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.

Friday, July 31, 2009

With Coach Spo

Wasn't that cool? Miami Heat Head Coach Erik Spoelstra meeting and exchanging playbooks with Smart Gilas Head Coach Rajko Toroman. Never too old to learn. Even Chot Reyes deferred to Rajko. Unlike some. Tsk. Tsk.

The Serbian has been running the Talk N Text practice for about a month now. The Smart Gilas team -- those who are not in the collegiate leagues - join them too. Nice to catch up with Jayvee Casio, Chris Tiu, Mac Baracael, and Jason Ballesteros. Seeing Sir Bernie Atienza, Coaches Jim, Jude, Djalma, Nash, Aboy, Dennis, and the others. Kahit talo Ateneo sa UP, suportahan taka, Coach Aboy. Screw the haters.

Coach Spo was impressed with Chris Tiu. Great court vision, fundamentals, shooting, and a nifty floater. When I told Chris about it, of course #17 was flattered considering that he is not in great shape! But it was a mighty fine honor.

Nice meeting up with some idols... I grew up reading and still do... Quinito "the Dean" Henson and Mr. Ronnie Nathanielsz who I owe a huge deal for his help on the boxing special I did for Solar Sports... Glory Road.

Watch for the piece and the interview. He hopes that this will be the first of many trips to the Philippines! Hopefully after every NBA season he says.

The Return of SMART Gilas

Caught up with Coach Rajko Toroman at the UAAP games. With UP writer Eddie Ching.

You want to see SMART Gilas in action? They will join the PBA as a guest team for the All-Filipino Conference with CJ Giles. They could be joined by three more players: Junmar Fajardo, Paul Lee, and Rabeh Al-Hussaini. But any talks with Al-Hussaini will have to come after the UAAP season is done.
Imbalance in the PBA? Nope. Heard Red Bull is folding with the players going to a dispersal draft. What a waste of a franchise.
In about two weeks, you'll be reading more about the Gilas team here and in Business Mirror.

Ateneo Blue Eagles Game #5 Pride

The Blue Eagles are struggling? Not really. We are where we’ve always been.
Ateneo 61 vs. Adamson 51
by rick olivares photo by raddy mabasa

Thursday July 30, 2009
Araneta Coliseum

If you thought the Ateneo Blue Eagles were take to the floor with fire in their eyes and smoke coming out of their nostrils then you would have been disappointed.

After that jarring reality check of a loss to UP, you’d think they flatten the Adamson Falcons whether they are a dark horse contender or not.

Instead, it was their game that was flat. No fluidity. And it’s not as if Adamson’s defense was great. If it wasn’t for a seven minute stretch that bridged the second and third quarters where the Blue Eagles outscored the Falcons 21-6, then that breathing room might have not been enough to hold off the late rally by Leo Austria’s charges.

The loss to UP made other teams look at the game tape to see how Ateneo can be beaten. Well, it still takes a lot of things – the usual great shooting and defense, spotty officiating, and a dollop of good luck. Yet it seems that every year, there is that one loss that sends us spinning out of our axis – sometimes temporarily and at times, well, out of orbit as the Blue Eagles crash and burn.

In 2006, there was at that time that seemingly innocuous loss to UST in the second round. But that propelled them to the title series and gave them the confidence to beat Ateneo. In 2007, there was that second round game to NU that has been talked about ad infinitum. Everyone and their mother know by now what happened. And in 2008, there was that first round loss to FEU where Eric Salamat nearly suffered a season-ending injury. Only Salamat came back and the Blue Eagles found their stride and kicked serious tail.

That brings us to the loss to UP that totally blew the race for the leader board wide open (not to mention making things more interesting). And just when you think that Ateneo was firing on all cylinders after taking the UST Tigers to the cleaners, the Blue Eagles, now an island surrounded by a sea of question marks, are struggling.

But… again… unlike the aforementioned losses to UST and NU that came late in the second round, the last two were in the first and they give the coaching staff a chance and the players to adjust.

Some will make much of streaks – the one that was snapped by UP and ongoing one versus Adamson. At this point, they’re meaningless. As Norman Black is wont to say, “I wasn’t here for half of them. We just try to win every game regardless of who it is.”
And boy do they need to. Against Adamson, who are certainly much better than their 1-4 indicates and were eager to upset the Ateneans, the Blue Eagles were maddening in their inconsistency and poor execution.

One can point an accusing finger to the officiating that without a doubt was horrible (but not yet bordering on the criminal that seemed to plague the league in the past few years). Still that isn’t much.

With all the double and triple teaming of Rabeh Al-Hussaini, it has become imperative for all to contribute. And having Nonoy Baclao chase down the opposing team’s leading scorer has told heavily on our interior defense not to mention his game.

The Ateneo captain’s stats are down as are his blocks. In his first few games last season, the Ateneo captain was averaging 8.1 ppg, 7.4 rpg, and 2.6 bpg. In the first five matches of season 72, Baclao is averaging 4ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1apg, and 2bpg.

Against UST he had zero blocks. In Season 70, his first year on Team A, he registered six games with zero blocks. Ironically, he came of age with that freak loss to NU but has since picked up on his scoring and defense. In Season 71, the only time he did not get a block was in UP in the first round.

Consider the players he’s been matched up: Al Ramos, Val Acuña, Dylan Ababou, Woody Co, and Jan Colina. Every one of them scored in double digits as they ran Baclao ragged. And in the five games, we only won the rebounding battle once (but we’ve lost on the offensive boards every time out).

And Jai Reyes, who has been playing hurt, has managed to crack jokes about coming off the bench. But his humor aside, Reyes simply has too much pride not to give up. What made him effective last year was he was taking shots in rhythm, in the flow of the offense. This year he had steadily scored but they’ve come sporadically to not make a huge impact. “I’m not going to make excuses but I have to step up to help our team. Rabeh cannot do it alone.”

But that is why basketball is a team sport. Eric Salamat may not be as effective as he was on defense last year but he is slowly emerging as an offensive force. Salamat helped get the lead in the middle of the game and it was Reyes who finished off the Falcons as his three-point bombs fell at the right time that put out the rally fires of the San Marcelino team.

