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, March 21, 2012

What it is? Between the sexual harassment & racist comment surrounding the Azkals

What it is
by rick olivares

What is it? Or what it is. Let’s get this out of the way… I am a firm believer in a strong grassroots football program that will give chances for our homegrown players to be world-class. I also believe that match officials should be respected in and out of the locker room. And I am unequivocally against sexual harassment and racism. I have experienced the latter while working abroad and truly bristle at the mere mention of it but this is not about me. It’s about this seemingly interminable complaint of Ms. Cristina Ramos about being sexually harassed by a couple of members of the Philippine Men’s Football National Team during a routine inspection of the players inside their locker room prior to the recent friendly match against Malaysia.

I grimaced when I heard of the incident. Oh, no. I thought to myself. What happened? Is this for real?

When I read of her complaint that came out in media, I once more grimaced. Why did this happen, I asked? Is this for real?

One thing is for sure and that is we do not know all the facts and whatever is out there is pretty much one-sided. Again I do not condone sexual harassment or racism in any form but I do believe that due process and protocol should be followed. Having worked with Ms. Ramos in the local organizing committee for the past two home matches of the national team, she was a joy to work with for her thoroughness, candor, and her energy. She reiterated time and again to the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) of which I was a part of about adhering to the rules as well as following protocol and processes. And in my opinion, there lies part of the problem.

Immediately after her inspection of the Philippine national team, she seemed distressed and upset. She went to the match commissioner’s room where some of the secretariat and the LOC members were to inform them about “being disrespected”. She was advised to include in her report her complaint. The following day, she met up with Philippine Football Federation (PFF) president Mariano V. Araneta during the PFF-UFL (United Football League) Fellowship Night to do the same.

Now what shocked everyone was why and how she filed the report to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and not the PFF. She said that the PFF office was closed the following day so she took it to AFC.

For someone who says she is a stickler for protocol she sure broke it right there. If her complaint is being blocked and whitewashed locally, I can understand taking it to the press. But it is not. The PFF hired her to serve as Match Commissioner not the AFC. And as per Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and AFC rules, Match Commissioners should not talk to the media.

In the AFC Guidelines, Section C Article 5 of Common provisions for Match Officials (page 16), it is written that, “AFC Match Officials shall adopt a reserve attitude towards the media and shall not pass comment on the referees and assistant referees or any of their decisions. Neither may they make any forecasts about forthcoming decisions by the Disciplinary Committee in connection with any incidents that have occurred at the game.”

In the AFC’s Match Commissioners’ seminar last January 17-20 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, it is written in the Basic Principles (section B5 Communication), “Absolutely no interviews may be granted while on assignment.”

Two days after the incident, she met with the PFF’s Araneta and General Secretary Rolly Tulay about the incident and it was there that she informed them that she had already informed the media about her complaint. I know media officers are not supposed to talk about any incidents for up to 48 hours after the end of their assignment and I don’t know if that applies to Match Commissioners but nevertheless, this – again no one is whitewashing anything – matter should have been resolved from within. In that same meeting, she also asked if the PFF was willing, to be assigned as Match Commissioner in the next home match so she could discipline the team!

Her complaint also came out with the players not in town and unable to defend themselves. If the players are found guilty then I say that they should be punished in a manner that fits their folly. Whatever the rulings and findings are, I would like to think that they will be based on facts and whatever legalese you might want to thrown in. But as it is, they were already tried by publicity.

Ms. Ramos has gone on the offensive in media and social media about the issue. Now here are a few things that I have to throw into the mix to gain further perspective on things.

On Friday, February 24, five days before the match against Malaysia, a Pep Rally for the Azkals was held at the SM Megamall. After the match, the LOC and the players trooped to the nearby Kenny Rogers restaurant for dinner. During that dinner, Ms. Ramos blurted out to the committee (the Azkals were seated nearby but I don’t think they heard the diatribe), “What’s with this, ‘I’m from Chinatown, New York’ and ‘I’m from Spain’. Why don’t they just say that they are Filipino?” She then asked the team’s PR liaison officer Patrick Ace Bright if the team was put through etiquette and public speaking courses.

I answered her, “What is wrong with what they said?” Obviously, she was referring to Azkals midfielders Lexton Moy and Angel Guirado.

