SPORTS AND RECREATION IN THE PHILIPPINES

SPORTS IN THE PHILIPPINES

Many Filipinos are basketball fanatics. However, as there are not many tall Filipinos, the Philippines hasn’t produced many good basketball teams or players. It has produced some good boxers though of which Manny Pacquiao is the most famous. In the provinces, there is hardly a town or municipality without a "sabong" — cockpit. Cockfights are normally held on Sunday afternoons. The Philippines used to have Spanish-style bullfights.

The Zamboanga Golf Course and Beach Park was founded in 1910 by Gov. John Pershing. It is one of the oldest golf courses in the Philippines. Ilo-Ilo golf and country club is the oldest golf club in the Philippines. It was built at 1908 by Irish Engineers.

Filipino ten-pin bowler Rafael "Paeng" Nepomuceno was the first bowler to be elevated to the International Bowling Hall of Fame based in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. The Philippine Congress has named him “Greatest Filipino Athlete of All Time.” The World Cup, which was instituted in 1965, is contested annually by the national champions of the Federation Internationale des Quilleurs (FIQ). The highest number of wins is 4, by Filipino bowler Rafael “Paeng” Nepomuceno: 1976, 1980, 1992, and 1996.

Maria Teresa Calderon— a Filipina world champion speed reader—is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records Filipino Eriberto N. Gonzales Jr. consumed 350 chilis in 3 minutes at the annual Magayon Festival chili-eating contest held at Penaranda Park, Legazpi, Albay on May 27, 1999, making it to the Guiness Book of World Records for the most chilis eaten.

Arnis is a traditional Filipino marital art. Also known as krima or kali, it is a form of stick fighting that has its origins in 8th century combat. It was employed by the warriors, fighting under Lapu Lapu, who killed Ferdinand Magellan and sent his crew packing for Europe. Modern arnis uses sticks and knives and is somewhat similar to kung fu.

The Philippines in the Olympics

The Philippines first sent athletes to compete at the Olympic Games in 1924 and was the first country from Southeast Asia to compete and win a medal. The nation has competed at every Summer Olympic Games since then, except when Moscow in 1980, when it participated in the American-led boycott of the games. Filipino athletes have also competed at the Winter Olympic Games on four different occasions since 1972. The Philippines is the first nation in the tropics to ever participate in the Winter Olympic Games. It sent sent two alpine skiers to the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo, Japan. [Source: Wikipedia +]

Filipino athletes have won a total of nine Olympic medals, with boxing as the top medal-producing sport. After Mongolia won its first gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics, the Philippines now holds the record for the most medals without a gold. The National Olympic Committee of the Philippines is the Philippine Olympic Committee was founded in 1911 and recognized by the International Olympic Committee in 1929.

Philippines Olympics medalists (Name, Medal, Games, Type, Sport, Event): 1) Teófilo Yldefonso, Bronze, Netherlands 1928 Amsterdam, Summer, Swimming, Men's 200 metre breaststroke; 2) Simeon Toribio, Bronze, United States 1932 Los Angeles, Summer, Athletics, Men's high jump; 2) José Villanueva, Bronze, United States 1932 Los Angeles, Summer, Boxing, Men's bantamweight; 4) Teófilo Yldefonso, Bronze, United States 1932 Los Angeles, Summer, Swimming, Men's 200 metre breaststroke; 5) Miguel White, Bronze, Nazi Germany 1936 Berlin, Summer, Athletics, Men's 400 metres hurdles; 6) Anthony Villanueva, Silver, Japan 1964 Tokyo, Summer, Boxing, Men's featherweight; 7) Leopoldo Serantes, Bronze, South Korea 1988 Seoul, Summer, Boxing, Men's light flyweight; 8) Roel Velasco, Bronze, Spain 1992 Barcelona, Summer, Boxing, Men's light flyweight; 9) Mansueto Velasco, Silver, United States 1996 Atlanta, Summer, Boxing pictogram.svg Boxing, Men's light flyweight.

Thrilla in Manila

One of the greatest boxing matches of all time and arguably the biggest sports event ever in the Philippines was the "Thrilla in Manila," the third and final fight between Mohammed Ali and Joe Frazier in Manila in 1975. The nickname was coined by Ali who said on the way to the Philippines, "It will be a killa and chilla and thrilla when I get the gorilla in Manila!"

In their first meeting in 1971, Frazier won, in their second meeting in 1974, Ali easily won the bout at Madison garden, nearly knocking Frazier out. In Manila, Ali was promised $4.5 million and Frazier $2 million, plus a percentage of the gross. Before the fight Ali bated Frazier with a rubber gorilla he carried in his pocket.