As the “guy” who replaced Chris Tiu in the starting line-up, he is up to the challenge of bringing that energy to the first unit. It hasn’t been easy but he figures, it’s just a matter of time. When asked if the match against Adamson, where he broke out for 16 points in his best game of the year so far, he echoed Reyes, “Sana tuloy tuloy na ‘to. You know us naman at ako rin, always giving things that one big fight.”

For all the offensive foibles, it is not as grim as it may sound because we’re still on top at 4-1 with plenty of room to improve. In case it has been lost in those great expectations by those who have been spoiled by great Ateneo basketball, the team only began to hit its stride following its loss to FEU in the first round of last year. And the first round isn’t even done.

They don’t have to come out with fire and brimstone. They’ll do what they do best – swoop down on the foe with great inside play and those three-point bombs from the outside.

We’ve still a long way to go.

Ateneo 61Salamat 16, Reyes 10, Chua 8, Al-Hussaini 6, Monfort 5, Buenafe 5, Baclao 4, Austria 4, Long 3, Salva 0

Adamson 51Colina 11, Canuday 11, Cañada 8, Alvarez 8, Nuyles 7, Santos 3, Margallo 3, Lozada 0, Galinato 0, Camson 0, Cabrera 0

Rafa's not going to be smiling now

July 25, 2009. The Riverpoint, Clarke Quay, Singapore. As part of their promotional appearance in the Lion City, the entire team and training staff of Liverpool FC took a boat ride (in three boats) through the historic river that once began the thriving Singapore economy.
The team was relaxed, perhaps next to being on the pitch, the one they were most at ease during their four-day stay.
During the match, the biggest praise, applause, and loudest chants were reserved for Xabi Alonso. There were even banners pleading with him to stay. During the press conference, when Rafa Benitez was asked about Alonso staying orgoing, the Spanish coach said of his countryman, "Why don't you ask him? He is in a better position to answer that?"
Well, less than a week after the trip... Alonso is asking for a trade to Real Madrid. To compound matters, Javier Mascherano is linked with a move to FC Barcelona. That's two from their excellent midfield corps. Who's going to help out Yossi Benayoun?
I'm obviously not happy with that. I'm sure the Alonso move will go down. As for Mascherano....
My only consolation is that I saw them in their final match for Liverpool.
And then there were two (left from the 2005 Euro Champion team)... Gerrard and Carra.

Halikinu Radio Episode 4 & A Link to the Podcasts

A loss, a lousy win, Mhel under the weather, my troublesome tooth now pulled courtesy of a damn pair of pliers... it's Halikinu Radio Episode 4. The rapport between all the hosts is getting better and the laughs keep on coming. Next week, we might extend for anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. Might, okay? It's going to be one heck of an ep as we have guests from Taft.

Had the staff of SCOPE magazine showing up at the station. SCOPE is the news mag of the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health.


When you click on the link, you will also see directions for the first two episodes.

Gonzales vs Snipes

On Halikinu Radio, we have several running gags: Martin's fans, Chuck's "you knows," Mhel Garrido who is a living gag himself, and my "kakanta pa ba tayo ng alma mater" at the endof every broadcast.

Today, we started a new one... going one-on-one with Mhel Garrido. Unfortunately for the alter ego of Chiquito Henson, he lost out to Wesley Gonzalez who was a riot.

Yep. It was Wesley Gonzales vs. Wesley Snipes (Mhel). The "contest" was simply like this -- paramihan ng hirit! Bwahahaha!

We're going off the air next week to make room for "The Wesley Gonzalez Show." Bwahahaha!

But next week, our guests are named Jason Webb, Richard del Rosario, Magoo Marjon, and George Rocha.

Oh, Wes... game na!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

More pics from the SMART Gilas adventure in Jakarta

Posing with members of the team at our hotel lobby. Love the Detroit Pistons look of their jackets.

Dinner at Outback in Central Jakarta. I'm way over at the far end. This was a treat by the Indonesian dude to the right of the pic.

Just got these from Coach (and tennis great) Jim Saret the other day. Thanks. We're meeting up next week! I have all these video interviews with Rajko Toroman, Chris Tiu, Mario Palma etc. And other material. Just have to figure out what to do with them.

Here's to winning a beach volleyball crown before you graduate

(picture: the Ateneo Lady Spikers on right side go on the attack)

Just wanted to say congrats to Asia Urquico and Sharah So for finishing second in the third leg of the 2009 Petron Ladies’ Beach Volleyball Tournament in Purok Marcela, Lingayen.

The Ateneo duo finished second to the DLSU-Dasmariñas Lady Patriots duo of April Almaden and Jennifer Manzano 21-7, 21-6.

Urquico and So made up for their opening match loss to the eventual champions by winning their next three matches. The Ateneo Lady Spikers repulsed Lady Patriots Wensh Tiu and Regina Tungol, 21-18, 18-21, 15-13.

Almaden and Manzano in the meantime earned a slot to the finals when they hurdled University of the Philippines spikers Amanda Christine Isada and Lorraine Chua, 21-4, 21-9, 17-15, in the crossover semifinals.

Singapore Diary Day Three

July 27, 2009
As I got out of the hotel, I smelled the scent of rain to come. The first thing I thought of was, “Thank God it didn’t rain yesterday.” That would have been a total disaster.

I was a couple of hundred meters away when the rain fell so I ducked into an internet café. No sense in charging up Canal Road to get to the mall. I’d be soaked not even ten paces.

I deliberated whether I should go somewhere else but I didn’t have much time. So I stayed in the area. After an hour of checking mail and answering some, I headed over to Bugis Junction. The downpour had weakened to a light drizzle.
I dressed more comfortably… football short, a Flash shirt, and sneakers. I didn’t bring my shoulder bag and chose to put my passport alongside my wallet in one pocket. The keys and a small towel in the other. I carried my digicam.

As I cut through the Albert Market Centre, Hassan, one of the cooks at the Indian resto I frequented greeted me. “Morning!”

We slapped palms. “I’ll drop by later, man. I’m leaving today so I’ll make sure I drop by and get something to eat.”

