CERES-Negros is that rare club in the country that proudly carries the name of its hometown wherever it goes.
Being a homegrown club that’s succeeded at the highest levels in Southeast Asia, it has brought honor to its hometown.
And such is the following of Ceres among the populace that top local government executives, from the governor to the congressman, have expressed their support for the team and its home matches, particularly Tuesday night’s encounter at the Panaad Stadium.
Described by Foxsports Asia as “The Battle of the Asean Giants,” the match in question is the first leg of the AFC Cup Asean Zonal semifinals between Ceres and Hanoi FC.
“We strongly encourage our people of Bacolod to watch this important game and show their support for our home team Ceres Negros by wearing yellow. Be part of our history,” said the mayor of Bacolod City in a statement.
“The team’s victory is also our victory as Negrenses,” chimed in the vice governor of Negros Occidental.
And it’s not just a victory for the Negrenses: Ceres’ victory is also our victory as Filipinos. (Note: I wrote this piece hours before kickoff, so I hope Ceres won.)
No doubt the company that owns Ceres-Negros throws in plenty of resources into the club, and I won’t bother to imagine the figures involved and what financial returns there are, if any.
But one thing’s for sure: the club and the Ceres brand get priceless international recognition by qualifying and participating in Asian Football Confederation tournaments.
How often does a province-based company reach such heights of brand awareness?
Ceres as a brand probably has more recognition among our Southeast Asian neighbors than, say, Aboitiz or Ayala, two Philippine corporate giants that have far greater financial muscle but have zero football clubs to speak of in a football-mad continent.
Brand recognition in the region matters as the world keeps on getting smaller and borders open up even more.
And Ceres not only has achieved this but carries the country’s name with pride each time it ventures in and outside our shores.