1991 Philippine Football Team who beat Malaysia

I just graduated from High School when we hosted the SEA GAMES  in 1991. The Philippine Football team achieved a historic win against Malaysia on November 28, 1991. Folks, this is our 1991 Philippine Football Team who beat Malaysia, 1-0. 

Found entry from my 1991 Diary: 11 - Elmer Bedia; Goal Keeper - Melo Sabacan; 14 - Hershey Salmon; 19 - Rolando Pinero; 5 - Judy Saluria; 8 - Jess Baron; 9 - Filamer Rosell; 4 - Rudy Alicante; 12 - Bambi Dioso; 7 - Edgar Berja; and 15 - Marlon Maro.
(Marlon Maro is now Head of La Salle's football program. First time I met him was when he spotted Ciaran, my son (who was a late enrollee) playing soccer in La Salle Greenhills. We had just arrived from Foreign Posting and Coach Maro invited him to join La Salle's varsity team.

 Will put captions for the team's complete line-up once I have access to my laptop.


bleachersbrew: Ticket prices to the Azkals-Tigers game on Feb. 29

bleachersbrew: Ticket prices to the Azkals-Tigers game on Feb. 29:

Football and Filipinos Overseas

The Philippine Men’s National Football team, or the Azkals as they are popularly known, just concluded their training camp in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where they played against some tough and skilled opposition in three practice matches: the Uzbek U23 team; Qatari 1st division club Al-Ahli; and the Australian U23.

I felt the Azkals played fairly well with the exception of the match against the young Uzbek team. The defense was pretty porous and they were trying to match the frenetic pace the Uzbeks were playing, though to be objective, the Uzbeks were a very good and highly skilled team with very fluid movement and good chemistry. This was the first match where the Azkals lost 3-0, but the succeeding matches (3-1 win against Al-Ahli and a 1-0 loss to the Aussies) showed they’ve addressed a number of problem areas and there was marked improvement in their performance.

Anyway, I am sure there are lots of stuff written out there about the matches; how the players performed, how the coach fared, the technical matters and stuff, etc. So I’m not going to delve into that, but rather focus on a feature of any Azkals away match: Filipino fans and supporters.

As I watched on TV the Azkals’ matches during their UAE tour, one thing I noticed about the TV coverage of the matches is that the director did a lot of shots and close-ups of the crowd, almost all of them Filipinos. Well, crowd shots and close-ups are a regular staple of TV coverage of football matches. Heck, whenever Brazil is playing you can safely bet your house that the director is going to put in a shot of female Brazilian fans, a number of whom would be in bikini tops. However, this particular director somehow enjoyed featuring the colorful and animated reactions of the crowd. I had a good feeling these crowd shots were a bit more than the usual based on the griping I would hear beside me on the couch to get the cameras back on the action happening on the pitch.

Personally though, I enjoyed watching our kababayans on TV having a grand time at the matches. It vividly brought back memories and the feelings we experienced when watching the Azkals in their various home matches at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum’s football field. It was those scenes of excitement, passion and enjoyment so evident on our fellow Filipinos faces and actuations as they cheered the Azkals that inspired me to write this piece and share some of my thoughts about football and Filipinos overseas.

Whether in the thousands or just a handful, the Azkals appear to be assured of having support in the stands whenever they play away from home. Vietnam, Indonesia, Mongolia, Germany, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bahrain, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Taiwan, Singapore or Qatar, there have been Filipinos in the stands cheering on the Azkals. Considering the number of Filipinos scattered around the globe, this is not surprising. With around a tenth of our population overseas, it is always likely that fellow Filipinos will be present to support them whenever they play in a major city.   

We all know of course the value of having crowd support in the stadium. It motivates the players and gives them an extra boost to go all-out and try to win the match and not let the fans and supporters down. In return, the team and the players provide the fans and supporters not only excitement, passion and even fun, but a sense of pride as well. Those of us who have been in the stands watching our teams play and cheering them on knows these feelings all too well. 
However, as I look at our kababayans in Dubai and Doha being featured on TV as they watched the Azkals’ matches, I can’t help but think how much more pronounced and significant the occasion is for them. It’s quite an experience already to be absorbed in the energy, passion and vibes of a match in Rizal, along with thousands of other Filipinos. I’d say that feeling and experience would be much more intense when in a foreign country, especially if you’ve been in that country for some time now, away from family and friends back home in the Philippines.