On the Manila fight, William Nack wrote in Sports Illustrated, "In Manila each fighter suffered the beating of his life...Those who were there witnessed prizefighting in its grandest manner, the final epic in a running blood feud between two men, each fighting to own the heart of the other. The fight called upon all their will and courage as they pitched from one ring post to another emitting fearful grunts and squeals." In his book Ghosts of Manila, Mark Kram wrote: “No mere fight whatever the talent could reach such carnal roots and produce such full-bodied greatness, the kind that Ali would maintain long years later had carried him to parts unknown in himself and had no portfolio equal. Thoreau said, ‘Know your own bone.’ They did—and then some,”

Dave Skretta of Associated Press wrote: “Filipino President Ferdinand Marcos actively sought their 1975 bout to divert attention from the social turmoil that was raging in his country, and promoter Don King -- ever one to put on a spectacle -- consented to holding the fight at the Araneta Coliseum. It was the rubber match between two bigger-than-life heavyweights on the decline, Ali having beaten Frazier in their 1974 rematch. Following that bout, the tongue-whipping Ali regained the title by beating George Foreman in Zaire, the famed "Rumble in the Jungle." Frazier was hanging on for one more shot at the title -- and one more at Ali. [Source: Dave Skretta, Associated Press, April 12, 2009 *-*]

“The animosity that grew over the pair's first two fights reached a climax when, after the Philippines bout was announced, Ali pulled out a black rubber gorilla and famously launched into a poem: "It will be a killa and a chilla and a thrilla, when I get the gorilla in Manila." "He kept saying, 'Joe Frazier, I'm going to whup you,'" Frazier recalled, still pained by the race-baiting attacks. "I said, 'Alright, I'm going to wrap your butt up.' People loved him on the basis of his noise." *-*

“The fight was scheduled for 10:45 a.m. to accommodate television in the United States, and the morning broke hot and humid. Thousands of people packed the arena, filling even the aisles, and for 14 rounds the two titans clashed -- Ali winning the early rounds, Frazier asserting himself over the middle rounds. Ali staggered Frazier in the 12th, then again in the 13th, one clean punch knocking his mouthpiece into the crowd. Frazier's left eye was swollen shut, his right eye closing. Even though the scorecards were virtually tied, and against Frazier's objections, his trainer Eddie Futch called a stop to the fight. After throwing his arms up in celebration, an exhausted Ali collapsed to the canvas.” *-*

Book: Ghosts of Manila by Mark Kram (HarperCollins)

Round by Round at the Thrilla in Manila

William Nack of Sports Illustrated wrote: "By the end of the 10th round Ali looked like a half-drowned man who had just been pulled from Manila Bay. His aching boy slumped, glistening with sweat. He had won the early rounds, snapping his whiplike jab on Frazier's face, but...Frazier found his rolling rhythm after a few rounds, and by the fifth had driven Ali into his corner and was thumping his body like a blacksmith."

"For the next five rounds it was if Frazier had reached into his the darkest bat cave of his psyche and freed all his pent up rage. In the sixth he pressed and attacked, winging three savage hooks to Ali's head, the last of which sent his mouthpiece flying...Frazier resumed the attack in the seventh...In the ninth, as Ali wilted, the fighting went deeper into the trenches, down where Frazier...landed low after blow he could hear Ali howling in pain...In his corner after the 10th, Ali said..."This must be what dying is like."

"Then came the 11th. Drew (Bundini) Brown, Ali's witch doctor, pleaded with him, "God down to well once more!"...Ali emerged reborn. During the next four rounds he with precision and fury that made a bloody Frazier weave and wobble. In the 12th Ali landed consecutive punches to Frazier's head...By the end of the round an archipelago of lumps had surfaced around the challenger's eyes and brow."

In the 13th round, "Ali threw punches in flurries. so many blows that Frazier reeled helplessly. A right cross sent Frazier's white mouthpiece twirling four rows into the seats...Frazier's face was a misshapen moonscape, both eyes closing, and in the 14th Ali fired barrages and raked a nearly blind Frazier with rights and lefts... Ali's shots to the head finally left Frazier unable to answer the bell for the 15th round."

Mark Kram wrote in Ghosts of Manila, “The fourteenth was the most savage round of the forty-one Ali and Frazier fought. It brought out guilt (not felt since Joe wrecked the face of Chuvalo) that made one want to seek out the nearest confessional for the expiation of voyeuristic lust. Nine straight right hands smashed into Joe's left eye, thirty or so in all during th round. When Joe's left side capsized to the right from the barrage, Ali moved it back into range for his eviscerating right with crisp left hooks, and at the round's end the referee guided Joe back to his corner. Eddie Futch was a man in thought. 'Never fade a guy who's sneaked his own dice into the game,' Yank liked to say. But ...he remembered their fifteenth round in the Garden; did Ali have another round in him? If not Joe might win it. He looked at the swollen, purple slit of Fraziers eye. In the old days, trainers- not Eddie- would use a razor blade to pop the balloon and release the pressure. Not with this eye, it was beyond help. He remembered, too, the several fighters he had seen killed in the ring. There was a sudden commotion in Joe's corner. The lover of the Lake Poets was signaling to stop the fight. 'No, no, no!' Joe kept shouting. 'You can't do that to me!'

