Saturday, June 28, 2008
You know it's the end of an era when your favorite corporate villain (or hero, if your prefer) has ceased to be the most dominant and is now making his way to the sunset.
Do stick around, please.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
I must admit, I was a bit skeptical during the start of the season when GM Danny Ainge swung two megadeals that netted first Ray Allen and then Kevin Garnett. With a paper-thin bench and two young players starting at point guard and center, the challenge to rise to the top of the East, much more win the championship, seemed daunting.
But these players came together and displayed a passion for defense never seen for a long time. While Pierce was the heart of the team, Garnett was its soul. His intensity, his dedication to the team, his commitment and competitiveness, permeated the entire team and changed its entire team philosophy.
While establishing the season-best regular-season record at 66-16, the Boston Celtics came together and embodied the concept of team defense.
A lot of things --- what I would call "essential accidents" --- had to happen to get the Celts to victory. There was of course, just plain old luck. However, I believe this success is a reflection of the hard work of the basketball players who believed in the team and sacrificed for each other on the court. I wouldn't put my money on the front office, given some of its missteps along the way, but hey, they did get the job done, even if some people allege they got a huge assist from outside the organization along the way.
Success in this team was not an overnight thing. The players, the coaching staff, even the front office made a commitment long ago on how they will succeed, and it all came together wonderfully this season.
And like defense, this commitment is not accomplished simply by relying on skill, but by dedication, passion, and consistency. Sure, on some days the team could be killed for laying off a little, or playing less than its best, and it took big-time scares from upstart Atlanta and one-man army Cleveland to get them to focus.
Defense is discipline. In basketball as in life.
It's hard to comment on all of these things, on the heels of the first major championship of the team I've grown to love the most over the years. Our local equivalent, the PBA, hogged our screens but we did catch a few games now and then. My first idol was Julius Erving and the Philadelphia 76ers, mainly because I liked seeing players dunk. Of course I was about eight or nine then, what did I know?
It took the amazing 1984 season for me to be converted to Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish. I despised the bonhomie of Magic Johnson even as I admired the passing game of the Lakers. What won me over with the Celtics was the grittiness of the players --- they may not have been the best athletes on the court, but certainly they played with savvy, intensity, and true grit. It took a transcendent effort by Magic Johnson and the Lakers to prevent the repeat in 1985, and by then I was soaking in as much basketball knowledge I could get.
1986 was a banner year for a number of reasons, including the Edsa Revolution and my graduation from grade school, but it was also an unbelievable season for the Celts.
Well, after that championship came the decline and the fall ... it was tough rooting for the Celts after Larry, and then McHale, retired. I detested Rick Pitino and Antoine Walker, though because a fellow named Michael Jordan was beating up on the whole basketball world, everything was just fine.
The post-Pitino years made following the Celts unbearable, and all I could do was keep the faith that the Eastern Conference teams would win the championship.
So now we are here.
It was great that I got to follow the playoffs on television (despite the snafus of our local cable service, Solar Sports came through by showing the Finals on network television), though I had to make do listening on ESPN Internet radio to catch the last three games - Game 4 was on while I was on my layover in Hong Kong, while I had to get up for Games 5 and 6 because the local affiliate here bought the rights to Euro 2008. Schmucks.
So now we are here.
Banner 17 is hanging up in the rafters of the Boston home arena. On to Banner number 18...
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
New expression: Laughing like a horse on helium. Excellent auditory imagery. Way to go, Zel! (I don't get the inside jokes as much but I bet I could use the hirit sometime. Patok!)
Nag-aawitan ang mga magsasaka
Nagsasalitan ng tula at kanta
Naghihiyawan ang tagadalampasigan
Nagsasayawan ang mga mangingisda
Ang namamasukan sa mga pagawaan
Naglalabasan at sila'y tuwangtuwa
Palubog na, palubog na
Ang haring araw sa kanluran
Pauwi na, pauwi na
Ang haring lawin sa kanluran
Nagsasayahan ang mga may kapansanan
Kababaihan at mga mag-aaral
Ang mga kawal at alagad ng Sambahan
Ang makasining at mga makaagham
Ang mangangalakal, guro at lingkod ng bayan
Nagkakaisa sa iisang inaasam
Palubog na, palubog na...
