In Defense of the Azkals

This article is neither written to ingratiate myself with the Azkaleros nor this is written to contribute to the ongoing battle between the fans and the non-fans.

There’s been some bashing and resentment in the Azkals on several fronts. While I can understand both sides, it seems that the side that wants to bash them is starting to get ugly, if not hateful. And as a young man who loves the Azkals as a team, I just can’t shut my mouth and wait for the worst. 

ISSUE # 1: “Di naman Pinoy ang mga yan!” 

It makes me sad that until now there is still this “half-Filipino” vs. “pure-Filipino” debate in Philippine football. It’s not only politically incorrect but also stupid in my opinion. Clearly, there is nowhere in our laws that gives a measure of being a Filipino by blood or by breed. Per Article IV of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, one of the criteria to be considered as a Filipino citizen is “those whose fathers OR mothers are citizens of the Philippines”. Some of the current members of the men’s national football team have either a Filipina mother or a Filipino father, thus qualifying them to be natural-born Filipino citizens. Plus, if we take FIFA’s requirements for a national player, everyone who makes it to the Philippine national football team is definitely a Filipino. To question that, as well as THE Philippine Constitution, is a mark of ignorance. Or stupidity perhaps. 

But still, if you’re going to bash the team because they don’t look like Filipinos, you should carry that out to the other sports organizations that send representatives in international tournaments that do not fit your stereotype. Just to be fair. If you go along the stereotypical way of thinking, why not question Smart-Gilas for sending Chris Tiu (Filipino-Chinese) or Asi Taulava (Filipino-Tongan) to basketball tournaments abroad? Or question the Philippine Olympic Committee for sending 3 Filipino-American swimmers to the 2008 Summer Games? Or Binibining Pilipinas for sending Venus Raj (Filipino-Indian) in Miss Universe? I know it’s not a sport but what the heck. Nobody seems crying about that. Why question only football? Why? Besides, when these half-Filipinos do well in American Idol, we are quick to point out “Proud to be Pinoy!”. Ba’t di natin yun magawa sa Azkals? 

These players have very little to gain compared to the privileges they would receive in Europe. Yet, they choose to wear the Philippine colors. And for that, we should be grateful. The Azkals are Filipinos. They represent the Philippines. Like their looks or not, they are Filipinos.

Issue # 2: “The Azkals are bunch of losers. They should be winning. Otherwise, there is no point in continuing admiring them. Praising a losing team for years and years di’ba?” 

Really? Where were these voices when the Azkals trashed Vietnam 2-0 (AFF Suzuki Cup 2010), when the Azkals entered the World Cup Qualifiers for the first time and beat Sri Lanka 5-1, when the Azkals came second in the Long Teng Cup or when the Azkals whipped former AFC Challenge Cup champs India and Tajikistan and made it to the semis of the AFC Challenge Cup for the first time evaaar? 

I find it totally weird when people are quick to point out, “talo na naman ang Azkals, ang bobobo kasi”, when in fact, they didn’t even bother to watch the game. Hypocrisy at its best. If you know football, you should know that winning is not easy as that. We have just rediscovered our love for football two years ago and some people expect na panalo agad lagi. Sorry darling but things don’t happen overnight. But by looks of the games the Azkals are playing now, the team improved by leaps and bounds. It is a far cry from the days when we used to score 0 against the opponent’s 15 (Philippines 1-13 Indonesia, Tiger Cup 2002).

And I dare say, the Azkals are worthy of being idolized. Because, hell, why not? The Azkals have given us something to start with. They may not be up to world standards (or your standards) but what’s more important is that they inspired a new generation of kids to play “the beautiful game”. In fact, there is now a long-term plan in football. There is already a U-13 homegrown team that has recently tied against its Malaysian counterpart. Lovely! Super freakin’ lovely! 

Let the Azkals do their job and let them achieve whatever success they can. Allow them that. 

Issue # 3: “Mga rapist naman yang mga yan.” 

All these are accusations that haven’t been proven in court. There was a past accusation and it didn’t go anywhere simply because it wasn’t true. And this new accusation is still being investigated and still unproven. Like all of us, they deserve due process, not public judgment. And like any other citizen, one is consider innocent unless proven guilty by a court of law. 

