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.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Slice of Heaven Part 2: La Paz & Jaro

I went to Iloilo to do a documentary about football and strangely enough, I found a slice of heaven over there. What follows is my three-part diary of Iloilo and my eternal fascination for the beautiful game. Be sure to also check out the companion piece posts to this at Thanks!

A Slice of Heaven Part 2: La Paz & Jaro
words & pictures by rick olivares

Friday, April 17, 2009
I had trouble with my mobile phone the night before. Damn Samsung phone has been giving me all sorts of trouble.

As a result, I didn’t know what time we were to be picked up Friday morning.

Normally that isn’t a problem since I get up kinda early. I was up at 5am as usual. I showered a couple of times again. Even with the cool of the air conditioner, I could feel the heat and grime on my skin the day before.

Around 830am there was a knock on the door. It was Engineer Duffie who was there to pick us up. God, I was so ashamed. We quickly dressed up and grabbed our gear.

Everything was fully charged from the previous night.

The first stop was to pick up Engineer Carlos “Boy” Somosierra, the President of the Jaro Football Club. Mang Boy was to be our guide for the whole day while Tito Duffie was off to some meetings.

We went to the capitol where the Governor of Iloilo held office. It is situated right where the old Spanish governors once ran the region.

On display in the lobby were pictures from an incident a couple of years ago when enraged citizens tried to forcibly oust the governor due to alleged charges of corruption. I don’t know the whole story and talking about the government makes me ill and violent. Seriously.

(PICTURE: from ground floor the upper floors and the ceiling of the Capitol building)

This being a story about football in the area, one of the first things we tried to trace was FC Barcelona great Paulino Alcantara who is said to hail from La Paz.

Incredibly, no one here really knows of Alcantara (I must have asked at least 30 people). What they know is only what they’ve read online. Some even ask if he is playing alongside Lionel Messi, Thierry Henry, and Sam Eto’o right now in Camp Nou in the Spanish Primera Liga.

There are Alcantaras in La Paz but no one is sure if they are still around. We tried asking but we will have to pursue that when we come back next.

From the capitol we were able to get info about Iloilo that would help in the making of the documentary. I accidentally left the microphones inside the SUV and were unable to conduct any interviews. Bonehead. Tito Duffie was in the Governor’s office and there was no way we could get the keys to the car. So we took a few shots of delicacies and sat down to chat with Mang Boy. And we got to compare the various flavors of La Paz batchoy. There was the special, extra special, and the extra extra special.

The difference was in the amount of the ingredients obviously.

It’s always good to learn new things every day and after the La Paz batchoy which originated from La Paz, I learned that pancit molo had its roots in… you guessed it, Molo, Iloilo. Fascinating!

By the time Tito Duffie finished his meeting, we had wasted our morning, but it didn’t put too much of a crimp on our plans.

From there since it was roundabout noon, we went to Tatoy’s, the famous eatery by the seaside. As the saying goes, “If you’ve not been to Tatoy’s you’ve not been to Iloilo.”

The story of Tatoy is fascinating as he used to sell he was dirt poor and he would sell fried chicken by the beach much to the consternation of nearby eateries since he did pretty well. He would be shooed away by other storeowners. When the opportunity arose to purchase a piece of land just across the beach, Tatoy bought it with a huge assist from a bank loan. His business has since grown as it now occupies a sizeable portion of the area. There’s even a convention center and it was Tito Duffie who first made use of it.

Now they even send food all over the world via parcel. It’s that big that even the president (small caps for small folk) has her party motor straight there when in Iloilo.

I think Tito Duffie ordered seven different kinds of food. The talaba looked appealing but I wasn’t going to risk a bum stomach killing our shooting sked. As I’ve said before, I’m allergic to seafoods. Most of them actually. If I can ever eat something it has to be fried but fried stuff doesn’t sit well with me all the time too. What a sucky eating life. So I stick to the chicken, liempo, and veggies.

Since we’re close to the beach (the waves were high) there was a breeze that somewhat stamped out the oppressive heat. The skies were cloudy and there was a hint of rain. As much as I thought that would be nice, we were worried about it canceling out the afternoon’s games.

In Jaro Park every afternoon, there were kids, most playing barefoot, who engaged in a game of football under the tutelage of Mang Boy. The Engineer is now retired from his work and he spends his free time if not tending to his family then teaching kids. Once more, like his Santa Barbara friends, without a fee.

We hoped to catch a game.

