Tuesday, September 28, 2010
At this time, the motive behind the blast is not known, although police suspect that warring fraternities were responsible, a charge the fraternities vehemently deny. Still, it is the fraternities’ own bloody history that once more put them in the limelight, since it cannot be denied that, in the Philippines, fraternities have been equated with violent attitudes.
My own experiences as a college student can attest to that, as clashes between fraternities were frequent, often landing the combatants in the hospital, or, worse, the morgue. During one such clash between the Upsilon Sigma Phi and the Vanguard fraternities, it got to the point that, during one CMT session, armed men corralled a lone cadet officer and his company, and proceeded to beat the officer so badly as to put him into the hospital. The assailants were never found, but it was presumed that they came from, or were hired by Upsilon.
Sometimes, even non-fraternity members become victims, as a result of mistaken identity. One friend I know was attacked by fratmen and could’ve gotten seriously injured when one of my teammates in the judo team, a college employee, stepped in and stopped the fracas. I’m unsure whether the attackers were charged for their cowardly attack.
There was another time when two frats warred over who would get the beer concession in the university fair. I was on the third floor of Palma Hall waiting for my class to start when my classmates and I heard a loud explosion coming from the second floor. Almost seconds later, two students ran by our classroom, followed by masked men brandishing pipes. I’m not sure what happened there, since it happened so fast.
In UP, there have been at least two fatalities that have been the result of warring fraternities. Dennis Venturina was attacked just outside the UP Library and beaten so badly that he died of his injuries. Another student, Nino Calinao, was gunned down in front of the Scintilla Juris tambayan, and was a victim of mistaken identity; sadly, Calinao was just at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Even joining the fraternity alone can have deadly consequences, since the hazing of initiates involves massive and often brutal amounts of beatings. The years are littered with the bodies of dead initiates, notably Lenny Villa, who was brutally murdered during an initiation of the Ateneo law fraternity Aquila Legis back in the 90s.
Despite fraternities’ violent and bloody excesses, people still continue to join them, for the promise of valued connections and support once they graduate from college. Many of our country’s leaders can boast of being a fraternity member, and, often, it is this tie that wins over things such as legalities and justice.
As for last Sunday’s bombing, we have yet to discover whether a fraternity is responsible for the heinous crime. The fact that police suspect such is only a condemnation of the culture of violence that pervades the fraternity culture, and, if we were truly interested in a country ruled by the power of law, we should take a hard look at the nature of the fraternity and determine whether such a structure is still necessary in our society.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Apparently, championship experience does count.
Playing relentless defense, the Ateneo Blue Eagles pounded a hapless Far Eastern University (FEU) team all afternoon, and got the win, 72-49, in Game 1 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 73 men’s basketball finals.
The first quarter ended with a commanding 24-8 score in favor of Ateneo, which then extended its lead to 20 by the end of the first half. The Blue Eagles played tenacious defense and took advantage of Tamaraw turnovers, turning them into quick fastbreak points. By the fourth quarter, when it was clear that FEU couldn’t get anything going, FEU coach Glenn Capacio pulled out his starters with about 2 minutes to go, and his bench played halfhearted basketball the rest of the way to end the worst drubbing FEU has taken this season.
Ateneo’s win was its first over FEU this season, as the Tamaraws won two tightly contested battles during the elimination rounds. I’m sure, though, that the Tamaraws would’ve preferred to exchange one of those wins for a win today, winning the first game being crucial in a best-of-three series.
The Blue Eagles clamped down and clamped down hard on the Tamaraws, clogging the lanes and generally making life miserable for FEU hotshots RR Garcia and Terence Romeo. At the same time, it seemed like FEU was just having a bad shooting day; if I’m not mistaken, FEU center Reil Cervantes, for example, got all of his points from the foul line.
Even the loss of big man Jumbo Escueta due to suspension didn’t make things difficult for the Blue Eagles, as rarely used JP Erram stepped in and delivered key shots and played excellent defense before fouling out late in the fourth quarter. Ateneo mainstays Eric Salamat, Kirk Long (now spotting a crew cut), Ryan Buenafe, Emman Monfort and Nico Salva played well throughout the game, Ateneo’s bench, notably Bacon Austria and Erram, provided much-needed support and played excellent defense. Overall, Ateneo coach Norman Black found the right strategies and efficiently rotated his bench to stymie the Tamaraws.