In my work I’ve had the opportunity to travel all over the world. One thing my colleagues and I notice is how quickly Filipinos connect whenever they run into each other overseas, particularly those who have been away from home for so long. These even include those who have migrated and settled in their adopted country and raised families there. The connection to the homeland and things Filipino remain very strong with Filipinos overseas. You could see their joy in meeting a kababayan, their craving for news and stuff from the Motherland.

So can you just imagine how they would be feeling to have their national team represent them and play for them? The images on TV revealed quite a lot about their experience, and that is why I enjoyed every moment those scenes would be flashed on the screen.

You see, this isn’t just about showing support for Philippine football and the country. It is just as much about making an effort to give Filipinos overseas an opportunity to enjoy, feel proud about themselves and of being a Filipino. Every time an Azkal fights for the ball, takes a shot at goal, throws his body to block a shot, etc. that player isn’t just doing that for the team and the country, he’s also doing that for every individual in the stands cheering him on. Considering that a good number of those individuals have been there for some time, in a foreign land, different culture, badly missing loved ones, friends and home, having an opportunity to relish and revel in the communal experience and passion of a live football match would definitely be an occasion to remember and cherish.   

As can be seen from experience, there is everything to gain from overseas activities such as this training camp and/or away matches. Football and Filipinos overseas make a good argument for continuing these types of activities. As the Azkals gain much needed match experience and enhance their ability as a team, Filipinos overseas get an opportunity to enjoy themselves and to feel proud.

As I recall those scenes and images on TV of our kababayans out there having the time of their lives watching our Azkals play and making us proud, I can’t help but feel happy for them for having had that wonderful opportunity. I’m sure the PFF and the management of the Azkals will make sure that those very same opportunities will be made available to other Filipinos overseas in the future.

In the meantime, it’s our turn here back at home come February 29. Go Azkals! WE BELIEVE!!!



1998: The European Language

In 1998, World Bank made an attempt to engage in cultural niceties rather than financial. This was good and light reading although dipicult at pirst. Imagin ip we sfel Inglis the Kafangfangan wey.

Let me knov if you enkounter difikulties.

Moira G


1998: The European language

The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the EU rather than German, which was the other possibility. As part of the negotiations, Her Majesty's government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5-year phase-in plan that would be known as "EuroEnglish." In the first year, "s" will replace the soft "c". Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard "c" will be dropped in favor of the "k:" This should klear up konfusion and keyboards kan have one less letter. There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome "ph" will be replased with the "f." This will make words like "fotograf" 20% shorter. In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will encourage the removal of double letters, which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of the silent "e"s in the language is disgraseful and they should go away. By the 4th year, peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" with "z" and "w" with "v".

During ze fifz year, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords containing "ou" and similar changes vud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters. After zis fifz yer, ve vil hav a reli sensibl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubls or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech ozer.


Happy Valentine's Day: Children's Thoughts on Love

Advice from a 10yr old on how to
make your marriage work, 'Tell your wife she's pretty, even if she looks like a truck.
Posted this already in 2002 but I'll post it here for Valentine's Day for some interesting and totally different thoughts (not to mention funny and entertaining) on that ever popular subject called love, as seen from the perspective of children. These quotes were taken from that Bill Cosby show "Kids Say the Darndest Things".

Read on and hope you enjoy it... Have a Great Weekend everyone.



