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, May 13, 2012

Bleachers' Brew #310 The life, miles & smiles of Angel Guirado

This appears in the Monday, May 14, 2012 edition of the Business Mirror.

The life, miles & smiles of Angel Guirado
by rick olivares


Angel Guirado held out his cellphone and showed me videos of his goals back during his club days in Spain. In one sequence, he latched on to the ball, accelerated forward and unleashed a volley before the defender could close him down. Goal! Guirado jumped up and punched his fist in the air. What was not seen on cam is that he ran to the sidelines to kiss his fiancée. That said a lot: his first love, football; and his second love, Rocio Carvajal, his fiancée.

“El amour,” he gushed as he now has a chance to put both of them together.

In July of 2012, Guirado will marry his girlfriend of five years. It hasn’t been easy keeping a long distance relationship alive. The couple have a saying, “One dream. One illusion.” Translated, it means, that what whatever dream they have, illusions they may be, the two of them will strive to make fulfill them.

Angel Guirado’s life since the age of five has defined by a football. “Es mi vida,” he shrugged. “It is my life.”

In his first visit to the Philippines eight years ago, the Guirados visited his mother’s hometown of Isabela, he asked around for a football but there was none. Today, with the rapid growth of the sport throughout the archipelago, one can find the game and a football almost everywhere. “See? Good things happen if you wait,” he smiled.

That smile. That toothy, infectious smile of Angel Guirado’s is one of the first things you will notice about him (aside from his 6’2” frame). He always seems to smile and have a good laugh. “When you are unable to watch movies in Manila because they are in English, I look for company so I can socialize and have fun. I enjoy being around people and having fun. We tell jokes. Laugh,” he explained with a guffaw that punctuates his sentence.

Football on the other hand, is serious business. He made it clear to his fiancée that he’d try to play the game that he loves for as long as he can. However, after his marriage, he has to face the long and hard decision of relocating his wife to Manila if possible at all. There are so many things to consider.

He was born in Malaga, Spain, a southern city off the Mediterranean coast. Like every other Spanish youngster, he fell in love with football and hoped to have a career in it. The problem is, he is not alone. Roughly 15 million Spanish males also hope to have a career in football. The game is deeply rooted in their culture, pastime, beliefs, and thinking. “It is the main sport in Spain. It’s very difficult to be a professional in Spain because everyone plays and understands the game. If you play in Division One, then you know you are among the best in the world,” he says.

Unable to play for the first division team of his hometown Malaga, Guirado suited up for the lower division Mataro in Catalonia.

While at Mataro, he got to play in two friendlies with star-studded Barcelona that at that time had Frank Rijkaard as its coach and Juan Roman Riquelme, Ronaldinho, Patrick Kluivert, Marc Overmars, and a young Xavi, Carles Puyol, and Andres Iniesta. “I couldn’t sleep the night before the game,” recounted Guirado who thought that at the time that he would have a chance of impressing the Blaugrana. “But we lost 2-0. And then in the second match, we lost again by a bigger margin.”

In another match, this time against Sevilla, he had Dani Alves marking him. “He is very difficult to get around,” remarks Guirado. “And he is very fast.”

After bouncing around for seven years with Cordoba, Atletico Madrid, Deportivo de la Coruña, Levante, Santa Eulalia, Estepona, El Palo, and lastly Ronda, one would think of giving up a child’s dream and look for a real job.

However, Guirado is nothing short of resilient. “Sometimes, you have to find your luck elsewhere,” he reasoned out.

It has been over a year every since he made his debut with the Philippine Men’s Football National Team. In 15 appearances, he has scored five goals. With top club Global, he has added two goals and had a bunch of assists.

He can now speak a little English and Filipino and he promises to work harder at mastering the two languages. The recent controversy where the match commissioner of the friendly with Malaysia accused him and Azkals teammate Lexton Moy of sexual harassment has hurt him mentally and financially.

His cousin, Rafa Garcia, brother of coach Caloy Garcia of basketball club Rain or Shine, laughed at the accusations. “He is so conservative,” related Garcia. “He wasn’t even in favor of those controversial Bench ads (that featured members of the Philippine Volcanoes rugby team in their underwear).”

A couple of potential sponsors have reportedly hedged from their initial plans of landing him as an endorser. Guirado smiled and a said he harbored no anger or dislike neither towards the accuser nor to critics. “Such is life,” he simply said. “Like boxing, it’s how you roll with the punches. What is important that I prove to people that I am not that kind of person and I continue to work hard and keep to my dreams. Things happen for a reason and maybe this is a lesson for me not to take things for granted.”

He sat silent for a minute but his eyes blazed with activity. He was clearly thinking and thinking some more. "It will all be good," he said. Then he pulled out his cellphone once more and played a video of a recent Azkals match. “Look.”

We watched. And then we laughed.


Thanks to Nico Bolzico for translating.

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