This, above all:

This, above all: To be God's best for The Coach and for Anna

Friday, August 25, 2006

UP Naming Mahal

Something interesting from one of the forums that discuss Maroons basketball: After the recent clash of the Katipuneros, while UP students and alums sang the alma mater song, one Atenean asked another why the UP hymn was in Filipino when all other school hymns were in English.

One of the UP supporters flanking the two Ateneans—no doubt also piqued that many Ateneans had invaded the seats reserved for UP—snapped: "What's more puzzling is why seven out of eight universities in the UAAP sing their hymns in English!"

Actually, the song was first written in English and titled "UP Beloved." I don't know, though, when it was translated to Filipino.

For the Maroons who only mumble when singing our school hymn, here are the lyrics (as far as The Coach and I know them; please let us know if there are any inaccuracies).

May we all indeed become what we have been called—the hope of the nation:

by Nicanor Abelardo

UP naming mahal, pamantasang hirang.
Ang tinig namin sana’y inyong dinggin.
Malayong lupain amin mang mararating
‘Di rin magbabago ang damdamin.
‘Di rin magbabago ang damdamin.

Luntian at pula, sagisag magpakailanman.
Pagdiwang natin, bulwagan ng dangal
Humayo’t itanghal giting at tapang.
Mabuhay ang pag-asa ng bayan.
Mabuhay ang pag-asa ng bayan.

Thanks to Bitoy and Sir A for pointing out the inaccuracies! :)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

PR runs the world

In a CSI Miami episode, an elegant, coiffed woman who ran her own PR company blustered to the police about how her fifteen-year-old daughter was innocent and was merely driven to crime by the wiles of a criminal.

Duquesne, the blonde with the nasal voice that somehow manages to squeak, replied, “With all due respect, Ma’am, that’s just PR.”

“Yeah?” the woman retorted. “Well, the world runs on PR. Even trials.”


I’m thinking: Maybe even basketball? And how we address issues affecting a team? And the league? And officiating? And, most importantly, raising support?


Monday, August 21, 2006

Battle of the Katipuneros 2

Seven things distracted me from enjoying yesterday's game of the Katipuneros, a game that highlighted the best and worst of UP’s gameplay.

The seven, in no particular order:

A jackhammer behind me, about 50 to 55 years old, with gray hair and a voice that drills into your skull. Whew, grandma, what big tonsils you have!

A mother of an Atenean, she was abusing anyone who dared even clap for UP, picking fights, shouting obscenities. I was kept busy pacifying the UP supporters, players’ girlfriends and parents around me who were determined to give her an eye for an eye: “Please,” I said, “just let her be.”

Her picture is purposely blurred, dear reader, to protect her identity, for I do not wish her ill. I learned later from my Ateneo friends that she is named B, a word that can mean infantile—apropos, yes? B harangued the players, wishing them bodily harm (really) and cursing with her hands. Had she vilified The Coach, this post would not be written here but in a counter-affidavit, explaining why I leapt over the railing and slugged her.

I was told much later that photos of B had been splashed recently on a website or blog run by a student of a rival school. In a series of frames that I still have to google for, B is seen praying, eyes closed and hands together; then she is seen screaming at the court, her face distorted in anger; then, in a final act of piety, she jabs the air with her hands, both her third fingers fully extended, in the unmistakable dirty sign.

“Ano?” an Atenean said when I recounted B's recent behavior. “'Di pa ba siya natuto?” Apparently not. But she did learn to be more observant of her surroundings just in case someone nefarious, like me, would again take her photos.

After the game, B scrambled to the empty chair beside me and asked politely if I took her picture. “Yes,” I said, unperturbed but startled at her sudden courtesy. “You wanna see?” She said she had seen me clapping for Ateneo and that I looked like a nice girl (meaning I would not write something like this in my blog). She said someone had taken my picture in case I would do anything bad with the ones I took of her—like show them to the rival school, perhaps? That’s when I told her that (i) my heart is with UP when it comes to basketball; (ii) I am an Ateneo alum, Batch ‘91 Law School, passed the bar, yes, therefore a lawyer and therefore no pushover, never mind that I usually sponge help off my lawyer-friends nowadays when it comes to actual lawyering—it works well with erring MMDA, too, you know, just as it works with mothers, like it did with B. When people ask me if I regret wasting fourteen years in law school and in practice before discovering fiction, I always tell them of the time an MMDA officer wrongfully accosted me for swerving. A valid I.D. issued by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, plus tears, equals freedom from tyranny.