Pauwi na sa kanila ang haring agila
Ang ibong mandirigma sa kanluran
Sunset at Boracay Beach.
In no way does the song match the mood of this shot, but I'd like to think that in times of old when the workers of the land rest their limbs and call it a day, this is how it would look.
Anyhow, I'm not exactly in an agit mood right now, though there is always that wish that when we find peace, it is not merely the absence of conflict but the achievement of genuine harmony.
One of the stained-glass windows at Jaro Cathedral in Iloilo.
This was a classic point-and-shoot with my sister's digicam. The sun's rays were hurting my eyes, so I just centered the image on the view screen and gave it a pop.
Even after the viewing I wasn't convinced it would look this good. I could have done better by resetting the output to actual prints instead of VGA, so that the resolution would be higher, but as it is, this was a lucky shot. What a blessing.
Friday, June 13, 2008
I wouldn't have taken this early morning flight, for instance. Lining up at the check-in counter at NAIA was at times frustrating on the one hand and funereal as to be almost eerie. One would think we were livestock being led off for slaughter. There is also this other thing that few people would be at their best at four in the morning. I just had about enough time to finish all the formalities just 30 minutes before boarding.
Slipping into Hong Kong was at least welcome, in the beginning.
As usual, this airport is the paragon of efficiency. There is a sense of purpose among the various staff employed here. The duty-free shops are likewise well-organized, so much so one won't feel so much different than waiting in a mall. The snag? So far, no sight nor whiff of Western domination like a Mickey D's. There is a Starbucks, but there is so only so much satisfaction one can derive from sipping over-priced coffee. By my count, I've spent close to five hundred pesos for nothing. Shoot, give me an artery-clogging hamburger with all the fatty goodness thrown in anytime, anywhere.
Otherwise, one can hang out at one of the pay lounges and prepare to be fleeced even more. I might just do that, just for kicks.
Well, is it too much to ask for even an original restaurant or something? That's where I would give points, at the very least.
Is it, really? Is it?
Arrival update: I was wrong. Somewhere in the bowels of the airport was a Burger King and a Popeye's! The downside was, the only reason I found this out was that our flight was delayed. At least we got free food! Yum yum!
Thursday, June 12, 2008
This is also the first and last dispatch I am issuing from Manila at the tail end of this year's annual vacation.
As vacations go, I believe I have reached the stage where "ho-hum" is knocking on the door of "dayumn, is it vacation time again?" Considering my state of mind and affairs prior to leaving on this vacation, that kind of transition deserves its own level of understatement. Or irony. Or whatever.
I will always miss home. Always. Even as I go on and make my own way elsewhere in another time zone, this patch of earth is my own building block, my genesis. That said, this year it has been somewhat easier to let go 0f The Things That Were Before. Ah, such semi-tragedy it may seem, but mostly in that some people in my life may have been hurt that I didn't care so much to make time for them during this vacation.
All I can say is, sorry. Really. It has nothing to do with you, it's all about reaching into the heart of me.
There is this FACE that my brother-in-law wore the day he went back to work in Dubai sometime during the middle of May. Here is a man who missed the birth of his son and only experienced true fatherhood when he arrived in March.
I'll remember that face because I'll be wearing it. For their sake, still, as it has been in the beginning, as it shall be in the end (when it does come). One day I hope to wear it for someone else, and for the family I am leaving behind. This vacation did offer possibilities, but it's too early to tell. In its own time. In His time, as well.
So rings the mantra of my life, and my new meditation for the necessary adversities in life: Not for my sake, but for theirs.
Non sibi, sed suis.