After the Thrilla in Manila Fight

Mark Kram wrote in Ghosts of Manila, “With the only strength they had left, both fighters stumbled to their dressing rooms to a continuous roar. When Ali hit the passage leading toward his room, he was draped around the shoulders of his handlers, his feet dragging, his face one of terminal exhaustion. The first thing they saw in the room was a dead man, part of his head blown away. The cop on duty there had been twirling and fanning his gun in front of a mirror, accidently offed himself, and now he was in a heap below the mirror, with a Jackson Pollack scatter of blood on it. 'Is he dead?' Ali asked, barely able to speak. 'A dead man. Get me outta here.' An omen! His handlers moved him to a sofa in another room. Tears trickled down Joe's face in the other room. He was being embraced by Eddie when Bob Goodman, the press liason, entered, asking:'Joe, can you talk to the press?' Joe agreed, and Goodman went to Ali and asked:'Champ, you up to the press?' Bundini went ballistic: 'You insane? Look at him!' Ali was a clump on the sofa, his skin a grey color. 'Joe's out there,' Goodman said. With that, Ali raised his head and asked, as if incredulous:'He is?' He added:'Get me my comb.' Ali would be a long time coming out.

The next day: After the press conference, Joe retired to a private villa for rest. He had been sleeping for a couple of hours when George Benton entered with a vistor. The room was dark. 'Who is it?' Joe asked, lifting his head. 'I can't see. Can't see. Turn the lights on.' A light was turned on, and he still could not see. Like Ali, he lay there with his veins empty, crushed by a will that had carried him so far and now surely too far. His eyes were iron gates torn up by an explosive. 'Man, I hit him with punches that bring down the walls f a city . What held him up?' He asked lowered his head for some abstract forgiveness. 'Goddamn it, when somebody going to understand? It wasn't just a fight. It was me and him. Not a fight.' He dropped his head back to the pillow, wincing, and soon there was only the heavy breathing of a deep sleep slapping off the shoreline of his consciousness. He was correct. No mere fight, whatever the talent, could.

It was evening, the next day, in his Hilton suite, his body bent and listing to the right, so badly had his organs been seared; He had been urinating blood since the fight. 'Everything in me is on flame,' he said. 'He stood there gazing at the sun bleeding a dark, tragic red, eased down over the brown water of Manila Bay. His right hand hurt and was swollen, his eyewhites streaked with blood. He looked at his right hand, tried to make a fist but couldn't. 'What this man do to me?' He asked with a rasp as he guided my hand over the ridge of bumps on his forehead. 'Why I do this?' He searched the horizon as if looking for an answer. 'It was insane in there,' he said. 'Couple of times like I was leaving my body. The animal could've killed me. That man weren't human in there I must be crazy. For what?' He took in the sunset again, then said:'This is it for me. It's over.'

After Manila, Joe Frazier, with his head shaved to a glistening point, heavy and slow, met George Foreman in June 1976. In training, Futch noted that Joe spent long parts of sessions on the ropes, where he'd go to rest, lie back and pick off punches, and often miss the one you did not see, then it's over; this is where careers end. Eventually, fans grow tired of a fighter's survival and want the seriously new to sweep out the old. George wasn't new, but at least he'd dispatch a barnacled name once and for all. George dribbled him, the stopped him in the fifth, with most of the crowd shouting Ali's name.

Smokin' Joe Haunted by Manila To His Dying Days

In 2009, two years before Frazier died, Dave Skretta of Associated Press wrote: “Muhammad Ali described his third and final fight with Joe Frazier as "death." "Closest thing to dyin' that I know of," he said. Frazier recalls their brutal matchup outside Manila as something much less grandiose. "We just did our job," he said. The two great heavyweights always have been the ying and yang of boxing. Why should things change nearly 35 years later? Now 65 and walking with the use of a cane, the slightly stooped Frazier reflected on the iconic fight in Quezon City in 1975 during a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press. He also talked about the contentious relationship between the starring characters, which is the subject of the new HBO documentary "Thrilla in Manila" premiering Saturday night. [Source: Dave Skretta, Associated Press, April 12, 2009 *-*]

"I don't think Manila was my greatest fight," Frazier said forcefully. He ticks off several others in vivid detail, from the Golden Gloves to his gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, to the "Fight of the Century" -- when he beat Ali at Madison Square Garden in 1971 to retain the heavyweight title. "The greatest fight was '71, when we were all undefeated," he said. "There was more money, more people. I don't know why they make this one out to be the biggest fight." *-*

