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.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A talk with former Loyola Meralco Spark and now Penn Quaker Gaby Borja

The Penn Quakers Men's Soccer Team 2012-13. Gaby Borja is on the extreme right last row standing wearing #25.

A talk with former Loyola Meralco Spark and now Penn Quaker Gaby Borja
by rick olivares

Gaby Borja starred for the RP U-19 squad also played briefly with the Loyola Meralco Sparks in the UFL and in the Singapore Cup. Following the quarterfinals win against Kanbawza, Gaby moved to Pennsylvania for his college education.

Rick: How did your moving to the US come about? Were you recruited, did you walk on?
Gaby: I applied to Penn and I got an academic scholarship from the Penn World Scholars Program and a Luis Virata scholarship. When I found out I got in, I contacted Coach Rudy Fuller about trying out for the team. He told me to come to the summer camps that he was conducting, but I couldn’t make the trip on such short notice. I went to the walk-on tryouts during the first week of class. Then they offered me a spot on the team.

Gaby Borja with the Loyola Meralco Sparks during the quarters of the 2012 Singapore Cup.

Rick: Why Penn? Why study abroad and play football there? Are there better opportunities?
Gaby: It’s by chance actually. One afternoon, I saw envelopes wedged between the grills of our front gate. I flipped through the envelopes and saw a thick brochure addressed to me. It was from the University of Pennsylvania and I was immediately surprised. I ripped through the adhesive and I was greeted by a scenic view above the amazing Penn campus. Then there was the Benjamin Franklin statue. It immediately came to me that those same buildings, hallways and streets were tread upon by the very best.

Benjamin Franklin said “The great aim and end of all learning is service to society.” I am honored to have been chosen to participate in this advocacy.

Rick: What are course are you taking at Penn? (Gaby cut and paste just this part of the interview with a US magazine Town and Country).
Gaby: I’m a Pre-Med course at Penn. Being a doctor was always my dream. I wrote down Biology as my preferred major when I accomplished the Penn application. However, after browsing the different courses that Penn offers, I’ve taken an interest in Bioengineering. Ever since high school, Biology was always my favorite science. Physics came in a close second. Taking part in a Field Biology elective during my fourth year further cemented my love for Biology. I also took an interest in robotics and technology. After reading the course description of bioengineering, I immediately recognized that the course was a marriage between the two things that I loved.

Also, there are billions of people out there who aren’t given proper medical attention. Tons of people living in the streets and shanties of Metro Manila have never gone to the doctor. They don’t see the benefits of health care because they just see it as more bills to pay. New technologies could be used to shed a ray of hope in these dark times and put smiles back on millions of people’s faces. 

I am studying abroad for the academics and the opportunity to study in an Ivy League school. It was always a dream of mine to study in the Ivy League and rub shoulders with the very best. Football is just a bonus, but I’m extremely happy and thankful to be given the opportunity to continue playing the beautiful game. And also to experience the life of an American soccer player. Hahaha.

Rick: Any notable teammates?
Gaby: We have a senior Travis Cantrell who’s looking into professional soccer when the year ends. He plays center mid and striker and is good in the air and is skillful with the ball. Duke Lacroix, who is a sophomore, is one of the fastest players I have ever seen. Then the only other international student on the team is Forrest Clancy. He’s from London and used to play for the QPR and Fulham youth academies. He tore his ACL a couple of weeks back though. A lot of my teammates also represented the US in the youth levels. The roster can be found here.

Rick: Do you watch the MLS? Do you have a favorite MLS team?
Gaby: I don't really watch the MLS but if I had to choose probably NY Red Bulls cause of Henry and also the LA Galaxy.

Rick: If you stayed in Manila to study, what school would you have gone to?
Gaby: I already had my mind set for UP Manila for the seven-year accelerated medicine program "Intramed". UP Manila doesn't have a soccer team so I might have continued playing with the Sparks if they renewed my contract.

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