Concerning Why Love Happens Between Two Particular People

"One of the people has freckles and so he finds somebody else who has freckles too."
Andrew, age 6

"No one is sure why it happens, but I heard it has something to do with how you smell ... That's why perfume and deodorant are so popular." Mae, age 9

"I think you're supposed to get shot with an arrow or something, but the rest of it isn't supposed to be so painful." Manuel, age 8

On What Falling in Love Is Like

"Like an avalanche where you have to run for your life." John, age 9

"If falling in love is anything like learning how to spell, I don't want to do it. It takes too long."
Glenn, age 7

On the Role of Beauty and Handsomeness in Love

"If you want to be loved by somebody who isn't already in your family, it doesn't hurt to be beautiful."
Anita C., age 8

"It isn't always just how you look. Look at me. I'm handsome like anything and I haven't got anybody to marry me yet." Brian, age 7

"Beauty is skin deep. But how rich you are can last a long time." Christine, age 9

Reflections on The Nature of Love

"Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good too." Greg, age 8

How Do People In Love Typically Behave?

"Mooshy ... like puppy dogs ... except puppy dogs don't wag their tails nearly as much."
Arnold, age 10

"All of a sudden, the people get movie fever so they can sit together in the dark." Sherm, age 8

Concerning Why Lovers Often Hold Hands

"They want to make sure their rings don't fall off because they paid good money for them."
Gavin, age 8

"They are just practicing for when they might have to walk down the aisle someday and do the holy matchimony thing." John, age 9

Confidential Opinions About Love

"I'm in favor of love as long as it doesn't happen when 'Dinosaurs' is on television." Jill, age 6

"Love is foolish ... but I still might try it sometime." Floyd, age 9

"Love will find you, even if you are trying to hide from it. I been trying to hide from it since I was five, but the girls keep finding me." Dave, age 8

"I'm not rushing into being in love. I'm finding fourth grade hard enough." Regina, age 10

The Personal Qualities You Need To Have In Order To Be A Good Lover

"Sensitivity don't hurt." Robbie, age 8

"One of you should know how to write a check. Because, even if you have tons of love, there is still going to be a lot of bills." Ava, age 8

Some Surefire Ways To Make A Person Fall In Love With You

"Tell them that you own a whole bunch of candy stores." Del, age 6

"Yell out that you love them at the top of your lungs ... and don't worry if their parents are right there."
Manuel, age 8

"Don't do things like have smelly, green sneakers. You might get attention, but attention ain't the same thing as love." Alonzo, age 9

"One way is to take the girl out to eat. Make sure it's something she likes to eat. French fries usually works for me." Bart, age 9

How Can You Tell If Two Adults Eating Dinner At A Restaurant Are In Love?

"Just see if the man picks up the check. That's how you can tell if he's in love." Bobby, age 9

"Lovers will just be staring at each other and their food will get cold ... Other people care more about the food." Bart, age 9

"Romantic adults usually are all dressed up, so if they are just wearing jeans it might mean they used to go out or they just broke up." Sarah, age 9

"See if the man has lipstick on his face." Sandra, age 7

"It's love if they order one of those desserts that are on fire. They like to order those because it's just like how their hearts are... on fire." Christine, age 9

Titles Of The Love Ballads You Can Sing To Your Beloved

"'How Do I Love Thee When You're Always Picking Your Nose?'" Arnold, age 10

"'You Are My Darling Even Though You Also Know My Sister.'" Larry, age 8

"'I Love Hamburgers, I Like You!'" Eddie, age 6

"'I Am in Love with You Most of the Time, but Don't Bother Me When I'm with My Friends.'" Bob, age 9

"'Hey, Baby, I Don't like Girls but I'm Willing to Forget You Are One!'" Will, age 7

What Most People Are Thinking When They Say "I Love You"

"The person is thinking: Yeah, I really do love him. But I hope he showers at least once a day."
Michelle, age 9

"Some lovers might be real nervous, so they are glad that they finally got it out and said it and now they can go eat." Dick, age 7

How Was Kissing Invented?

"I know one reason that kissing was created. It makes you feel warm all over, and they didn't always have electric heat or fireplaces or even stoves in their houses." Gina, age 8

How A Person Learns To Kiss

"You can have a big rehearsal with your Barbie and Ken dolls." Julia, age 7

"You learn it right on the spot when the gooshy feelings get the best of you." Brian, age 7

"It might help to watch soap operas all day." Carin, age 9

When Is It Okay To Kiss Someone?