I told her not to take this out of context. During the fan session of the Pep Rally, LOC head Richard Joson asked the players to introduce themselves. Azkals wingback Roel Gener led it off.

“I am Roel Gener and taga-Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo ako.”

That was followed by Iranian-Filipino Misagh Bahadoran who said that although he was born in the Philippines, he didn’t speak English and Filipino well.

The third player to introduce himself was Ed Sacapaño: “Ako si Eduard Sacapaño at taga-Bacolod, Negros ako.”

Moy, the fourth player to speak, followed the pattern of introduction while Guirado was one of the last.

Take a gander at the order of the Azkals during the Pep Rally: Roel Gener, Misagh Bahadoran, Eduard Sacapaño, Lexton Moy, Aly Borromeo, Michael Weiss, Angel and Juani Guirado, and Jason Sabio. Not in the picture is Dennis Wolf.  The Younghusband brothers arrived late and sat on the opposite ends.
Now this might be a stand-alone episode. Yet it also might not because she also decried the team’s “Fil-foreigner flavor” to many of us in the LOC and anyone involved in local football willing to listen. In fact, during the post-Malaysia match press conference, she spoke with one of the press officers about how the team should be represented by locals and not the Fil-foreigners.

I cited how the German National Football Team is beset with similar problems with the influx of players of foreign descent like Mesut Ozil (who has Turkish roots), Sami Khedira (whose father is Tunisian), Mario Gomez (whose father is Spanish), and Jerome Boateng (whose father is Ghanaian and his brother Kevin Prince plays for the Black Stars). They are not alone in that respect. France has featured a multi-racial squad for years with some born domestically while others originating from former colonies. Are they violating any rules? No they are not. It is prescribed not just with FIFA but also with almost every other sports body in the world. We are unlike other countries like Qatar that opt for naturalization as opposed to utilizing citizens with dual citizenship.

How about Paulino Alcantara? He is Spanish-Filipino and yet he played for both the Spanish and Philippine flags. Isn’t that balimbing? But no. The rules of that time said it was possible. Personally, I feel about him the way Argentineans feel about Lionel Messi (if you don’t know what that is I recommend that you read up on that). But if they say he is the greatest Filipino footballer ever, well…

Incredibly, sometime last year, Ms. Ramos was raving to me about Eduardo Teus, a Filipino who played for Real Madrid! She even took a picture of it and placed it on her Facebook account. I have no idea if Teus’ mother was Filipina but he was born in the Philippines. But former basketball star, Alex Compton, who was born in Makati City, is not considered a Filipino and was refused play in the PBA until he was in the twilight of his career.

Read the caption of the screen shot.

When the national team arrives, Moy and Guirado will be given 48 hours to file their reports about the incident. The PFF, which has followed protocol on this situation, says that this has gone on too long and they hope it can come to a resolution. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like this one is going to end any time soon.

Not when it was compounded by this ugly “racist” comment that GMA7 host/anchor Arnold Clavio uttered during the show, “Unang Hirit.”

Who is a true Filipino? History books have shown us that the first the first occupants of the Philippines were the Callao and Tabon men, the Negrito tribes, and those who left Borneo, China, India, and other countries. Having been colonized and occupied by the Spanish, Dutch, English, and Americans, ours is a mixed race. I find it funny that Clavio thinks the “kayumanggi” race is who we are? Should the Aetas be insulted by his comment?

Someone asked if Lexton Moy and Angel Guirado were given a chance to suit up for the national teams of the United States or Spain, would they play there? I think you go where you think it is best for you. Just like many of our countrymen who opt to work abroad as opposed to staying home. Where is it best for you? And why stop at football? Take a look at pro basketball as well as our national teams for tennis, swimming, and what else – they have many Filipinos of foreign lineage.

We are quick to embrace anyone with an ounce of Filipino blood as Filipino. You saw that during American Idol. And we see that in showbiz. How many are of foreign lineage? But when someone, say like Matthew Hartmann or Anjanette Abayari does something wrong, we say, “Go back to where you came from?” And we add, “Ah, kasi puti o Amerikano.” Where did that come from?

