First things first. I think congratulations are in order for the Philippine National Team in this year’s FIBA Asia championships. Last night they beat South Korea 86-79, and thus clinched a sure spot in the 2014 FIBA World Cup to be held in Spain.
A little bit of background for the not-so basketball fans: for the past seven (7) times that South Korea and the Philippines have met in FIBA Asia and other basketball tournaments in the region since 2000, the Philippines lost. Thus the reason you will hear Filipinos screaming all over the place for now: “the heartbreak is over.” In addition, the top three (3) placers in this tournament get to go to the FIBA World Cup next year. We’re at least assured of #2 with last night’s win. Now in the finals the national team faces a formidable opponent in Iran. They’re going to need all the help they can get.
However, let’s pull ourselves back to earth for a bit before we totally go off and get giddy all over this win on cloud 9. As much as Filipinos don’t want to admit it, more than “the grit and fighting spirit” that the fans attribute it to, it’s the home-crowd advantage that has gotten the national team this far in the conference. #Puso my ass; the presence of the “20,000-strong sixth man”, as Rappler put it, or, to put it quite plainly, one of the biggest miron (onlooker, bystander, spectator) contingents one will ever see in his/her life, the national team would love to have these wherever they go to play.
So, it’s a big question to ask just how far the national team can get without their beloved die-hard cheering squad. How far will Pinoy pride and #Puso get the team if they’re physically separated from their source of “grit and fighting spirit”, the fans?
Of course, I should answer the very first question that you will have in mind:
What’s in it for me?
The answer is very simple, “honorable” sir, ma’am: two birds with one stone.
First, you get to distract the public, albeit temporarily, from their scrutiny of the pork barrel, which is absolutely one of the last things your good office needs right now. What you do need is that perception that you’re doing the good that they put you in office for, and what better way to build up that perception, than to sponsor financially-challenged basketball fans who want to go cheer our national team next year?
Second, it gains you popularity. Think about it, “honorable” sir, ma’am, it all comes down to public support. You know very well that the survival of your political career, and all others from your family who will succeed you, will depend on how well the electorate will remember your name. What better way to garner more support and ensure the enduring name of your clan in Philippine politics than to be perceived to do something good with the money you have by, as I mentioned above, sponsoring financially-challenged basketball fans who want to go cheer our national team next year?
It won’t even take the entire allocation of pork barrel in the 2014 budget to do. Let’s check the computations below.
294 members in the HOR * Php70,000,000/member = Php 20,580,000,000, and;
24 members in the Senate * Php 200,000,000/member = Php 4,800,000,000;
HOR – House of Representatives
Add those two up, and we get the Php 25 billion pork barrel allocation in the budget. Php 25,380,000,000 to be exact.
Let’s assume a budget of Php300,000 per head. This would cover plane fare, probably price of the tickets, and the remainder for pocket money. To send 20,000 lucky fans to cheer for the national team in 2014, you would need to allot approximately:
20,000 fans * Php 300,000 per fan/head = Php 6,000,000,000
How much does each congressman and/or senator need to allocate, assuming equal contribution for each member?
HOR: Php70,000,000 * 0.3 = Php21,000,000
Senate: Php200,000,000*0.3 = Php60,000,000
One-third of your pork barrel allocation – even with that your “honorable” office can do already a lot of good. That won’t even make a dent in President Benigno Simeon Aquino III’s supposed pork barrel of 1-trillion pesos (How many zeros is that? TWELVE?)
Oh, and you’ll be helping out a bit, a country one of the hardest hit by the economic and financial crisis that is currently gripping Europe. Actual rates may be cheaper, so the budged can be adjusted accordingly.
How do you get to pick those who get to do? Naturally the names of all the die-hard fans who want to go need to be gathered. To be “fair”, you can raffle the support off, just like what the Department of Agriculture (DAR) is currently doing with Hacienda Luisita.
The political capital your “honorable” office will gain more than compensates for the financial expenditure you will incur, sir, ma’am. Believe me.
One word of advice for the raffle winners, though: Be good tourists once you arrive, and avoid doing anything that will incur Filipinos undesirable reputations, such as not throwing your trash, being judgmental, grandstanding, being rowdy, etc. I know it’s hard, but be a Filipino, not a Pinoy.
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