“When it comes to his longtime foil, Frazier is sympathetic to the suffering Parkinson's disease has caused Ali. But as a Christian, Frazier said, he isn't surprised by it, either. "I'm sorry that he is the way he is, but I didn't have too much to do with it. It was the good man above," Frazier said. "Maybe I did have a little to do with it, but God judges, you know what I'm saying? We don't have the power to judge that the man has above." *-*

“Frazier believes that Ali's arrogant boasts of "I am the greatest!" were "a slap in the Lord's face," and that he did the same to his family when he changed his name from Cassius Clay to reflect his Muslim beliefs. "I respect him as a guy who did a fine job in the fight game," Frazier said. "I don't think he really loves me. I didn't like nothing he done, you know?" That lingering tension can be traced to their epic trilogy, which turned former friends into enemies and culminated with an event that became as much about politics as prizefighting. *-*

Ali later tried to make amends, calling the mocking use of a gorilla a promotional ploy, and said if "God ever calls me to a holy war, I want Joe Frazier fighting beside me." But the wounds ran deep, and while the two men have alternated apologies with attacks over the years, their relationship is still raw. "I don't mind people want to think Muhammad is the greatest fighter around," Frazier said. "Everybody wants to make him great because of his mouth, that he was the best. He was good, but that doesn't make him great. I proved that." *-*

While the aftermath of a career spent inside the ring left Ali a broken man physically, it left Frazier broken financially. He lost much of his hard-won fortune in real estate dealings gone awry, and gave away untold thousands of dollars, generous to a fault. While contemporaries like Foreman and Larry Holmes -- and yes, Ali -- are living comfortably, Frazier has only a humble Philadelphia apartment. *-*

“He hangs around the gym and spends time with young fighters, but he's no longer interested in the sport at its highest level. There are too many so-called champions in too many weight divisions, and the heavyweights -- long considered the most glamorous -- have become a joke. The sport's popularity has waned considerably from the days of his historic battles with Ali, when the "sweet science" was forefront in newspapers and the American psyche. Now, boxing has become a niche sport followed mostly by the devoted. "It just doesn't interest me anymore, the guys aren't exciting anymore," Frazier said, while holding out hope that its luster might one day be restored. "Sure it bothers me. I'm going to wait until (President Barack) Obama gets a little quiet in Washington, and then I'm going to see if he has a meeting with me, or take a few guys with me, and seen and be heard about it. "Let's see if we can get this back to where it needs to be." Perhaps back to where it was in 1975. 8-8

Team Sports in the Philippines

NBA basketball is very popular in the Philippines. Former President Estrada was a big fan. Basketball is a popular participation sport. You see it played on playgrounds and empty lots throughout the country—more so than you see soccer. The Philippine Basketball Association is Asia's first and the world's second oldest professional league. Basketball games sometimes draw large, excited crowds. Sometimes cockfights are held during half time. Mediocre basketball players in the U.S. can become big stars in the Philippines.

The Philippines is pretty poor in soccer. The national team is widely regarded as the worst in Asia, even placing begind countries like Laos, Cambodia and Brunei. In a FIFA raking it was 179th out of 203 teams. A Japanese coach who was brought in to coach the national team said his first goal was to get the players to show up for practice and eat properly.

In 1916, volleyball players in the Philippines developed an offensive style of passing the ball in a high trajectory to be struck by another player (the set and spike) were introduced. The Filipinos called the spike the "bomba" or kill, and called the hitter a "bomberino". Tug of wars were introduced by Americans to Philippines tribesman as a substitute for head hunting.

Dennis Rodman Meets His Father in the Philippines After 42 Years of Separation

Former NBA basketball Dennis Rodman's father, Philander Rodman Jr. lives in the Philippines. In the early 2000s he lived with two wives and 15 of his 27 children and said he was shooting for 30 children.

In 2012, Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo Sports wrote: “Basketball Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman doesn't know his father well. The aptly named Philander Rodman left Dennis' mother 48 years ago, and the former Pistons, Spurs, Bulls, Lakers and Mavericks forward hadn't seen his father for 42 years. Until recently, that is, when a barnstorming team Dennis plays for stumbled into Manila in the Philippines, and Dennis surprisingly agreed to a short meeting with his father. [Source: Kelly Dwyer, Ball Don't Lie, Yahoo Sports, July 19, 2012 ***]

Associated Press: “Philander Rodman Jr., who has acknowledged fathering 29 children by 16 mothers, says he was happy and surprised that his son agreed to meet him late Wednesday. He tried to meet the basketball Hall of Famer during another game in Manila in 2006. Philander, who has been living in the Philippines for nearly 50 years, said Thursday he wanted to explain to his son that he didn't abandon his family in the United States, but they only had time for greetings and handshakes.”

