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, October 14, 2011

Pachanga FC: Motivations and inspirations

This appears in and is the second part of a feature on various teams competing in the ongoing UFL Cup.

Pachanga FC: Motivations and inspirations
by rick olivares

During one lazy moment, Pachanga FC Team Manager Jojo Rodriguez asked team owner Freddie Gonzalez, “Why do this, boss? Why put up a football team and spend a lot of money?”

Gonzales, who once played football for Colegio de San Agustin aside from the national team, looked up for a brief moment from what he was doing on his laptop and grinned. “Because I love the game.”

Like many other clubs, it is love for the game that has also brought the players of Pachanga FC together. And when you consider their diverse backgrounds and how they all got together you wonder if it’s lightning in a bottle.

On an afternoon with a hint of rain, team captain Yves Ashime and Rodriguez go up to the Gatorade offices in Bonifacio Global City for a sponsorship meeting. Despite missing a tooth, Ashime readily flashes a warm smile. He realizes that a sponsorship here and there can mean bigger things for his team and himself. He’s learned not to take things for granted.

Lured by a faux football promoter to play in Europe, he was instead dumped in the Philippines without any direction or any future. He hooked up with the old Union team to play and earn a living that is far from anything that he imagined when he first left his home country. When the popularity of football increased tenfold with the success of the Azkals, he was given renewed hope. “Blessings,” he says. “A day you live is a blessing. Anything given to you is another.”

Now he is captain for a football team in a strange land that he now calls home.

Ashime isn’t the only one with a similar story. Alex Obiang is another who fell prey to twisted agents who sell a dream in exchange for money. He arrived in Manila along with Paul Kiyek (now playing for Internacionale FC) where they were supposed to meet an agent who would bring them to Europe. They wait for hours. The hours turned into days and depression set in. They could not return to Cameroon penniless because they borrowed money to pay the agent. Without the means to pay back the monies owed, the creditor threatened to shoot them if he ever saw them. They spoke nary a word of English as their national language was French. They eventually found themselves a Good Samaritan in Jeff Long, the father of Ateneo basketball star Kirk Long. Long temporarily took the two in where they helped around in his ministries in Antipolo in exchange for a place to stay and food. It was there where they learned to speak English (and also by watching television) and some Filipino.

The whole experience has taken some of the joy out of Obiang. He has become distant and more quiet and wary of strangers bearing gifts and offers. Ashime has made it a mission to get Obiang out of his shell.

He nearly left in the offseason for another team but he chose to stay and finish out his contract with Pachanga.

The team is also a curious mix of players from the Under-23 Bacolod and Iloilo teams that figured in the recent Suzuki National Cup. There’s Neckson Leonora who played central back for San Beda and Iloilo and was recently rewarded with a stint with the Azkals in the Long Teng Cup.

On a cool Thursday night with a hint of rain, Rodriguez joked with Leonora during a lull in the intra-squad scrimmage of shirts and skins: “Na-develop na ba yung abs mo sa Azkals?”

Laughed the wiry defender: “Anong abs? Spare ribs!” he said raising his arms to reveal a skinny midsection. Fellow defender Ronald Batisla-Ong also joins him in showing off their ribs eliciting laughter from their teammates.

It was Leonora’s dream to play for the national team. Competing with all the Fil-foreigners has only made him more determined to find his place. With all the foreign players in Pachanga, Leonora has no qualms about things. “Okay naman samahan namin. Malaking tulong sila Yves at yung iba. Ganyan naman ang football – napaka-international yung dating.”

Leonora’s stint with the nationals has given Pachanga an extra buzz. “That gives him confidence,” says assistant coach Marjo Allado who is overseeing the practice in the absence of head coach Norman Fegidero Jr. who will fly in from Bacolod either Friday or Saturday.

Leonora isn’t the only former national player in the lineup. There’s Robert Cañedo who was lined up for the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup team and Fegidero Jr. who was the coach of that squad that was one goal shy (on goal difference) of advancing to the next round.

Fegidero Jr. is a teacher and a disciplinarian who will brook no transgressions to the beautiful game. He was the striker of the 1991 team that beat the mighty Malaysian team in SEA Games in Manila. Even Ashime is impressed: “Coach Nonoy knows his football. He is very good and unlike any other coach that I’ve had.”

One of the team’s assistant is Alvin Ocampo, the former star for La Salle who also played alongside with Allado on the national side. Years removed from his peak form, he hopes to get in shape to see if he can still hang with the second division teams. Ocampo is quite happy that the sport that he grew up playing has now taken off. “Players are lucky to have what they have today. We’d get paid a few hundred pesos today then next week there was nothing. You really played because you love the game.”

“That is what brings us together,” summed up Ashime. “We all have different motivations and inspirations. Some want to play for the national team. Some want to be given a chance to play in big football countries and some need to make money to put food on the table. But we all want to be successful and win.”


Note: Pachanga FC is the name of Gonzalez’ old club but it was only revived last year in time for the Smart Club championships. The team made the semifinals and finished with a 4-1-2 record. Now with the UFL Cup, they’re hoping for an even better showing.

GONZALES, Alfredo Club Owner
RODRIGUEZ, Jose Martin Manager
FEGIDERO, Norman Head Coach
ALLADO, Marjo Asst. Coach
OCAMPO, Alvin Asst. Coach
VERSALES, Kim Goalkeeping Coach
ABEGAN, Abegail Physiotherapist
DEMEGILLO, Anna Physiotherapist
MATIAS, Erman Staff


ASHIME, Yves Felix
BEDIC, Jovin
CAÑEDO, Robert
DIOP, Ousseynou
DOLLOSO, Kenneth
FARAH, Mohanad
LEONORA, Neckson
LOZANO, Jose Luis

OJAMIRE, Christopher
RAMSAY, Derek Arthur
SERIOS, Frederick Jan


  1. Hi Rick,

    Very impressive and nice article.. LONG LIVE PHILIPPINE FOOTBALL!!!

  2. Thanks, Ayi! See you soon, brother. And good luck to Global FC.

  3. interesting mix of bacolod & Iloilo players huh , bedic , batisla-ong , leonara , felongco.