As for the Tamaraws, I’m not quite sure what happened to them. Was it folding under pressure, or was it just a case of bad luck? Whatever the reason, unless FEU coach Glenn Capacio can make the necessary adjustments, the Blue Eagles may finally complete the much-sought after 3-peat, and join the junior team in making this season a double celebration.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
While a lot of talk is going on about the content of the incident investigation and review committee (IIRC) report on the August 23, 2010 hostage tragedy, as well as the ongoing jueteng revelations, I’d like to wonder aloud about an issue that seems to have been forgotten, and that is the C-5 budget insertion involving Senator Manny Villar.
Before and during the elections, the controversy surrounding the C-5 road project, wherein it appeared that Senator Villar had used his influence in diverting the path of the road so that it would traverse his properties, was a hot issue, resulting in a divided Senate. While there was a report condemning Villar, action was never taken on it because: one, Sen. Villar never showed up at the Senate to face the charges against him, and, two, his allies blocked the voting on the report via lack of quorum, especially on the last day of sessions in the Senate. However, it seems that Senator Villar paid dearly for his avoidance of the issue in the elections, as he finished a measly third in the presidential elections, despite having spent estimated billions on political advertisements and whatnot.
However, ever since the Senate resumed its sessions after the elections, the C-5 issue has never been brought up, in spite of the fact that some of the main players in the issue, notably Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile as well as Senator Villar himself, are still present in the Senate. It raises the suspicion that the issue may have just been brought up specifically to derail Villar’s bid for the presidency, and, since Villar was exposed as a paper tiger, the issue has been quietly laid to rest.
If such is the case, it ignores the fact that there are major questions regarding the money spent on the C-5 extension project, which Senator Villar has never answered satisfactorily. No case has been filed with the Ombudsman, and, thus, a possible case of corruption is swept under the rug.
I realize that there are probably more pressing issues besetting the Aquino administration, but shouldn’t the C-5 project be investigated, and given a proper closure?
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Last Sunday was the first time I’d watched a UAAP game from the patron seats, and I wasn’t disappointed, as the Ateneo Blue Eaglets crushed the University of Sto. Tomas Tiger Cubs, 76-59, to clinch the championship and complete the 3-peat.
While guard and Finals MVP Kiefer Ravena was instrumental in leading Ateneo to the crown, the other players, particularly Von Pessumal, Chucky Dumrique, and Paolo Romero, stepped up to smother the Tiger Cubs, whose season MVP Kevin Ferrer was effectively shackled and held down to 3-15 shooting to finish with 13 points. Every Blue Eaglet seemed to know his role in the game, and each one played their roles to the hilt, moving like a well-oiled machine to defeat a UST team which had handed them their only loss of the season, the first game of the Finals.
One had to feel sorry for the Tiger Cubs, who were in a pressure cooker situation, having to win in order to keep the series alive. Unfortunately, when Ferrer was locked down, only one or two of the UST players had the heart to continue taking shots; the others seemed woefully gun-shy. Still, they have nothing to be ashamed of, considering that they made it to the Finals.
With the win, the Eaglets have now won 3 straight titles, their first time to do so since the 80s. At the same time, the team will be saying goodbye to standouts, Ravena, Pessumal, Romero and Dumrique, which means that the next generation of Ateneo players will have to step up if they want to continue the streak. For now, it’s enough for the Ateneo High School to celebrate and enjoy a well-deserved victory.
* * *
In the seniors’ game, the Blue Eagles took apart a poor-shooting Adamson team to win, 68-55, and advance to the Finals to face the Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws.