Here's Dennis' take on his father, from his 1996 memoir "Bad As I Want To Be," with some cursing removed: "I never really knew my father, Philander Rodman. He was in the Air Force in New Jersey, where I was born, and when I was three we packed up and came back to Dallas where my mother is from. We did this when my father stopped coming home. My father isn't part of my life. I haven't seen him in more than thirty years, so what is there to miss? I just look at it like this: Some man brought me into this world. That doesn't mean I have a father; I don't. I could say, 'This is my father. This is my dad,' but that doesn't sound right to me. I grew up with my mother and two younger sisters, Debra and Kim. There wasn't a male role model in my life until I got to college and started getting my [act] together."

Dwyer wrote: “The AP went on to mention that Rodman's father currently runs something called Rodman's Rainbow Obamaburger in the Philippines; which I'm sure is about as tactful and classy an establishment as can be expected by the father of 29 children by 16 women who tried to cram two different famous names into the name of his restaurant while appearing on the restaurant's website wearing a bootleg Chicago Bulls jersey with the name "Rodman" emblazoned on the front instead of the word "CHICAGO."

After the meeting Rodman told Associated Press: ''I've been trying to meet him for years. And then last night, boom, I met him. I was really, really happy and very surprised. ''I really, really felt good,'' he said. ''It's the beginning of something new.''

David Beckham Visits Abused, Abandoned Kids In Manila

In 2011, Oliver Teves of Associated Press wrote: “Away from fans' prying eyes, David Beckham took time out from soccer to share his experiences and listen to Filipino children struggling to rebuild their broken lives. "It's so important to have a dream," Beckham told the former street children Friday at a UNICEF-supported shelter in a suburb of Manila, the Philippine capital where he and his teammates from the Los Angeles Galaxy are playing an exhibition against the country's national team this weekend. On the sidelines of the Galaxy's Manila trip, Beckham, who is also a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, visited the shelter for children who have been rescued from the streets. They shared tales of domestic abuse and crime – some fell victim to drugs or were abandoned by their parents. [Source: Oliver Teves, Associated Press, December 2, 2011 */*]

“Wearing a black UNICEF T-shirt, the 36-year-old former England captain listened intently in a private conversation with a group of five children and told them how he started playing when he was 7 years old and eventually achieving his dream of playing for Manchester United. UNICEF asked that the names of the children and the shelter not be disclosed to protect their privacy. Conan, a 17-year-old who was abandoned by his parents when he was 7, told Beckham that he dreams of joining the Philippine team and later becoming a coach. He played in the Street Children's Football World Cup last year in South Africa, where the Philippines beat South Africa 2-1. */*

“The younger children were awe-struck while listening to one of the world's best known athletes. One 12-year-old girl named Shaina said she wants to be a nurse to help the sick. She often held Beckham's hand as she and the other children guided him around the facility, unfazed by the tattoos that adorn his arms. Beckham told the UNICEF staff it was incredible that the children had gone through "so much in such a short space of time in their young lives" and learned responsibility and respect. He said he was lucky to have had the support of both his parents and it was "so sad to see so many children that don't have that support, don't have that love." */*

“He later listened to JM, a former drug user who turned 18 on Friday, sing a rap song in the Filipino language on how drugs ruin lives. After a staff translated the song for Beckham, he gave him a double thumbs up, saying, "You're good!" The shelter that houses 136 kids has a small soccer field surrounded by separate cottages for boys and girls, a school, a basketball court and a training facility where children learn to sew clothes and cut hair. Beckham posed with the children for a picture wearing a blue graduation gown and cap made at the sewing room, where he also tried his hand at making a pillow case. */*

"What struck me the most about coming into the center was it was a real happy place, a real inspiring place," he told The Associated Press. "They are teaching kids unbelievable values. Every child I spoke to today – they all have dreams, they all have inspirations." A father of four children, Beckham said it was "heartbreaking to think majority of these children haven't got parents, or haven't got parents to care for them and love them." Beckham said that because of work, it's been difficult for him "to do some of the things I would like to do – going out into the field like I obviously have today." "I think it is important to raise awareness to many issues around the world, many worries around the world," he said. "In my position, thankfully, I can create that kind of interest and awareness to things that are happening around the world." A highlight of his visit was a brief practice followed by a short game in which he joined one half of the shelter's team. The star sweated under the midday sun as he helped their shoeless goalkeeper. His side lost 1-0. */*

Recreation and Entertainment in the Philippines

The people of the Philippines enjoy watching professional basketball played by American professional teams and teams in Filipino professional leagues. Basketball courts are the only sport-site found in every barangay and school. Cockfights are a popular sport among men. Cocks have metal spurs attached to the leg just above the foot. The contest continues until one of the cocks is unable to continue fighting or runs away. Cuneta Astrodome in metropolitan Manila is used for both professional basketball and cockfights. Mah-jongg, a Chinese game played with tiles, is very popular, especially with women. [Source: everyculture.com /=/]

In September 2004, 31,000 students, teachers and employees from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines created the world’s largest human rainbow at Rizal Park in Manila. The record was recognized by the Guinness Book of Records. The previous record was made by 11,750 people in Malta in November 2003.

