking & speaking but they are doing their best to adjust and reach out to fellow Pinoys. They need room to work at trying to live and be a Filipino without other fellow Pinoys judging them or making fun of them. They are all working hard to get to know a place that they didn’t have the privilege of growing up in. We should also recognize and accept the fact that they are bi-cultural, that the other half of them belongs to another place, another home.
Now think of it this way… These players CHOOSE TO PLAY FOR THIS COUNTRY, FOR THE PHILIPPINES. They can opt to play to wherever but they choose here, they chose us. Its more than a testament that they acknowledged and embraced the Filipino in them. Who is a Filipino? Sino nga ba ang Pilipino? How can one say I am a Filipino? Is it the color of your skin? Your looks perhaps? Is it the language you know & speak of? Somebody born, raised, and living here in the Philippines? Somebody born from 2 legit Filipinos? Here’s what I think — You don’t have to be born, raised, and living here in the Philippines for you to be called and considered a Filipino. Being a Filipino is not just by blood, by your skin color, or your looks — it is but most importantly by heart.
One of my favorite sports commentator and analyst, Sir Bob Guerrero capped all of this in one of his interview: “At the end of the day, if your momma knows how to cook a mean adobo, then you have to be considered Pinoy. Even if you are raised abroad and have never been to the Philippines. The reality is there is a huge Filipino diaspora living abroad and their children have every right to represent the Philippines in sports.”
and its just mean and unfair of us to deny these lads of our support. We should remember to love our own, no matter what package they are presented in. : ) So the next time you think about you being a Filipino and how proud you are of it, remember these lads and how they fight just to bring glory and pride to the mother land.
I am inviting everyone to get behind the Philippine Volcanoes and support them in their home games on May 4th & 18th, 7pm at Rizal Memorial Stadium. Tickets are available in all Ticket World outlets nationwide and via Ticket World online: https://www.ticketworld.com.ph/Online/default.asp. PLEASE do watch the games live! It will make a world of difference seeing your home crowd cheering for you to win, it’ll definitely give the team a boost after the loss vs Japan and I’m pretty sure the boys will appreciate it seeing each and everyone of you at the stadium. : )
So why am I doing this? What do I get from this? I frequently ask myself that. To be honest, this is not a paid article. I get nothing doing this… I don’t even know if the players even know that I am doing this or if they even remember me… But, I’ve seen them since day 1 and the amount of dedication, passion, and hard work they put in to just wear that jersey and represent this country, it just moves me. Their eagerness to share and teach what they know about the sport to every Pinoy, that makes me happy. Their “never give up” attitude, Pinoy na Pinoy yan and something that I look up to. And their love for fellow Pinoys, always trying to pay it forward in anyway they can, all of these, It makes me extra proud that I am Filipino. The Philippine Volcanoes is one of the many reasons why I flaunt and will always be proud that I am PINOY! : )
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Best of luck to the team in their next games! and everyone, hoping to see you all in Rizal this May! : )
Respect. Discipline. Proudly Pinoy.