from The Inquirer

from The Inquirer

Over the weekend, the winners of Binibining Pilipinas were proclaimed. Safe to say, a lot of people watched the pageant to see who will represent the country in this year’s Miss Universe pageant. With the Philippine representative to the Miss Universe making the Top 5 in 3 consecutive years, many are hoping that this year’s representative will finally bag the crown.

But behind the celebration and grand display of beauty, I noticed something terribly wrong. Azkals player James Younghusband acted as judge for the most prestigious beauty pageant in the country. It seems that the organizers conveniently overlooked the fact that AFC Match Commissioner Cristy Ramos rebuked James Younghusband for an incident that happened not too long ago. The incident even prompted Cristy Ramos to file a sexual harassment complaint against some Azkals players. In her complaint, Ramos wrote :

While all this was happening, none of the Philippine team officials nor the team captain, JAMES JOSEPH YOUNGHUSBAND ( no. 7 ), made any attempts to discipline the players and tell them to behave. In fact, they were also laughing and seemed to be enjoying the revelry at my expense.

I certainly think that it is so wrong that the organizers of Binibining Pilipinas chose a judge who does not seem to show much respect for women. James Younghusband was suspended in connection with the Cristy Ramos incident which clearly establishes his participation in disrespecting a woman. A pageant that puts women in pedestals has clearly defeated its purpose with a rather careless selection of an Azkals player as judge.



Roy Moore wrote a well-researched article about the highly-priced tickets to the Azkals matches. Published in GMA News Online five days ago, the article clearly shows, through tabulation, the exorbitant ticket prices for the Azkals matches. ” A wider look at ticket prices also found that one would be charged ten times the price of tickets to watch the same games as the rest of South East Asia “.

One can only wonder why this is so.

I remember the last time that someone asked about ticket prices and where ticket sales go, an altercation erupted. Paul Weiler, was sacked from the Azkals team as team consultant when he asked about ticketing and proceeds of ticket sales for the Azkals matches in Germany. Worse, Weiler claims that he was physically attacked for asking where ticket sales go.

Is it possible therefore that certain individuals are more concerned with making money than anything else ? Could it be that the expensive tickets to the Azkals matches mirror the great intention of some individuals to milk the Azkals’ celebrity status for all its worth ? Could it be that the fans are being taken advantaged of without them knowing it ? Could it be all about the money ?



France is currently the biggest newsmaker of the World Cup in South Africa. The problem is, France is not hitting the headlines with its spectacular performances in its matches. Rather, it is the talk of the town because of its shameful internal bickerings.

The drama that started when striker Anelka hurled invectives to Coach Domenech has now evolved into a fight among a 21-member team, national footbal federation and national coach. The whole world now witnesses how disrespectful, immature and melodramatic the French team truly is. I hear that government officials from France are flying to South Africa to mediate among the protagonists in the current soap opera unfolding in the World Cup.

It just disgusts me that the French team can behave in such a way that puts France to shame in such a major sporting event. The French players do not deserve the attention and admiration of soccer fans. Lost in the drama are the true virtues that world-class athletes must exhibit. Fortunately, France, I think, will not get past the elimination round. I say enough of the drama queens and more of true champion athletes.

I caught an episode of CNN that featured a Vietnamese woman who was imprisoned for blogging about a serious political issue. She was jailed for 10 days and was only released after issuing a retraction and apology on her blog. The CNN feature ended with the Vietnamese woman shedding tears and saying that she will continue to blog despite the danger it entails. She nows lives in fear as she is being monitired by the Vietnamese government.

The feature made me remember a similar incident that happened to me when I “offended” the pastors of a local church with my blog. The pastors asked me to retract my statements and issue an apology as well. I greatly admire the Vietnamese blogger for having the courage to continue blogging. I am not a bit surprised that she is standing her ground as serious bloggers simply cannot be stopped by fear nor intimidation. Serious bloggers often uphold ideals and virtues that make them fearless in their blogs. More often than not, serious bloggers have the truth on their side which ultimately gives them the courage and desire to continue blogging despite the danger.

I personally believe that the Fil-Ams and Fil-Shams are the main reasons why the PBA is currently at its lowest point.

The arrival of Fil-Ams like Jimmy Alapag, Mark Caguioa and Jayjay Helterbrand among others has certainly made the PBA more interesting. Their arrival definitely added a new dimension to the PBA with their brand of play. The excitement initially generated by these Fil-Am players perked things up for the PBA.

But the downside to these Fil-Ams is that the fans can hardly identify with them. English-speaking and generally of the quiet-type, these players seem just so unapproachable for majority of the fans. While I do know that Jayjay and Mark are two of the most accommodating players around, ordinary fans can’t help but be intimidated by the American twang of these players. Hence, it is rare nowadays to find fans who would literally die for their basketbal idols. Only the Ilonggo-speaking James Yap commands such adulation nowadays.

Then the arrival of the Fil-Shams destroyed the credibility and integrity of the PBA. These Fil-Shams were even allowed to don the Philippine colors in international competitions. I think the PBA underestimated the intelligence and values of the Filipino basketbal population when it allowed the entry of these Fil-Shams. Worse, some of these Fil-Shams continue to play in the PBA to this day.

The poor gate receipts and low television ratings of the PBA are clear indications that the vast majority of basketball fans still want their basketball heroes to be true homegrown and dialect-speaking Filipino players.

Bowing to international pressure, Israel has agreed to allow shipment of certain goods to Gaza. Israel has created a list of products that will be allowed entry into Gaza. It has likewise designated the U.N. to lead the distribution of the products that will enter Gaza.

Despite the fact that Israel’s solution will greatly benefit the people of Gaza, I am not fully convinced that it will lead to lasting peace and progress for Gaza. What must be addressed, I believe, is the way that Israel controls Gaza. Israel, I believe, will continue to subject the people of Gaza to poor living conditions. Economic and political sovereignty will remain elusive for the people of Gaza. The solution will only make people rely heavily on foreign aid. Factories and utilities will remain almost non-existent because of Israel’s policy.

The only way I think Gaza can achieve long-lasting peace and economic independence is for Israel to grant its complete freedom. International governing bodies like the U.N. and E.U. must handle Israel with iron fists to grant Gaza its most sought-after freedom. Only then can peace and prosperity reign in Gaza.

I thoroughly enjoyed the recently-concluded NBA championship series. Players from both teams played their hearts out and displayed amazing basketball skills in every game. It was such a delight to watch two top teams slugging it out for the crown.

But what I truly enjoyed about the series is the great play on human interaction among L.A. Lakers. Kobe delivered harsh words to his team-mates after game 5. The dressing down obviously worked as it enabled the rest of the team to play its best in game 6. The Lakers, after the volatile locker room pow-wow session, got their acts together to enable them to earn two consecutive victories. Realizing that Kobe’s 38 points alone will not make the team win, Pau Gasol, Artest, Odom, Bynum, Fischer, Vujacic, Farmar and Brown rose to the challenge to claim the much-needed victories.

Game 7 was very interesting in the way it played out. Lakers were trailing up until the last 6 minutes of the game. Celtics, in fact, led by as much as 14 points at one point. But like the true champions that they are, Lakers never lost hope and focus. By the time the buzzer sounded, L.A. emerged on top. Truly, champions never lose hope and focus even during trying moments. Lakers’ great determination and teamwork are the stuff champions are made of. It was really a treat to watch Lakers display greatness in pursuit of their dream to be hailed, once again, as NBA champions.