The good, the bad, and the ugly of the INC protests…

If this is what salvation is, then count me out. I’m having none of it. I’d rather burn in hell than be a mindless imbecile, following the orders of the higher ups. You cannot say no, you cannot opt yourself out. It’s as if the freedom of choice and the function to think was taken away from you. You just say “YES” and do it without even knowing why you are doing it or at the very least understand why you are asked to do it.

Yes, I was stuck in EDSA Shaw for 4 hours last Friday because members of Iglesia ni Cristo, driven by bravado and the need to showcase their power, decided to occupy EDSA starting from EDSA Shrine up to EDSA-Crossings area, harping on separation of Church and State and that the DOJ to leave them alone. I was tired from loads of work, hungry and in serious need of sleep but I had to endure since the jeepney I’m riding was literally inching its way going to Pasig coz INC protesters effectively clogged up that intersection in Shaw. This is not the first time I had a very, very unpleasant encounter with the INC. 2 years ago, back when I was still doing pro bono work for Philippine Rugby Football Union (PRFU) as Liaison officer assigned to assist teams visiting the country for IRB and ARFU official Rugby tournaments. I was assigned to liaise for United Arab Emirates (UAE) National Rugby Team at that time. Everything was arranged 2 weeks before the team arrives — hotel accommodations, food plans, transpo, training and game schedules. All games and training were held at the historic Rizal Memorial Stadium so needless to say, we have to file for permit to train and play to PSC months before the actual tournament will happen so we can “legally” and rightfully use RMS. PSC’s policy was “first come, first served” basis. We were granted the schedule for the venue 2 weeks before the UAE arrived. Imagine my surprise when me and the whole UAE team went to RMS Football field and we were denied entry to the pitch. I asked the guards why and showed them that we were booked for that specific day to train on the field. Still they refused us entry and one of the guards said, “Mam, nakareserba ho kasi ito para sa Sports Fest ng Iglesia Ni Cristo, hindi ho pwedeng gamitin.” I was shocked. Dumbfounded even coz as I said, we have it booked and PSC gave us the permission to use it. So why am I being denied entry and usage of the field? I was fuming and went straight to PSC’s office in RMS. I asked and demanded an explanation from the field custodian why we can’t use the field while we have it booked and reserved. The guy in the PSC office just said our reservation was cancelled out to give way for the INC Sports Fest. Unbelievable. I told him. Why are we being informed just now? Still fuming and almost at the point of whacking the field custodian’s face with a chair, I asked if we can use the adjacent baseball field instead. Thankfully he agreed. So we went and train on the baseball field, problematic with poor lights. The field was devoid of grass so injuries and bruises were not impossible to get. Left with no other choice (talaga pong nakakahiya sa national team ng UAE), my charges went on with their training. I chanced upon the baseball field custodian, Mang Gerry (I hope my memory served me well with the name). With a smile on his face, Mang Gerry calmly approached me (while fuming) and said “Mam, pasensya na ho sa abala ano. Alam ko ho eh na-hassle kayo at ang team nyo. Mangyari ho kasi ang amin hong boss ay miyembro ng INC. Natanggal ho yung reservation ninyo para mag-give way sa Sports Fest nila. Syempre ho sinusunod lang ho namin yung utos sa taas. Ako na po ang humihingi ng dispensa.” I don’t know what to feel really. The policy clearly says that whoever gets to book first, will get the venue. So ano ito, power tripping?!? Just coz you are the boss, you’ll prioritize you first at the expense of everyone else?!? O_O unbelievable. really. This is just the same with what is happening right now in EDSA-Shaw. A showcase of bravado and power. Just coz they have the numbers and they feel that they have all the rights to occupy a national highway and stage a protest, they’ll just do it without a care to everyone else. It is pretty much a reflection of their mentality of “Kami lang ang maliligtas, dahil kami lang ang kaanib ng Iglesia.” O sige, kayo lang kaya wala na kayong pakialam sa iba? Ganun? Ayan tayo eh, pagiisip na mali.