“Back to Manila?” he asked wanting to be sure.


Some of my friends were having lunch at the Marina but I decided to walk around the Indian quarter by myself.

I had been going back and forth at all adidas stores looking at the black Liverpool jersey. It cost $69. I could but it just wasn’t a priority. “Besides,” I reasoned out to myself. “Red is the color of Liverpool.”

With that comfortable thought dispelling all notions of spending, I just got a small pouch and a few more shirts.

One shop owner was selling me Indian cigarettes that I politely declined. From the Indian quarter, I went to Bugis Junction where I whiled the time away at Absolute Comics and Kinokuniya.

I have this rule when I shop – if I can purchase it in the Philippines, then I won’t get it overseas unless it was a bargain.

So from here on its pretty much looking around. Lunchtime saw the place packed with those from the nearby offices.

My flight back is at 530pm so I was planned on being at the airport by 3pm. I have lunch at the Albert Centre then high-tail it back to the hotel. I have like 30 minutes to shower and pack the remainder of my belongings.

I just have a gym bag and a shoulder bag and both are now stuffed. I just pay for the extra hour (check out time is at 12 noon with a 1 hour grace period) so it’s not bad.

While at the Green Line to Tanah Merah, I was taking pictures of these guys wearing Liverpool gear when one of them turned around and said, “Rick!”

It was my pal from Indonesia Val Simanjuntak who is also a sportswriter and LFC fan. Of all the places to meet – in the train! He intros me to his friends and we exchange notes and numbers. The contingent from Indonesia is about 160-people strong and nearly the entire Tiger Airways jet to Jakarta is filled with Liverpool fans. Now their flight (1 hour and 20 minutes from Singapore) will be bouncing with joyous fans.

We take some photos. By the time we arrive at Changi, some of them head for Terminal 2 to shop. One of them joins me on the shuttle ride to Terminal 3. We all meet up later at the lounge while waiting for our respective flights.

The cool thing about Terminal 3 is they provide free usage of computers (with ports for laptops) and wifi. People can use them for 15 minutes before it automatically reboots. That prevents people from hawking all the internet time.

We chat for a while more before they depart for their gate. I’m clutching my book U2 by U2 then me and Carl Ng head for Gate 6.

It was a great experience but we both couldn’t wait to get home. Yet somehow, I got nervous I wouldn’t make it back home as the plane kept bouncing around because of the turbulence. I do recall saying a novena. Bwahahaha. Funny how people find religion during times like this. But c’mon, I’d say that 75% of the flight back home we were buffeted around like a cowboy on a bronco.

When the plane touched down at NAIA, I wanted to kneel down and kiss the ground. Man, to have my feet back on good ole terra firma. Nothing like it. But then again, so was watching my fave football club in the world.


My music on the way back to Manila: Death Cab for Cutie - Transatlanticism * Velocity Girl - Copacetic! * Dave Matthews Band - Live in Central Park * Pete Yorn - musicforthemorningafter * Helmet - Unsung * Joe Jackson - Body and Soul * Kula Shaker - K * Tears For Fears - The Seeds of Love * Oasis - Heathen Chemistry * Thievery Corporation - The Mirror Conspiracy * Up Dharma Down - Fragmented

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Mad Bomber & An Emotional Rescue (RIP Jayson Nocom)

The Mad Bomber & An Emotional Rescue

by rick olivares

After the Angeles University Foundation Great Danes stuck close to the Jose Rizal Heavy Bombers in the first half of their match up last week, Head Coach Ariel Vanguardia railed at his players inside the locker room.

To guard JR Bulangis, he railed, “Ang trabaho mo ay patakbuhin yung opensa natin. Hindi naman ikaw yung points guard dito. Meron tayong mga designated scorer ditosi (James) Sena, si (Mark) Cagoco, at si (John) Wilson.”

Bulangis steeled himself with the stinging rebuke. When he went out for the second half, he ran the show and made the extra pass. A few of his assists found John Agas for a couple of treys that provided the degree of separation between the two squads.

Wilson himself hit some pretty big shots himself that netted him the Player of the Game Award.

As his jubilant team got dressed, the kid from Mandaluyong City entered after coming from a post-match interview. “Buti na lang pumapasok yung mga tira,” he said to no one in particular. Wilson had a reputation as a player who was without remorse as he took shots from every conceivable angle on the court. When he was on he was a sight to behold. When he was off, the Mad Bomber was a gruesome sight who couldn't hit the side of an ocean even if his life depended on it. But Vanguardia was proud of his combustible guard. His enthusiasm and derring-do had bailed his team out on so many occasions.

Little did they know that Wilson would be called once more in a dark hour.

A few days after that win that saw them go up 5-0, an emotional JRU team took the court of the San Juan Arena as they wore patches on their left shoulders in remembrance of former team captain Jayson Nocom who tragically died in a motorcycle accident last Monday in Batangas. Vanguardia dedicated the game to Nocom as they looked forward to a pummeling of hapless Mapua that languished somewhere below the ten-team standings.

Unfortunately for the Heavy Bombers, at first their effort did not match their desire as Mapua Coach Chito Victolero’s boys hit every shot and played inspired ball.

Vanguardia once more thundered inside the locker room. This time he harped on desire and intensity and the memory of a departed teammate. Only it got worse as Cardinal Macky Acosta drained consecutive three-balls to give his side a 55-37 lead with 7:28 in the third quarter.

But the Heavy Bombers clamped down by playing stifling defense that allowed them to slowly nip at the 18-point bulge.

In the last four minutes, JRU finally got over the hump and behind Wilson, upended the upset-minded Cardinals 83-78.

Wilson launched three treys – quick release daggers that gave Mapua no quarter – as they hit all net. Wilson completed his heroics by scoring 11 points in the final minutes, 20 in the second half, and 25 overall as they remained undefeated alongside San Sebastian at 6-0.

Wilson pumped his fist and screamed. Then he tapped the tape with Nocom’s name on it. “Teammate ko siya,” said Wilson. “Teammate.”


For Jayson Nocom.

Here is the very first piece I wrote about JRU. There's a group picture with me and the Heavy Bombers.