B smiled and said, “O.K. Thank you.” A true portrait of many a sports fan: rabid during the game, but nice afterwards. I wonder: which one is the more accurate? Perhaps both?

To be fair, there were many other UP and Ateneo fans who had been as—if not more—vituperative than B.* But since she was the one behind me, alas, she gets top billing.

Binondo (and, I was told, also Cebu, yet another fertile marketplace for game betting) pegged a +6 ½ margin on UP, which translated, of course, into wanton officiating. Sorry for this tired refrain, but, yes, drat it, the refereeing was brazenly lopsided. Fifty-one free throws given to Ateneo—the highest ever, even higher than the record 48 free throws in UP’s first game against Ateneo. Fifty-one against, what, a lousy 17 against UP! (Postscript: I know, I know. Our plays are often made away from the hoop and UP is not the most sterling in its defense, but, still, did you witness the officiating?)

We saw so many hand checks against UP, traveling by Blue Eagles, fouls by Salamat against Marvin Cruz, Ford Arao's charging (he lowered his shoulder; ergo, a charge) that was, horrors, called against Migs de Asis.

The cotton candy, which kept bobbing up and down at the end of a blue stick, was color blue. Isn’t cotton candy supposed to be pink? Yeegads, even the cotton candy girl was pro-Ateneo.

The UP walkout in the second quarter, caused by what I know is a single referee’s arrogance or stupidity. Your pick. I wanted the Maroons to just abandon the game, the sportsmanship of basketball having been sacrificed anyway to the bookies controlling the referees. But Coach Joe wanted the team to stay true to its calling, to return and play. That’s just the kind of guy he is.

Top to tip of me nervously rooting for The Coach and Coach Ramil Cruz, who, after Coach Joe had been sadly thrown out of the game, had to take up the coaching duties. I was so worried for them; it is my job to worry and get acid reflux. I was so proud of them (and so was Coach Joe; he pumped The Coach's hand later that night for "coaching well"), for they both led the team well. The Maroons ran neck and neck with the taller, stronger, older Ateneo veterans until the final quarter when, alas, Marvin became his colorless self. Marvin had played excruciatingly well in the first three quarters—he always does—which severely highlighted his lackluster** performance in the final stretch...sigh, he often does.*** I’m not assigning blame on Marvin (and this is my blog, not The Coach’s, therefore my own opinion, awright, dears? Because, yes, I have my own brain), particularly since UP was also playing against the referees (who were sloughing off our players one at a time), but had Marvin continued with his streak, it would’ve been a different ball game, in spite of.

Four intense Maroons supporters in front of me, who couldn’t help standing up despite their cushy P250 seats (P750 to P1,000 if you buy from the scalpers). They were nice girls, though, so I gave up after a while and started reading my…

…new books! Whee! Fresh from the sale at the nearby National Superstore (going on until September 17, folks), and particularly this one, Caroline See’s Making a Literary Life: Advice for Writers and Other Dreamers. It is, according to its author, for “older people who wanted to write in their youth and never got around to it.” Yowzah. That’s me, Caroline. It’s more Zen-like advice than craft, but that suits me fine. Enough to cause me to pray for more timeouts so I can read the first few chapters.

Gotta go before I ruffle more feathers. Ah, yes, the power of the written word. Matthew Broderick's character in one war movie (he was a diarist) said something like, "I learned something today. People believe in things I write. The minute I put my thoughts on paper, something magical happens. They figure if you put so much effort in writing it down, it must be true."****

* The Coach got a call sometime yesterday evening about a scuffle between UP and Ateneo supporters at the Dencio’s branch at the Araneta. I heard UP might have started it, and an Atenean might have been hurt. Sad. And sorry. For both schools, as well as the league.