I’m all for equal rights, the right to practice whatever belief you may have, freedom of expression and all but, all these rights, it has an equivalent responsibility to it. You want to stage a protest, why not. This democratic constitution allows it. But to infringe and hamper other people’s right while exercising yours, that’s just the most selfish act any human being can commit. We execute and practice our rights but never to the expense of other people. Mabuti pa ang mga miyembro ng “Makabayan Bloc” our activists. The issues they are fighting for, it is precise, clear, and for the benefit of everyone including you guys in INC. That I can understand and can forgive. But your issues, separation of church and state, for DOJ to leave you alone and not meddle with your affairs, that we cannot understand. You ask for separation of church and state? How ironic coz you guys are the ones practicing block voting. Isn’t it that influencing the state by the church? You ask that the DOJ should leave you alone and why De Lima is paying a special attention to the cases filed against your higher ups? This I think is not the fault of DOJ. Blame your ministers who filed the case. It was them who opened that whole can of worms inside your church. It is under DOJ’s mandate to address each and every case filed by every resident of this state. It is quite clear in the constitution. Second, De Lima giving special attention the the cases filed against you? That or you are just scared that this whole investigation will bring every evil, nasty things inside your church to light? No one is above the law, no one is immune and no one is exempted, not even a religious sect like you.

I would admit that last Friday, I was in rage. But right now, all I feel for these INC people is pity. They are too brainwashed to see the truth. And because of that, I feel that they will not let up and vacate wherever place they are occupying for protest. Wala eh, they just don’t understand. Or they refuse to understand and see the bigger picture here. Pity.

I pity you to be honest. And I’ll pray that your eyes be opened and your hearts and mind be enlightened. Look around you, all the trash brought about your protests. All the people, left without a choice but to walk to get to their destinations, bus, taxi, and jeepney drivers who lost their days’ worth of income coz it’s way to traffic to ferry people to and from destinations. A day without income means a day of starving stomachs for their family. Students who missed school. patients who arrived DOA to hospitals just coz you are getting in their way. How long will you let this happen? Days? Weeks? Months? We are inter-related. Everything we do has or can have an effect to other people hence we cannot be selfish and do whatever we please because people around us will suffer the after-effect. Put your shoes to ours and let me know how you feel if you are forced to live with other people’s shit and selfishness? Does it feel good? Does it float your boat? Does it make you a good follower of your church? Are you really following the bible’s teaching when in fact it harps on being selfless, thinking of other people’s welfare as well. Think. This is the reason why God gave us brains, for us to think. Be not just a number used by someone for their own agenda. If you love your God and you follow his teachings by the book, ask yourself what exactly are you doing there, standing at the intersection of EDSA-Shaw and making other people’s lives miserable.

Again. Think.

And to all politicians, TRAPO, capitalizing on this event, let me remind you that you are now being judged by the public on whether you have the balls to stand by what is right, not giving in to potential number of votes you can get from INC. It always has to be for the good of the many over the few. It will do you good to remember that.

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark. The real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”  – Plato

Yours in faith,

The Writer

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Gone for the weekend: The awesome Majayjay Roadtrip!

Because my work has been overtaking my life, I opted to travel near this year. So instead of the usual long drives & road less taken, me and some friends from the office head down to Majayjay, Laguna! 😀

a stone throw away from Lucban, Quezon! :))
a stone throw away from Lucban, Quezon! :))

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2am and we were up and about at the DLTB bus terminal in Gil Puyat! Since there were no ticket reservations for the bus, the only way for travelers to be able to arrive to Laguna early, they have to be at the terminal by 2am and line up for the bus bound to Sta. Cruz, Laguna. Fare is Php140.

