Friday, June 30, 2006

Just about sums it up!!!

From today's SCMP

What World Cup?

The whole world is caught up in the joy and delirium of World Cup football. Excuse me, did I say "whole world"? I meant, "with the exception of a certain clueless archipelago in Southeast Asia". Billions around the globe might party, but Filipinos are utterly unmoved by The Beautiful Game. We're so out of it that, in 1991, when our football team beat Malaysia 1-0, we were as shocked as the Malaysians.

This, after all, is the team Fifa ranks 191st out of 205. We are comfortably ahead of such powerhouses as American Samoa, Montserrat, and the Turks and Caicos Islands, but are strongly advised to steer away from Botswana, Palestine, Guinea-Bissau and 187 others. An online encyclopedia says that in 93 years, the Philippines national side has lost 153 of 173 games; scoring 127 goals while conceding 632.

What Filipinos are crazy about is basketball, which, compared to soccer, has all the international reach of costumed wrestling. Yet, in nearly every town, you'll see the sacred trinity: church, cockpit (for cockfighting) and basketball court. Even so, basketball has been in a sharp decline: American players have to be imported to prop up local leagues.

It needn't have come to this. In 1913 we hosted Asia's first international soccer match, and our team beat China 2-1. It's enough to make you think of other historical what-ifs: Britain held Manila from 1762 to 1764; Belgium wanted to buy the colony in 1875; Germany made acquisitive noises in 1898.

But it was the Americans who ended up our colonial masters. Raphael Bartholomew, an American sportswriter who's trying to understand our passion for basketball, said: "I think the American influence, and the early success of Filipinos in international basketball, helped ingrain it in a way that will be almost impossible to reverse."

Filipinos might ask about soccer: "Where's the excitement in a scoreless game that lasts two hours and has to be decided by a penalty shootout?" But it's not just the sport that they are missing: they're also depriving themselves of the world's biggest event, dwarfing even the Olympics. Only 32 teams appear, yet billions of people root for them around the world.

World Cup soccer can move entire countries, and the passion and joy are infectious. Anyone who sees Brazil play brilliantly can't help but feel their happiness. Then, of course, there's the sheer, shared pleasure of seeing Ghana beat the United States, 2-1.

Anyway, who knows what might happen? Badminton has suddenly become popular here, so there's no reason soccer shouldn't. We just need more warm-up games. Our first priority is clear: find out where the Turks and Caicos Islands are.


Blogger Caerphilly said...

I think you also rank above Bhutan.... just.

9:10 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Robles needs a history lesson. If American colonialism (1898-1946) dictacted the national sport, baseball would be the Philippines' sport. Basketball didn't become popular nationally in the States until the 1950's and 1960's.

Fred Jacobsen
San Francisco

1:44 am  
Blogger friskodude said...

I've seen a few "professional" basketball games in Manila, and the boredom factor is very high, since the players don't go inside for some real action, but rather just stay way outside and make long, mundane shots. Maybe they should make jai alai their national sport, along with cockfighting.

5:28 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I love the jai alai suggestion. Jai alai has the added advantage of being totally corrupt (if my adolescent wagering losses in Tijuana are any indication), so it would fit quite nicely in the Philippines.

Fred Jacobsen
San Francisco

11:33 am  
Blogger nunu'smum said...

I'll tell you the most pathetic story... when I was about 19, living in Tokyo, an American-Japanese friend who works as an interpreter invited me to a party where the likes of Brooke Shields, Gorbachev and some famous Brazilian geezer were to make an appearance as part of a UN goodwil reach blahblah. She obviously didn't deem it was necessary to explain to me who he was so imagine how the world came to a screeching halt when I got chatting to the said geezer and casually enquired: 'So, what do you do?'...............................I had no idea that this event was going to haunt me for the rest of my life...I'd just asked the world's greatest football player what he does for a was the great man himself Edson Arantes do Nascimento, yup that's Pele to you and me.

I know there's no excuse but I'm sure any 19 year old Pinay back then wouldn't have had a clue...
I blame it on the Yanks...

9:08 pm  
Anonymous celiaK said...

I'm a Filipina living in UK and am now enjoying watching football and the World Cup. It wasn't long ago that I had the same sentiment as most Pinoys - "what? 0-0 score for more than 2 hours' play??". But I learned to love it and certainly it has taught me patience. :)

10:32 pm  
Blogger Madame Chiang said...

Caerphilly: Well it's better than a slap in the face with a wet fish!

Fred & Friskodude: Maybe you could get something started here...

nunu'smum: That's classic! Bet your other half dines out on that one quite often!! And if he doesn't...he should!

celiak: I guess it's a case of "When in Rome"!

3:23 pm  
Anonymous gonzo said...

Hey Fred, i reckon you're the one that needs the history lesson.

The US 'granted' Philippine independence in 1946, but at terms so onerous that it was nothing more than a 'paper' independence

(in the first place independence should never be "granted", it should be fought for, traditionally.)

In short, though the Philippines was 'formally' indendent, the US was still firmly in control of the politics, as well as the economy and culture, unfortunately.

Hence, basketball became the national obsession in a poor neocolonial country where setting up a hoop in an empty lot was a relatively cheap endeavour.

A shame of course, since basketball requires height to achieve excellence, a quality in which filipinos are in 'short' supply of.

This is one of those instances where one wishes-- if the Philippines needed to be colonized at all -- that the brits had done it.

Then we'd be more in tune with the ROW (rest of world) and not be currently isolated like the Yanks today.

8:31 am  
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10:48 am  

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