The northern Philippines town of La Trinidad made an 11,146 kilogram strawberry buttercake. La Trinidad bills its itself as the strawberry capital of the Philippines. It has been making giant cakes for a number of years. The Guinness Book of Records said it had no entry for strawberry buttercakes. Organizers of the cake baking event tried to convince the Guinness people to make a new category.

Golf Course Architect Helps Defeat Marcos

A. Craig Copetas wrote in New York Times, “In January 1986, Robert Trent Jones Jr., an American golf course designer, strolled off a plane at Manila International Airport, hoping that President Ferdinand Marcos was too busy trying to suppress a revolution to remember that he had marked him for death. "I was expecting all hell to break loose," Jones recalled.“I'd built six courses in the Philippines, and Marcos cheated on every one of them to keep a phony 7 handicap. He used barefoot caddies, who curled their toes around his bad lies and moved the ball into the fairway." [Source: A. Craig Copetas, New York Times, January 15, 2005] [Source: A. Craig Copetas, New York Times, January 15, 2005 /=\]

“Why Marcos wanted Jones dead had nothing to do with his refusal to design a course that could accommodate the dictator's woeful slice. Since 1975, Marcos knew that Jones was serving as the global point man to raise money and political support for the nation's pro-democracy People Power movement led by Benigno Aquino and dozens of Jones's Filipino golf partners. Jones had privately lobbied for regime change in the Philippines while playing golf with Sam Nunn, the Georgia senator; George Shultz, the secretary of state under President Ronald Reagan; and other senior officials in the Carter and Reagan administrations. /=\

“What Marcos did not know was that Jones had been shuttling messages between Reagan administration officials and People Power leaders while playing golf with both groups in the United States and the Philippines. "Bob is a really good golfer and very competitive in everything," Shultz says. "I wasn't in the Philippines. Bob was, and he was an influential voice. He was a good and trusted back channel, and he kept me well informed." Jones added: "I didn't need a cover story. I really was in the Philippines building golf courses." /=\

“Two weeks before Marcos's Aviation Security Command assassinated Aquino as he stepped off a plane in Manila on Aug. 21, 1983, Jenetta Sagan from Amnesty International phoned Jones in Hawaii with instructions to warn Aquino of the plot that awaited him upon return from a three-year exile in the United States. "I told Benigno, and his silence was overpowering," Jones recalls. "He knew, and there was nothing I could do to prevent him from going home." Two days after Aquino's murder, two of Marcos's henchmen in San Francisco blocked Jones from entering the Commonwealth Club for lunch. "They told me not to go back to Manila, ever, or I would 'follow my friend's fate,"' Jones says. /=\

“Jones went back to the Philippines with instructions from Shultz to assure Corazon Aquino, the widowed People Power leader, that the United States would recognize her new government if the uprising proved successful. She went on to become president of the Philippines. "I'm here to build a golf course and play a few rounds with my partners," Jones told the Aviation Security Command agents before climbing into the car Aquino had sent for him. Jones shut the door. People Power organizer Jose Cojuangco Jr., known as Peping, handed him an AK-47 assault rifle. "Marcos will torture all of us for the information you're carrying," Cojuangco said. "We must not be taken alive." /=\

“Reaching for one of the clubs piled on the floor atop golf balls and ammunition clips, Jones selected a 3-iron and tapped Cojuangco on the shoulder. "Bobby looks me in the eye and calmly says, 'Peping, you got a 7-iron back here? I'd be much better with a 7-iron,"' Cojuangco recalled over lunch recently with Corazon Aquino, who is his sister. Aquino said, "Bobby put his life at risk for us more than once, even though I never played golf." After the laughter faded, Aquino told Jones, "There's no doubt you used the game of golf to influence U.S. politicians to support me instead of Marcos. You helped me become president." /=\

Charity Walk in Philippines Breaks Guinness Records

In February 2104, a Philippine Christian sect—Iglesia ni Cristo— broke two records for organizing the largest charity walk in an effort to raise funds for survivors of Typhoon Haiyan, a Guinness World Records official said Associated Press reported: “Guinness adjudicator Kirsty Bennett said 175,509 members of the Iglesia ni Cristo took part in Saturday’s record-setting walk along a scenic Manila bayside boulevard. The previous record was set in Singapore in 2000 when 77,500 people walked to promote healthy living. [Source: Associated Press, February 16, 2014 ==]