I’m an advocate of packing light when traveling, just bringing the essentials and nothing more so to limit the stuff we have to carry to Majayjay, the team opted to just shop at the local market of Sta. Cruz, Laguna. Prices of commodities may be a bit higher than usual as some of the stall owners there took advantage the downpour of local & foreign tourists in the area. Like the price of raw chicken eggs on the first stall I asked, it was Php10 whereas the usual price is just around Php4 to Php6 each. My tip: Be wise, haggle. 🙂

Scenes from the local market:

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The town of Majayjay in Laguna is a bit far since its already situated near the boundaries of Laguna and Lucban, Quezon. From the town proper you can already see the two infamous mountains, Mt. Banahaw and San Cristobal. Aside from kesong puti, Majayjay is also famous for its crystal clear waterfalls, one of which is called Taytay Falls.

the majestic Taytay Falls...
the majestic Taytay Falls…

Nestled at the foot of Mt. Banahaw, it’ll take about 45 minutes to almost an hour of tricycle ride from town proper to get to the location of Taytay Falls and that does not include the 15-20 minutes trek up the rainforest. It is a fairly easy travel to plan especially to those who wants to have a quick escape from the hustle and bustle of the Metro. The only downside is that since its just near Manila (plus its summer and we went there last Labor day 2015), you can expect a lot of people flocking the place and enjoying the cold (around 15 to 10 degrees) and refreshing water from the falls. People were everywhere, every nook and cranny was almost full to the brim. We actually had to wait a couple of hours before we were able to pitch our tent! :))

People everywhere on Labor day weekend! :))
People everywhere on Labor day weekend! :))

Us setting up the tent.

Us, trying to set camp after waiting for almost 2 hours! :)))

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I’ve been hiking and camping all my life but my travel buddies were first timers to what I call “buhay fungus”! hahaha! but proud of these people for keeping an open mind about camping. It’s tough especially for beginners since when camping, you’re deprived of everything – the usual comfy beds in a bedroom, toilets and bathroom for your convenience, food properly served on a table, etc. It’s back to basics, period. You have to do things the simplest and the hardest of ways. But that’s the beauty of it though and a plus that after a camping experience, you’ll be twice a street smart than you were before. And nothing beats the tranquility and peace that camping can give you since there were limited mobile phone signals and intermittent mobile data signal in the area. You can avoid those unwanted calls from the office asking you to work on a weekend! :))

Though its a challenge to cook food, ours was as good as the food you can order from a hotel kitchen (thank you to the resident chef of the team, Wea!). Tip on what to bring and cook when camping: easy to open cans, ready-to-eat meals, and marinated food should be on the list since are the food that is easy to prepare and cook. Plus you are sure that it won’t get spoiled (especially the marinated ones) before you can cook it.

Liempo! yum! :)))
Liempo! yum! :)))

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Spartan cooking! :))
Spartan cooking! :))
No fridge? No problem! :))
No fridge? No problem! :))

The water coming from Mt. Banahaw was just freezing cold so cold drinks was not a problem at all! :))) Just secure it with some nylon cord, tie it and dip it in the water.

Essentials when camping aside from food & water – sleeping bags! I am not a fan of sleeping bags. I’m content with my malong and the tent when camping but for trips of high altitude and in a forested area, expect a cooler climate where jackets and sleeping bags are needed. Like in Majayjay. I think it was a little around 20 degrees (or less) during the night up until dawn of the next day.

Minus the hassle and all the people who went there, this is what we have, the crystal clear, icy cold waters of Taytay falls. Its just majestic. To describe how clear it is despite the volume of guests bathing there, Taytay falls is in 3 shades of blue and you can clearly see the bottom of the catch basin of the falls. That’s how clear it is!

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yep, 3 shades of blue it is! 😀

here’s a sample itinerary for those who wants to see for themselves and experience Taytay falls:

Majayjay Trip pic

Majayjay Trip picGoing to Majayjay, I recommend, though it is a bit pricey, to take rented tricycles. Especially if your group will shop for food. This will give you extra convenience plus an open view of Mt. Banahaw & San Cristobal while traveling to your destination. Tricycle rent price range: Php600 to Php750. Again, try to haggle and negotiate to get the best price. As for the budget, we spent less than Php1,000 for this trip. Savvy, eh? 😀

I’ve always loved the outdoors, camping, and traveling with friends and this trip definitely tops my list of favorite travels thus far. Good food & destination plus an awesome company of great friends! couldn’t ask for anything more. Life should be spent more with friends, traveling, and discovering places and not getting yourselves confined and stuck with pile loads of work. find the time to take it easy, breathe, travel despite your hectic schedules.