Ibra to Barca

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, that wondrous Swedish striker, has joined FC Barcelona. Good news that offset the departure of the club's oft-troubled scorer Samuel Eto'o. With all the big names going to Real Madrid, Barca manager Pep Guardiola did't stand pat on his team's treble last year as he strengthened his unit.

And how's this for a strike force -- Thierry Henry, Lionel Messi, Bojan Krkic, and Ibra? He may not have the power and pace of Eto'o but Ibrahimovic is no slouch with excellent finishing and control anywhere near the goal.

And of note: Ibra has won league titles in his last three stops: Ajax Amsterdam, Juventus, and Internazionale. His addition to this mostly homegrown unit can only make them better.

51 hopefuls for how many slots? PBA Rookie Camp opens.

Fifty-one aspirants showed up yesterday at the Club 650 in Libis for the first of three-day PBA Rookie Camp. The camp is an opportunity for PBA coaches to also size up potential draft picks for the upcoming draft.

In the skills competition, Chris Ross made the most number of pull-ups with 29. Kevin White topped the push-up contest with 129. Relative unknown Emmanuel Malasig made the most number of bench presses with 48. And former UE Red Warrior Jorel Canisarez had the highest vertical leap.

The PBA hopefuls are split into four teams and will play in the two-day, four-game schedule at the Caruncho Gym in Pasig City on July 30 and 31.

The complete rookie line ups are as follows:

Group 1Japeth Aguilar, Josh Urbiztondo, Sean Co, Ronnie Matias, Bryan Faundo, Marlon Adolfo, Charleston Bocias, Kim Macanig, Axel John Doruelo, Jim Viray, Luis Palaganas, Leemore Boliver, and Glenn Bolocon.

Group 2Jervy Cruz, Chris Ross, Roel Hugnatan, Filemon Fernandez III, Orlando Daroya, Richard Saladaga, Dino Daa, Robert Labagala, Jonathan Pinera, Jorel Canizares, Gerry Orera, Ramsey Williams, and Jerome Cenita.

Group 3Ogie Menor, Rico Maierhofer, Chris Timberlake, Jonathan Fernandez, John Walsham, Francis Allera, Jemal Vizcarra, Roser Mangahas, Jerby Del Rosario, Charles Water, Floyd Dedicatoria, Edwin Asoro, and Jan Philip Villaver.

Group 4James Sena, Marcy Arellano, Kevin White, Michael Burtscher, Chris Viardo, Howard Saddi, Hafer Mondragon, Raymond Agular, Allan Evangelista, Andro Quinday, Emmanuel Malasig, Jobe Nkemakolam, Mark Benitez, and Jonathan Uyloan.

Thanks to Coach Ramil Cruz for the info.

Singapore Diary Day Two

For more Singapore stuff, read

July 26, 2009

Got up at 730am. Kinda woozy from the lack of sleep but up I got. Cleared the cobwebs from my mind before heading for the bathroom for some freshening.

I had a couple of things I needed to do before the match.

One, go to an internet café to email the draft of my Monday column (the one titled “Bogs) that I saved in my gmail. I finished that story about a ticket scalper last Thursday since I wouldn’t have time during the weekend to write.

Two, I needed to buy some things for some people. I wasn’t really sure about going around on my third day so it’s best to get it done now.

Third, I was thinking of watching the Ateneo-UP game at a friend’s house but the time of the match was cutting it too close to being at the Kallang National Stadium. In hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t watch the UAAP match for obvious reasons.

As hilarious as it sounds, thanks to Miko Samson for even (jokingly) postulating that next time I decide to go abroad during a match, maybe we should put up a cardboard cutout of me so we don’t lose. Even my friend Eddie Ching who is writing for UP jokingly said the same. Bwhahaha. C’est imposible!

Anyways, I went to Borders where I picked out a few books by Neil Gaiman (The Graveyard Book) and JK Rowling (Tales of Beedle the Bard) for gifts. Got my requisite shirt at Giordano.

I should have gone to an internet café in Bugis. Instead I’m here at Orchard Road looking for one. I find several inet shops at Lucky Plaza where there are dozens of Filipino stores and is the main tambayan of Pinoy OFWs and domestic helpers. Every shop was full of Pinoys chatting with family and friends back home. Some joyfully; others tearfully. I didn’t want to eavesdrop but when the distance between computers is an elbow then I don’t have a bloody choice.

After 30 minutes, I logged off. I was starving as I skipped breakfast. The culprit was my sore throat made it difficult to speak and eat (it’s been that way for two weeks now as I have a wound inside). Even if I’m hungry it’s not exactly easy to eat. When I do, I kind of gulp and suck in the pain.

So noodles and soup are the easiest to digest. I have some minestrone soup in a Greek resto that not only warms my throat but puts something inside me stomach.

I love Greek and Mediterranean food! It’s a favorite along with Persian cuisine.

I still have two hours before I head to the Stadium where I’m supposed to link up with Carl Ng and the others. I head on back to the hotel for a shower and a change of outfit. Hahaha. It’s hot so I went out this morning wearing my Kobe Bryant purple Lakers jersey and shorts. Outside, almost everywhere I go there are people wearing LFC jerseys. It’s a fashion statement I tell you.

I’m kind of bushed from all that walking so I take a cab to Kallang ($5.20). And the first thing I see are a bunch of ManU fans outside singing their team’s finer praises. It pisses me and a few other LFC fans off and we proceed to tell them to pack it in or get their asses kicked (in not so friendly words). Where’s this violence coming from? Must be all that heavy metal I’m listening to bwahahaha!

Around 430pm, the gang’s complete (Carl, Leo, Leah, Palle, and Nicky. Song was late) so we take pictures outside after which we enter the stadium through the western side (our tickets were at the Grandstand seats that are literally the best in the house).

We purchased some LFC merchandise. I got the Asia Tour scarf, the souvenir program, and a horn (that is close to being outlawed by UEFA).

By the time we settle intro our seats, Carl appears with cups of… ahem… Carlsberg. Its tough sipping the beer as well but we chug a couple of glasses.

