Blue Eagle Moms Talk Season 79 Part 1
by rick olivares
Following last year’s successful dinners (we had two) with the moms of the Ateneo Blue Eagles, Ateneans and basketball fans and observers got a different point of view of life beyond the game of basketball. It was revealing and touching.
This year, we decided to do one right before the Ateneo-La Salle game. We all met up at Sarsa, UP Town Center last Monday night (September 26).
Bing Babilonia, mom of GBoy
Therese Verano, mom of Raffy
Ren Ildefonso, mom of Shaun
Tess Escaler, mom of Jaime
Carol Go, mom of Isaac
Bambi Mendoza, mom of Jolo
Karo Asistio, mom of Anton
Rick: So Carol and Bing are the veterans left along with Mozzy Ravena who is unavailable. I know of their situations with their sons so now, let’s hear it for the newbies.
You know that it is tough being a student-athlete. How do you deal with your son? Talking to him about juggling both studies and sports; dealing with disappointment and adversity?
Ren: Dati talaga struggle. Moving to Ateneo alam namin na studies first before sports. Hati kami ni Danny sa duties with Shaun and Dave (the younger brother who plays for the Blue Eaglets). Siya sa basketball. He talks to him about the game kung ano yung kailangan approach, ano yung diskarte, ano yung mali at iba pa. For my part as the mom, ako sa life, his well-being… to balance things. Kumustahin sa maraming bagay – studies, his eating habits, sleeping habits, the usual Gawain ng mommy. If I talk to him about basketball things, I just remind him, focus on your role. Shaun is overwhelmed to be on the team. Blessing na yun kasama siya sa team. We didn’t expect that at all.
World ko yung parang naka-sabit sa jeep.
Ren: You know, I have to be behind Danny sa PBA career niya. Alam mo naman ang PBA, maraming eksena. Pagna-trade, masakit rin yun kasi parang hindi kailangan. So adjust ka. Be understanding. Tanggap ka lang. Ganyan din my boys.
Rick: Ikaw yung strength and balance nila.
Ren: I hope.
Rick: O, Girlie…. Kumare….
Girlie: Oo, magkumpare kami (to all).
Rick: Interesting situation for your boys. Especially Mike. MVP na nabangko. And now starter. How do you work with the twins?
Girlie: Si Mike kasi, hindi lang first time nangyari yung na-cut siya or nabangko siya. When he tried out for the SBP team in grade school, he got cut. Ang mga pumasa sa cut si Matt, Aaron Black, Enzo Joson. Comedy nga nun, he (Mike) was the MVP of the FBL (Futures Basketball League) when he was in Grade 2. Then when he was in Grade 3, in spite of that, he was cut.
We were supposed to be withdraw Matt at that time para magsabay sila the next year. I felt, “kawawa naman si Mike” but he said, “No mommy, Matt deserves to be there. I am willing to wait.”
Siguro doon na develop yung personality ni Mike na very patient siya. Parang incredible at a young age, he understood how things work. Kaya lang struggle niya is with his weight. Doon ka na-discover ang nasa loob ng jug niya ay Milo. Milo iniinom niya.
(Laughter from everyone)
But the hardest part was trying to explain to him certain things. He would ask, “Mom bakit sila naglalaro ako hindi?” How do I explain that?
After his senior year sa SBP – Mike was named MVP!
Akala namin okay na; tuloy tuloy na. But in high school, Matt was lined up in his rookie year while Mike was made to wait. But one player had issues with his grades so Mike got a spot on the team and was at the end of the bench.
Si Matt first five, si Mike struggle ulit. But when he got to his fourth year, he was team captain and MVP.
Sa Batang Gilas under Coach Jamike (Jarin), sabi ni coach, “Mrs. Nieto, first time ako nagkamali sa player. Akala ko marami akong gagawin na work with Mike. Pagnakita mo ang taba. Mukha bang athlete yan? Nagkamali ako. Akala ko gumagaling si Mike because of Matt. But no… he is very good.”
The brothers have a very good understanding of one another and their place. They are also each other’s best friends. Walang jealousy.
Another story about Mike, siya mismo nagadjust sa weight problem. Minsan sabi ko, “Anak para ka nagkasakit. Ang payat mo.” Yun pala, he tried to lose weight on his own.
“Siguro, anak,” sabi ko, “nasa palad mo yan na ma-cut ka and saka ka gagamitin.”
Bing: That is a good story.
Girlie: Thank you.
Bambi: Si Jolo we tell him not to expect too much because he is a rookie. Even our relatives na sobrang excited, we tell them not to raise their expectations. But we are thankful that he is given playing time kahit konti.
Rick: Given Jolo’s performance in high school and his dad was a former player (for UP), how do you deal with the pressure?
