Panes: T12, Lasley at Atbp – Part I

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By Joel Panes

Optic Yellow

Monday, January 6, 2014


WHEN a bagful of softball equipment was given by a generous donor to jumpstart the softball program, I can no longer remember; but Lasley Tamiking, now with a semi-conductor company was one of those who saw the athletic sack opened at the Melvin Jones grounds where the team was to have practice. I’m sorry folks - the bounty wasn’t from St. Nicholas alias Sta. Claus’ kitty.

Lasley was a short lady. She would prefer being called Las and at the same time, cute. Anyone acquainted with her will likely agree. She was a diminutive softbelle who pitched with amazing ball control during her BCNHS days; and had been in many softball battles from local to national tournaments such as the Palarong Pambansa. Had she grown some 3-4 inches taller, she would have fanned many batters in the national tournaments to shame. Well, growing taller was not in her genes but her height was never a disadvantage. When Las took her talents to the mound during local inter-university BBEAL games, her ability to hit the spots made up for the heat most coaches and scouts would prefer to see.

Eventually, she gave way to burlier talents in the pitching circle. She would move to 2nd base and thrive as an intelligent fielder and unorthodox defender.

Last December, Las had visited the field on which many in Baguio softball had practiced and launched their dream ride. For Lasley, the dream ride was one concretely and in another way, spiritually achieved - a journey akin to hobbit Frodo’s seemingly endless travails in the Lord of the Rings to fling the ring into the fiery depths of Mount Doom. Allegorically, our Mordor was probably the nationals of the Peping Cojuangco conceived-Philippine Olympic Festival some six years ago. Here, the ugly cycle of mediocrity was broken.

That 10-day long journey from city of Baguio to municipality of Balingasag will always be remembered as strange but worth the blessing awaiting us. In Balingasag of Misamis Oriental, Baguio softball was an unheard player, an underdog among teams whose staple game was softball.

It was truly strange for the team to travel the distance but by God’s grace, we did. The trailblazing ladies of Baguio softball will always be grateful to everyone for making the UC team part of the Baguio contingent. It was even stranger for a team with no winning history in a national softball competition to win. Yet with what it had, the odds were bucked and one victory after another was earned to make it to the championship round. The winning feeling was truly strange but the cats had leaped out the bag. We fought toe to toe but fell short of the gold. This tournament which brought Baguio softball’s first silver medal experience in a national competition (actually their first) was a fiery baptism. It showed us volumes.

There were stranger experiences worth recalling. It was strangest being cheered and loved by both young and old lovers of the game which filled the areas outside the 25 foot demarcation.

At home, the silence is almost deafening and the reception is almost petrified as Benguet’s mountainsides. That notwithstanding, the sound of the rustling wind through the leaves at Baguio’s Athletic Bowl and the laughter shared among peers had always been the music which energized our soul. Still, the show of admiration and the warmth of adulation from strangers away from home had strengthened our hearts and bones.

In our own turf, the same could not be said. We would walk away from the daily regimen unnoticed and we had returned anonymously in the same way. Here albeit briefly, young school children would approach and boldly ask off the field, “Taga saan kayo?” Then as if Peter Pan’s Never Never Land had been narrated to innocents, another question would pop from another, “Saan iyan?” We did not desire to be like stars but in Balingasag, they embraced us for the way we played the game which they loved and their affections had transformed us.

Of course, it did not harm us to have one Karen Mendoza on the roster. Playing third base, Karen was beautiful and defended her ground well. But then the game of softball is not a beauty pageant. No runs are earned for cheesy smiles and tactful answers. Two years after aimlessly toiling in the cold for two official games annually had molded 12 trailblazing ladies representing Baguio softball to play smartly and beautifully. From the coaching box, I had witnessed how their game was transformed - like the city of Baguio from which they came. In my mind then, I planted this thought - Baguio softball will not be same.

From this column, with my heart and words, where none had honored, I honor these trailblazing 12. Besides Lasley and Karen, these were Melody Bandiwan at 3rd from Crystal Cave; Jonalyn Losnong (1B), Marz Ozo (SS) and Maricel Urbano (captain) from Irisan. Playing centerfield, Urbano had caught NCR’s fancy. Christine Valenciano from Ambiong and Elvira Kelly from Dontogan would flank her in the outfield. Jet Caslangen from Sagada and Michelle Nucaza from Baguio were the batteries. Yearlings Juvita Manzano and Russel Coteng were the substitutes.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on January 07, 2014.

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