The stadium breaks out into cheers, chants and the wave. There are interesting theories as to where the wave originated. Some say Mexico while others point to Washington State. Whatever wherever some 47,000 people launch into it. The most the wave went around without getting cut was four times. On its fifth lap, one section didn’t get up. It can be quite breathless to see all those people moving like a tidal wave.

Behind us in the skyboxes are some Brits who are so game into the singing and chanting. The problem is that without one huge contingent to lead the singing, not many get sung in unison.

The people around us are from England, Australia, Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, India, Iran, and Israel to name a few. The only color that binds us is red. The past few days, some quarters have expressed concern that more Singaporeans are rooting for LFC than their own National Team (more on this in my next Business Mirror column that will be out on Monday titled “East of Anfield”).

By the time the team takes to the pitch for the inspection then the warm-ups, everyone’s going crazy. LFC Assistant Coach and Anfield icon Sammy Lee gets a huge ovation when he comes out of the dugout.

When the game starts, both squads try to feel each other out. Singapore’s National Team behind manager Raddy Avramovic battles LFC to a near standstill. They have a few scoring chances. Their best is when midfielder Shahril Ishak beats LFC defender Philip Degen but his blast goes straight to Diego Cavalieri.

Liverpool, wearing their new black away kits, clearly dominates the game but David Ngog and Ryan Babel, despite numerous scoring chances fail to find the back of the net.

That is until Andriy Voronin launches a rocket (shades of Steven Gerrard) from 20 feet outside the box to beat Singapore keeper Hassan Sunny who dives helplessly at the ball.

In the second half, the Reds discombobulate the Lions at the midfield as they control possession and unleash a withering barrage at the Singapore goal. With chants getting louder for the insertion of Xabi Alonso (who is being linked to a move to Real Madrid) and Fernando Torres, gaffer Rafa Benitez obliges and goes through a platoon substitution. And in no time, they ratchet up the score to 5-0.

After the match, the Reds are presented a trophy. The fans stay on for an hour more waiting for an opportunity to meet their heroes.

Since the others want to take their chances, I sit down and review the shots in my digital camera.

There’s a mild commotion when an overzealous security cop sees a Singaporean flag fall to the ground below. He quickly grabs this young boy who denies throwing it to the street below. The cop calls for back-up. Soon, some seven cops appear with radios.

Unfortunately for everyone, there are no more photo ops. As the LFC bus heads to the Mandarin for dinner, a press con, and to pack their belongings (they were to leave for England that same night), some fans give chase in cars and motorbikes.

As for us, we went to the nearby Terra Mall for dinner. Again, I can’t eat so I settle for a mango Snapple.

It was around 1030 by the team we’re done. Unfortunately, it isn’t easy to get a cab. Song tells us that since the stadium is out of the way, we must call for a cab. Except that there are a lot of people waiting as well. Some won’t arrive ‘til after 12 midnight because that means passengers have to pay a 50% night differential.

So we take the bus instead and Leo, Leah, and I get off at Sun Tec. The two are staying at the Pan Pacific hotel so we hoof it from there. I get a cab at the lobby all the way to Bugis.

It has been a long but fulfilling day.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Singapore Diary Day One

Read for other Singapore stuff.
July 25, 2009

I almost didn’t wake up in time. I spent the previous night cleaning and doing house chores. The idea was to not sleep so during the 3 hour and 30 minute flight to Singapore, I’d be knocked out. But I felt tired so I decided to sleep for an hour. I woke up at 3:58 and had to hurry up to NAIA Terminal 3. My flight was at 6:20 and I didn’t want to be late.

I always try to get there ahead of time to sit either in front or by the exit row.

I had to rush and wasn’t able to do some things I wanted to do. That’s what I get for oversleeping. Thankfully, I arrived with plenty of time to spare and did get the window seat.

Taking the same flight (Cebu Pacific 5J 801) as me were fellow Ateneans and footballers Pat Ozaeta, Ria Tanjangco, and Bea Lim. And we sat behind each other.

Next to me sat an Australian Tony Hedges who was in Manila for a business trip and had a lay over at Singapore for six hours before taking a flight to Perth. We chatted for about an hour about football (he is an Arsenal fan and detests ManU hahahaha) and sports in the Philippines. After that I fell asleep.

We arrived at Changi International Airport 20 minutes ahead of schedule. I was told we had a good headwind.

Over at Immigration, the officer on duty smiled and asked me, "You here for the football match?”

I smiled back and answered, “No, I come in peace.”

Puzzled, she shot me a quizzical look. “Ba-weep-gronna-weep-meene-bam.” I said this time around.

She smiled still not getting it. “Transformers,” I offered.

Oh, Transformers. Megan Fox.”

Yes, Megan is a fox but that was Transformers the Animated Movie,” I clarified. Jeez, I’m such a frigging geek. She laughed and waved me on.

Welcome to Singapore!”

I rejoined Pat, Ria, and Bea who collected their luggage. The three of them were going to take a cab to the city since they had a lot of stuff (I only had a hand carried gym bag with me). Me? I was taking the MRT to Bugis where I was staying. Ria said, "Naks, adventurous.”

But as I like to say, if you can figure out New York’s labyrinth of a subway system then you can go anywhere in this world. And really, it’s pretty easy to figure out.

So it’s off to Bugis.

I like the place, for one, it’s in a nice swanky quarter (although the area is mostly Indian). There are 24-hour eateries and convenience stores and inet shoppes nearby that is a huge plus in choosing a place to stay. The Albert Centre that is next to one of the MRT stops (Green Line Singapore $2.60 from Changi) is a wet market with lots of great eateries. I also like the area for its coffee shops. Aside from the usual kopi rotti, they’ve also got some Greek coffee shops and Bugis Junction Mall. I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into some Nasi Biriyani and Middle Eastern food.

I like the Bugis Junction mall or BHG as they call it for short. It’s at the junction of Victoria Street, Middle Road, and North Bridge Road. Of course staying in Orchard Road or in the Marina area is always nice as they are home to the best tourist areas but I kind of like the quiet solitude. Bugis Junction is like Eastwood -- quaint, fashionable, and a cool place to hang out. They’ve got a lot of my favorite stores and even have a small Kinokuniya outlet beside Absolute Comics on the 3rd Level.

