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.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Nonong Araneta: Former Mr. Football to restore the sport to its glory days

This appears in the Wednesday January 5 2011 edition of the Business Mirror.

Mr. Football to restore the sport to its glory days
by rick olivares

Once you get into the game there’s no turning back.

Mariano “Nonong” Araneta has been engaged in football for more than 40 years as a player and as an official. Even now as president of president of Eastgate Maritime Corporation, Araneta splits time managing the shipping company and its other subsidiary companies aside from his job as interim president of the Philippine Football Federation. “I can run around between the two as long as I keep my weekends free for the family,” clarified the former Mr. Football and Mr. Basketball for the University of the Philippines about his busy schedule.

Araneta was born in Barotac Nuevo, a town in Iloilo whose greatest export are its football players who stock many a football team including the national squad. “Life in Barotac was very simple. Yung talagang probinsya,” reminisced Araneta. “When I was growing up, football was already the sport to play in Barotac. We use to play five on five everyday after school. We use to look forward to the football tournaments during Christmas and summer time. Playing for Barotac selection against our rival teams in the province was one of my fondest memories growing up.”

Having gone for his secondary education at the University of the Philippines Iloilo, Araneta took up Civil Engineering in the Diliman campus where he also played for the football and basketball varsity. “It was very hard to play for two varsity teams in UP considering that I was taking up Engineering at the same time. My practice in football was 4-6 pm on Mondays-Wednesdays-Fridays and basketball was 6-8pm also on the same days! I was practicing 4 hours straight  for three days in a week and if there were games in the weekend it left me with little time for my academics. But like it is in UP, you have to manage it.”

After helping UP to three football titles during his time there, Araneta played for U-Tex where we won the 1st National League Championship. He then brought his skill and amazing luck in winning titles when he transferred to CDCP where the squad also won one National League crown.

Seeking to continue his football career, he joined the Air Force where he also suited up for its eleven and proceeded to win six more national League championships.

“I played for the National team from 1975 to 1985. We were doing okay in those days. The first time we joined the SEA Games in 1977 in Kuala Lumpur, we won against Brunei, tied Indonesia and lost to Malaysia. We also tied Malaysia in the 1983 SEA games. Although we lost to Japan in the Olympic qualifiers in 1983, the game was memorable for me because I scored a goal from 40 yards away for the lone Philippine goal. Unlike today’s team which is known as ‘the Azkals’, we didn't have a name for the Philippine team before.”

While watching the Azkals in the semifinal stage of the 2010 Suzuki Cup in Indonesia, Araneta took note of the difference in the modern game. “In defending, it was more of a man to man defense while nowadays, you defend an area or a zone. Training now is more scientific and players now are more protected by officiating from unnecessary hard fouls or tackles.”

With his recent election as interim president of the PFF, Araneta had to temporarily give up his seat as president of the Iloilo Football Association (IFA). “We have already chosen an interim president for IFA so I would not be to involved in the day-to-day affairs. As for the PFF, I would be assisted by the board and committee heads to run the federation, so I don't see any difficulty in dividing my time between PFF and my business.”

With the cleaning up of the PFF, the success of the national team, and renewed interest in football on a national level, Araneta bared some bare bones plans for the summer. “We will have national competitions for categories that will be decided by the competitions and technical committees. This is just the start of our efforts to promote the sport.”


  1. It is so encouraging to finally see the "quiet majority" of Filipinos who are truly noble and truly good finally step up. For the longest time, we Filipinos were known as good stewards of our country, of our charges, and of our family. It had only been the past 30 or 40 years where a corrupt minority somehow seized control of our country and had misrepresented us as tainted and selfish.

    Kudos to you, Mr. Olivares, for presenting people like Mr. Araneta...and kudos to you, Mr. Araneta, for your hard work in "cleaning house" for our beloved sport.

  2. Glad to see Mr. Araneta at the helm. Actually it's more like I'm glad to see anyone but Mr. Martinez at the helm.

    Don't know much about Mr. Araneta, but I hope he isn't anything close to or like Mr. Martinez. It's difficult not to be suspicious or cynical after the whole ordeal (is it really over yet?) with PFF management. We've entered a new era in national football, so leadership, starting from the top and on down, had best be ready to address the new challenges in progressing the team and the sport.

    I, too, would like to thank Mr. Olivares for covering the issues and writing in candor about the goings-on at PFF. From one of your blog posts you threatened mentioning names of the Football Association leaders that are manage badly or have ulterior motives (I forgot your exact wording). Keep it up! You'll garner enemies, but the good football-loving people of the Philippines will be behind you.