Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Running

Every year, at least 20,000 pairs of running shoes are sold locally. Industry types estimate that tallies up to Php 80,000,000 in gross sales. And that’s not counting numbers for the fake footwear that can be found in almost every tiangge or commercial area in the country today.

While seemingly not as appealing or popular as the more mainstream sports like basketball, boxing, football, or volleyball, millions of millions of Filipinos engage in some form of running whether for competitive, recreational, or health reasons. Marathons, fun runs, jogging, and run-for-causes have become a staple of our lives. Why we even have a running priest!

And every couple of years more and more people get into running. They’ve learned that unless you’re tall and uncommonly good with a basketball or can land haymakers like a certain pugilist from General Santos City; running is perhaps the most viable vehicle to success, power, prestige, women, opportunity and heaven forbid – money. In fact, some of these people who run our sports agencies don’t even have an athletic bone in their body!

Welcome to the great equalizer in Philippine society – running. For public office that is. In our country, the obscene amount of money spent alone for campaigns and elections is more than enough to make a significant upgrade on our educational system – and that’s not even counting the pork. It’s enough to provide to provide huge repairs on our sucky and oft controversial sports scene. In fact, Php 3 million alone can run a professional football league for one season and that includes airtime!

Like sports, public office is something anyone can get into. Hey, it’s a free country!

Aside from the trapos who are consistently best friends with the Ombudsman; there are the usual gaggle of celebrities who aren’t exactly paragons of virtue and leadership. There are the actors who must think that offing x number of baddies in their movies makes them fit for the job. If so, they should go to the Spratlys and to send back the Chinese Navy back to the mainland. And when they’re done maybe we should give them a gun that seemingly never runs out of ammo to deal with the Abu Sayyaf.

And there are athletes who cannot even run their own affairs more so string a coherent sentence or two. Some who we had high hopes for have become a part of the system. Can I shake my head in dismay now?

As I stated earlier, there’s nothing wrong with celebrities, athletes, or media-types running for public office. Not all those with backgrounds in law, business or public service have done a great job as it is. And who knows, maybe it’s these people who can actually make real and meaningful change. Unfortunately the track record – yes, there’s that running jargon again – of celebrities, athletes, and media-types leaves much to be desired.

It’s hard to pre-judge a person’s performance in public office regardless of their background. Maybe that’s the jaded side of me. Back in the mid-to-late 80’s when I first got a chance to vote, I thought that I had a chance to make a difference. And I guess it did. The removal of a dictatorship helped usher in era of progress where we saw the rise of the middle class and a climate more conducive to business (The martial law climate didn’t do much to stimulate economic growth. Think about it, the call center industry alone pumps in millions of dollars into the country; now you can’t have that if there was curfew, right?).

But now, welcome to the suck that is our political climate where we’re going through another exercise in the banal and profane. It’s election time again and everyone wants to run for public office. In my barangay in Marikina, an SK rep several years ago was accused of embezzling public funds! SK, ha? And this person was a she in her teens. Dude, I didn’t know that there was that much money into SK. Even if there isn’t, it must have been enough for her to even think of misappropriating it.

Show me a real honest-to-goodness public servant and I’ll show you renewed interest in my flagging sense of nationalism. In the meantime, I’m going to do my routine of walking and real running on weekends in the grounds of my alma mater.


Other notes: The race-for charity between Charles Barkley and Dick Bavetta was not only hilarious but one of the best moments of the recent NBA All-Star Weekend... Tiger Woods’ run of six consecutive victories ended in the Accenture Match Play Championship... Looks like that New York Yankee outfielder Bernie Williams’ run of 16 years with the only ball club he’s ever known is over. We’re missing ya, Bern!

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