"When they're rich." Pam, age 7

"It's never okay to kiss a boy. They always slobber all over you ... That's why I stopped doing it."
Tammy, age 10

How To Make Love Endure

"Spend most of your time loving instead of going to work." Dick, age 7

"Don't forget your wife's name ... That will mess up the love." Erin, age 8

"Be a good kisser. It might make your wife forget that you never take out the trash." Dave, age 8

"Don't say you love somebody and then change your mind ... Love isn't like picking what movie you want to watch." Natalie, age 8

No person really decides before they grow up who they're going to marry.
God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you're stuck with. -
Kirsten, age 10

Do you Believe in a World Without Wars?

Unfortunately, war is and has been a constant companion of humanity. In my opinion, the absence of war will only mean one thing, humanity as a whole has become one mindless and single-minded entity. War is a consequence of conflict and conflict results from a clash of ideas, thoughts, necessity, etc... As long as humans are capable of independent thought then conflict is inevitable. This means to have a world without war is to have mankind thinking alike and in synch with each other, like a hive of some sort. I think I'd prefer to have the privilege and freedom to think and decide for myself, even if this makes the world a dangerous place to some extent. Besides, if we have the capacity to wage war, then we also have a capacity to wage peace. It's simply a matter of finding a balance between the two.

Moira G Gallaga©


Diego Maradona - Genius Or Raving Madman? | The 4th Official

Diego Maradona - Genius Or Raving Madman? | The 4th Official:
by: Moira G Gallaga©

Famous Diego Maradona’s Quotes:
My first dream is to play in the World Cup, and my second is to win it.” - A 12-year-old Maradona

“I haven’t seen him lately. I tried to call him but it’s easier talking to Obama than Leo. I’ve heard he's having a good pre-season and that’s great to know.” -
On Messi

“I was and always will be happy with my Hand of God goal against the English. I offer them a thousand apologies – that’s the truth - but I’d do it again a thousand times.”


Thoughts on the Kia Rio Cup

On 21 January 2012, a charity match for the benefit of the victims of typhoon “Sendong” was held at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium featuring the Azkals United selection versus Icheon Citizen, a third division team from South Korea. Third division football in South Korea is an amateur league, but given the quality of football in South Korea, Icheon Citizen was expected to provide a competitive challenge for the Azkals United selection.
Aside from the laudable objective of holding this match to help raise funds to help those who suffered from the disaster wrought by typhoon “Sendong” down in the south, this was also a good opportunity to get local based players much needed exposure against a competitive team. Given that, this wasn’t an official FIFA sanctioned match and club football season for our foreign-based players was in full swing, this means the Philippines needed to rely on our local based players. The local flavor of our team for this match was a good chance for us to check out the other promising talents we have available, an opportunity for these players to test themselves, and for the fans to see how the quality of our local game is in comparison to our neighbors in the region.

An interesting issue cropped up in the run-up to this match in that there was a scheduling conflict between this match and scheduled matches of clubs in our very own United Football League (UFL). This meant that a number of the local based Azkals who had club commitments on that weekend weren’t going to be able to play in the match. Hopefully, lessons were learned in this situation to avoid such issues in the future. Football is on the rise here in the Philippines and it is imperative that everyone in the football community here are all pulling in the same direction. We need to make sure our local league such as the UFL gets to grow as it is an important component in the development of Philippine football, and likewise, every opportunity to conduct competitive matches against a variety of opponents must be maximized. Our leaders in the football community should strive to ensure that the pursuit of both these objectives is harmonized.

As a result, one could say the Azkals United selection for this particular match was a bit makeshift and not exactly the strongest available locally. However, it was a good mix of regular Azkals, former Azkals, UFL standouts and youth players. In terms of using this match as a gauge on how our local game stacks up to foreign competition, it would be an accurate barometer for assessing the quality and level of domestic football.

