I've set up a website for photos. This will be the spot for pictures during my Peace Corps time. You can view it here:
Friday, June 1, 2007
As I've mentioned before, basketball is nuts here in the Philippines. Despite their typically short stature, Filipinos as a nation have taken to basketball as few other cultures have. It's probably bigger here than in most places in the United States. To the left is a picture of the semi-final game at my town's basketball championships. As you can see, the outdoor court is completely packed. Spectators are no more than a foot from the court, standing 5-10 deep. The stage and the bleachers are totally overrun. Kids are standing on speakers and anything they can find. With each three-pointer, missed layup, or steal the chorus of screams is deafining. The tournament was inter-barangay, so both sides had roughly equal support groups. It seems like most boys play. One barangay had a team where literally 8 of the 12 players had the name Renacia on their jerseys... it's a family affair.
Although the players in this tournament had on nice uniforms and basketball shoes, and this court is reasonably nice (flat, painted concrete, good rims, well lit), basketball is played anywhere and everywhere here, and typically in flip-flops. When I play in my shoes I feel like I have an unfair advantage, but playing in flip-flops is hard and awkward. But guys here will play full-court, 5-on-5 games with everybody wearing them.
If you don't want to play basketball at a certain time of the day, you can definitely watch it. There is a strictly-NBA channel that shows all sorts of old highlights, interviews, and games, as well as current playoff games. There are two Filipino basketball leagues, the PBA and the PBL Former Husky Jamaal Williams is one of the hot new imports in the PBA, which has teams named for corporations. He plays for the Sta. Lucia Realtors and scored 35 points in a loss to the Coca-Cola Tigers in the one game I saw him play so far. (The best team name, though, has to be the Talk N' Text Phone Pals). In no other culture could you walk into a house and find two teenage boys watching a taped WNBA game.
I see basketball as a major tool for cultural entry while I'm here, and it will definitely be a good way to run off the heavy meat diet. The first kids I met in my town were at the basketball court. When I want to tell people where I'm from, I simply mention the Seattle Supersonics (the soon to be Kevin Durant-led Sonics??). Plus, I always get to play center.
at 2:45 AM