Sunday, August 11, 2013

Viva Gilas Pilipinas

After long years of wait, many are still in disbelief. Shocked. It's a dream come true. Philippines against the world's best. Imagine Gabe Norwood guarding Kevin Durant or LA Tenorio matching up against Tony Parker. Spain 2014 baby! It's Gilas Pilipinas. 35 years in the making, Philippines has the chance to show the basketball world that we belong. We belong to basketball's best.

Who would have thought that these guys, who are nemesis back in the PBA, would be put together in one team? Only the Gilas' braintrust did. Too much criticisms. But Coach Vincent Reyes never backed down from the pressure. He was just holding a grenade. Very volatile. It's the pressure of taking the challenge of being the chief tactician in the sidelines. There are haters, bashers and non-believers. I can't blame those non-believers. For almost four decades, Philippines was lost in the basketball map. People became skeptic, pessimist and careless. Wala eh. Nakakasawa na daw umasa. Lagi namang olats. Ano nga naman daw bang laban natin sa mga higante?

Everything pointed to contrary of our dreams of making to the World Cup. But still, I chose to believe. There are still people who chose to continue to dream, people who are positive enough to wait for the dreams to materialize and dreamers to make it happen. And here we are. After starting the tournament with 2-0 against Saudi Arabia and Jordan, we suffered a come-from-behind loss to Chinese Taipei, who eventually defeated China for a semi-finals ticket. It was disastrous. Bashers and haters celebrated. Parang hindi sila Pilipino. Nakakagigil. But I still believed. Many did. The coaching staff and the players regrouped. Topping the next round with 3-0 slate. Ready for the next round, the knock out stage.

After winning against Kazakhstan, Philippines faced its old rival, the heart breaker of many Filipino Fans for so many years, South Korea. The win was a huge lift for the Filipino Pride. Not just because we had our redemption, but more importantly, pasok tayo sa World Cup! But just after the final buzzer ender, here are the thoughts not just by me but by millions of Filipinos: Did that just really happen? Did Gilas Pilipinas just beat the South Koreans? Are they really going to Spain to battle against the world’s best?

Back in in the 2002 Asian Games, it was very different for us. I also remember being in a daze but it was of the bad kind. After the game we lost to the South Koreans in Busan, it was mostly quiet. No one wanted to talk, no one wanted to listen. We kept quiet brewing with our own private pains, dealing with it the best way we know how.

Because of the pain, we became skeptical fans. We knew we sent out a strong team and we didn’t understand why they lost. As a result, the selection of our Philippine team has always turned out to be a bloody process.

Even with a five-point lead with only seconds to go, we still felt like South Korea could engineer a comeback, because that’s what they've done to us all these years. So when the game finally ended it felt like a huge weight was lifted off the crowd.

This win is important for Philippine basketball as it puts us back in the upper echelons again. It’s important because we get to watch our team compete against the best in the world in Spain next year.

But in the end, basketball isn't really winning or losing for us fans. Basketball is about moments. Moments of pain and sorrow that, in time and with some luck, turn into moments of victory and unbridled joy. Basketball isn't about numbers. It’s about stories and feelings, and the roller-coaster of emotions we get during the game.

The Gold Medal was far from over. Mas maganda kung mag-champion tayo. It's our home court anyway. Winning the gold is the second of the two goal of Gilas. 

Without its main big man, the Philippine national basketball team was outmatched in the paint and fell to Iran, 85-71, ending up with silver in the finals of the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship, Sunday at the MOA Arena.

Injured naturalized center Marcus Douthit did not play, allowing Iran's behemoth center Hamed Haddadi to dominate down low.

On the other end of the court, Gilas' feared shooters did not bring their A-game, and missed open jumpers throughout the contest.

“Yung goal namin na-achieve pa rin namin,” Castro said after the match. “Suwerte kami na nakalaban namin ang Iran sa Finals.”

The combo of Jayson Castro and Jimmy Alapag together with the rest of the nationals all tried in vain to keep pace with the Iranians, whose emphatic advantage in size and heft made the big difference in a game played before a mammoth crowd the Mall of Asia Arena.

The silver medal was the highest achievement by a Philippine basketball team in a major international tournament since a similar finish attained by an all-pro team coached by the legendary Robert Jaworski in the 1990 Asian Games in Beijing. But more importantly, it assured the country of a return trip to the 2014 Fiba-World Cup after last competing in the quadrennial meet in 1978. The second-place finish was also the highest for the Philippines since a team coached by Ron Jacobs and led by Allan Caidic, Hector Calma, Samboy Lim and naturalized players Dennis Still and Jeff Moore won the championship in Kuala Lumpur in 1985.