Match-day, there was a decent crowd in the stadium that slowly grew in numbers as the match progressed. It was nice to see that the Korean community in the Philippines was well represented in the stadium too, to cheer for their compatriots. For a charity match, there was a nice atmosphere and the crowd was quite engaged with the match as well.

As for the match itself, it was exciting and close. It was a somewhat physical game in my opinion and it was evident that the Korean players were in good shape and played a direct game. I think it was a good test for our players, who did fairly well to make the match competitive. In terms of quality, I’d give a slight upper hand to the Koreans but Azkals United showed dogged (pun intended) determination and spirit, and the 1 – 1 draw was well deserved. A dramatic last minute equalizer by one of our U23 players who came into the match as a substitute, Marwin Angeles, capped off a brave performance by the lads.

We eventually lost in the penalty shoot-out, but then again, I count shoot-outs as a lottery. It can go either way, and at this point, it is more about nerves and composure than skill. The positive thing is that during the 90 minutes of team play, Azkals United showed that they could mix it up with a third division Korean football club. For some, the result may have been disappointing, but keep in mind that this was a makeshift team, and the performance should be viewed more in terms of the level of our domestic game as opposed to that of our senior national team. Senior national men’s team coach Michael Weiss was quite satisfied with the performance of the players and the team.

One couldn’t say that it was an optimal performance over-all as there were several areas of improvement evident. Our offense wasn’t very fluid in the early stages of the match, the Koreans had more or less a slight edge in the midfield battle and it took a while for the team to raise the quality of their game. Still, as Coach Weiss noted, there were several positives to take out of that match.

Denis Wolf is a very promising prospect, his skill and quality was obvious (not to mention another poster boy. I love players with great skill and who are swoon worthy at the same time. You have to bear with me on that). If his finishing were more clinical, the result of that match would have been in our favor. Nonetheless, if he’s available for the AFC Challenge Cup he’s worth considering for a spot in the senior Azkals squad.

Angel Guirado lasted a full match, though he still isn’t up to his best form yet. Needs more work on his fitness or still troubled by recurring injuries? With the UFL season underway and the training camp in the Middle East, perhaps he will be back to his best in time for the AFC Challenge Cup. This is not to say that he isn’t an effective player now. He had a few sublime touches on the ball during the match and the numerous occasions he’s been swarmed by the Korean players whenever he has the ball shows that he’s still considered as a major threat by opposing teams.

Chieffy still proves to one and all that he continues to be a vital player for the Azkals. His speed, technical ability with the ball and experience are valuable assets to the Azkals offense. He can always be counted upon to create chances for himself or his team mates.

Misagh finally got to show what he’s capable of, had a number of good runs, industrious off the ball, a few chances at goal and capped off a good performance with an assist for the equalizing goal. 

Youngsters such as Carli De Murga, Jerry Barbosa and Marwin Angeles continue to exhibit potential and promise. This match will only serve to further prove them and add to their playing experience and maturity. Of course, we shouldn’t forget the veterans from the Army and the Air Force who also played their part through solid performances.  
All in all, it was a productive endeavor and an entertaining match. It helped raise money for the typhoon victims and showed that there is more to football than being just a game. This match also provided several of our local players a chance to test themselves against some credible opposition and an opportunity for us supporters to see where we stand in the football landscape in the region.

There is still obviously quite a lot of work to be done by the Philippine football community, but it is safe to say that positive steps are being made in relation to the development and growth of Philippine football. We need to keep this momentum going and take every opportunity to support the beautiful game in our country.

2012 Moira G Gallaga©

P.S. I usually don't have photos as my husband always gets so passionately involved with the game. He has the camera but he's more busy barracking the ref and the other team to actually take a few photos. :)


Sergio Ramos' Poetry

Sergio Ramos’ tattoo on his right side upper torso:

Sergio Ramos' attempt on poetry :)

so, from this:
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
This is what he wrote:
Thanks God for my unconquerable soul…
I am the MASTER …. 


