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 26, 2017

The Mindanao Peace Games – transcending sports and promoting peace and women empowerment

The Mindanao Peace Games – transcending sports and promoting peace and women empowerment
by rick olivares

This is the third year of the Mindanao Peace Games (MPG) and more than ever, the word “peace” has taken on a greater meaning especially following the more than three-month armed conflict in Marawi.

“Our city, Iligan, is 45 kilometers from Marawi,” said Reynaldo Mancia, a coach for Iligan Medical Center College. “Everyone knows about the peace and order situation in the Lanao areas. A program like the MPG and its philosophies will change the mindset of our young people. It breaks down barriers and will only serve for a better future for all of us.”

The philosophies that Mancia mentioned were broken down by MPG convenor Emmanuel “Noli” Ayo, “The MPG has three key goals – women empowerment as all the participating athletes are women, peace and community building, and transformational leadership.”

The MPG is a five-day program of athletic competition and seminars designed to enrich and enhance not only the knowledge of coaches and participants, but also to build their character is a project of the three Ateneo schools based in Mindanao – Cagayan De Oro, Davao, and Zamboanga and overseen by Ayo. And this year’s host is Ateneo de Davao University.

“All the participating athletes are women. And if you noticed during the opening ceremony, from the ushers and marshals to most of the performers, they are all men. It is our turn to be the ones to “serve” for lack of a better term and make the experience relevant for the women.”

Added Ayo, “We’ve all heard the term how ‘sports builds character’. It’s partly true. What makes it true is – the coaches. Because they are the ones who will guide, teach, explain, and make these sports experiences more relevant to the athletes. So we need to improve the quality of our coaches. To make better leaders of them who can convey precepts of peace, fair play, sportsmanship, and the positive values of sports.”

“As for peace, we have talks about that and we love the fact that our athletes – Christian and Muslim – are working side by side.”

Twelve Mindanao schools are participating in the MPG – Ateneo de Zamboanga University, Ateneo de Cagayan University, Iligan Medical Center College, La Salle University of Ozamiz, Ateneo de Davao University, Holy Cross of Davao College, University of South Eastern Philippines, Holy Trinity College of General Santos City, Saint Joseph Institute of Technology of Butuan, Father Saturnino Urios University of Butuan, Mindanao State University of Marawi, and Datu Ibrahim Paglas Memorial College of Maguindanao.

The number of participating schools has grown from the initial 10 that participated in the inaugural MPG held at the Ateneo de Cagayan then 12 in last year’s edition at Holy Trinity College at General Santos City.

“It isn’t only about competition,” added Ayo. “We have the popcorn and move night – it’s actually the burger and movie night for this year – where all the coaches and athletes watch a comedy film together. Theirs is nothing like a shared relationship where one watches a movie together – the old fashioned way in a theater -- that includes food. And laughter which we all know is the best medicine.”

The MPG has also been transcendent. For Pao Salvador, a coach at the Holy Cross of Davao College, she cited an athlete of hers who was being recruited by two Manila schools but she opted to stay because she felt that she can achieve more through the MPG not only for her school and team but also for the region. “When this athlete of mine first attended the MPG, she returned a totally changed person. In fact, she can even replace me now as head coach. The change has also affected her teammates as their approach to the games, school, life, and responsibility has changed for the better. Much much better. I am supposed to be in the hospital at the moment because some of my family are confined, but I couldn’t miss this because the MPG means so much to my student-athletes,” shared Salvador.”

For Wemir Cupin, a coach at the La Salle University of Ozamiz, the experience has also been life changing for him. “You learn that there is a bigger world around your immediate surroundings and that you learn from very good people. And what you learn – not only in sports but also about life and people’s philosophies – you adapt to your own self and your school.”

The third Mindanao Peace Games tipped off last Wednesday, October 25, and will close on Sunday, the 29th.

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