Why the UP bonfire celebration was truly a microcosm of Filipino society

upbonfireAs team manager Dan Palami had promised, the University of the Philippines (UP) basketball team held a “bonfire celebration” last Saturday, August 9, because the Fighting Maroons won against Adamson University (AdU) in a game from this year’s University Athletics Association of the Philippines (UAAP) season.

Now, this is an especially big thing to the UP community, considering that its basketball team was on a 27-game losing streak, one that has spanned at least two seasons. Their last win was supposedly back in 2012 against the University of the East (UE).

As expected, UP’s win sparked sentiments of something I call “university pride” – one wherein members of a community scream “proud to be from this university” whenever a team of theirs wins any competition. They are quick to latch on to a victory of their colleagues as one of their own, and more often than not they personally don’t have much of anything to do with it. University pride is but a mere subset of the Pinoy Pride which Filipinos are notorious for, and which the authors of GRP have extensively written about.

Reaction to the win and the bonfire was mostly positive – why wouldn’t it be? And yet there was also some questioning and dissenting opinion, an example of which is “why would UP throw a bonfire for the basketball team? How about for the other sports where we do better at and win more?” Even JR Gallarza, one of the members of the basketball team, felt “disrespected” and “insulted” by the hype that surrounded that game with AdU. Nonetheless, he was thankful for the support from the fans.

As expected of university pride – a subset of Pinoy Pride like I mentioned above – reception to such kind of differing/dissenting opinion was along the lines of “walang basagan ng trip” (don’t be a spoilsport), or “napaka-nega naman ng taong ganyan” (a person who says things like that is so negative-minded). Well, you get the idea; Filipinos will not let anything get in the way of their good vibes and feel-good moments; the UP community, being a subset of the Filipino community, is no different.

As a friend of mine pointed out, the bonfire celebration itself was awesome – who can complain about a night of free food and acts – but the occasion seemed a bit sad. Not a few comments I’ve seen on social media indicated that UP is so desperate for a win in UAAP basketball that a win like this is a very big thing for them. Note that bonfires are normally reserved when a team wins the overall championship, much like what fellow UAAP members Ateneo de Manila (AdMU) and De La Salle University (DLSU) are used to doing for the past years.

What this bonfire has shed light on, it seems, is a nagging insecurity. Even if UP students are among the best and brightest in the country, it will, quite simply, not matter to the bigger Filipino community, just because their basketball team is not as successful. It is indeed sad to observe that despite the success that the UP community has had in other sports and in other fields of endeavor, it has seemingly fallen into the trap of disregarding such, just because it does not measure up in basketball. Frankly, as the premier state university, I expected UP to adhere to its own standards of excellence and self-worth, instead of allowing itself to be judged on that which is set and dominated by others. I would have wanted to hear the UP community say, “Who cares about basketball anyway?” Too late for that now.

I never really quite latched onto the inordinate obsession that Filipinos have with basketball. It is a tall man’s game; Filipinos, compared to most other countries who play it, are anything but. Despite the claims of Filipinos that they have heart (puso) and fighting spirit (laban) that make up for their lack of height, it quite simply does not. But I digress…

A comment I read on social media said the following:

Big hope comes with little wins. UP won one game today. Next year, it might win two. The year after that, it might just win three.

…which brings us back to the question: hope in what exactly?

The UP community, as a next step, must do things to substantiate such hope. Once the good vibes from this basketball victory have passed, it can do either one of two things, or both:

a) They can focus on the things that really matter, like looking for even more ways to improve the education they give their students in spite of lackluster government funding and support, or;

b) They can throw a lot more organized support behind their basketball team so that they can get what they need to win more games.

As a friend of mine has said, perhaps it would have been a real victory for the entire UP system and community if they had contributed to that victory. Sadly, what is apparent is that the team fought “alone” for the most part of the time leading up to this recent occasion. The second point above is all the more poignant given stories of how the UP basketball players reportedly go to games hungry, and how they play without proper nutrition. Both the current student body and the alumni need to work together if they want to make the UP basketball team more successful. As cringe-worthy as it sounds, they can take pointers from AdMU and DLSU with regard to alumni support.

So, what does the UP community plan to do, and where does it plan to go after this victory and bonfire celebration? That is the more interesting question that aches for a resolution. I hope the answer is not bahala-na, and/or pwede-na-yan; it would be extremely disappointing.

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About FallenAngel

А вы, друзья, как ни садитесь, все в музыканты не годитесь. – But you, my friends, however you sit, not all as musicians fit.

Post Author: FallenAngel

А вы, друзья, как ни садитесь, все в музыканты не годитесь. – But you, my friends, however you sit, not all as musicians fit.

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43 Comments on "Why the UP bonfire celebration was truly a microcosm of Filipino society"

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Vlad
Guest

AW, a bunch of Filipino’s sittin around a bon-fire roasting marshmallows and singin Kombayah! NICE!