** To clarify to the innumerable Marvin fans, lest they flash-mob me, I use the word lackluster to mean lacking in brilliance, which, given Marvin's extraordinariness, may mean he played only average. Which, to me, was sadly not enough.

*** Marvin is an incredible player. There is no one in today's league who can stop him. But his fourth-quarter play is killing his chances at the MVP plum. He reportedly said that he gets rattled at the end game, a condition—
choking, it is called—not uncommon among, say, golfers and tennis players. He might want to work on that: it is also killing UP's chances this year. Perhaps it's unfair to foist that much responsibility on him, it's true, but the fact of the matter is that he's one of only three veterans in the team. Circumstances are such that he could either be a savior or an ordinary player.

**** A superfluous footnote--for the Polymath.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Excuse you

The most ingenious excuse (so far) a student gave me for not turning in his paper: he swapped cars with his brother, and his paper was in the trunk of the car the brother was using.

The most recent excuses given by two of my students for not doing homework: (i) she doesn’t have time; (ii) his previous school didn’t give students homework.

The most irritating reason for decrying a project: the other teacher teaching the same subject to another section didn’t impose such a requirement. (This, coupled with a whine.)

The most horrific thing a student told me, loudly, before the entire class: for me to tell her in advance if I will dismiss the class early so she would know when not to use her color-coded car and instead use another one, because heaven forbid that she wait for another three hours before she can drive home.

The most perplexing reason given by a student for allowing cell phones on campus and in class: because she cannot keep going to her car every now and then to check if she has messages—that would be oh so tiring.

* * *

For the teachers among us, here's a poem celebrating the creativity of our students.

Excuses (for English 103)
by Bart Edelman

I tell my students, the first day,
To make them interesting, at least,
Be ingenious, for God’s sake;
After all, this is a creative writing class.
Let’s put the brakes on dead grandmothers,
Fender-benders in the parking lots,
Computer malfunctions at the 23rd hour,
A host of wisdom teeth removals,
And various court appearances,
Preventing the young scholars
From attending English 103.
Why not push the purple envelope,
As my colleagues like to say.

I give extra credit up the wazoo
For excuses that involve absences
Due to imbroglios with exotic animals;
Such as llamas, ocelots, wallabies,
And reptiles of any kind—
The scalier the better, in my grade book.
If I hear another aunt or uncle
Who suddenly needs to be fetched
At the Los Angeles Airport Terminal,
I’ll shoot myself in the medulla oblongata,
And mind you, that’s not a pretty sight.

Let’s reward the inventive pupils,
Capable enough to concoct tales
So worth the simple telling,
They don’t ever feel the need
To complete their assignments;
They can just orally dispense them
And lather up their classmates and me
With a plot or two along the way.

Think of all the possibilities:
Pole-vaulting bank robbers on the lam,
Imploding hotels in the basement,
Exploding motorboats under the overpass,
Ecumenical orgies behind the cafeteria,
And, yes, that gratuitous alligator in the grass.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Or forever keep your peace...

The Coach and I have received a few nudges for me to continue posting about UP Men’s Basketball games. Apparently there are two forums* that provided links to this blog. I read in one discussion how my post was considered “evidence” to back up an allegation. One forum shut down a thread last Monday, and then suspended all remaining threads last Tuesday, to hose down incendiary comments and obiter dicta, hopefully not stoked further by my posts here.


I just wanted to write about what The Coach and I look forward to each July since 1980 (for The Coach) and since 1986 (for me). Basketball is The Coach’s passion. For the game he would skip sleep. For the game he would spend time and money on training. The game has even cropped up in many a quarrel between us.

But what to write about? I hesitate to write not because UP has been losing its games, but because of the quality of those losses. Almost all of those losses should not have been, and the reasons are sad and…well, I will stop there. There’s not much I can say at this point without raising anyone’s hackles.

