25 April 2007

Lessons to learn

As a graduate of the Union High School of Manila (Batch 85), my heart is heavy with the revelation that some of its sports officials and student athletes have cheated, resulting in the one year suspension of the Philippine Christian University or PCU from the NCAA for the coming school year.

The NCAA Policy Board, chaired by this year's president Vincent Fabella of Jose Rizal University, found damning evidence that some PCU high school sports officials orchestrated elaborate schemes for some athletes to take on the identities of other students or people who were ineligible, otherwise to play for the NCAA High School edition. In effect, 4 Baby Dolphins, namely JP Importante, James and Cesar Degano and Victor Miguel Oliveros faked their school records to get into the lineup.

(According to newspaper accounts, the identity switch was not clearly explained; some sources were saying that the players apparently submitted the school records of either a brother or a cousin to meet the 18-year age limit for high school cagers.)

The suspension resulted in having all four players ordered banned from the NCAA. The Baby Dolphins were also asked to return their second-place trophy together with the individual awards and had to forfeit PCU’s third place overall trophy in the high school division. The university was allowed to keep its over-all championship for the seniors division though.

PCU President Oscar Suarez apparently did not contest the NCAA's decision, which was announced this Monday, April 23, 2007. Suarez, as quoted from broadcast news sources that day and print sources yesterday Tuesday said that “this is a lesson learned... Just because of some erring personnel and athletes our school was gravely affected.”

Suarez had also instructed Fred Olano, PCU’s representative to the management committee to fire the coaching staff of the junior squad headed by Bong Sales.

The suspension comes in the wake of the victory of two Lady Dolphin spikers who won a hard fought battle in a beach volleyball tournament just this weekend, a victory that was clearly overshadowed by Monday's announcement.

PCU alumni all over are just coming to terms with this shameful and painful event, much like a crash from the exhilirating highs that the school's sports program had taken through the years since its entry into the NCAA less than a decade ago.

PCU's erring officials and athletes clearly did not learn anything from the equally painful and shameful experience of DLSU last year as well as the other experiences in the national level.

What is sad though is that I know for a fact that Union High School students are taught Christian values and discipline that allows them to be persons for Jesus Christ, as befits the largest Protestant university in Metro Manila.

Back in my time, sports victories were few and far between; the high school (now renamed to be the Union Integrated Science High School) pursued and were more successful in academic and spiritual pursuits.

Sadly I don't get to hear them excel in academics these days even as they racked up sports victories one after the other. But look where it got itself now - a suspension for the whole university due to corruption at the high school level! It seems to me that corruption is being started early in my beloved alma mater. That really hurts and it makes me angry as hell...

I will definitely follow up on this sad story as soon as I get to talk to the right people.

21 April 2007

At the Earth Day Jam

Just split up from my friends Ailyne, Leo and Francis. The Earth Day Jam still rages on a few paces away from where I am blogging now beside Baang Coffee. Such a huge crowd tonight especially at the stage at the junction of Ratsky's, Baang and Chili's.

Orange and Lemons was the band already playing so it was an easy decision to ditch listening to them in favor of making this entry, with apologies to Nancy my friend and PCU classmate who is the band's publicist. Had to ditch meeting up with her and her friend Candy too at Starbucks 6750; just didn't have the energy to take a cab and get all over to the other side of the metro to Makati at this time.

The Earth Day jam was a cool concept - more than 3 dozen bands playing all night to a closed T. Morato. I just didn't understand the band lineup though or the mix of musical genre's - one moment it was Noel Cabangon and Session Road, the next it was Paolo Santos and then Orange and Lemons. That band Paramata and 6Cycle sounded good though. Oh well, I guess that's diversity for you...

Too bad I was too shy in asking to have my photo's taken with the few singers that I admired though. I wanted to run after Noel Cabangon but held back... And right next to our table were Jett Pangan and Buddy Zabala... Oh well, next time???

If there were turn-offs in the whole event these were the environmental plugs shown in between the gigs and the inglesera hosts. The VTR plug's were packaged by foreign productions and used foreign hosts and concepts - The organizers could have made new ones and contextualized it in the local milieu. The hosts were simply too snobbish for comfort and didn't seem to connect to the crowd at all.

But the production aspect of the concert was very good - great sound and lights, very good set-up and efficient looking staff, engineers et al. Kudo's to the organizers whom I understand to be from rocker Lou Bonnevie's company. And boy did she sound so good still, after all this years! Lou should keep on rocking and teach those upstart wannabe rocker chicks how it is to really rock and roll. I had to resist the urge to go up to her and ask how her sister Angie was doing; she was my classmate and good friend in Union High School in Manila in the 80's and was also my schoolmate in UST.

In retrospect, the crowd was well behave and were mostly younger people; a whole slew of punk rockers showed up and camped on Manoling Morato's spacious parking spaces. I noticed that the tables and chairs of established outlets placed on the streets were not patronized though - probably due to their overpriced food and drinks? It was a good thing that some joints sold Pale Pilsen, San Mig Lights and my favorite Red Horse at an affordable range of between 20 to 30 pesos... As usual, over at the media area, reporters covering the event enjoyed free booze and food.

My first glimpse of the concert at about 8pm was at the stage beside Kopi Roti; I had dinner at Brothers Burgers where I enjoyed my grilled chicken burger and lemonade over a view to a kill of the stage. Cynthia Alexander and Bayang Barrios were kicking up a storm them and that was one priceless moment - good music, good food (I always love Bros. Burgers grilled chicken with its delicious cilantro sauce - it was simply a good healthy food that was value for money; the lemonade was so-so though and terribly overpriced). I left though when some bossa nova chick duo took control of the stage and did some lame music.

Too bad that my former producer Hannah was too tired to join me in tonight's activities; she used to be Bayang's first manager and I was just surprised she passed up on attending the Earth Day jam tonight. Also missed were Bombi and Jeng, who used to jam with Session Road and other bands making good music at the concert outside. I only saw Mike and his new lady love with their friends too (which I forget their names; all I remembered was that they used to work for my network too until they resigned to pursue their dreams of becoming indie filmmakers like Mike. Truly admirable people...).

I'll see them next time though. For now, I'm writing this entry for lack of something more creative to do. Later when I get home I'll finish the 2nd season of the compelling Prisonbreak series. This is my 2nd time to log in the Internet tonight. Earlier, I checked my emails at this Internet cafe's rival - Station 168 on top of Starbucks T. Morato where I was surprised to find a reply from Julia Campbell's sister (which I promptly informed my producer and co-editors'; we eventually got an exclusive phone patch interview with the family - more from this in my next post).

Meanwhile at the Earth Day Jam, The Dawn just wrapped up their set. Then the crowd just went wild and I just had to leave my station for a while to check out the next band. No wonder, it was the likeable Itchyworms belting out their fave Beer song... Too bad Cathy was not around with me to enjoy the concert...

My pictures from the jam will be uploaded tomorrow.