Bambi: Pressure? Mas na feel ko pressure last year with the Eaglets. Coming from a champion team the pressure was bigger because he had to carry the team na naubos yung veterans. Nahirapan si Jolo more so because he also got injured. So he will not sulk, we talked to him to rally his teammates sa Eaglets. And leadership is crucial.
My husband, si Jiggs yung nagco-coach sa kanya. I try to fill in the others kung saan yung kulang… Naku, Rick, baka ma disappoint ka na hindi ako kasing daldal ng iba….
(laughter all around)
Rick: No. No. It’s fine.
Bambi: Siguro with Jolo, since he has been in Ateneo since prep, alam niya na that if his grades aren’t good he cannot play. So he understands his priorities.
Rick: O, Tess. Si Jaime naman.
Tess: I think it’s very exciting for him to be named to the team. It is unexpected and we feel it is a blessing. And we’re proud of him. Dream niya rin yun to play for the Blue Eagles. I trust the process.
Jamie has always been independent. He’s aware of cause and effect. And he knows. We don’t push him but we don’t leave him alone. He is on top of situations.
Rick: Your turn, Therese.
Therese: Almost from the time he arrived here, Raffy said, “Mom, I love it in Ateneo.” I asked him to clarify, “Raffy, love or like?”
“Mom, I love it.” Technically he is a Fil-Am but he doesn’t feel that way where he will only hang out with the Fil-Ams. He can hang out with everyone and we feel that is good. It means he can mix with everyone.
A lot of Mike’s (Raffy’s dad who went to La Salle and then UP) batchmates say, “Why Ateneo?” He says it is Raffy’s choice. We do not want to force our children into something they will not like. We make them aware of all the details, we do our research then make the decision based on that. With Ateneo, it was Raffy’s decision. Honestly, we weren’t really sure how Raffy would react upon arrival here but he is happy.
There’s an adjustment though – speaking Tagalog. During the diagnostic test, Raffy said, “Mom I had this test in Tagalog and I think I bombed it. And then in class, they were all speaking in Tagalog. I don’t understand anything so after class, I spoke with the professor. She said, “You did well in your diagnostic test.” Raffy said, “To tell you the truth, I guessed it well.”
So I think teaching him to communicate well will help and he does.
We’re glad he communicates. He’s like an old soul. Maturity wise he tends to give. Akala mo, wala lang but he’s deep.
Karo: When Anton entered his first year, he was given a scholarship but he had to try out for the team. It was okay naman. When he made Team A, we thought hindi na siya maalis. Hindi pala ganun. He’s been trying out every year. Nung third year biglang nababa siya sa Team B.
Last year it was really painful. Hindi na nga nakalaro, binababa pa. What do you tell him as a parent? (pauses)
But you have to be positive. More than simply being positive, you have to find ways to keep him motivated and his spirits high. If you tell him all these negative things it will break him.
Like during the summer… they had a game on his birthday (the Filoil Flying V Premier Cup) and hindi siya ginamit. He felt really really bad. After that, he seemed to consider not playing basketball anymore to concentrate on finishing his studies and then get a job. He was so bothered that his basketball wasn’t going anywhere. He spent a long time working on his game and nothing was going right.
Rick: I have kuwento about that.
Karo: You do?
Rick: After that game I was sitting on the steps near the players’ entrance of the San Juan arena and Anton came over. He said, “Tito, I don’t know what to do anymore.” He was in near tears.
I said, “Anton, I know it’s tough but look at it this way, maybe the coaches are looking for something more. If you are playing at this level (me raising my hand to indicate a level), why not raise it higher? That way you will get noticed. He nodded and agreed. In the very next game, Anton was player of the game.
Karo (in tears): Oh, thank you talaga.
Bing: Si Rick kasi talks to the boys.
Rick: I do. But not all the time. From time to time. I pick my spots. I don’t want them to think I am this nosy alumnus na pinakekelaman sila.
Karo: I don’t think so naman.
Rick: Thanks. But this isn’t about me. It’s just providing the support system with a different point of view. Okay, we move on to the next topic…. Social media and handling criticism. How do you guide your kids about this? Do you also engage in social media? Do you track them? Spy on them? Reverse order tayo… Carol?
Karo: Anton is not active on Facebook only on Twitter. Does he have bashers? Meron ba? I don’t care. But I do tell Anton to be responsible with what he posts from his opinions to pictures.
Ren: Ako kasi wala akong alam sa mga social media. Mga bata ko active. So I have to know kahit konti about social media. I do know enough na sabihin sa kanila na huwag papatulan yung mga bashers. Confident ako hindi nila papatulan. Papa nila since his PBA days pa meron criticism. You have to take things in stride. Hindi puwede puro react.
