Friday, September 25, 2009

Far Eastern folly

Recently deposed FEU team captain Mark Barroca must be feeling a wee bit vindicated now that the Tamaraws have crashed out of the UAAP Final Four. After unceremoniously (and unfairly) kicking Barroca off the team under unfounded allegations of game-throwing, FEU got its karmic bite-on-the-ass when their twice-to-beat advantage went down the drain in the face of the fierce UE Red Warriors. I must say I derived some satisfaction from this outcome, not only because the sight of UE coach Lawrence "Balik-Ayos" Chongson crying like a baby was oddly moving, but also because my stand on game-throwing has always been: if you can't prove it, shove it. I feel particularly strongly about this when it comes to collegiate sports. School officials simply can't go around hurling accusations at student athletes, potentially ruining their future sports careers as well as besmirching their character. If they have the hard evidence, then by all means sanction the kid, expel him, throw the whole book at him. But if they can't back up their claims, it's both irresponsible and unethical to engage in finger-pointing and mudslinging.

Everyone was expecting Ateneo-FEU for the finals this year, but thanks to their gross mishandling of the Barroca issue, FEU's season just skidded to a sorry halt. Barroca was both a seasoned player and steady leader, and whatever anyone says about him I'm sure his absence from the lineup made a difference, if not in points then in team morale. And you'd think the university would have shown a bit more utang na loob to a guy who's devoted a significant chunk of his time and energy playing ball for his school. Instead of giving him the benefit of the doubt though, they threw him to the wolves. I'm not saying Mark Barroca is innocent; I'm saying he should be presumed innocent until proven guilty. FEU, on the other hand, has just been proven foolish.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Stars behaving badly

In case you haven't heard by now, my beloved Roger Federer was defeated by Juan Martin Del Potro in the US Open final. Don't worry, I'm ok (albeit a wee lightheaded from having gotten up at 5AM to catch the live telecast of the match). I'm not upset Roge lost, Del Po was definitely the better player and deserved his first Grand Slam title. It was also sweet the way the gangly, gigantic Argentine clambered up to his sparsely occupied box to hug his coach and 2 unidentified supporters (vis a vis Federer's packed box populated by family and celeb friends-- hello Gavin and Gwen!), and even more touching when the 20-year-old choked up after acknowledging his absent parents in his native tongue (BTW that emcee was a total a-hole for refusing Del Po's first request to say something in Spanish).

I AM disappointed The Mighty Fed was not his usual mighty self and did not show off the magic we've come to expect of The Swiss Maestro, but I'm glad he didn't seem too broken up about losing to the younger, less experienced Del Potro. I loved how he gave his opponent props: "I would like to congratulate Juan Martin on an unbelievable tournament. I had a great one, but he was the best." And I loved even more what Del Po said in return: "When I would have a dream, it was to win the US Open, and the other one is to be like Roger. One is done. [addressing Federer] I need to improve a lot to be like you. I'd like to congratulate you for fighting 'til the last point." Gracious in defeat, gracious in victory. Good job, gentlemen.

It's nice to see some courtesy on court after the now infamous incident involving Serena Williams that took place a couple of days ago during her US Open semis match against Kim Clijsters. The younger Williams sister blew up at a lineswoman who called a foot fault while she was serving, 2 points away from losing the match to Clijsters. Serena stomped over to get in the lineswoman's face, and reportedly screamed profanities and even a death threat ("I will kill you! You're lucky I don't shove this ball down your f*cking throat!"), which prompted the chair umpire to slap a point penalty on her for unsportsmanlike conduct, effectively costing her the match. It was a very ugly way to bow out of the tournament, and reactions to Serena's hissy fit,
if the blog posts and tweets about it are any indication, have been mostly negative and censuring, and rightly so.

What was in the water at Flushing Meadows this year? It seemed we saw more than our fair share of diva antics and temper tantrums (paging Andy Murray). Even Roger Federer, the king of composure himself, lost his cool during his match against Del Potro, although it was to bitch at the incompetent chair umpire, who sucked at both controlling the rowdy crowd and handling challenges by the players. When Federer complained to him about accommodating a late challange from Del Potro, he told Roger to be quiet, to which RF snapped, "Don't tell me to be quiet, ok. When I want to talk, I talk. I don't give a shit what you say." Perhaps that was a bit much, but it actually shut up the useless umpire. Besides, I found this uncharacteristic flash of temper quite hot. Hehe.

Ok, so there's simply no excuse for foul language or violent outbursts, even from-- nay, especially from tennis superstars, whom many young people look up to. But what about outright boorish behavior from popular recording artists? Yup, I'm talking about Kanye West, a.k.a. the biggest prima donna douchebag on the planet, outdid himself this time by creating the most awful scene at the MTV Video Music Awards when he actually WENT ON STAGE to interrupt Taylor Swift's acceptance speech for Best Female Video, and declared that he thought Beyonce should have won instead. Poor Taylor Swift was stunned into silence and couldn't finish her speech, and the audience erupted in boos for the unbelievably obnoxious hiphop star.

Later in the show, Beyonce, in a classy move that would make Sasha Fierce proud, attempted to make amends by cutting short her own shoutout time and giving Taylor Swift the chance to finish her rudely truncated speech. The difference between that gesture and the horrid stunt Kanye pulled is so vast, we'd have to catapault Kanye to Timbuktu to approximate how far apart they are (and I wish we COULD get rid of the SOB so easily!).