The weekend in Singapore was of great timing as I caught the tail end of the Island-wide Food Festival (end of June to end of July) as well as the summer sale.

After settling down, unpacking, a quick cold shower (it’s Singapore so it’s freaking hot), I changed into one my two red LFC jerseys to meet up with a friend of mine Marnie Vergara. We met up at the Orchard Road MRT stop and she treated me out to some Chinese food. After about two hours of catching up, went around.

First stop was at Kinokuniya at Ngee An City. This was the biggest Kinokuniya I’ve seen (bigger than the one at Paragon Mall in Bangkok) and we spent like an hour and thirty minutes just browsing around. I picked up something I wasn’t able to buy before, Wall and Piece by Banksy.

In case you are not familiar, Banksy is a (in)famous English graffiti artist whose “art” is satirical. I may not agree with all his politics (or lack thereof) but what I can say is he’s got balls and is quite an artist. I enjoy his art – it’s like throwing a brick through a window. Wish I could draw like this guy.

While most people know me as a writer, I grew up with an eye for illustration as I attended art classes in Makati and later CMLI. My mother and my brother can paint and illustrate very very well and well, that all changed when I discovered rock music. Hahahaha. I stopped and went into writing.

So buying art books including Banksy’s Wall and Piece, is something I regularly do. I also collect advertising books since it was my first career before shifting to marketing and eventually writing.

From Kinokuniya, we went to HMV at The Herren (there are two HMV’s in the Lion City). In NYC, there was an HMV around the corner from where I worked so I sort of hung out there during breaks) and it really is one of my favorite shops.

Marnie “hates” HMV because each time she goes there, her savings and budget goes all kablooey. There are a lot of good albums out so picking them out is a bitch when you’re on a budget.

In the last few years, I stopped buying CDs en masse as I only buy albums by my fave bands or performers and those that I think are truly worth it. I picked up The Verve’s Forth and British Sea Power’s Do You Like Rock Music? I wanted to get The Silversun Pickups’s Swoon on the Anniversary Edition of Prefab Sprout’s Steve McQueen album but it was quite expensive. The new Rancid album was out but customers quickly snapped them up leaving none for me. Drat. And double drat. Oh, well. There’s always next time. Also picked up some heavy metal and hard rock. Mastodon’s Crack the Skye and Killswitch Engage’s fourth album. Feel like bludgeoning someone's skull. Hahaha!

From there we went to Clarke Quay for the Food Festival. Clarke Quay has got to be one of the best places on the island. Man, to live in some condo unit here must be pretty expensive. And Saatchi Singapore holds office right here. How’s that – the riverside view and all the restaurants – for creative inspiration? Hit a wall? Let’s go bungee jumping! If you're not inspired after that then you must be deader than a doorknob!

With a lot of food that I liked (it’s quite expensive), I went with an old fave and got some Nasi Biriyani and chicken kebabs. Marns and I walked around for a while before we all went back to our respective pads. I wanted to wash up before heading out to meet some other friends at the Marina.

Crashed into bed at 3am. Couldn’t sleep. LFC awaits!

Probably the second best feeling in the world (the first would be watching in Anfield as Liverpool wins the Premier League)

Show your colors, man. Our group at the grandstand: back row: Palle who is from Denmark, Nicky, and Leah. Front: Song who is from Singapore, Carl, me, and Leo.

With some Singaporean fans here celebrating right before the match got underway.
At the western entrance of the National Stadium with Leo (SBC) and Carl (UP). Can you believe the nerve of some ManU fans who came over to chant their songs outside? So everyone got into a wild version of "Who the F are Man United?"

Those who watched in Singapore were treated to a better game as Liverpool really came to play (unlike in Bangkok where there was a lackluster effort) and the star players saw significant playing time. It was a close first half until a superb blast from Andriy Voronin at the 45th minute blew past Singapore keeper Hassan Sunny. When the second half kicked off, an Albert Riera stab from close range in the 55th minute deflated the Lions. Kriztian Nemeth scored in the 73rd and 83rd minute and El Niño Fernando Torres found the back of the net with a diving header at the 80th minute.

One of several booths selling LFC merchandise. A great way to remember this match. I wanted to get the

Bagpipes in Singapore! Oh yeah!

This massive banner was unfurled at the Eastern Kop and made its way all across their side.

With ESPN Asia's Premier League analyst John Dykes who sat with us in the Grandstand.

The eastern side of the Kallang Nation Stadium is pictured here. The above pic shows it packed with Liverpool fans and below is 40 minutes after the match as cleaners pick up the garbage. The stadium capacity if 55,000 and more than 45,000 fans packed the venue.

After the match, several thousand fans stayed above and around the players' entrance hoping for a glimpse, a photo op, or an autograph. It was a long wait. Forty-five minutes. But the players were in a bus headed for the Mandarin. Some fans gave chase in cars and motorcycles. Me and the guys? We had dinner at a nearby mall.

When I was in Jakarta recently, I made many new friends in the international media and one of them was Val Simanjuntak (he is to my right) who is from Indonesia. While in Jakarta, we got around to chatting and I learned he was an LFC fan. In fact, I posted a picture of us two others who are Liverpool fans.

I was supposed to email him so we could meet up but I never got to send it. I did wonder where he'd be at and of all places, we bumped into each other while on the Green Line to Changi Airport on our way home. The Indonesian contingent was some 160 strong and the occupied the front of the Eastern side of the makeshift Kop. They were featured in the front of the Straits Times. Wow!
We caught up with one another en route to the airport. Anfield next time?

Liverpool fans unite!

One of the coolest things about being here is meeting and making new friends. My official story on the Liverpool match will come out in my column next Monday in the Business Mirror titled: East of Anfield. That is our and their story.

Nice meeting all these fine folks. YNWA!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Bleachers' Brew #168 Bogs

by rick olivares

This year, Bogs is celebrating his Jubilarian plus-one year. That’s 26 years in the business and he’s bringing a bucket of fried chicken home to his family to celebrate.