Even with the Fiba-World Cup berth already in the bag as early as Saturday when it beat South Korea, 86-79, in an emotionally-charged semifinal match, Gilas still gave Hamed Hadadi and the Iranians a tough, good fight to the thrill of the 19,989 crowd.

I am a proud Filipino. Sa lahat ng haters at bashers, we forgive you. It just made the victory much sweeter. Sa lahat ng instant Pilipino na nakipost nung nanalo ang Pilipinas against South Korea, asan kayo nung tinalo sila ng Chinese Taipei? Asan yung suporta niyo? Nasabi niyo ba noon na masarap at nakaka-proud maging Pilipino? Naramdaman niyo ba ang sakit ng pagkatalo? Malamang hindi kasi wala naman kayong pakialam nun. Ni hindi niyo nga kilala mga players from the very start. Nakilala niyo lang sila dahil sa commentators. Sa lahat ng totoong supporters ng Gilas Pilipinas, maraming salamat at hindi niyo ako iniwan. Salamat sa pagsama sa'kin sa pagsigaw sa bawat score, block at rebound. Sa pakikiisa sa pighati nung natalo tayo ng Chinese Taipei. Sa pagsabi sa mga sarili natin at sa iba na, "Kaya natin to". Sa tiwala at paniniwala sa players at coaching staff. Maraming salamat. Para kay Coach Chot Reyes, salamat sa pagbuo mo ng isang team na pinaniwalaan naming lahat. Salamat sa pagtanggap ng trabaho bilang Head Coach ng Gilas Pilipinas. Salamat at mas pinatibay mo pa ang paniniwala namin na kaya ng Pilipino.Para kay MVP, salamat sa pagsuporta mo sa programa ng Gilas at pagdala ng FIBA Asia dito sa Pilipinas. Sa Players ng Gilas Pilipinas, salamat sa sakripisyo. Salamat sa pagbibigay sa amin ng bagong pag-asa. Salamat sa paglaban niyo ng buong puso. Binigyan niyo kami ng inspirasyon at tinuruan niyo kaming mangarap ulit. Kita kita ulit sa Spain 2014.

I am a Filipino. Proud and Prideful. And once again, i am ready to shout to the whole world. Ako si Zyvil Charles Arcilla, taga-Makati at tubong Pampanga, naniniwala, sumusuporta, nangangarap at kasamang lalaban para sa Gilas Pilipinas. Laban Pilipinas!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Laban Pilipinas! Puso

After 40 years, it's back at our home soil. The formerly known as Asian Basketball Championship, now FIBA-Asia, will be hosted by our country. We won the 1973 edition of ABC here in our own country. It's now time to regain our lost glory, to be number 1 in Asia and to get to play again in World Championship, now dubbed as FIBA World Cup.

This biennial meet is set to showcase the country's tallest and best team formed ever. With naturalized Filipino, Marcus Douthit manning at the middle, The Kraken, Junemar Fajardo at the four-spot with the 6-foot-9 slot man Japeth Aguilar backing them up, that makes the front line more formidable and competitive against  Asia's stratospheric teams such as China, Jordan and Lebanon.Philippines is a guard-rich basketball country. With three of the best point guards of the Philippines that are really perfect for the dribble and drive philosophy, it gives the team stability. We never saw another Allan Caidic, who was the most feared three-point shooter in his time, in this generation. But with Larry Fonacier, Jeff Chan and Gary David, there will be no problem with outside shooting. It's just about breaking down defense. Marc Pingris will be anchoring the defense while Gabe Norwood will be a big man at point. 

Nobody knows who will be the quintet at floor. They can play small ball and they can play big.

Philippines last won it at 1985. With three slots available for the World Cup, Philippines has big chance. I am not a player of the team, not even their coach nor part of their staff. I am just an ordinary Filipino Citizen. And all I can do for our country is to support them. Support the National Team.

I am calling all the Filipinos, basketball fan or not, to support our own, support our team to reclaim our lost glory, to be number one again.

Ako, Si Zyvil Charles Arcilla, taga-Makati at tubong Pampanga, sumusuporta at naniniwala sa Gilas Pilipinas. Laban Pilipinas! PUSO!

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Brief Conversation with a Nancy Binay-Basher

It was my day-off. I was supposed to watch the State of the Nation Address of His Excellency. Unfortunately, I fell asleep in the afternoon. Good thing I was able to catch the remaining half of the speech. 

Everybody becomes a political analysts, experts on economics and socially concerned. It was obvious. Yesteryear, it was just a conversation at offices, sari-sari stores and televisions. But opportunity came for everybody to talk about it in cyber space. Thanks to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and other social networking sites. Until one post caught my attention on Facebook.  Nothing really much about the SONA. But one of the Senators, the daughter of our Vice President and newly-elected Senator, Nancy Binay.