“Bennett told a news conference in Manila that Iglesia ni Cristo members in 28 other countries also held similar walks over the weekend, with the number of participants reaching 519,221 worldwide a record for the largest charity walk in multiple venues. The previous record was set in Canada, where 231,635 people took part in a charity walk at various sites in 2007. “It is a huge achievement,” Ms. Bennett said before presenting a Guinness certificate to the Christian sect’s leaders as the group’s members applauded. ==

“An Iglesia spokesman, Edwil Zabala, said his group organized the walk to raise funds to be used in constructing homes and providing livelihoods to thousands of homeless Typhoon Haiyan survivors still living in tents and makeshift homes more than three months after the disaster. The typhoon, one of the strongest on record to hit land, tore across the central Philippines on Nov. 8, leaving more than 6,200 people dead and nearly 1,800 missing. The storm destroyed or damaged more than a million houses and displaced more than 4 million mostly poor villagers. The charity walk aimed to urge Filipinos and foreign governments to continue helping Haiyan survivors. “We’re concerned that donor fatigue may set in,” Mr. Zabala said. “If we abandon them now, many can’t still stand back fully on their own.” ==

Karaoke in the Philippines

Filipinos like karaoke. Karaoke are found in jeepneys and even on some airlines. According to humanbreeds.com: “83 percent of the Filipino women and 72 percent of the Filipino men dream about becoming a famous singer… well, i just made these statistics up, but the actual numbers are probably not so far away from those fake statistics. Filipinos just love singing, not only in the shower, but also on the streets (I’ve seen it happen countless times), in the living room, alone or with friends or of course in the extended and so frequently happening Karaoke sessions. [Source: humanbreeds.com, February 7, 2014]

Norimitsu Onishi wrote in the New York Times, “Social get-togethers invariably involve karaoke. Stand-alone karaoke machines can be found in the unlikeliest settings, including outdoors in rural areas where men can sometimes be seen singing early in the morning. And Filipinos, who pride themselves on their singing, may have a lower tolerance for bad singers. [Source: Norimitsu Onishi, New York Times, February 6, 2010 ||||]

“On one recent evening, at the table closest to the karaoke machine, Edwin Lancaderas, 62, crooned a Tagalog song, “Fight Temptation” — about a married man forgoing an affair with a woman while taking delight in their “stolen moments.” His friend Dindo Auxlero, 42, took the mike next, bawling songs by the Scorpions and Dire Straits. Several empty bottles of Red Horse crowded their table. ||||

“In the Philippines, life is difficult,” said Mr. Auxlero, who repairs watches from a street kiosk, as he railed about government corruption and a weak economy that has driven so many Filipinos to work overseas, including his wife, who is a maid in Lebanon. “But, you know, we have a saying: ‘Don’t worry about your problems. Let your problems worry about you.’ ” The two men roared with laughter. “That’s why we come here every night — to clear the excesses from our heads,” Mr. Lancaderas said, adding, however, that the two always adhered to karaoke etiquette and, of course, refrained from singing “My Way.” ||||

Singing Sinatra at a Filipino Karaoke Can get You Killed

Reporting from General Santos, a rough town in Mindanao, Norimitsu Onishi wrote in the New York Times, “After a day of barbering, Rodolfo Gregorio went to his neighborhood karaoke bar still smelling of talcum powder. Putting aside his glass of Red Horse Extra Strong beer, he grasped a microphone with a habitué’s self-assuredness and briefly stilled the room with the Platters’ “My Prayer.” Next, he belted out crowd-pleasers by Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck. But Mr. Gregorio, 63, a witness to countless fistfights and occasional stabbings erupting from disputes over karaoke singing, did not dare choose one beloved classic: Frank Sinatra’s version of “My Way.” “I used to like ‘My Way,’ but after all the trouble, I stopped singing it,” he said. “You can get killed.” [Source: Norimitsu Onishi, New York Times, February 6, 2010]

“The authorities do not know exactly how many people have been killed warbling “My Way” in karaoke bars over the years in the Philippines, or how many fatal fights it has fueled. But the news media have recorded at least half a dozen victims in the past decade and includes them in a subcategory of crime dubbed the “My Way Killings.” The killings have produced urban legends about the song and left Filipinos groping for answers. Are the killings the natural byproduct of the country’s culture of violence, drinking and machismo? Or is there something inherently sinister in the song? ||||