Two of his children have finished school. There’s one left in college and another in high school. When they fill out the usual school forms, on the line that asks “father’s occupation” they write “driver.” It’s true because from time to time during the lean times of the calendar year, he drives a cab. But as I sit and face him in a Chinese restaurant at the Robinson’s Galleria, I ask him what his profession is, he minces no words… “scalper.”

Bogs is a businessman well versed in the law of supply and demand. He is governed by a couple of simple maxims: one, to provide for his family, and two -- “Ang tao may pera pero walang ticket. Ang scalper may ticket pero walang pera.”

He sees nothing wrong with his profession. He isn’t doing anything illegal. And it certainly beats working at the factory where he was paid sub-standard wages and had trouble making ends meet. With an unemployed wife and with four children to provide for, it also beats going abroad when he believes that life is more happy and fulfilling here. So he’s nationalistic. But he’s also pragmatic.

While in a quandary on what to do while unemployed, a neighbor suggested that he try scalping tickets to earn a living. Seeing that his neighbor had put all his kids through school, Bogs took the same route. “Sipag at tiyaga ang kailangan dito kasi kapag hindi ka kumilos, eh gutom ang aabutin niyo,” he reasons.

It was 1983 and to secure tickets for games of the Philippine Amateur Basketball League (as the Philippine Basketball League was called then) and to be able to get in, one needed to redeem three bottle caps of Lagerlite or Gold Eagle to secure a ticket.

At first, Bogs made the route of sari sari stores gathering the crowns before he figured that life would be easier if he befriended those working in factories where the beer was bottled. Soon he had a plastic full of caps that he either sold – three caps for 10 to 20 bucks – to customers who had no time to scrounge for the proofs of sale. On good days, he’d make PhP 500. From there he graduated to selling tickets of the Philippine Basketball Association, the University Athletic Association and the National College Athletic Association.

Outside sports, he scalps movie premiere and concert tickets. Any event, including the recent Kobe Bryant hoops clinic at the Philsports Arena, that requires a ticket, is fair game. No venue is too far for him. When he plies his trade at the posh Power Plant at Rockwell, he even dresses up for the occasion.

He befriends everyone – athletes, coaches, agents, security guards, clerks, professors, cops, bouncers, celebrities, ball boys, school officials, customers -- heck, practically everyone. Bogs is so well known that he could run for public office if he chooses to do so.

He is more than a businessman. He is also a public relations practitioner. “Kailangan marunong ka mag-PR sa buhay na ganito.”

One regular customer, a seaman, who is a regular customer, trusts him so much that he once asked Bogs to go to a nearby money changer and exchange a hundred dollar bill. When Bogs returned, the two had a quick snack and the seaman let him keep the change.

It’s not exactly a one-man operation. There’s an unspoken and informal association of scalpers with their own code of ethics: “Pakikisama at walang sulutan ng customer” are the prime directives. If there is honor among most, there are many out to make a fast buck by saying that he has a customer for this game and he makes off with the tickets never to be seen again.

What happens if they do show up?

Bogs chuckles in a way that makes me think I’m having a bowl of mami with Tony Soprano. Then his eyes turn hard and his voice trails off, “Ewan ko na lang…” Fair warning.

Scalping isn’t without its risks and dangers. Bogs and others like him are wary of thieving bastards and cops. Some cities have anti-scalping ordinances that make life difficult for them. He was once caught by cops who imprisoned him for a week. While in jail, he had no regrets about his line of work. His only thought was, “How do I get out of here?” You see, at the same time he was behind bars, one of his sons was seriously ill and he was powerless to help him. He didn’t need to post bail for after a week he was set free.

The whole experience merely taught him to make sure that when his kids fall ill, he’d never fail them again.

The most Bogs had made in one day was PhP 25-grand for selling tickets to Frank Sinatra’s Manila concert at the Folk Arts Theater. Tickets to games by pro-club Ginebra San Miguel are always a hot ticket. But the best profits are always made at Ateneo-La Salle matches where he could earn anywhere from PhP15-20,000 per game.

He’s become a fan of Ateneo for two reasons: tickets to all their games are always a hot commodity (especially when they play their Taft rivals) and because Ateneans are in his opinion the most rabid and passionate of hoops fans. When the two archrivals play, he always saves himself a ticket or two for him and one of his sons. “Syempre Upper B na lang kasi sayang yung kita sa ibang tickets.”

Selling isn’t simply supply and demand. It’s also knowing and understanding people who need tickets. Bogs is patient and observant. He watches those who are turned away from ticket booths, a look of disappointment on their faces. He then makes his way and pitches a price.

There is no such thing as scarcity. As long as people have money to pay there will always be a ticket available.

The fast money sometimes comes at a price. Some scalpers make a ton of money in a day only to lose it a few hours later at the casino or on mindless indulgence in vices.

For a time, Bogs fell into that trap. He began taking drugs. You name it, he has inhaled it, drunk it, sniffed it, or stuck it in with a needle. He had a reality check when he caught one of his kids doing the same. Susundin ng bata kung ano ang nakikita sa matanda. Both father and son are clean now. And Bogs simply prefers to buy food or appliances.

Every appliance or piece of furniture in their home (he does not pay rent) was purchased through the monies made from scalping. Television, refrigerator, beds, desks, computers, and Playstation consoles. The only thing he can’t afford so far is a car. He laughs. “Sana,” he laughs. “Sana.”

If you think that Bogs is an uneducated opportunist, let it be known that he finished college and was a star baseball player who once competed in the Palarong Pambansa.

Natikman ko yung sarap at ginhawa sa pagiging scalper at ayaw ko na maghanap ng ibang trabaho.”

But when I ask if he’s going to let any of his children follow in his footsteps, he shakes his head. “Kaya ako nagbabanat ng buto para pumunta sila ng magandang eskwelahan tapos yan lang din ang trabaho nila? Huwag na!”

After a quick bite at the Chinese restaurant, he bids goodbye. Earlier in the day, he made some money from working the UAAP games that day. He was looking forward to bringing some good food home to his family. And there were tickets to secure for the next Ateneo game.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Thought summer was over? So why is it getting hot in here?