Still, there are other things I can share, including stuff I learned or remembered the last few days:

  • We UP alums and students love our school. We will even fight each other to prove that. Which is sad, in a funny kind of way.
  • At the stadium many of us fans cheer loudest when our team is leading, but predictably fall silent—perhaps in sympathetic dismay, anxiety or shock—when the team falls behind. Well, I say this is the moment our team needs our support the most. I say we should be noisier when our players are not doing as well as we hope. I say we support the team not because it’s winning, but because it’s our team.
  • Many fans, even the most loyal among us, don’t know enough about basketball. Yes, including me. We cheer, jeer and analyze, but very few know the technicals of the game. We criticize and second-guess from our accountability-free vantage point, but we know so little.
  • Sometimes the fan—or, yeegads, an occasional interfering parent or even a well-meaning university officer—who knows some about basketball is the more destructive. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Which leads me to my next point…
  • Coaches know best.
  • A coach’s job is highly political, perhaps more so for a UP coach. He has to contend with so much. More than the X’s and the O’s, he has to deal with different personalities with different perspectives and different agendas.**
  • Alumni support is more often than not a Catch-22 situation, with shades of Field of Dreams: you build it, they will come. Except that to build it—a good team—you need alumni support. Which usually doesn’t come unless the team wins games. How’s that for a Gordian knot? UP, in particular, needs our support because it cannot fund its own sports programs. Many times our fundraisers entice support by proving that ours could be a winning team. But why? Support is not a commercial transaction that requires a give-and-take. We support the team, regardless. We paid a measly P500-semestral tuition in the 1980s, dagnabbit, and we can’t give back?
  • A good college basketball program takes a few years to develop. We can never demand a strong finish in a coach’s early years unless the previous coach laid the foundation for a victory, and all the present coach has to do is take the pickings. There must be good recruiting beforehand, something that the Maroons, alas, will have to make up for since we didn’t do solid recruiting the last two years.
  • It’s a given: schools with strong alumni support are more likely to attract the better players. Alums are crucial to the basketball program. Like I told The Coach: half of the game is won outside the court and before the season.
  • The “university” portion in UAAP (University Athletic Association of the Philippines) is often overlooked and overshadowed by “athletic.” Sad.
  • And, on a haha-hee hee note: the UAAP games are rated PG: Parental Guidance required. Check it out below. I can offer many reasons why, but that would violate my self-imposed gag order.

* My sparring partner Jonski, lest you flinch, I checked first if it’s all right to use forums. Heh.

** Alas, Jonski, the intricacies of using Latinate forms. I’m junking agendum and treating agenda as singular.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


My friend, Art, who won this year’s third prize in future fiction (Palanca) said he had initially plowed his way through his first drafts to plant a "message,” convinced then that a good story must contain a moral.

Should fiction contain a moral?

John Gardner in his essay, On Moral Fiction, argued that fiction is moral when it is true art. According to another writer's summary of this essay, Gardner attacks what he sees as contemporary literature's lack of moral content. In Gardner's view, moral fiction "attempts to test human values, not for the purpose of preaching or peddling a particular ideology, but in a truly honest and open-minded effort to find out which best promotes human fulfillment."

What I do not want any fiction to do is preach, such that the characters, plot and language become secondary to the writer's not-always-hidden agenda of imposing his or her particular convictions. What good fiction does is not to teach us lessons about life or about What Should Be, but to help us "weigh and consider." (Sir Francis Bacon once advised: "Read not to contradict and confute, not to believe and take for granted, nor to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider.")

In this sense, then, fiction will always be "moral" because it cannot help but make a statement, regardless of whether and especially if the writer was not conscious of doing so. Fiction always makes a stand: the characters, the narrator, the author, the reader—they will all have their own worldview. If the fiction is done well, then it will not sound like a sermon; neither will it present a contrived plot designed to showcase the moral lesson. The ideas in good fiction are added to our processing (which is more often than not unconscious) of what it is to be human, to belong to the human race.

I agree with Mary Gordon—a novelist and teacher—that we should look to fiction "for moral complexity, not moral certainty."