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.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Bleachers' Brew #249 The ties that bind

This appears in the Monday February 28, 2011 edition of the Business Mirror.

The ties that bind
by rick olivares

There’s love in this house.

The morning brings a flurry of activity in the Clarino household in Antipolo. There’s the smell of breakfast wafting from the kitchen. The voices – animated ones – and laughter carries throughout. One by one, the children fly down the wooden stairs. All 11 of them. Thirteen if you count mom and dad. Fourteen would have been the final count until God called back one son after he was on earth for 40 days.

It’s off to Mass they go.

Some families are bound by the obvious bloodlines. Some by tragedy. Some by necessity.

As for the Clarino family… well, first, there are the parents Randy and Maien (Ma-yen). Then there’s prayer where they make it a point to go to Church and pray the rosary together. And then there’s football.

Save for one sibling – Anna – who prefers dance (although she briefly tried her hand at goalkeeping) and who now works as a stewardess at Philippine Airlines, the other ten children – Ginnie, Aljoe, Paolo, Mikki, Calai, Ojay, Gino, Ian, and Miggy – are bound by the beautiful game.

Raising a brood of 11 kids is no mean feat. “We didn’t plan our family,” says Maien who worked early on before deciding to care for their huge family. “It was our way of sharing our love and not limiting ourselves due to economics.”

In order to make do with a lack of resources, the kids were trained to do house chores while fending off for themselves while their parents were away at work. “This really helped us in our character formation because it taught us so many values,” explained Anna.

“We worked our way around their talents,” added Randy who is in the retail business. “We paid our pre-need insurance to take care of our children’s education but we also encouraged them to take up sports and the arts as a means of obtaining a scholarship in school. Our first five kids did just that and when the time came to use up the insurance, we cascaded that down to the younger ones.

Getting the Clarino kids into sports was mostly easy especially the boys who were filled with boundless energy.

“We’d bring them to the park or to the field in Marist (Marikina) where by some chance, they began to kick around a football,” recounted the father. That soon attracted the attention of a southerner who briefly contemplated life in the seminary. He approached the kids who had put up a football club and began coaching them. “By the way he spoke and taught the game, he knew a lot about it,” recalled Paolo who now coaches in Claret. “That was our introduction to Frank Muescan.”

Ojay, who is currently the star striker for the UST Growling Tigers football team recalls needing no prodding to follow his older siblings into the game. “I saw them play the game and I somehow I just followed.”

It isn’t only the boys who are into the game but even the sisters. Ginnie, the eldest of the siblings who now works in Singapore played varsity ball with the UST women’s team like most everyone else in the family. Mikki played for Miriam College while Maica had a measure of success playing the game also in UST.

“Football is an asset to me because I can always say that my training made me a better person when it comes to working in the real world,” wrote Ginnie in an email letter. “It’s too bad that during my time, football wasn’t as popular as it is now. But I still find time here in Singapore to join my friends in playing the game that I love.”

When the UEFA Champions League or the World Cup is on, the living room is like a sports bar. Everyone stays up to watch and they all wear kits and hold up flags.

With all the football players in the house, there are a bunch of awards and trophies but only one sits in the family living room. In October of 2010, the family competed in a men’s seven-a-side competition in UST. Since there are only six boys, Mikki suited up. Team Clarino won the tournament. “I am not as athletic like my brothers and they had me playing up front,” related Mikki. “Their passes were perfect and I would miss my shots but they would always encourage me kahit panget yung tira ko.”

“The trophy,” describes Maien. “Is special because it was not won by a team or a school but by our family.

Most of the brood (including the parents) went to UST. A few like Paolo who went to UP and the College of Saint Benilde, Mikki who went to Miriam College, Calai to the University of Asia & the Pacific, Gino who is at the Ateneo High School, and Miggy who is at PAREF Northfield. “We tease each other at times,” laughs Anna. “Especially during the UAAP season. But we all like being together with one another.”

When the family goes to Mass, they always occupy two pews. When they go out for meals, they always have to reserve in advance. When people see them all together, they are asked, “Mag-barkada ba kayo?”

Their home in Cainta is always a flurry of activity. “Our neighbors once wonder if we were a boarding house kasi ang daming tao and the lights are on at all times of the day,” said Mikki who now works as a pre-school teacher in PAREF Rosehill in Antipolo.

“Once pa nga, some people thought that our old home in Marikina was an orphanage,” joked Maien.

Two Sundays ago, the UST Tigers played Ateneo at 10AM in the final match of the elimination round that would determine the cast for the UAAP Football Finals the following weekend. Call time at UST was at 7am and Ojay got up a little earlier to make the long trip to España. His father told him that he could to Mass in the afternoon, but Ojay said, he’d attend the 6am service. “Mass first before football,” he said.

The Tigers buried Ateneo 5-nil with Clarino notching his seventh goal of the season to book the last seat of the finals cast. Five of his siblings watched the match along with the parents.

“These are the ties that bind us,” said Randy as his family cheered on Ojay’s team.

For the Clarinos who let me into their home and their world.


  1. I remembered Ojay describing how crazy it was when there was a Playstation in their house. Non stop FIFA

  2. Thank you Sir Rick for writing this wonderful article about our family! :) Hope that many people will be inspired through this. God bless you always.

  3. Kiko, there was so much I wanted to add and write about. Much of it did not make sense anymore in the context of the story angle so I ditched it. And believe me, there's a lot to write and say. When Tito Randy walked up to me to introduce himself the other week, we got to talking. At that point, I only knew Ojay and Gino. When he told me that he had 12 kids, I went wow, okay. Then when he said they all play football, I said this I gotta see and write about. I only had an hour to write that as I was pressed for time. But the three hours I spent at their home today -- we'll I had fun and am happy to have made new friends.

    Mikki, it sure was nice meeting all of you. See you all soon!

  4. It was nice meeting you, too, Sir Rick. Is it okay if I share this link in my FB account?

  5. Such a beautiful article. The interview was real fun. Thank you Sir Rick!

  6. Hi Sir Rick, we didn't get to meet last Sunday but I want to thank you for featuring our family. Your article really captures what unites the family :)

    Continue giving us updates on the latest happenings in Philippine sports, I always follow them!


  7. Hi, Calai! Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. I had fun meeting everyone. I supposed it was true confessions time as well for everyone then. I thought that I scraped only the top of a nifty story. We can do this again. Til then... cheers!