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By Joel Panes
Monday, August 19, 2013
SOFTBALL, many profess, is one of these highlands’ favorite sports. From surviving Cordillerans whose hairs have already turned gray, softball was a favorite pastime. Mang Jesse, an Easter School alumnus, delights me with his nostalgic accounts of how big the game was in their day. Even Apo Peter Fianza, the amiable and astute Baguio City councilor humbles me with a story of his stint as a little league catcher. What happened? Something must have caused affections for this beautiful game to dwindle.
I wonder what made Cordillera’s favorite past time decline. Some circles opine when Americans, whose love for the game is well chronicled, left the Philippine shores, interest in softball also dipped. Some would say when the operations of Cordilleran based mining firms which lifted the game contracted and the softball bubble burst with it. It is also possible that skills were not imparted to the next generation or something so loathsome in those days had left the young scarred for this time. Was a game won not on the merits of play on the field but by stealth or the coercive influence of a pen? This would cause disenchantment. Or did someone’s thirst for power or greed for money cripple Cordillera’s favorite sport?
On the surface, the game of softball in the Cordilleras suffers. Critics feast on the fact that its performance is not all that scintillating. For years, its participation in national tournaments seems like a dispassionate process of fulfilling an onerous obligation. From coaches, I hear phrases spoken like “we are here to only participate.” These self imposed parameters preached to enthusiastic innocents mirror the dire state of softball in the highlands. These are disclaimers against excellence.
Not all about softball is, however, lost albeit a shabby perception that is not the main event. After a UC softball nine surprisingly snared 9 bronze medals in the 2009 PRISAA national collegiate games, a university president would unequivocally say before CAR’s esteemed athletic directors, “Softball is clearly one of CAR’s strengths.” Was the Light with him? Did CCDC president James Dean Malaya err?
The following year, CAR softball duplicated the bronze medal feat at the CHED Nationals in Manila. In 2011, 9 silvers were earned in Zamboanga. In 2012, softball hauled 9 bronzes in Cebu. In 2013, CAR softball surprised the national games by ultimately snaring 9 golds in Pangasinan. Not all appreciate gold when it passes. Some even spite these glorious days. The Master was right - some have eyes yet see not.
I was in my mid-20s when a stock market guru took me under his wings and introduced market cyclicality. Living off market trends was a big life to embody but with him, I would be endlessly fascinated. He taught me market depth. Not everyone appreciates how financial markets are structured and how these affect our daily life. In the same breath, we enjoy the waves on the seashore but are unmindful that they are extensions of some unappreciated activity in the deep. I do not hate basketball or volleyball. I have played both competitively but none of those would bestow the honors softball had given in the last five years. A five year bubble? Not when you see it from the deep.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on August 20, 2013.