While in Tatoy’s I pull out the video cam and start taking footage. In one table where there looked to be plenty of food, I asked permission to take vids of them. They acquiesced but when they found out it was for football, they introduced me to one of their party, It turned out that Perforio J. Barlas Jr. was a registered FIFA Futsal Referee and had played football at CPU.

When I told him I was with Engineers Duffie and Boy, he said they were friends. And when Tito Duffie and Mang Boy saw me chatting with Mr. Barlas, they asked him over. So I interviewed him on cam in our table. It all turned out cool!

When it was over, we had our lunch but Tito Duffie like our hosts from Santa Barbara the day before, must have ordered the entire inventory for I almost gagged at all the food and yet there were only five of us in the table.

Just when I thought that the heat would perspire all the fat out of me, we were having another pig out.

After lunch where we were regaled with more stories such as the game at Barotac Nuevo that unofficially broke the Guinness World Record for the longest football match ever played.

That game was held last January 16 and 17 and involved 36 players and 9 referees who played for 35 hours straight that featured 19 complete games!

They began at 830am of January 16 and finished at 8:40pm the following day.

The game was played by the high school and college teams of Barotac Nuevo and the HS won 8-7-4 (8 wins, 7 losses, and 4 draws) while scoring 137 goals to the 134 by the college team. And no, they went at each other full tilt.

Dear God!

One of the major TV networks was able to film the whole event but I’m not sure if it ever was shown. It was however mentioned in Pinoy Records, that show hosted by Manny Pacquiao and Chris Tiu.

After the match all the players had to go through a medical exam. For about a week they were prepped for the “record-breaking matches” on the nutrition side. “No need for the skill part,” said Tito Duffie. “They already have that. It was nutrition and fitness that we were more concerned about.”

Holy shit, dudes. What a feat!

It has been an incredible experience thus far and it was getting better by the minute.

From there we did a few more interviews around the Jaro area including Ramsey “Nono” Padernilla who once played for UP and the National Team. Padernilla who now works for San Miguel Corporation, once scored a hat trick against Indonesia in a 4-3 win at the 2nd Asian Youth Football Tournament in the University of Life stadium (now Philsports) in 1980.

One of his Iloilo teammates then is current FEU football coach Adolfo Alicante who is a friend of mine. In UP, he was also teammates with some other friends of mine in Nonong Araneta, former Ateneo coach Bert Honasan, Hans Smit, and the late Chris Monfort – so it was something in common that helped break the ice.

(PICTURE: Raph who ate the entire inventory at Tatoy's, Mang Boy, Ramsey, me, and Tito Duffie)

By the time we left the San Miguel offices the rains began to fall. By the time we got to Jaro Park, there were some 12 kids still kicking the ball around. I joined them for a 20-minute workout and man, I just loved it. The abject joy I felt as a kid playing football in the rain and mud was brought back. I was drenched in the rain but it did not matter at all. I totally had a blast.

Of course, we had to protect the cameras with our extra clothing so by the time we were done, we boarded the car with our clothes wet.

Because of the rains, our day was done shooting. We went to pick up Tito Duffie’s wife then we went to SM City. He banked at Banco De Oro and the late closing was really a plus for him. we had some coffee then went back to Barotac.

Last night it seemed that the trip took forever but since we now knew more or less how to get there we were no longer – for lack of a better term – impatient about the ride. We dropped off Mang Boy before heading out of the city.

When we got home, we were given 30 minutes to shower up. We were attending a town fiesta.

And like our first trip to Barotac, the road to the fiesta was long, winding, and off-road. And it was bleeping dark. In this part of town there are no lampposts so people walked great distances to get home in the dark. I asked about the crime situation here and Tito Duffie said it wasn’t bad at all.

After a long stretch of darkness, we arrived but most people were walking to and from the fiesta. There were games, karaokes, food stalls, and billiard tables. There was a square for dancing but rather than join the crush we went to the house of a friend of his who once played for the Air Force.

He had quite a house as he was able to send his kids to America who in return sent him money to build a slightly lavish home. When we entered the living room, there were about a dozen boys watching the Arsenal-Villareal Champions League match.

Since I’m allergic to most seafoods, I had some pasta and a little cake. With all the kwentuhan in our table, the host brought out some beer.

I can’t even remember the last time I drank Pale Pilsen and I first declined. But towards the end, I downed the beer in a few seconds. That’s it. There was work the following day as we hoped to get up before daybreak.

We got back to the hotel around 1030pm and after another quick bath, I charged the cams and dived onto the bed.

I said a quick prayer and I was out like a light.

Next: Barotac Nuevo

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