Panes: A Shifting Paradigm – 2-A A +A
By Joel Panes
Monday, September 2, 2013
EVEN among the many who profess their affection for the game in the Cordilleras, not all believed a softball team from the mountain highlands can make an impact on a national collegiate tournament such as the Prisaa National Collegiate Games, the country’s largest athletic tournament among private higher educational institutions (HEIs). Prisaa, founded by Education Secretary Emmanuel Angeles, stands for Private Schools Athletic Association.
It is widely participated by member private universities and colleges from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. State universities in the region such as the PMA, University of the Philippines-Baguio and Benguet State University compete in another tournament, the SCUAA which stands for State Colleges and Universities Athletic Association.
BSU is a softball power, which state-funded higher educational institutions in the region like the Mountain Province State Polytechnic College, contend with regularly. It is a perennial regional champion and qualifier to the National SCUAA games, the state universities’ version of a national athletic event. Recently, its softball team representing the CAR placed 5th in the National SCUAA.
Among private HEIs in the region, the local BBEAL was the main battleground. In women’s softball, the UB Cardinals and the BCF Shields were the teams to beat until St. Louis University re-captured the crown in 2004. The Navigators would keep the championship banner until 2005. Baguio Central University (BCU) who owned the reputation of being one of Baguio’s softball power houses in the 1980s re-entered in 2006. The Eagles made its presence felt immediately.
During its first year of their re-entry, it placed third but this was also the year, the then Shields of the Baguio Colleges Foundation (now University of the Cordilleras) annexed BBEAL softball title. Having UB, SLU, BCU, BSU and UC-BCF compete were the good years of women’s softball. Many greats and aficionados of the game pray these days return.
Beyond the local BBEAL tournament, private HEIs only had access to a number of national tournaments such as the University Games. A radical shift would happen. In 2010, Cordilleras represented by UB, UC and CCDC would be successfully wooed back by the Prisaa. Only SLU would stay with the University Games.
For softball, CAR’s re-entry into the Prisaa National Collegiate Games was for 12 young soft belles a door opened by the hand of someone of the Divine, a providential act short of being miraculous. For UC softball, it was an opportunity to showcase about two hundred seemingly meaningless training days every academic year to play at least three games.
Softball’s endorsement was not the director’s first choice. The more favored volleyball squad whose stellar resume showed a silver medal finish in a national inter-collegiate volleyball tournament did not have enough eligible players to compete. With UC softball’s surprising silver medal finish in the 2008 National POF games in Mindanao still fresh and not so far behind, softball’s participation was endorsed as the proverbial panakip butas.
Softball for private HEIs had finally seen the klieg lights of a prestigious national collegiate competition.
Representing the region in one searing and blistering PRISAA week, CAR softball would resist the sword of elimination and earn its first national collegiate distinction, a bronze medal finish - only falling to the seasoned powers of the PRISAA softball games: Region X-Davao’s University of Mindanao by one run (2-1) and NCR’s UST Tigers (2-1) without first threatening the 2009 UAAP’s defending champions with national shame by a possible upset.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on September 03, 2013.