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props to duey for the awesome photos of Majayjay trip! :D
props to duey for the awesome photos of Majayjay trip! 😀

I’d like to thank my good friend and officemate, Duey Guison for allowing me to use his awesome photos of the trip. He’s working as Lifestyle section editor for ABS-CBN Lifestyle, also contributes for Choose Philippines & ABS-CBN Sports. Photography is his hobby too! 😀

So until the next travel adventure and keep on movin’ your feet! 🙂

That long and winding road to peace…

**To my readers, I have to apologize for not posting as much these days. Work caught up with me and there’s been a lot happening in this side of the world where I live. So please, please bear with me. I’m going to post travel blogs soon as summer is fast approaching in the Philippines. Abangan. 🙂

I just have to pen down my feelings and ask this question: Is it worth it? Is the lives of the 44 PNP-SAF troopers who perished in the Mamasapano carnage worth exchanging for peace? Children lost their fathers, wives lost their husbands and parents lost their sons… So now I am asking, is it worth it?

While it maybe true that I really don’t know the horrors of war since I grew up in Manila and not in Mindanao, I guess I’ve seen and heard enough. Growing up, I’ve seen enough in the news – the 1975 Martial Law, 1986 EDSA Revolt (I am in fact an EDSA revolution baby), the countless coups during former President Cory Aquino, I have friends displaced by the war of territory between Muslims and Christians in Mindanao. They came to a point where they were forced to flee their houses, go to Manila and struggle to survive here. Why else do you think there are so many Muslim brothers and sisters living here in the city? They wanted a way out of the war, they’re having none of it. War is also a reason why despite Mindanao having an abundance of natural resources, still remains to be the most “poverty-stricken” island in the Philippines to this day. So forgive me, especially those who were saying we Manilenos don’t know a thing or two about the war, if I can’t help it but say my piece about this recent Mamasapano carnage. I just refuse to keep mum and say nothing when I see mothers & wives weeping, children now orphaned by their fathers, standing beside the caskets. Some of them were even too young to know what’s going on. That broke my heart knowing that these young ones were stripped off the chance to get to know their fathers and growing up will never be normal. I grieve and I weep with them. Again, I ask, is it worth it?

By now I know many of you have heard the news of the 44 PNP-SAF soldiers who were massacred in MILF territory in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. The news were all over the TV – CNN, Bloomberg, Al Jazeera, and online, repeated in all possible writing angles but not one news was able to answer the questions: What happened? What went wrong? Who ordered this mission. Then as days progressed, it became clear; the chain of command was broken and that sent this 44 men to their final mission, losing their lives in the process.

The fallen 44 PNP-SAF elite troopers who sacrificed their lives for the country & its people. (Photo credits to Rappler)

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Heart-breaking. You know at first, I understood that this is part of their job as law enforcers but what’s infuriating to know was that this mission was sanctioned by the still suspended PNP Gen. Alan Purisima and that he was directly reporting to the President of the republic. These two opted not to divulge the mission to PNP OIC Gen. Leonardo Espina and DILG Chief Mar Roxas. The question is, why? The latter names should be the first one to know if there’ll be commissioned police operations of any type. And why would you let someone who is currently on suspension to lead such sensitive operation? The President opted to go on national television to explain. Unfortunately his explanation was not enough. It yielded more questions rather than answers said with no remorse at all and not acknowledging he is responsible (coz after all he gave it a go). This is insane. This is just purely unacceptable.

Now, 44 is dead and 44 families were left without the support of their loved one who perished. Ano na ang gagawin natin sa kanila? How would they live? How would they survive? Paano na? And let us not forget the 14 SAF members severely injured with little hopes of ever going back to their jobs and earn keep for their families. Paano na sila ngayon, Ginoong Pangulo?