Ateneo leaned on the efforts of guard Eman Monfort, who scored a team-high 22 points, and was pesky enough to give the Adamson side fits. Falcon guard Lester Alvarez, who was guarded by Monfort, never managed to get his shooting touch, and finished with 11 points. Neither were the rest of the Falcons able to get anything going, as the tough Ateneo defense held them to only 27% (17 of 63) shooting; guard Alex Nuyles, the team’s top scorer, only managed 4 points.
It appears that Ateneo coach Norman Black and his staff prepared doubly hard to face the Falcons, who had kept Ateneo close in the regular season. In contrast, Ateneo completely dominated Adamson in the Final Four, keeping alive the 28-game winning streak against the Falcons, dating back to 1997.
With the win, Ateneo advances to face FEU, a team it has not beaten this season, although Ateneo’s come close in two tries. The Blue Eagles will try again to clamp down on the Tamaraws and complete its own 3-peat, but it’s not going to be easy. FEU has a lot of ammo in its arsenal, and the Blue Eagles had better bring their best game to the Finals if they want to fly high at the end.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Jens Knuttel and Carl Cruz were out with sore eyes.
Top scorer RR Garcia was saddled with four fouls as early as the third quarter.
And still, the Ateneo Blue Eagles couldn’t hold on and lost to the Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws, 74-72, giving FEU the top spot in the Final Four. Ateneo had a 6-point lead going into the last two minutes, but Tamaraws Aldrech Ramos, rookie Terence Romeo, and Garcia, who was held to less than ten points for the first time this season, went on a 7-0 run capped by Garcia’s booming 3-pointer.
In part, Ateneo lost the game due to spotty officiating. There was the stopping of a fast break because one of the FEU players was down. The problem there was that FEU didn’t have the ball, and the Eagles should’ve been allowed to finish their play before any injury time out was called. But the referees called it, stopping a possible easy score for Ateneo. There was the non-call of a foul on Ryan Buenafe in the closing seconds of the game, which could have sent Buenafe to the line to shoot two, and send the game into overtime. Still, as some would say, those are the breaks of the game, and Ateneo should’ve been able to play through them.
What did contribute to the Ateneo loss was some poor shooting on the Eagles’ part. There were a number of missed easy shots, and, of course, the poor foul shooting. Both of these added up to a lot of lost points for Ateneo, which could have mattered given the close score. It’ll be something for Ateneo to think about should they face the Tamaraws in the Finals.
With the FEU-Ateneo game safely in the record books, the cast for the Final Four is now complete. FEU will now face the La Salle Green Archers, while the Eagles will face off with the Adamson Soaring Falcons, with FEU and Ateneo holding the twice-to-beat advantage.
Of the two matchups, FEU probably has the easier assignment, as the Archers have been playing inconsistent ball throughout the season. While it’s possible that La Salle might steal one game from the top-ranked team in the UAAP, FEU simply has too many weapons in its arsenal to lose two straight games, as the Tamaraws demonstrated in their win against Ateneo. Garcia and Romeo are sure to give the La Salle guards fits, while Ramos and Reil Cervantes are more than a match for the La Salle big men.
On the other hand, the Ateneo-Adamson matchup will likely be a slam-bang affair. Both teams are evenly matched, as evidenced by the close games in the elimination round. The Blue Eagles will have to play at their best to defeat the Falcons, who are itching to put an end to 13 years of losses to Ateneo; the Blue Eagles will also have to guard against the 3-point shooting ability of the Adamson players. Expect Ateneo to draw from its playoff and championship experience to extend its winning streak against its fellow raptor school to 28 games, although it’s likely that the Eagles will have to bleed to get the win.
The games continue to be exciting, and, in the Final Four, all teams will be going all out in order to win, so we can anticipate some really thrilling basketball down the stretch en route to the Finals.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
The Adamson Soaring Falcons clawed their way back from a double-digit deficit to claim 3rd place in the UAAP Final Four, beating the La Salle Green Archers, 69-64. Kenyan Lionel Manyara had a breakout game, scoring 11 points and grabbing 17 rebounds, as he and his teammates brought Adamson back to the playoffs after a four-year break. With the loss, La Salle drops to 4th place, and both teams await the penultimate matchup between the top two teams in the league, the Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws, and the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles.