“Hindi ko kayo ka-kultura. Kasi wala dito (pointing to his chest)… at wala dito (pointing to his head)…”

“Hindi naman kayo Pilipino. Nagpapanggap lang kayong kayumanggi. Hindi kayo dito lumaki”… 

I have no idea what prompted Mr. Clavio’s kayumanggi rant. Moy and Guirado might have had their faults, but if we we’re talking about the alleged sexual harassment case, does it really need mentioning a person’s race, lineage or cultural upbringing? Hell no! 

“Alam naman nila yung mga sexcapades nila sa isa’t isa eh, di ba? Sino ba nag-penicillin.. Alam naman nila yun.”

“Akala siguro lahat sila gusto silang matikman siguro… makasama…Diyos ko.” 

O.O Seriously Arnold, seriously?

I see nothing wrong with expressing your opinion in front of national television because everyone (including tv personalities) has the right to speak themselves (Article III, Section 4, 1987 Philippine Constitution). However, I can’t and will never understand statements made by individuals that reeks bigotry and discrimination. What Mr. Clavio did and his sniping remarks were way too much and totally unnecessary and unprofessional for a journalist. There are so many way to express your displeasure without being uneducated and overall stupid.

We need to make the guilty pay for their mistakes. If Moy really said those things while referring to the accuser, he should be by any means, punished by the virtues of the law. But not until Moy is proven guilty. Due process dude, due process.

We Filipinos should think twice when we say something bad about our fellow Filipinos. It reflects the kind of attitude we have towards each other. Our attitude towards the Fil-foreigner players of our men’s national football team is one of the reasons why our nation is not only geographically divided but also morally worlds apart. 

And puh-lease let us stop this Azkals vs. (insert name of sports team here) thing. This is not football vs. basketball. Or dragonboat. Or boxing. These sports can co-exist. Wag hilahin pababa ang isa para itaas ang isa. We need to support our sportsmen and women, whether they performed well or not.

Let us kick discrimination, bigotry, hatred and crab mentality in Philippine sports. I’ll look forward to the day when the 95 million Filipinos could shout in unison: GOAAAAL! 

Go Philippine Azkals! TEAM PILIPINAS # 1!


Pursuit of Happyness

(Photo got from Tumblr. Thanks to the owner.)

I was preparing to sleep the other night when I suddenly realized that I hadn’t blogged for a long time 38 days to be exact. I miss my blog and I know you’re wondering what might have happened to me. So there we go. I’ve been busy. Hell busy.

You might be asking what I could be busy with. A new girlfriend? Hell nope. I wish I could still have time for that. A new hobby? No. A new “job”? Yes! And I’m happy.

Coming in and out of post-college depression, the months leading to this week were a bit of a struggle for me. I’ve felt so unfocused with what I wanted to do in life. I just can’t seem to find the direction to where I’m headed. I was lost. I prayed for directions. Or signs. Or clues where to go.

In high school, I used to believe that I can get everything that I want to the point when I thought I could just sit quietly and wait things to fall in my lap. And I’m self-centered like that. But then, reality kicked in. At the end of 2011, I was beginning to think whether I should start following a different career track. Then my friends started getting their dream jobs. I can’t say I didn’t feel envy. Actually, I did. From there on, I started doubting, hating myself.

And then something hit me strong in the head (prolly my mom’s nagging). I could not just let insecurities swallow me. I could not just let my awesomeness fades away. And besides, sayang ang looks ko kung magiging tambay lang ako.

It was only the last week of February when I started sending resumes and stuffs and hoping that someone out there is willing to give me a job. Luckily, someone did. I now work as a nurse in a private hospital in our province. Needless to say, I have a made a decision to pursue my profession. When I accepted the job, I felt I was doing the right thing. I know you know the feeling of doing something you’re really passionate about – in my case, to help others and save lives. I felt infinite. Cheesy shit but true.

Life didn’t become any easier. But slowly, I’m starting to get a glimpse of what my life would be in the coming years. I may not exactly where I want to be but this is a start – a good start. I’m not proud of what I was (which was a total mess) a few months back but I’m not ashamed of it either. Life isn’t always peaches and cream. What separates the successful people from the unsuccessful is the ability to deal with life issues maturely, realizing that the hard times are learning opportunities and that’s what makes us wiser in the long run.