Jerry Lynch
Guest

When I watch Filipino basketball I am always struck by the lack of teamwork and passing. Far too often the person who receives the inbound pass is the person who shoots the ball. I believe that any small college (Division II) team from the US could beat every Philippine NCAA team and probably even beat the best of the PBA. Even those small colleges generally have 1 or more guys 6’8″ or better and American coaches rely on teamwork, play making and passing.

Johnny Saint
Guest
Ironically, “the lack of teamwork and passing” is something Filipino ball players picked up in large part trying to emulate AMERICAN style play in the NBA. 20-30 years ago, it was about the transition game and passing the ball. Since then, a lot of NBA players have become selfish; they’re convinced of their infallibility and play with an attitude that says ‘give me the ball to prove to you what I can do.’ If you played as a team, you were vilified as boring and emotionless. (There are quite a few basketball fanatics in the Philippines who hate the Spurs… Read more »
THOM HARDY
Guest
@ Saint, try to wrap your head around this: http://snippits-and-slappits.blogspot.ca/2011/06/federal-reserve-cartel-eight-families.html and then realize where you live & who really runs your country.Then you MIGHT (as your not too bright) realize that not matter what you say or do, in terms of operating within the current system in place in your country,it will come to NOTHING. and that you will be forever FUCKED as long as you continue on the path the country is on. I have no answers for you,as I do not like you very much.But you think you know what is going on and you really are just… Read more »
Johnny Saint
Guest

Apparently, Thom Hardy, the LIAR, harbours a narcissistic delusion built around the ludicrous notion that the anonymous contributors to Internet blogs crave his affection. The reality is that the world turns with its own inexorable logic and does not require any kind of approval from the LIAR, Thom Hardy.

THOM HARDY
Guest

@ SAINT, just as I thought. No response, just an insult, an un-informed trying-hard-to-impress with more big words that mean nothing insult. You are too stupid to comment on anything outside of your own backyard.You’ve got nothing in the way of a world view and your opinion of me, as ill-informed and lacking any substantial insight (U dont know me!)is absurd as it is laughable.

I LAUGH AT YOU,CONSTANTLY SAINT!

You shall live in a rat-hole for the rest of your life.

Hyden Toro
Guest

I am not a basketball fan. I like more baseball and soccer…and American football…

From Prada to Nada
Guest

@ Hyden I feel the same way too I’m not fixated into basketball like most of our folks and hey it seems that Gogs has written something relevant about sports right?

sancho alconce
Guest

Our local type of basketball is all “papogi”. It’s almost fancy dribbling all the time and one would think it’s a dribbling exhibition. Every receiver does some fancy dribbling first wasting precious before shooting in a hurry.

Gogs
Member
As I have stated in previous blogs where I talk about pinoy basketball. Being the only nature on Earth obsessed with basketball has its disadvantages. Basketball is the only team sport where every person on the court/ field has the exact same abilities. Not duties but abilities. All 5 can dribble, pass , shoot, rebound, set a pick. Hence making it one of the easier games to comprehend on a superficial level. There is hoop ball goes in. Of course there is more to it than that. Being the only team sport pinoys watch, there is very little teamwork or… Read more »
Narra
Guest

I stopped watching PBA after my crush, Kenneth Duremdes, won the MVP and started watching UAAP after Chris Tiu sort of become an inspiration except that I crush on Duremdes because of his play while I crush on Chris Tiu because of his charm. Back then, I only realized Duremdes is really worth taking off your shades after he won the MVP. While most of the men or boys I know act like chimps escaping from a zoo every time they watch a basketball game… What can I say? It’s fun.

Solid Snake
Guest

Microcosm? i dont think so. There really is no big deal with this said activity. It has nothing to do with people not from UP. What’s the big deal with a group of people celebrating a small win? It happens all the time and not just in UP. Funny how some people who doesnt watch basketball talk about basketball. whuuut?

archie
Guest

The last word you used perfectly embodied your level of thinking.

Solid Snake
Guest

another genius wannabe. sup einstein.

From Prada to Nada
Guest

This fixation is something not worth of time Nd effort really.

Pride sucks.

z
Guest

Poor analysis. here’s why: confirmation bias. failure to check cultures around the world. failure to analyze sports underdogs around the world, including harvard.

T
Guest

pretty much “nerd underdog story”, true. we see it (less sports oriented) on western coming-of-age films wherein the skinny smart guy proves he can take on the strapping jock with the sheer willpower of his cajones and walk away triumphant. admit it, we all love those scenarios.

Joey Tengco
Guest

You totally missed the point Mr. Fallen Angel. Obviously you’re not from U.P.

tomas
Guest

I’m from UP and I’m more embarrassed by that little stunt than proud of it. I feel for JR Gallarza.

archie
Guest

@Joey and obviously you’re a moron for having a shallow argument. It doesn’t matter if the writer is from UP or not, it’s about stupid things that Pinoytards do everyday that have no importance at all. That little pride Pinoytards have for their precious alma mater? Pure bullshit.