The Tamaraws, of course, have the edge, since they have one more win than the Blue Eagles, who must win by 3 points if they are to overtake FEU in quotient and grab the top spot. But which team would both rather face in the Final Four?
For Ateneo, I think trying for the top spot in order to match up with La Salle would give it the easier assignment in the Final Four. While the Blue Eagles lost to La Salle in the first round of eliminations, they manhandled the Archers in the second round. Plus, La Salle was listless down the stretch against Adamson, so I’m not sure if the Archers have it in them to beat their archrival in the Final Four.
A Final Four matchup between Adamson and Ateneo is likely to be a bang-up game. Even though Ateneo has had a long winning streak against the Falcons, the two games this season have been nailbiters, with Ateneo escaping by the skin of its teeth, winning both games by a measly margin of 3 points. If they match up in the Final Four, Adamson is sure to give the Blue Eagles the fight of their lives, and that series could go either way.
As for FEU, I’m not sure which team they’d prefer to face, since the Tamaraws are more than capable of handling either Adamson or La Salle. Still, I think that, given the fact that Adamson has beaten FEU in the eliminations, I’d have to say that the Tamaraws would be warier of facing the Falcons, and might rather face an inconsistent La Salle squad. However, there is a chance that the inconsistent Archers might actually pull it together and pull off the upset, so FEU cannot take them lightly.
Whatever the resulting matchup, the Final Four is sure to be packed with a lot of action and excitement, and will be a tantalizing show en route to the Finals.
It’s interesting to note that his actions will apparently be protected by the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees freedom of expression. However, in the news item in the Inquirer (September 9, 2010), it was also noted by legal experts that, while the U.S. government cannot suppress that freedom, there is an exception when such expression “amounts to an incitement to violence”. Since the Afghanistan commander General David Petraeus has stated that Jones’ actions could further inflame Muslims and might result in more attacks on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, perhaps that could be used to stop Jones from carrying out his mad plan.
On the other hand, it’s amazing how such an insignificant person could start such an international outcry. Jones’ church has around only 50 members, which is even smaller than a number of parishes here in the Philippines. However, it cannot be denied that his outrageous plan has given him worldwide infamy, which may have been part of his plan, which appears to have been calculated to generate maximum effect. Insignificant or not, the burning of the Quran is still an evil action, and Jones, as well as others like him, should be made to see that.
It’s no coincidence that Jones decided to time his book-burning event with the September 11 World Trade Center tragedy. The fact remains that the perpetrators of that tragedy were Islamic extremists, which naturally set off a backlash against Muslims, particularly in the U.S. However, it should be remembered that 9/11, as the event is commonly known, was the work of radicals and extremists, and should not be held against the Muslim world as a whole. The tragic events of that day should not be used as an excuse for a person to wage war against a religion as a whole.
It should also be remembered that even the smallest event could trigger worldwide effects. World War One, for example, was triggered when a minor noble was assassinated. In this day and age, who knows what could happen should Jones carry out his plan?
UPDATE: Jones has apparently decided not to hold the Quran burning, after all, although it's not clear if the event is to be canceled or merely suspended.
The investigation into the tragic August 23, 2010 hostage taking continues, and, more and more, I’m convinced that it should probably be closed to media until the commission completes its investigation and releases its report. Right now, we are bombarded with all sorts of information that has yet to be evaluated, in order to avoid the hasty conclusions which are occurring in the process. There is a case of having too much information, as was the case during the tragedy, and we, and the media, should respect the process being undertaken by the government. At the same time, I’m hoping that there will be no whitewash of the event, and the necessary solutions and sanctions will be recommended by the commission.
The tragedy has also exposed some of the divisive factions that apparently exist in the Aquino administration, particularly the inexplicable reason why control of the Philippine National Police (PNP) was given to an undersecretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), rather than to the rightful command of the DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo. The revelation that DILG Undersecretary Rico Puno apparently has no experience in handling police matters raises the question why he was given control of the PNP in the first place.