"Ichura nito! Di kagalang-galang." -Dad on Nancy Binay(SONA2013). Hahahahahaha!

A post of my college acquaintance and Facebook friend. Let's not just reveal her name.

So I started to comment. To clear the issue, I am not a Nancy Binay supporter, not a Human Rights advocate or peace ambassador. Maybe I could say, I am against cyber-bullying.

Silver Leaf: Paano ba masasabi na kagalang galang ang isang tao?

Friend: Hi Silver Leaf! Hahahaha

Silver Leaf: Hello! :)) Sorry kung nakikisawsaw ako. Pero curious lang talaga ako.

Friend:  Hahahahahaha, oks lang. Iba kasi talaga yung impression namin sa kanya. Kumbaga, diba, para maging kagalang-galang ka, dapat, it shows din sa panlabas!  Ewan ko lang sayo kung anong naiisip mo. Hahahahah

Silver Leaf: Kapag ba ang isang libong piso, nilukot, nababawasan ba ang halaga? Kapag ba nilamutak, nawawala na ang value? Hindi naman diba? Sana sa tao rin. I mean, di ba masyadong maaga para husgahan siya? I'm not a supporter of her. I did not even vote for her. Well, actually di ako bumoto. Haha. Pero parang mali pa rin sabihin na di siya kagalang galang. marami nagsabi na hindi siya qualified para maging senador. Pero parang andami ata nakalimot sa qualifications na naka-set sa saligang batas para makatakbo. Kung di siya qualified, sana COMELEC na nag-disqualify sa kanya. At kaya nga Kamara de Representante. Baka sa perspective ng mga bumoto sa kanya, is mai-re-represent sila ng isang nanay LANG. Tulad ng mga bumoto kay Lito Lapid. tulad ni Sen. Lapid, marami satin ang high school graduate lang. kaya pakiramdam nila, represented sila.

Friend: I think you should run for senate! Silver Leaf for senador! Ewan ko. yung impression ko saknya eh. Keri lang yan. Kanya kanyang opinion naman yan. 

Silver Leaf: Ayoko. Wala akong pera. haha. Sa fb nga, di ako makakuha ng likes, supporters pa? Haha. Okay lang naman yung impression eh. Pero sana sa loob na lang yan. Paano naman yung mga bumoto at umaasa sa kanya diba? Suportahan na lang natin kung sino man ang manok natin. Wag na lang sana natin batuhin ang mga taong ayaw natin. Pwede naman siguro na ayaw natin sa kanya. Tapos na. It's not about you. it's about general public and how they behave as of they are more superior than anyone else.

Friend: Sige sige. Ok. Hihihihi. :)) :))

Silver Leaf:  As I've said, it's not about you or Nancy Binay. It's about people, mostly students, who feel that they already achieved something. Siguro nga mataas ang tinapos nila o mas maganda ang course na kinukuha nila. pero parang naaabuso na paggamit ng fb at twitter.

Friend: You talk too much  hahahahahha okay na yun Silver Leaf. Kalmaaa!!!! :)) :)) :)) :))

Silver Leaf:  I don't usually comment or post on fb. but when I do, I make sure I can show my point clearly. :))

Conversation was over. I hope I made a clear point. I wish it would reach and be realized by my fellow countrymen. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Serving the Untouchables

For a hospitality-related-course graduate like me, there are no weekends, no holidays and just one day-off when you land a job that really fits the course. In school, you see yourself competing for grades against 40-45 students in a class. After four years of hard work, you see yourself competing against thousands of fellow hospitality-course graduates in job hunting. I guess I am lucky enough to be employed after just a month of my graduation.

Capricciosa Greenbelt 3. I am a bartender slash server slash order taker slash buss boy. Industry today needs someone who can do all-around. It demands someone to do the all-around. It does not matter if you are at Front-Of-The-House (Servers, Bartenders and Waiters) or Back-Of-The-House (Line Cook, Prep Man and Dishwasher). The catch is we can't afford to demand high salary. It's a no-work-no-pay industry. We are minimum-waged workers. Swerte na lang kung may galanteng guest na magbibigay ng malaking tip. Yes, we do have service charge. It helps a lot. But sometimes, we are most happy doing the untouchables. Here it is.

Since moving from vacation to employment, my mindset is guest satisfaction. And last night was one of the happiest feeling of mine: Singing Tanti Aguri Ati which means "Happy Birthday To You" in Italian three times for three different guests. (By the way, Capricciosa is an Italian-themed restaurant that originated from Japan).

We don't charge it. There is no service charge. It's self-willing and upon guest request. I felt like floating in the air, seeming very buoyant as if I was the birthday celebrator. We don't expect tips. We just wanted to make them feel very special on their very special day. Seeing them smile or cry because of happiness is very heart-warming. What we can do is good enough. We can satisfy you with the food quality and how we serve it. And one more important thing: we can do the untouchables.