The Petron Ladies Volleyball Tournament began yesterday, Friday, July 24 at the Purok Marcela resort in Lingayen, Pangasinan.
April Almaden of De La Salle University-Dasmariñas is expected to lead her team all the way to the finals with partner Jennifer Manzano who stands six feet tall.

For the blue and white, there are two teams -- Sharah So and Jessica Morado and Asia Urquico and Pepi Sison.

The University of the Philippines has Amanda Isada and Lorraine Chua.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Powerade-RP Team to Tianjin named

Yeng Guiao disclosed the final line-up of the Powerade-RP Team to the 25th FIBA Asia Men’s Championship set Aug. 6-16 in Tianjin, China.

The team will be composed of Jayjay Helterbrand, Willie Miller, Gabe Norwood, Arwind Santos, Jared Dillinger, Cyrus Baguio, Japeth Aguilar, Kerby Raymundo, Sonny Thoss, James Yap, Asi Taulava, and Mick Pennisi.

Halikinu Radio Episode 3

Our now standard U2 pose before each and every episode. The running gags: Chuck's "You knows...," "kakanta pa ng alma mater?" at the end of every show, and the loquacious Chiquito Henson.

It was my turn to host the show tonight. I've been battling a sore throat all week and I was hoping it didn't affect things. Had fun nevertheless. Oh, the tee shirt is 100% John Cena.

Arriane Serafico of the Ateneo School of Government talks about their Kaya Natin Fun Run on August 2 and the One Big Fight! One Big Vote! Raffle.

Jai Reyes makes a point. The hirit about Mike Baldos giving up his slot to Emman was hilarious.

The cast and guests of the third ep of Halikinu Radio.

My playlist for the day: Narda - Meron Ba? * Mother Love Bone - Chloe Dancer * Phoenix - Too Young * Red Hot Chili Peppers - Soul to Squeeze * Sevendust - Bender * The Sundays - You're Not The Only One I Know * Van Halen - Human Beings * A-Ha - Here I Stand and Face the Rain * Gin Blossoms - Found Out About You * Green Day - Warning * Incubus - Nice To Know You * Jane's Addiction - Just Because * Kevin Shields - City Girl * British Sea Power - Please Stand Up * Doves - The Cedar Room * Dream Theater - Another Day * Dredg - Bug Eyes

Another old rival inflicts a painful loss to Team Philippines

Powerade Philippines took it on the chin again with a painful 83-80 loss to Korea at the Hsinchuang gym the in the 31st William Jones Cup tournament.

The Filipinos were looking for some revenge as the Koreans have time and again stymied them. But after a trey by Ranidel De Ocampo and a turn-around jumper by Sonny Thoss brought team Philippines within two 78-76, the Koreans’ Oh Se-Keun came out of a timeout to nail his only 3-point attempt to give his side some breathing room 81-76 with 1:25 remaining.

Although Arwind Santos countered with a break-away lay-up, Yang Dong-Geun hit a jumper over Willie Miller to make it 83-78 and time down to 43 seconds.

The win gave Korea a share of the lead with a 4-1 slate while the Philippines fell to a dismal 1-5.

Korea 83 – Kang 16, Kim M.S. 15, Kim J.S. 10, Oh 10, Yang 8, Yang D.G. 7, Lee D.J. 5, Lee J.S. 5, Lee K.S. 3, Joo 3,

Philippines 80 – Santos 22, Miller 4 14, Thoss 13, De Ocampo 9, Raymundo 6, Norwood 6, Aguilar 4, Dillinger 2, Yap 2, Taulava 2, Helterbrand 0, Baguio 0.

Quarters: 22-17; 38-35; 59-57; 85-83.

Iran and Jordan brawl @ the Jones Cup. Or where are the Hanson Brothers when you need them?

The 31st William Jones Cup has been relatively uneventful so far with the traditional Asian powers winning their expected matches. That is until the match between hitherto undefeated Jordan and Iran that degenerated into a bench-emptying brawl where the Jordanians walked off the court and forfeited the match.

A furious Mario Palma, the Portuguese coach of the defending champions ordered his team off the court after a Korean referee called a technical foul on Jamal Abu Shamala who retaliated against Iranian behemoth 7’3” Hamed Ehadadi who landed a vicious elbow on the Jordanian during a rebound scuffle. Shamala retaliated with an elbow of his own. But Ehadadi threw him on the court that brought both benches to the court.

At that point, Jordan was ahead 2-0 with the game just in its infancy. The Iranians were awarded with the win and a score of 20-0 for a 4-1 slate that tied them with Iran, South Korea, and Lebanon.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A pic from earlier this year with the Smart Gilas team

Just got this from Coach Jim Saret. It's a pic at the lobby with the Gilas team.

Philippines loses to Lebanon in Jones Cup

The Philippines isn’t the only team with American bloodlines in the 31st William Jones Cup.

Brian Feghali, who played at Louisiana State and is of Lebanese descent ignited his side with 5 treys as they outplayed Powerade-Team Pilipinas Wednesday 95-83 to take up solo second in the 31st William Jones Cup tournament at the Hsinchuang gym.

Feghali finished with 29 points and 10 rebounds. His teammate, fellow American but naturalized Lebanese Jackson Vroman, who replaced the injured Joseph Vogel in the line-up had a monster game with 24 points with seven rebounds, four assists, and five steals.

The Philippines rallied behind James Yap and Kerby Raymundo to come within a basket of tying the game at 58-57 but Lebanese star forward Fadi El-Khatib drilled a three-pointer to give his team some breathing space. That spurred them to a 15-5 run that ended the Philippine team’s chance of getting its secondvictory in five matches. Instead the Powerade-RP team is reeling with a 1-4 record.

The Filipinos outrebounded the Lebanese 36-28 but it was their ball handling and poise that once more did them in as they turned the ball over 27 times to the 12 of their opponents.

Lebanon 95 – Feghali 29, Vroman 24, El-Khatib 14, Fahed 11, Nour 9, Mahmoud 4, Turk 3, Kanaan 1.

Philippines 83 – Helterbrand 12, Raymundo 11, Yap 11, Pennisi 9, Santos 7, Norwood 7, Aguilar 6, Baguio 4, Thoss 3, Taulava 3.