I wanted peace, just like everybody else. But how can there be peace without justice? How can there be assurance if questions are not answered? How can we all move forward if there’s no trust at all. Don’t get me wrong, I still am for the signing of the peace agreement but on the following conditions: First, let’s resolve and give justice first to the fallen 44. Let’s answer first the how and why they end up dead and let all those responsible be tried and convicted by Philippine Law. Second, And this is a brave challenge to the MILF, show us your provisions, put it in words to be signed too in the agreement, on what you intend to do with other rogue Muslim rebels in Mindanao coz clearly, not every Muslim is on the same page as the MILF are. Walang taguan, walang lihiman. Every cards laid on the table. No more intelligence reports of terrorists being harbored and cared for in your area. No more news of hidden firearm plants. No more senseless killing, no more retaliating. Ako po ay nanawagan, nakikiusap. We demand accountability, not just to the Philippine government, but also to the MILF. There should be accountability on both parties – be it with the President who went out of his way to break the chain of command and went on with the operations, with the troops who did not heed the order to cease and desist when the ceasefire committees ordered them to, or the ground commanders who failed to control his men in the area. I don’t want to hear another statement saying they cannot be held responsible for this. If not them, then who is responsible? Us? Just infuriating.

Sa labanan po ng teritoryo ng mga Muslim at Kristiyano, wala pong panalo. We too wanted peace. Who wouldn’t? Would you want tanks & firefights marauding your area? Killing dozens of people, Muslims and Christians alike? I’m having none of it.

Photo credits to Rappler.

Photo credits to Rappler. 

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Photo credits to Philippine Daily Inquirer

There’s no easy way towards peace and the carnage in Mamasapano will always be a dim reminder of that. But I would pray every day that little by little, everything will come into light and be resolved. Everyday I would keep on hoping that the fallen 44 did not and will not die in vain coz we are at least a small step towards peace. Come 2016, I would try my best to elect proper people who can do things right, who would be man or woman enough to accept and acknowledge their failures, and brave enough to continue fighting for peace. I hope to see that day where no more wives and mothers weeping, no more children left orphaned by unfortunate circumstances of war, no more nation mourning for their fallen sons.

To the fallen 44 of PNP-SAF group, gone but never forgotten. My thoughts and prayers goes to you and your family at this trying times. I know how hard it is for a family left by their breadwinners. My Lolo was once a law enforcer and he too died early while doing his duty for this country. He orphaned my mother and 4 other siblings. All of them were left to the care of my Lola who was a plain housewife, therefore forced to accept laundry and house help jobs to feed the family. Mahirap. Sobrang hirap that not all siblings of my mother were able to go to school, there’s not enough food on the table, not all needs are met. I know the feeling of dreams broken because the head of the family was taken away from you. And sad too that I was deprived of the chance to meet & play with my Lolo. But be assured that in my own little way, your invaluable contribution will not be forgotten and shall always be honored. Respect and salute to each and everyone of you. You did us all proud, putting country first above everything else. and with that, MARAMING MARAMING SALAMAT PO. Rest well and afe travels to heaven, my brothers… Salute!

It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it. – Eleanor Roosevelt

Random thoughts: Of being a proud Pinoy and of the Philippine Volcanoes

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.

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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).

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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! :))

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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! :))

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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!

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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.

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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! : )

Be in the know and catch up with the team & the Union thru:

https://www.facebook.com/PhilippineRugby

https://twitter.com/PhilippineRugby

For inquiries and sponsorship, you may contact the union via:

http://www.prfu.com/

email: communications@prfu.com

email: prfu@prfu.com

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.