Manuel Foz
Guest

Susmaryosep, it was just an innocent bonfire celebration after winning a simple basketball game. Period. Let’s not over analyze this.

archie
Guest

Just like the “American rednecks”, Pinoytards like celebrating petty competitions that doesn’t really have any relevance in improving their daily lives. the UP bonfire is no difference from celebrating Pacquiao or Azkal’s sports victories.

Manuel Foz
Guest

Nothing personal, but do yourself a favor and check your grammar before you comment, Archie.

THOM HARDY
Guest

@ Archie, How many ‘American Rednecks’ do you actually know? Do you know why they are called ‘Red-necks’? I’ll bet you do not, based on the above statement.

archie
Guest

And where the fuck would it be relevant if I know an American redneck or not? I know the word when I use it. America have rednecks for American rugby and baseball as Philippines have Pinoytards for basketball and bowling. You’ve got a sensitive Pinoy pride? Then go fuck yourselves.

x
Guest

@archie:
Given your last reply, you seem to be the one with a sensitive pride here.

gen chua
Guest

Team Manager Dan promised a bonfire for a win. The team won. Win:Bonfire. No logical mess about the equation.

Some celebrated. Some didn’t feel like. Feel/thoughts/opinions always vary and is a normal phenomenon.

I am not sure where the hype is coming from. :)I guess the gen rule is, so long as we do not proactively/consequently harm life along the way, let us just live and let live?

aaaaa
Guest

The way this article is written, it’s as if Filipinos don’t deserve to celebrate anything at all.

3000
Guest
“What this bonfire has shed light on, it seems, is a nagging insecurity.” Seriously? This is no different from parents celebrating their children’s little victories. Kahit ano pa yan, walang basagan ng trip. I used to like this website because it talks about issues that affect readers: government corruption and the prostitution of the mainstream media. It used to be an independent voice of the press.Now, it is nothing more than a “basag-trip” blog. Please stick to issues that can make this country better. What this “basag-trip” blog has shed light on, it seems, is “a nagging insecurity”, whatever that… Read more »
jay o.
Guest

UP did not celebrated mediocrity… we celebrated success in face of adversity… we don’t have the best college players in the country because we refuse to pay or reward them with money or material things (hindi po kami bumibili ng players). knowledge and a promise of a bright future is what the university offers first and foremost, not a trophy or banner in a gym.

archie
Guest

Buhuhu. Basketball is a competition not adversity. There may be hardships but athletes feel it not the audience. It’s not connected to your veins as if you’re going to die if they don’t win. Stop yapping like little babies on petty victories.

Em
Guest

We were laughing at ourselves. It was an exercise of self-deprecation which a lot of UP alums do. Humor and wit. That was it. 🙂

tomas
Guest

there you go. no wonder one of the players felt insulted. why bother joining the league if this is the kind of support one can get from the school.

Em
Guest

The UP basketball team is already overwhelmingly alumni-funded. We are supporting and continue to support them. The players know that.

As for support coming from the Government (since this is a State university, after all), that has been a call from students, faculty, and alums of UP for decades. The budget of UP is very small as compared to Ateneo or La Salle. Actually, the budget allocation for education in our country is already problematic in itself.

tomas
Guest

that’s not what i meant. making a big fuss about it make it look like the school is acknowledging how bad its team is that ANY win from them is a big deal.

Em
Guest

Well Tomas, your reply below to my second post clearly manifest that you do not celebrate life’s little victories and that you cannot laugh at yourself from time to time. I pity you. Go get a life, man!

tomas
Guest

oh come on. you may as well say that to the players who didn’t feel like “laughing at themselves” as well. might as well tell them to grow a bit of self-depricating sense of humor because, as you have said, it is purely laughing at oneself. you’re right: how dare this player feel insulted about it?=)

jay o.
Guest

ilan kayang players from other Universities ang papasa sa UPCAT kung sakali? ilan kaya ag tatagal sa academic requirements? yun yung sagot kung bakit mahina basketball team ng UP, di nilo-lower ang standard para sa iisang sport lang hehehe!

auriga
Guest

Pero nung 2006 narecruit ng UP si Woody Co, Migs de Asis, Martin Reyes, Mike Gamboa, Soc Rivera, etc. Anong nangyari?

x
Guest

That might be true for some cases but there’s still the financial support that other schools can provide; UP can only dream of compensating their players at the same level as some billionaire-backed schools.

x
Guest

Even if the players are eligible to be UP students, UP simply cannot compete with other schools in terms of financial support for their athletes.

I admire those student athletes who think they have a better chance at life by going to UP but I also can’t blame those who would enroll in other schools for the academic scholarships if they had a choice.

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