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.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Finding glory (or Viva España). Joaco Cañas, Rufo Sanchez, Carli de Murga & Juani Guirado find success in the Philippines

Finding glory (or Viva España).
Four Spaniards (some with Filipino blood in them) find their dreams of glory in an old outpost of the Spanish empire.
by rick olivares pic by nona c.

Lost in the post-game celebration following Stallion’s 2-1 win over Global in the finals of the 2012 UFL Cup was a quick photo op for four players. Joaquin Cañas, Rufino Sanchez, Carli De Murga, and Juan Luis Guirado posed in front of a few fans while holding up the Spanish flag.

The four shook hands and chatted a bit before repairing to their respective sides of the field to be with their teams that awaited the awarding ceremony.

“It took us four months,” glowed Cañas who co-captained the Stallion side along with Ruben Doctora Jr. “Four months to find our glory.”

The arrival of Cañas and Sanchez is a strange story as they first took part in an exhibition match between a selection of UFL players and Internacional de Madrid for the victims of the horrific Typhoon Sending that opened 2011. In the Spanish club’s brief time in the Philippines, they visited several areas and came away moved by the destruction they saw. Sanchez and Cañas also fell in love with the country.

When the opportunity arose to play in the Philippines on loan, it took several months for the move to happen.

“I didn’t think it would take this long,” added Cañas. “But we are champions. This will be one of the most memorable events in my life.”

The arrival of the two Internacional de Madrid players galvanized an already good Stallion club. Cañas gave the club a stronger backbone on defense while Sanchez was simply deadly up front.

In the UFL Cup Finals, his first touch was equally impressive even if he was playing on only one leg (he was beset by cramps and later replaced by OJ Clarino late in the match). He managed a through ball that nearly led to a third goal for Stallion while hobbling around. That prompted Match Commissioner Joseph Gensaya to shake his head in amazement: “That is a quality football player. What can he not do?”

It isn’t only Spaniards on Stallion who have made an impact on local football. De Murga and Guirado have been integral parts in Global’s winning its first league title last season. Along with Guirado’s younger brother, Angel, the three have also become fixtures on the Philippine National Team where their contributions have had a great effect on the Azkals’ stellar finish in these past two years.

While all four have dreamt of playing for La Roja, current World Cup and two-time European champions, finding glory some 7,000 miles away isn’t so bad. “You are a part of something big,” explained De Murga. “We are doing something for the Philippines and you see how it affects the country and also Southeast Asia. It’s a fulfillment for me and for all of us.”

Guirado concurs: “Playing in the Philippines and the national team has helped us in making names for us. As a football player, this is a good thing, a blessing.”

The English Premier League may be the most popular league in the world but the ones who have made the most impact on Philippine football have been the Spaniards.

Paulino Alcantara, Barcelona’s all-time top goal scorer is Fil-Spanish. Eduardo Teus Lopez Navarro, another Philippine-born Spaniard minded the nets for Real Madrid from 1913 to 1918.

Dr. Juan Cutillas, a former Atletico Madrid player, was a long time Philippine national head coach and most recently was manager for Kaya.

In the 1970s, Philippine football received a massive boost in play with the arrival of Tomas Lozano, Manuel Cuenca, and Julio Rojas among others.

Said Cutillas in a conversation several months ago, the retired coach observed, “You see more and more Filipino teams trying to play more possession ball like Barcelona or Spain. And that is good. A good model to copy because it teaches team play and sound fundamentals. Of course, the Philippines is a former Spanish colony and it is nice to see the roots between the two countries reestablished." 

The Philippines was a Spanish colony for over three centuries before they ceded the islands to the Americans following the Spanish-American War at the turn of the 20th century.

Summed up Cañas about the Spanish influence on Philippine football: “That is why Spanish football is number one.”


Additional reading: STALLION WINS 2012 UFL CUP



With Rufo and Joaco one day after winning the UFL Cup title at Starbucks The Fort. 
Got plans.


  1. THIS --->

    1. Yes, I have had a number of stories stolen and passed off as their own. it really irks me. As journalists, it is our job to sniff out stories and not steal them. That leaves me in a difficult situation as I am not backed up by a major network or media outfit. Kinda tough. But I just plug away.

  2. Didnt know Juani plays here. Dont remember when and where, but I remember reading that he found some desk job in Spain.

    Good to know hes still playing

  3. how about hiring some spanish referees..that would be the best for the league

    1. HA HA Ha...unfortunately Spanish officiating doesn't come close to living up to the play of their land.

  4. oh~ Carlie went out of the locker room after all. was this taken when all the fans had left the stadium?

  5. Quality Teams = Quality League = Quality Grassroots = Quality National Team .
    we are getting there . don't get me wrong , but foreign talents on clubs elevates the level of competition in the local league .

  6. Guys dba on loan cla rufo and joaco for 2012-2013 season only? Babalik na b cla sa mother club nila na CFIM sa spain? or maglalaro pa cla sa UFL next year? Updates plss?