The world is a much smaller place. Made smaller by immigration, technology, and business. Look at the New York Knicks’ wunderkind, Jeremy Lin. Will he crack the lineup of the US Men’s National Basketball Team? For his position, point guard, the Americans are at least four deep. So does he play for his parents’ country of origin, Taiwan?

I think we should be a little more broad-minded when it comes to these matters. That and adhering to protocol rather than trial by publicity. The last I checked, everyone is innocent until proven guilty.


  1. Wonderful, sir!

  2. Nice article on the issue, Rick. She really does seem to have a lot of ego, and pretty thick-faced, too, flaunting her authority on a post she clearly only got out of her father's influence. And she may be trying to muscle her way to the PFF post, too.

  3. Thank you for this this, boss Rick. It really gives a wider perspective to this mishmash of issues. I hope everyone who was quick to judge the personalities involved could benefit with this insight. Cheers!

  4. Very well written. I don’t like to sound like I tolerate sexual harassment but I can’t help but react also to the way Cristy Ramos include Angel Guirado in her complain just because he was wearing briefs, shorts, whatever.. In a video, Queen Sofia of Spain, visited the Spanish football team in their locker room, and I am pretty sure that the queen’s entourage didn’t just knock several times at the door. She shook hands with everyone, and unfortunately Puyol, who just came from the showers, was just wearing a towel. But was the queen offended? No, they all just laughed.

  5. papansin lang yang ramos na yan...kasi nagulubot na siyat lahat wala siyang nagawang significant sa buhay niya

  6. I really hope your write up reaches Mr. Arnold Clavio so he may realize why his comment on the Azkals became a big issue. Very good article Sir Ricky. Kuddos!

  7. Wow! This article really lets us see a wider perspective on the incident. Thank you for revealing incidents that happened prior, during and after the friendly match.

  8. very well-written sir! thanks for giving us a wider view of the incidents. :)

  9. hi sir ric! nice article... goosebumps while reading this one! i hope everyone should be really open minded.

  10. For anyone who ever went into a gym or a locker room in Europe or in the US, ganyan talaga na hubo't hubad ang mga lalaki. Walang hiya-hiya.

    Ms Ramos should know better. She is a well traveled woman and she should know that seeing naked guys inside a locker room is normal. If she does not know that, then she is not good at her job and she should read up on the ethics of females entering the locker rooms of men.

  11. While I don't know the facts of what happened (up to now it's still a case of he said, she said), Ms. Ramos' actions after the incident make her motives suspect. In contrast, Mr. Palami, Lexton and Angel have been CLASS ACTS in their handling of the situation.

    Now that the Azkals are back in the country, I'm hoping for a speedy resolution to this issue so that we can all move on. It's about time Lexton and Angel get a chance to say their piece after all that unwarranted castigation in the media.

    As for AC -- Pity on the unenlightened. That is all I have to say.

  12. Now here comes the saying "IT IS FOLLY TO BE WISE WHERE IGNORANCE IS BLISS" and I will say this saying again and again and again until it is drummed in into the brain and heart of every Filipino in this archipelago. The "crab mentality" is ingrained and deep-seated in our culture - we are a self-loathing race with delusions of grandeur resulting in IGNORANCE because we think we are a unique race due to our narrow-mindedness. We are too hyper-sensitive when our egocentric-ness is challenged by others who happen to not conform with our negative traits. We do have poor esteem of ourselves most especially the colour of our skin thus we desperately crave for the colour of the caucasian race as well as their physical appearance - that is why there is an abundance of skin-whitening lotions, creams, capsules and injectable substances to make our skin white as well as plastic surgery to shape our noses similar to the facial features of the caucasian race. There is really something wrong with the way we behave ourselves. In short - we do have a "chip on our shoulders" hence Cristy Ramos was very desperate to seek-attention and lodge her ridiculous sexual harrassment case to the two innocent Azkals players out of desperation and frustration for revenge to quench her poor esteem of herself.

  13. Obviously, because of her bias against Phil foreigners in the team, it was Christie Ramos' way of discrediting the AZKALs. She purposely entered the dressing room without knocking to put herself in a situation she can complain as sexual harassment. She purposely elevated it to the world body, thus by-passing the PFF to get more media mileage for her ulterior motive of destroying the AZKALs and send home the Phil Foreigners. I hope she gets reprimanded for violating the privacy of the players in the dressing room, for her dirty tactics and un-lady like behavior.

