A shifting paradigm – 1-A A +A
By Joel Panes
Monday, August 26, 2013
WHEN car denied fabled West Visayas' softball from registering a rare three-peat in the national PRISAA games, I would overhear team officials reporting the outcomes to their superiors and benefactors as we left the Lingayen beachfront.
"The Cordilleras are the champions," one would say aloud on his mobile phone's mouthpiece, his voice competing with gusts of sea wind muffling the reception. Another within hearing distance would say, "Baguio won" and would repeat the same as if the listener on the other end had heard a preposterous report.
This experience would be elating. It would be a departure from whispers between officials from two different regions after CAR’s skeletal delegation passed by the grandstand of VIPs during the National PRISAA in Naga.
Incidentally, the 2009 PRISAA was CAR's first foray into the country's biggest private collegiate games, an experimental re-integration of some sort after the region broke ties with the association. On this providential return, the Cordilleras was represented by a selection of its best athletes from CCDC, UB, SLU and UC.
One would quip, "Do they play softball?" Snickers would follow. ASAPHIL, the country’s governing body on softball would ask a similar question, “Does CAR have softball?" This was sometime in 2008 when more meaningful games were being sought. Thereafter, its top honchos led by its Jun Veloso graced a seminar for coaches from CAR, Ilocos region and Cagayan.
The underlying meanings those questions had, would not be exposed but be intuitively felt. During its first two years, there would be lowly stares and loud battle cries intended to run us over but none of these would be received with dignity.
Cordillera softball would speak loudly with the strength behind their bats and their aggressiveness on the field would slowly erase prior perceptions.
The snickers would vanish, wounds would heal and respect would take its place. Having risen to be equal to the task, character in its most gracious forms would be showcased whether in triumph or defeat; friendships among combatants would be fostered and vicious foes would become comrades.
CAR softball had traveled from the ignominious question “Do you play softball?” to the most flattering statement made by PRISAA team managers in Lingayen before the games - it was the team to beat. The pundits’ expectations were humbling but their prophecy would be fulfilled.
More than the desire of earning another gold medal in Tagum in 2014, CAR softball faces greater challenges at home. Not all share the same vision and the same heart for the game. Keeping the game afloat is a boat ride in stormy seas. Elevating it from mediocrity is like preaching the gospel of salvation to Greeks and Romans – hated by principalities but sustained by acts of heavenly and mortal grace. Stricken many times but restored.
Last year, had it not been for the wisdom of some BBEAL directors, the region’s medal haul could have been 9 golds less without softball. The breakthrough may not matter to the indifferent but the lack of affection for the game should not mean its marginalization. Softball is clearly one of CAR’s distinct strengths. The weight of its modest contribution earned from a national collegiate tournament outweighs any athletic distinction earned regionally and its nine recent golds are not lighter than the same earned by another just because softball snared it.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on August 27, 2013.