Call of the Depths

One of life’s simple pleasures is a passion that burns within me. The feeling to escape, of getting lost in an alien environment. I live for and yearn for this. This poem is for all who share these sentiments about diving. Here’s hoping for an opportunity to once more immerse to the pressures of the aquatic realm.

Myself @ El Nido Resort, Palawan

It is a journey to another world;

upon entry, you are subject to its whims and caprices.

It is a world of beauty and wonder.

yet it is filled with danger and dread.

Its beckoning is irresistible,

for in its cold embrace,

You experience freedom, flight, 

and the beauty of its silent reverie.

You are a spirit floating through

the world around you, oblivious to existence.

You wish to be part of this world,

to belong, but never will be,

For its attraction and temporal property,

leaves you hungering for more.

Scuba Diving: ItsMoreFUNinthePhilippines!
 Moira G. Gallaga©

A Futbol Tale from the Palace

This is one of my so many memorable anecdotes while working with the Office of Presidential Protocol for 16 years. For my husband and me, soccer is not just a sport but also a way of life and part of the socio-cultural fabric of many nations. It is a spiritual activity for our family and for me, a religion.

My pilgrimage to Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Spain (Real Madrid vs Real Santander in 2007)

I remember during the 2002 World Cup, my boss then in Malacanang Protocol called me up on a Sunday while I was in Anilao diving to tell me that then President Arroyo wanted a congratulatory message drafted to South Korea for being the first Asian country to reach the semis of the World Cup after beating Spain.

The Chief of Presidential Protocol (COPP) said she gave the assignment to me because she wanted someone who could appreciate the magnitude of the occasion and the accomplishment, not to mention familiarity with the game and its terms. I was crying while writing that message. After it was signed by then President Arroyo I had to ask one of my colleagues to be the one to send it thru fax to DFA and our Philippine Embassy in Korea. I'm trying to remember now whether I was crying over South Korea's accomplishment or because Bing and I (Note: we weren't the only ones) felt Spain got cheated out of that game by the referee, hahaha. Not to mention, I attended the Opening Ceremonies of the 2002 World Cup.  Bing and I were rooting for Spain at that time and they happened to have a very good team that year.

My two boys during the friendly game of Real Madrid vs DC United in USA
Got so many pictures but I'm not tech savvy and can't seem to post more than two photos without screwing the layout. Please bear with me. :)


AZKALS: Wearing Our Colors with Pride

The year 2011 has been quite a milestone for Philippine football. The achievements of the Azkals, Dan Palami’s tireless effort and dedication to the improvement of the men’s national football team, corporate sponsorship, higher media profile for the sport and its players, the growing interest in the UFL, regional and national tournaments, leadership change at the PFF, are some of the highlights for Philippine football in 2011. To sum it up, football has started to grow into the consciousness of Filipinos (really about time and long overdue :-D ) Philippine football has attracted a lot of attention and support for the sport is growing.

This year promises to be just as significant for Philippine football as well. Elections for the PFF leadership in November last year resulted in ensuring that initiatives started in 2011 are to be continued and followed through. The year will start with a charity match for the victims of typhoon Sendong between Azkals Alyansya and Spanish Tercera Division club, Internacional de Madrid. Our national teams, from the senior to the U-levels, will also be very busy this year. Every opportunity to play and compete, whether a friendly fixture or a regional or international tournament are being taken advantaged of in 2012. A good sign and the smart thing to do given the challenge we face in terms of catching up with teams in our region.

In addition to the fixtures for the Azkals and its junior teams, the UFL’s two divisions will also be starting its regular season. Now that’s a lot of football action for the supporters and fans to look forward to this year.

Of the various milestones and developments in Philippine football that I have been referring to in the preceding paragraphs, there is one common underlying thread that brings it all together – the supporters and the fans. Institutional reforms, improved training, better technical education, improved infrastructure, grassroots development, corporate sponsorship, media coverage, etc. are all essential elements for football’s growth and development in this country. However, the key to the sustainability and the driving force behind those elements are the fans and the supporters.