  14. ARNOLD CLAVIO aka CRABio… hindi ka namin kamukha!!! HINDI KA NAMAN TAO, NAGPAPANGGAP KA LANG NA TAO! Kasi wala dito (pointing to chest ---- “wala kang puso kaya kung makapanira ka ng kapwa ganun na lang”)… at wala dito (pointing to head ---- “wala kang utak para maisip na racist, discriminatory, libelous and malicious statements na mga sinasabi mo”). Mahirap yun. Insensitive na media/journalist (kuno)

    Alam naman natin mga sexcapades mo. Binuntis mo pa si Sarah B. Galing na nga sa isang masaklap na karanasan sa ibang bansa. Nag-take advantage ka pa. (At na take ni Sarah itsura mo???). Alam mo naman yung ginawa mo pero ayaw mong aminin.

    Akala nyo siguro lahat gusto ang GMA7… BOYCOTT kayo ngayon!

    Ikaw naman Rhea Santos, nasa loob ang kulo mo. Yung cheap na comment mo bagay sayo kasi mukha kang cheap. Alam na alam mo kasi GAWAIN MO… for sure tinatapon mo sarili mo sa mga lalaki kahit pangit at hindi sikat. Ganun ka ka-cheap! Host by day, hostess by night. Rhea Ipokpokrita Santos.

    ARNOLD CRABIO CLAVIO – di naman tao, nagpapanggap na tao

    RHEA IPOKPOKRITA SANTOS – host by day, hostess by night

    Ang RACISM… Seryoso pong isyu ito na dapat bantayan!

  15. Rick you should have published this 20 days ago to all local papers, seriously.
    Since Day one I never believed Ms. Ramos was sexually harassed. Soon enough everything is unfolding. I'm not gonna go back discussing Sexual Harassment and Racism. Most filipinos are now well aware of these and they should.
    Like you, I had experienced being racially discriminated and sexually harassed abroad. So I can tell you, she WAS NOT HARASSED at all.

    If you were sexually harassed the first thing you want to do is to STAY AWAY AS FAR AS you can from your harasser. You DON'T WANT THE HARASSER NEAR YOU AGAIN EVER! Surprisingly Ms. Ramos ASKED PFF to be the next home match commissioner AGAIN so she can discipline the team?!?!
    Clearly she's holding a grudge against the team for unknown reason/s prior her SH allegation. A power tripper that she is.
    And you know what it is??? Ms. Ramos is a freaking RACIST herself. She's against the foreign born filipino Azkals. The mere fact she does not want the foreign based athletes to represent the team in PR. For a match commissioner for more than a decade to different countries like she claimed, she should be more CULTURALLY DIVERSIFIED but no, she's more of a DIVISOR.
    She's a RACIST, A DIVISOR, causes HATRED among us. She's doing great DISSERVICE to Phil Football, Phil Sports and the entire Philippines.
    What's the whole point of having international sports? Isn't it to unify all human being through healthy competition?
    She needs to step down of her post, along with Arnold Clavio.
    Azkals, Football, Sports belong to Filipino people NOT to Ramos nor Clavio. Get the fuck out!

  16. Brilliant and superbly written piece. Let us not also forget, that the name, "Filipino" used to describe Spaniards born in the Philippines. It was later used to include all inhabitants of the Philippines.

    The 1987 Constitution further explains that "The following are citizens of the Philippines: (1)Those who are citizens of the Philippines at the time of the adoption of this Constitution;(2)Those whose fathers or mothers are citizens of the Philippines;(3)Those born before January 17, 1973, of Filipino mothers, who elect Philippine Citizenship upon reaching the age of majority; and (4)Those who are naturalized in the accordance with law."

    I am not a lawyer but a simple research will save us from ignorance. But then again, a certain media person that now goes by the nom de guerre "crabio" is not really known for his reading habits.

  17. Perfect! Sir, your article should be published and sent to TV stations to be read...Nice one!!!

    - from someone who loves sports (specially basketball and football/soccer) and hates racism, any forms of harassments, and crab mentality....

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