INVICTUS…

“I am the master of my fate… I am the captain of my soul…” These were the lines I remember the most. These were the very words spoken by one of the greatest man that ever existed in this world; South Africa’s former President Nelson Mandela. He is one of my political heroes. I look up to him and admire his philosophies in life as well as his leadership style. And yesterday, I stumbled upon a movie about Nelson Mandela and how he reunited his country, Africa, the movie INVICTUS. While many believed that Africa has gone to the dogs and hope is but a vague dream for its people, Mandela stepped in and led his people towards change. And to everybody’s surprise, Mandela used the sport Rugby to bring unity to his nation. Yes, the method is indeed intriguing and peculiar but very effective I daresay because sports, like music, is a universal language. It transcends any barriers known to humankind. If you happen to know me a year ago and would ask me if I watched Invictus, I would answer a straight, in your face and resounding “no.” I have no interest with sports so even though the movie featured the life of my hero, I’d never dare to try and watch it. Thing here is, I get bored with sports. I don’t understand the terms used, the rules of any game, and the very culture and foundation of it (I apologize to my PE teachers, didn’t learn a thing from you guys!). It really bore me to death I tell you. It’s like a different and alienating world for me. Then just this year, I got the biggest surprise of my life when one day I woke up with a new found appreciation of sports particularly FOOTBALL. So needless to say, I took time to learn the sports by the book (wasn’t able to play but I plan to someday). I read articles, books, magazines about the sport to get myself familiar with the terms and rules of the game. Then little by little, I fell deeply, madly, and obnoxiously in love with football.

This new found love affair for football was even hyped up at fever pitch when I saw the movie Invictus. Oh and for those who didn’t know, Rugby is like a close relative of Football or Soccer. The movie discussed how one sport united a weary and torn down nation of Africa. It tackles how one sport was able to bridge the gap and how it was able to break all the boundaries of races and differences. It showcased how one sport can spark the light of hope; give courage to people when everything seems lost. It was really amazing how the then president Nelson Mandela united his countrymen through Rugby. Africa became one nation. There’s no black or white, rich or poor. Everyone’s all and the same. The South African Rugby team also reminds me so much of my country’s own football team: The Philippine Team AZKALS. They are similar in more ways than one. Our national team, same as with the African team, was once am underdog. Nobody cares whether they win or not. It’s as if the team never existed at all. And both of them climbed and thrived hard to get to where they are now. The only difference is that Team AZKALS   haven’t competed and won a World Cup title but I’m sure they will, someday (let’s keep the dream alive!). I have to point out that though we haven’t competed in the World Cup, the performance of the AZKALS in the AFC Qualifier is very promising (after beating the powerhouse Vietnam last year and qualifying for the next year’s AFC Challenge Cup) so I am hopeful and confident that they can get us there.

I just hope that we can emulate the example of Nelson Mandela and Team Africa. They both have a dream; they know the goal to reach. Against all odds, they pushed through and they never let go of that dream, they held onto it as if it is their sole lifeline. They didn’t allow for it to just fall apart. All those defeat, they used it to propel themselves towards the top of the chain. They take every criticism positively and turn it into fuel, feeding their passion to win. I also admire the cohesion of the team; it’s a brotherhood like no other; all for one, one for all. The team, upon Mandela’s suggestion, also immersed themselves to the “Real Africa.” They had this one day of training with the poorest of the poor kids of Africa and they saw first hand the current status of the country then they started thinking of what they can do to make a contribution, to see change, to leave a mark and most importantly to make a difference. In the team’s mind, Rugby is now not just a million-dollar sports career where you’ll be able to earn tons of money, it is a higher calling. Something you can utilize to make the lives of other people better. The team didn’t just become a better athletes but a better people as well. And in the end, everything paid off; Team Africa won their World Cup.

I am dreaming that one day, we can do the same. United through one sport – and FOOTBALL that is. As for our National Team, I hope to see them one day doing greater things other than winning the Football World Cup. Like what I said, being an athlete is not just a million-dollar sports career. It’s more than that and we should always keep in mind that we owe it to ourselves to always go beyond what is expected of us. When everybody’s expecting you to be a better athlete, show them that you’re not just an athlete excelling in your chosen sport; you are a better person, able to do greater things not just for yourself or the team, most importantly for the betterment of your country.

Believe and make a difference… =)

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate…
I am the captain of my soul…