Whatever the reason, many karaoke bars have removed the song from their playbooks. And the country’s many Sinatra lovers, like Mr. Gregorio here in this city in the southernmost Philippines, are practicing self-censorship out of perceived self-preservation. “Most of the “My Way” killings have reportedly occurred after the singer sang out of tune, causing other patrons to laugh or jeer. “The trouble with ‘My Way,’ ” said Mr. Gregorio, “is that everyone knows it and everyone has an opinion.” Others, noting that other equally popular tunes have not provoked killings, point to the song itself. The lyrics, written by Paul Anka for Mr. Sinatra as an unapologetic summing up of his career, are about a tough guy who “when there was doubt,” simply “ate it up and spit it out.” Butch Albarracin, the owner of Center for Pop, a Manila-based singing school that has propelled the careers of many famous singers, was partial to what he called the “existential explanation.” ||||

“Some karaoke lovers are not taking chances, not even at family gatherings. In Manila, Alisa Escanlar, 33, and her relatives invariably gather before a karaoke machine, but they banned “My Way” after an uncle, listening to a friend sing the song at a bar, became enraged at the laughter coming from the next table. The uncle, who was a police officer, pulled out his revolver, after which the customers at the next table quietly paid their bill and left. ||||

“‘I did it my way’ — it’s so arrogant,” Mr. Albarracin said. “The lyrics evoke feelings of pride and arrogance in the singer, as if you’re somebody when you’re really nobody. It covers up your failures. That’s why it leads to fights.” Defenders of “My Way” say it is a victim of its own popularity. Because it is sung more often than most songs, the thinking goes, karaoke-related violence is more likely to occur while people are singing it. “Misunderstanding and jealousy” were behind the “My Way” killings one karaoke customer said. “I just hope it doesn’t happen here,” he said. ||||

Karaoke Violence in the Philippines

Norimitsu Onishi wrote in the New York Times, “Karaoke-related killings are not limited to the Philippines. In the past two years alone, a Malaysian man was fatally stabbed for hogging the microphone at a bar and a Thai man killed eight of his neighbors in a rage after they sang John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” Karaoke-related assaults have also occurred in the United States, including at a Seattle bar where a woman punched a man for singing Coldplay’s “Yellow” after criticizing his version. Still, the odds of getting killed during karaoke may be higher in the Philippines, if only because of the ubiquity of the pastime. [Source: Norimitsu Onishi, New York Times, February 6, 2010 ||||]

“The real reasons behind the violence are breaches of karaoke etiquette, like hogging the microphone, laughing at someone’s singing or choosing a song that has already been sung. “The Philippines is a very violent society, so karaoke only triggers what already exists here when certain social rules are broken,” said Roland B. Tolentino, a pop culture expert at the University of the Philippines. But even he hedged, noting that the song’s “triumphalist” nature might contribute to the violence. Awash in more than one million illegal guns, the Philippines has long suffered from all manner of violence, from the political to the private. Wary middle-class patrons gravitate to karaoke clubs with cubicles that isolate them from strangers. Ordinary karaoke bars, like the Nelson Carenderia here, a single room with bare plywood walls, mandate that a singer give up the microphone after three consecutive songs.||||

“But in karaoke bars where one song costs 5 pesos, or a tenth of a dollar, strangers often rub shoulders, sometimes uneasily. A subset of karaoke bars with G.R.O.’s — short for guest relations officers, a euphemism for female prostitutes — often employ gay men, who are seen as neutral, to defuse the undercurrent of tension among the male patrons. Since the gay men are not considered rivals for the women’s attention — or rivals in singing, which karaoke machines score and rank — they can use humor to forestall macho face-offs among the patrons. In one such bar in Quezon City, next to Manila, patrons sing karaoke at tables on the first floor and can accompany a G.R.O. upstairs. Fights often break out when customers at one table look at another table “the wrong way,” said Mark Lanada, 20, the manager. “That’s the biggest source of tension,” Mr. Lanada said. “That’s why every place like this has a gay man like me.”

Yo-Yos and the Philippines

The popular toy, the yo-yo, some say was invented by 16th century hunters in the Philippines. Ancient yo-yos were large wooden disks with twine attached. The weapon was thrown and the twine ensnared the animals legs causing it fall it the ground, ready to be killed. The word "yo-you" was originally a Tagalog word.

Other say yo-yos were invented around 400 B.C. by Filipino tribesmen who used them like weapons like a boomerang attached to thick ropes. The word yo-yo is said to have been derived from the Tagalog word for "come back." Yo yos are also believed to have been used in ancient Greece where they were made from wood, metal and terra cotta.

Yo-yo mania hit the United States in the 1920s when Donald Duncan, a U.S. businessman, began large scale production after purchasing the production rights from Philippine immigrant Pedro Flores, who made yo-yos in a factory in California. Duncan had witnessed a demonstration of a Philippine yo-yo. He scaled it down and made it a children toy.

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Philippines Department of Tourism, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated June 2015

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