People like Kanye not only deserve to be stripped of the privileges and recognition that come with fame and fortune, but they should be tarred and feathered for abusing them. It's reassuring though that the general uproar and backlash over the VMA incident convey a collective condemnation of Kanye. It gives me a shred of hope to hang on to, that society has not degraded to a point where the faults of its idols-- from entertainment or sports-- are forgiven too easily. When we refuse to let them get away with it, we obligate them to earn our respect and admiration, and conduct themselves in a manner worthy of hero worship. After all, we're the ones who put them on a pedestal, so we can bring them down if we want to, when we have to.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Something I got from Tim Yap

As loath as I am to reference anything remotely related to Tim Yap, last week I came across a feature written by the self-proclaimed "eventologist" in the Philippine Star that actually appealed to me. It was based on The Gap's "Born To _____" campaign, and accompanying the article were several photos of celebrities holding a whiteboard with that tag line, plus their handwritten answers filling in the blank. Some of the answers were predictable ("Born To Make a Difference"), some were odd ("Born to Stay Home"), some were smart ("Born to Chance"), some were cute ("Born to Sparkle and Shine"), some were sweet ("Born to (daughters' names)"). Overall, I was amused by the whole concept.

Yesterday morning on my way to work, for some reason I remembered the "Born To _____" gimmick, and I started coming up with my own responses to complete the line. Here are my top 10:

  • Born To Benito and Huya
  • Born To Be a Big Sister
  • Born To Write
  • Born To Teach
  • Born To Be Blue (OBF!)
  • Born To Bitch
  • Born To (Over)Sleep
  • Born To (Over)Think
  • Born To Choose
  • Born To Love

What about you guys? Go ahead and tell me, what were you "Born To _____"?

Monday, September 07, 2009

For Raqs, for making me think :)

Last night I was on the phone talking to my best friend Raqs, after her grueling first day of Bar exams. I had gone to see her at the Sheraton where the UP Law barristers were housed last Saturday, accompanied by my tag team partner Angge and the 4th member of our "Rated R" group, our good buddy Dex. I could tell Raqs really appreciated our visit, and I was happy we had been able to show our support, boost her spirits, and supply her with enough snacks and medication and Kleenex (for her perpetual cold!) to get her through the 4 weekends of the Bar.

Toward the end of our phone conversation, Raqs brought up something that resonated with me. She said, there are certain friends of whom you can ask a limitless number of favors, and yet not feel indebted to them, or get the sense that you're inconveniencing or taking advantage of them. There's no "hiya" involved, no reservations or reluctance from either side, just an assurance that help is available when needed, no strings attached. And it takes a special kind of friend to provide that unconditional, all-weather, I'll-be-there-for-you dependability. These are the friends you call when you get a flat tire in the middle of nowhere, or when you need someone to bail you out of jail (or a bad blind date), or when you're looking for someone to donate blood... or a kidney.

The past weekend made me realize that I am incredibly lucky to have more than my fair share of people in my life who would not only go out of their way for me (literally and figuratively), but also not "count" favors and expect anything in return. And it also dawned on me that, conversely, I am blessed to have so many people in my life for whom I would go the extra mile, to whom I would give without counting the cost, and by whom I would stand through both tribulations and celebrations. I can only hope I will always find the generosity of sprit, strength of character, and bigness of heart to be there for those I love whenever they need me.

"If you call, I will answer
If you fall, I'll pick you up
If you court this disaster
I'll point you home, I'll point you home..."

-Barenaked Ladies

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Mar the man!

I didn't think he had it in him.

But yesterday, Senator Mar Roxas, one of the most prolific presidential aspirants for the 2010 elections, relinquished his bid for the presidency to give way to fellow Liberal Party member Senator Noynoy Aquino. In a press conference held at Club Filipino last evening, Roxas declared:

"I do this for unity in support of change. And if that means somebody must make the sacrifice, it must be me."

In spite of my developed distrust of Philippine politicians, I was genuinely impressed by this show of selflessness, humility, and patriotism. This is something we don't see everyday, a government leader setting aside personal ambition for the greater good of the nation. Never mind if this might have been a calculated move on Mar's part-- I'm sure he still has some vested interests in all this. The point is, he still made the tougher choice: even after months of preparations, millions spent on advertising, and extensive media mileage milked to spotlight his engagement to Korina Sanchez, he threw all that out the window and stepped aside for Noynoy. Mar manned up, and heeded not only the call of the people, but also the call of destiny, and what makes his acquiescence so admirable is that the destiny in question is not even his own.
That took significant internal (and testicular) fortitude, and I sincerely respect him for that.

Last year I wrote about the deplorable state of our country's politics, and lamented that we don't have someone like Barack Obama to inspire us and renew our faith in the system again. With Mar Roxas' big decision, I suddenly feel a spark of hope for the future of the Philippines. Noynoy may not be our Obama, but at least for now, Mar's act of sacrifice strikes me as decidedly Obama-esque in its class and character. Dare I say this could be the start of "change we can believe in"?

Noynoy has yet to formally announce that he will indeed run for president next year, but with Mar's withdrawal, it's pretty much a foregone conclusion. I fully expect Noynoy to pick Mar to be his running mate, and I fully intend to vote for that tandem. For the first time, I am excited about the 2010 elections, and the potential, the possibilities and the promise of a better Philippines they could bring... that true statesmen and true gentlemen like Noynoy and Mar could bring.

Aquino-Roxas in 2010!