There also appears to be some problem between the president’s spokespersons notably Sonny Coloma and Ricky Carandang. Secretary Coloma released a set of guidelines that supposedly would govern media in crises such as hostage taking, only to be questioned by Carandang, who stated that the investigation was still under way, so any guidelines released would be premature. It appears that President Noynoy Aquino should meet with his Cabinet, and exercise a firmer grip on his underlings, as it appears that, like the hostage taking tragedy, nobody appears to be in charge.
Monday, September 06, 2010
It was a weekend of ups and downs for the Final Four contenders in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP), and, at the end of the weekend games, the playoff picture is a lot clearer.
Upset-minded University of the East (UE) and National University (NU) shocked La Salle and Adamson, respectively, while the top two leaders, Far Eastern University (FEU) and Ateneo disposed of their opponents, respectively University of the Philippines (UP) and University of Sto. Tomas (UST), to finally claim the twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four playoffs.
La Salle’s defense simply had no answer to UE’s Paul Lee, who led the Warriors with 19 points in a spoiler role. Fellow Warriors Raphy Reyes and James Martinez also helped UE’s cause by scoring in double digits.
NU, on the other hand, bucked 28 turnovers to keep the game close, while Adamson desperately tried to find the range down the stretch. In the end, NU’s Jewel Ponferrada hit a three-pointer with 2.9 seconds to go, to give the Bulldogs the win, and a chance to end their season at the break-even mark.
FEU took apart a listless UP squad, and won over them handily, 70-48, to keep the top spot in the standings.
On the other hand, the Blue Eagles played like their ‘90s predecessors, building up a big lead over the Growling Tigers by the half, only to see it evaporate into thin air, forcing the Eagles to hang on for dear life. While Ateneo held on to win 81-77, I’m certain Coach Norman Black wasn’t happy with his players’ effort, considering their next opponent happens to be FEU. Such complacency on the Blue Eagles’ part could spell doom for them in the Final Four.
The four teams’ final games will determine the pecking order of the Final Four. La Salle and Adamson will face each other this Thursday, and the winner of that match will get the third seed. Ateneo and FEU match up on Sunday, the final game of the elimination round. If Ateneo can beat FEU by 4-5 points, the Eagles will have the better quotient, and will get the top spot of the Final Four. It’s not going to be easy, even though the Tamaraws have shown that they can be beaten.
The rip-rollicking ride that is UAAP men’s basketball looks like it’s going to be a wild one going into the last week of the eliminations. While the Final Four positions are clearer now, it’s still anybody’s ball game.
Friday, September 03, 2010
La Salle slammed the door shut on University of Sto. Tomas (UST) yesterday, winning its insurmountable 8th win, while Far Eastern University (FEU) shut down National University to complete the Final Four participants for the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men's basketball championship. With only two games to go, and only two games separating the 1st placer from the 4th placers, it's anybody's ballgame as to who will snare the top two spots.
FEU, at 10-2, is the favorite to grab the top spot. Remaining on the Tamaraws' schedule are University of the Philippines (0-12) and 2nd placer Ateneo (9-3). FEU should dispose of the hapless Marroons easily, although overconfidence would be a bad thing at this point. As for Ateneo, it's likely that the Blue Eagles are going to come out with guns blazing, so the outcome of that match is anybody's guess at this point.
Ateneo, at second place, has to go through UST, and while the Tigers would be more dangerous than the Maroons, Ateneo is expected to take out this undersized squad with little problem. It's likely to be a tune-up game for the big match with FEU.
Adamson, tied at third with La Salle at 8-4, has a rough road ahead, as the Soaring Falcons first face an always dangerous NU team. Considering that NU nearly upended the Falcons in the first round, the Adamson cannot take the Bulldogs lightly. After NU, the Falcons will have a matchup with a La Salle team on a roll.
La Salle, while waxing hot, still has a tough schedule, as its next assignment is a University of the East team playing the spoiler role, and it can be expected that UE Coach Lawrence Chiongson will fire up the Warriors to make it a rough game for La Salle. After UE, La Salle will go up against the Falcons.
With the schedule fixed the way it is, only one thing is clear: at this point, anyone can still claim either of the two top spots.