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, October 6, 2015

Former PBA player Mark Andaya takes his game to the streets by running for Manila councilor

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Mark Andaya takes his game to the streets by running for councilor
by rick olivares

Former Letran Knight and PBA player Mark Andaya is taking his game to a different court — to the hard and mean streets of Manila, this time as a Liberal Party bet for Councilor of the city’s 5th District.

After playing for KIA in its maiden PBA season, Andaya felt that if his pro basketball career was nearing its end. After six years in the pro league while dropping to the D-League in between, the six-foot-nine center felt it was time to take a different path.

Unlike some who have difficulty accepting that their dreams went largely unfulfilled or that their career is over, Andaya instead has flashed a sunny disposition. “Nagaling ako sa mahirap. Down na kami sa hirap. Kung magiging ugali natin ay galit tayo sa mundo ay walang mangyayari. So kailangan change ng attitude. Positive tayo,” smiled Andaya.

“My former teammate Willie Miller has this saying, ‘basketball never stops.’” related Andaya. “It means that you stay with the game you love in a different capacity. Pwede ka mag-coach. Pwede ka maging trainer. Ako? Hopefully, I can use the game to give back and help my community."

As a youngster, Andaya’s family didn’t have enough but Mark’s mother, Nona, made sure that she worked extra hard to provide for her children. “Grabe yung sakripisyo niya. Kung di ka naman ma-inspire sa kanya."

His mother made sure that he stuck to the straight and narrow path for they lived in a rough neighbourhood of Manila where crime and drugs were rampant. Mark saw more than a few people he personally knew fall to into addiction and waste away their athletic talent if not their lives. “Yung mother ko made sure na maliban sa pamilya namin, dalawa lang focus ko - pagaaral at basketball. Mas tatamaan ka ng leksyon kasi kakilala ko yung mga naging biktima ng droga. Natakot ako so talagang umiwas ako.”

“Si Coach Louie (Alas), my coach at Letran, sobrang higpit hindi lang sa basketball court but off it,” added Andaya. "Lagi niya sinasabi na kung hindi kami papasok, hindi kami papasa? Kapag hindi kami naka-pasa, paano na yung team namin na umaasa sa amin maglaro?

“I didn’t play too long sa PBA. Syempre, sana mas matagal. Pero yung ang reality — hindi. Hindi lang sa akin pero para sa maraming player. Marami hindi nag-aaral kasi focused sa basketball. Hindi naman lahat nakakapaglaro sa pro? Kami nga sa KIA, sa practice namin ilan kami — thirty players? Maybe more? Ilan lang naman naka-line-up. The rest are practice players.

Even while Mark was playing ball in the pro and semi-pro leagues, he always found the time to helpin his community whether through palaros or helping out during typhoons. "Nagustuhan ko yung feeling ng tumutulong. Iba yung sense ng fulfillment,” he divulged.

"For now strength ko is sports. Hindi ako magmamarunong ng kung ano ano pa. I took up management sa school pero I will stick sa alam ko at alam kong kaya ko. Pero syempre, like my mother and coach before me, studies and sports. Sana makatulong yan sa mga bata. Kasi pag-busy sila, wala na silang time para sa kalokohan at droga. of course, I am hoping that I get voted as councilor so I can do this."

His friends and family were at first against his running for public office. “Lagi nila ako dini-discourage kasi madumi yung pulitika and delikado rin,” admitted Andaya about the decision to enter public service. “Alam ko naman yun. Basta as long as I do the right thing and we can help others, bakit hindi? Syempre hindi ka-simple yun. But we have to try.”

“I just want to leave a legacy. Not just as a basketball player but also as a public servant who had genuine concern for the people."


Additional reading (CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW): Another piece I previously wrote about Mark Andaya. From back in 2011:

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