Visit us at Capricciosa Greenbelt 3
3/F Greenbelt 3, Paseo de Roxas
Ayala Center, Makati
(02) 757-7811

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

After The Final Buzzer: An Untitled Article of a Ginebra-Believer

Never Say Die. In a basketball community in the Philippines, who does not know this motto? You don’t have to be a basketball-crazy to recall this. You’re right. It’s about one of the most, if not the most, popular ball club in the first play-for-play basketball league in Asia, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel. It passes from generation to generation. But with a five-year title drought, is it really evident that the “Never-say-die” spirit still exists within the players? Not before the pony-tailed Coach named Alfrancis Chua took over the head coaching chores from the three-time champion (2 with Ginebra and1 with then-San Miguel, now Petron Blaze) Bethune Tanquincen.

The fiery coach was designated as Team Coaching consultant of the SMC-controlled ballclub a season ago. Is he the best coach to replace Tanquincen? For a team with the largest fan base in social media, it takes a lot of guts to accept a head-coaching job. He only had one finals appearance in PBA in his resume. Aside from being a reklamador, what do we know about him? He is the best fit for the job. Believe it or not, he is.

          Ginebra was what after Jaworski, who instilled the Never-Say-Die attitude among its players and the legion of fans, left the team? They won 3 championships. But after that, it has never been the same-old Ginebra. Different players. Different coaches. Different systems. And it’s all management’s call. Who would have thought, Joseph Uichico, after serving more than two decades with SMC, will leave the team to join the MVP-owned team? Who would have thought? Coach Ato Agustin, a nemesis coach of Mark Caguioa, will be transferred to Ginebra? I never imagined that.

          So let’s go back to Coach Al. He is a motivator. He may not be the designer of the greatest plays during crunch time, but this long-haired coach is the one who can bring out the players the best out of them. For coaches, the pressure to win is like holding a live hand grenade. Please hold it. Don’t drop it. It’s a maddening set-up. Coaches are expected to win with whatever roster they have.
After starting 0-4 in the Commissioner’s Cup, I never expected that fans will still support this coach. I was expecting that I would read, “Bakit yan pa kinuha?”, or “Ibalik si Siot!”.With fans hungry for a championship celebration, this is a love for a coach. Wala pang coach na hindi na-trashtalk pag natalo ang Ginebra. But the Barangay kept the faith. With a depleted line-up, Ginebra managed to overcome the twice-to-beat advantage of Rain or Shine and dispose the grueling Norman Black-mentored Talk ‘n Text. With a crippled line-up, Ginebra managed to book a finals showdown to the eventual-champion Alaska Aces. We saw how Jayjay Helterbrand rejuvenated his MVP years. We saw Kerby Raymuyndo proved that he isn’t at the twilight of his career.  After being swept, the legion still chanted the old but classic “Gi-Ne-Bra! Gi-Ne-Bra!” after the ceremony.

Kasalanan ang umasa. Kasalanan din ang umasa. Yang ang mahirap sa may mga mabisyon. Sila ang may kakayahan na maging inspirasyon. Sila na may kapal ng mukha para sabihin sa tao na “kaya natin to” ang sisisihin pag nabigo ang lahat. Now we have to face the painful reality.  Yan kasi. Lumaban pa kasi kayo. Olats din sa huli.

         I'm proud of myself and what I stand for. It just hurts to say it out loud right now. But I am. Because right now, I can't help but feel these: how we ruin the dream for ourselves when we all believe we could. We say and do stupid things when we're heartbroken. Like punch the wall and break our fingers in the process. Gains convince us to believe. Losses in the most cruel of ways, discourage us from even trying. Yet the alternative is even more tragic. To not dare. To not dream. Patience, in some cases, is an anomaly. Process, in some instances, is an afterthought.

Now, coach Al resigned due to “personal reasons”. Who would have thought? After steering a team with a depleted line-up to a Cinderella-run last conference, why would he leave the team? Rumors say it’s about management. He is the players’ coach.

I’m hurt. Paano na ang team? Siya pa naman nagbalik ng never-say-die spirit. No coach has received a love like this after the Living Legend. But then, no player or coach is bigger than the team itself. I will still be a Ginebra fan no matter what happens. I will still be even Mark Caguioa retires. I will still be whoever takes over what Al Chua left. I will still be and forever will be.

Five years of title drought is haunting the fans. But I'm positive enough to wait for dreams to materialize and dreamers to finally make it happen. Dahil, kahit sa pang-araw-araw na buhay, mas okay na sa akin ang maging hibang kaysa ang maging takot.