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, January 6, 2012

GK Sipag football program Alex Tayamora: blazing a trail for GK Sitio Ruby youth

This appears in the Monday January 9, 2012 edition of the Business Mirror.
With the Tayamora family and Alex (to my right) and Coach Arvin Cruz (to my left) at Amici Restaurant in Missouri cor. Connecticut Greenhills).

Alex Tayamora: blazing a trail for GK Sitio Ruby youth
by rick olivares

Alex Tayamora remembers the day when he was informed that he had a chance to go to college. He was ecstatic yet at the same time a little fearful of the unknown. After all, if he were accepted, he would be the first from his family to go to college and be given a chance to finish his education. There were the usual questions regarding fitting in and keeping up with fellow students accustomed to going to higher institutions of learning.

A few years earlier, while under the guidance of Gawad Kalinga workers, he was asked if he thought about pursuing a tertiary education if given the chance. Alex said he wasn’t sure. The future seemed to be such a hazy if not difficult thing to comprehend.

Life in Sitio Ruby in Greater Fairview, Quezon City before Gawad Kalinga adopted the area as one of its projects, was simply a day-to-day existence. It was a slum area wasn’t exactly where you’d want to be caught in the dead of night – make that any time of the day unless you lived there. The residents were relocated from La Mesa Dam and squabbles of bits and pieces of land were commonplace. Most children never went beyond first year high school. Communities thrived by opening sari sari stores, carinderias, or sending out their adult folk as carpenters or house helpers.

Soon after GK came in, one of the programs introduced was its football program. Alex remembers being perplexed by the game. It wasn’t an easy one to get into. Kids from Sitio Ruby played basketball in makeshift courts and engaged in improvised matches.

“Only kids never got to handle the football first,” recalled Arvin Cruz, one of the volunteer coaches. It was important for the volunteer coaches to inculcate values formation before they got into any skills training. “Teamwork, honesty, loyalty…. it is important. Hindi madali ituro. Kailangan na mapasensya ka. Matiyaga ka.”

When training commenced, Tayamora stood out not just for his skills but his strength of character. When GK Football Program head coach Marlon Maro informed Tayamora he had passed the entrance exam of the college of St. Benilde and was going to be offered a scholarship (with an allowance) and an opportunity to play for the school’s varsity football team, the young lad beamed from ear to ear. Coach Arvin wasn’t sure who was happier -- himself or Alex. The volunteer coach who fell in love with the community sans the lack of financial help kept jumping up and down and dancing for joy.

“It meant that all our hard work had paid off,” gushed Cruz who gets by with his water business. “Alex’s success will inspire other children from GK Sitio Ruby as well.”

This NCAA football season, Alex will get his opportunity to play the right wing for the CSB Blazers. He admitted to being a little nervous. But he knows that he’s come a long way.

Without the help of his coaches, he passed the college entrance exam. Without anyone’s help, he made the school varsity. For someone not accustomed to having dreams, he now has something to attain. He hopes to play in the UFL and if an opportunity arises with the Philippine Men’s Football National Team. Aly Borromeo and Chieffy Caligdong are huge inspirations as is Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo.

With his allowance from school, he is now able to help his family (his father works as a carpenter while his mother does house chores) fend for some expenses. But more than any financial gain, the one precious commodity in the Tayamora household is hope. “Kung saan may buhay may pag-asa,” said Alex as he fought back the tears. “Naniniwala ako doon.”


Thanks to some old friends - Ed Formoso and Marlon Maro as well as some new ones -- Kevin and Myra Goco. Good luck this NCAA season, Alex!

I have another article on the GK Sipag program coming up. Gotta do some work first!

1 comment:

  1. Alex was my student last term. I knew he was part of the varsity team but I was unaware of his inspirational journey. I'm very happy for him.