We, the supporters and fans, are vital to football’s growth. Our interest and avid support for the sport at all levels is what draws corporate sponsors to invest in its growth. For those of us with children, we have the opportunity to impart this passion into our kids. For some parents, it is what motivates us to support our children’s dreams and aspiration to participate and do well in the sport. For others, they are driven to help less privileged children learn the sport and provide them with an opportunity to play. If not to give them an opportunity to find a way out of their harsh situation, then at the very least to give them an opportunity to have time to enjoy being a kid and play a game of football with other kids. 

For the supporters and fans of Philippine football, 2011 had also been a milestone. We’ve worn the colors of the Azkals with pride. From places as remote as Mongolia to our home ground at the Rizal stadium, our colors were visibly on display. We even managed to turn an away friendly in Singapore into a home match.

More significantly, we have also started to understand and appreciate the game and our national team a bit better. It isn’t only about winning; our ability as supporters and fans to appreciate our team in defeat and realize the challenge that still lies ahead is a positive development that is good for football’s growth.

Special mention should go to Mr. Ebong Joson, the “Blue Haired Fanatic,” and the Kaholeros. They are showing us the way in this area. We Filipinos are new at this, we haven’t yet developed a football culture but signs indicate that we will get there and the Kaholeros are at the forefront of this evolution. How we eventually develop our own manner of stadium support is the least of our concerns.

Appreciating and supporting football is about passion and love for the beautiful game. While winning is a part of it, it isn’t the be all and end all for a true blooded football supporter. What is crucial now as we head into 2012 is that we continue to show up at the stadium to show our support and wear our colors or to watch the games on television, whether it is the national team or a UFL club. We can also take this further by becoming involved in the sport’s grassroots development. It can be as simple as giving your child an opportunity to learn and appreciate the sport. If he or she already plays the game, then this entails ensuring that he or she gets every opportunity to play the sport and train to become better at it. We can also choose to support initiatives of local communities and organizations that are using the sport as a means of reaching out and helping out less privileged children.

The year 2012 beckons at us with plenty of opportunities for us to manifest our support and love for the game of football. We all have our roles to play, from the players, their training staff, the PFF and us, the supporters and the fans. Let’s start this year with the same gusto and enthusiasm as we did in 2011 and embrace all these opportunities that lie ahead to show to one and all our strong desire and interest to see football grow in the Philippines. Let’s go out there and wear our colors with pride.

2012 Moira G Gallaga©


SOCCER - Spiritual Activity

Soccer is a game that evokes a lot of passion, for its legions of followers (that includes me) it is more than just a game but also a part of culture and to certain degrees, a way of life.  There’s nothing like watching a game live where the people are very passionate about the game and their teams. That’s why when I found myself in the following countries – Madrid (2x), Sevilla (2007), Russia (1997), Portugal (2007), Switzerland (2007), Germany (2000), Rome, Singapore (1993), Croatia (2005), Argentina (1999), Chile (2000, 2004), Mexico (1997, 2002, 2004), World Cup 2002 in Japan, etc. I took the opportunity to squeeze in time for a live soccer match to enjoy high quality soccer and revel in the spectacle and pleasantly intoxicating atmosphere of the stadium. So here’s a modest expression of my feelings about the world’s most beautiful game:

Heart rate data from a male Aston Villa fan during the first and, as a Villa fan, rather torturous, half of the game at Villa Park against Newcastle United in 2008. Study conducted by Social Issues Research Center (SIRC) based in Oxford, UK.

It is not just a game;

It is an expression of life.

It is sweat, pain, struggle, and suffering;

It is grace, unity of effort, creativity, and beauty.

It is triumph and it is defeat.

It is community and family.

It is sadness and it is joy.

It brings out the best, shining and aglow;

It sometimes brings out the worst, violent and cruel.

For all our differences, our varieties, and incompatibilities,

It brings us all together,

One heaving, chanting mass of humanity,

Celebrating life, celebrating artistry in motion,

Celebrating soccer.

Heart rate taken 90 minutes before take-off until the end of the first half. The first peak coincides with the subject passing through security checks and entering the stadium through the turnstiles at the South End.