So sabi ko, Ingat sa mga post. Ako more on coaching them on being careful on what they post.
Girlie: Ako wala akong Twitter. Active sila Matt and Mike. Kami ni Jet meron Facebook so we can track them.
Girlie: Wag papatulan at wala kayong sasabihin ng masama sa iba. Marami gusto manira. Wag nilang papatulan. As for me, mabuti pa hindi mo nababasa kasi it won’t hurt you.
Minsan though, we look at what people say. Nakakasingit kami at nakikibasa. Lalo na yung mga sinasabi ng girls. Pati si Jet kinikilig kasi nung time niya wala siyang ganun.
Rick: Naku, Girl, meron…
Girlie: What?! Meron. Aahhh. Dapat ko bang malaman?
Bambi: Jolo has his social media accounts. I have too but asawa ko wala. Nakikisingit siya sa mga sinasabi about Jolo. One time, after a game we were in Starbucks. Si Jiggs was reading comments about Jolo na kesyo he should have been this and should have been that. And he was reading it aloud. Sabi ni Jolo, “Pa, wag mon a basahin yan. Ako nga hindi ko binabasa. Baka maka-epekto pa sa next game.”
So we also learn from our son.
Tess: My son is on the phone all the time! Like everyone else, we caution Jaime to be responsible. We explain things and then give him space. Like I said earlier, he understands naman. My boy is responsible so that helps.
Therese: I have all of the above – Facebook, Twitter etc. Raffy only had his Twitter account. He had his Facebook account before but he made a resolution to stop social media. He only revived it when he got here. Now it is used as a vehicle for the family to be updated. Especially since they are in the US.
As for my social media, I follow him and he follows me. Raffy has always had this mantra, you have to think twice of what you post. It was a learning experience. Painful but well learned. One time, Pepperdine made an offer of a scholarship to a friend of his (someone who was ahead) but retracted because of something that he posted on social media. It haunted Raffy.
Rick: This is more or less a young team. Correct me if I am wrong but they seem to get along with one other real fine. Let’s start with the veteran moms.
Bing: GBoy, not only because he is team captain is someone who gets along with everyone. He is sensitive also to others. While he might be older than the younger ones, he does get along with everyone. I know that some of them carpool since we live in the same area. He also told me that he enjoys the company of the Nietos so sometimes he’s at their house.
Girlie (interjecting): Gusto niya luto ko.
Rick: Puwede ba makikain?
(even more laughter)
Girlie: Ikaw pa! Puwedeng puwede.
Bing: There is no conflict on the team. Everyone gets along with one another. Others might have not been teammates in Ateneo in the grade school or high school but they were teammates on youth teams or on Team B.
Rick: Carol, your turn.
Carol: Isaac is really a private person. After practice or games he will go home right away. It isn’t that he doesn’t like the company of others but he is very very serious with his studies. It might sound boring but that is how he is. He will attend if attendance is mandatory.
Bambi: Many of them were teammates since they were in Grade School – the Nietos, Aaron, Thirdy, Jaimie, even Shaun. That helps.
Rick: I have seen Aaron, Adrian (Wong), and Raffy hang out in the Cubao area after games.
Therese: Yes, they have become all friends.
Rick: How about (Chibueze) Ikeh? He does he get along with everyone?
Girlie: Okay naman. He does. He is a quiet boy naman. Matt and Ikeh had lunch the other day and they were talking about the upcoming games against UP and La Salle. Nagbibigayan sila ng encouragement sa isa’t isa. Lalo na with Ikeh, he needs it.
Rick: Speaking of Ikeh needing it, La Salle on Sunday….
Girlie: We have this rule, on Game Day, si Jet lang ang kakausap sa mga boys.
Ren: Same with Danny.
Bambi nods in agreement.
Tess: We have UP first though.
Rick: Of course, we aren’t looking past them. Not gonna be an easy game against them though.
Carol: It might be a little awkward playing against Coach Bo (Perasol) but our coaches will prepare them well for that.
Rick: Do you as parents ever talk about this rivalry and the bigness of the game?
Bing: No, every game is the same treatment kahit undefeated yung kalaban or may talo na. Same approach. It has to be that way.
Karo: We know it’s a big game and maybe it is La Salle’s year but we have to play the game.
Bing: You know, everyone says that La Salle will win it and they are very good. But there is the saying too that bilog ang bola. They boys just need to play hard and believe they can do it.
Bambi: Naku, Rick, maybe you should sit down with the dads… they will have a different perspective lalo na many of them are former players as well.
Rick: Sige, I will try. Last year ayaw nila. Okay na raw that the moms spoke out. But we’ll see. Maybe after the Ateneo-La Salle match.