Yeah, I’m Pissed

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know what this post is about. You’ll know that I was initially very excited about the LA Galaxy coming to Manila to play our beloved Azkals. You’ll also know that, when the rumored prices have been released (PHP 12,000 for the most expensive ticket price), I ranted. And when the final, official prices came out, I went on a rampage. And, well, I’m still not over it.

First off, the facts:

  • The ticket prices (in Philippine pesos): 15,500 – 12,500 – 10,500 -9,500 – 5,000 – 2,000
  • Yes, I know that the Rizal Stadium only seats between 13 – 15 thousand spectators
  • There’s still no news on whether or not David Beckham will be joining the trip. He still hasn’t renewed his contract with the LA Galaxy and will only make a decision on his future after the MLS Cup on November 20. Rumors have already been circulating about him moving to PSG in the French Ligue One.
  • FIFA World Cup 2010 ticket prices (in US Dollars):

Deep breath… Here we go…

Really? REALLY?!?! My Category 1, FIFTH ROW seats to the Spain-Paraguay World Cup Quarterfinal are cheaper than an exhibition between a sub-100-ranked national team (sorry, I love the Azkals, but I speak the truth) and a team from the friggin’ MLS?!?! It’s the MLS! It’s not even one of the top 5 leagues in the world and will probably barely make it, if it does, through to the top 10. It’s where European footballer careers go to die a lucrative death. And we’re not even sure Mr. Goldenballs himself, David Beckham, is coming. Even if he was, I can categorically say that the tickets will still NOT be worth that much, unless he plays topless, brings Victoria, Brooklyn, Romeo, Cruz and baby Harper with him and we all get a chance to pinch their cheeks and make them gigil (yes, David too, but not Victoria of course, there’d be nothing to gigilanyway) and, in Harper’s case, babysit.

See, even Becks is annoyed.

And before any of you use the “but-the-organizers-have-to-make-money” argument, let me preempt you by saying that I understand that. I really, do. And given that the venue is tiny (full-size football stadiums fit between 40-80 thousand fans), they really have to price the tickets up to recoup their investment. Which is why I think that the organizers jumped the gun on this with little foresight on how the high price of getting the Galaxy here (some estimate that it cost PHP 100 million!) will affect ticket prices and, consequently, ticket purchases. The fact there were rumblings about trouble in the TV rights negotiations imply that the organizers may have bitten off more they can chew.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that Landon Donovan and co. are coming. It’s good for the Azkals and Philippine football in general that international clubs are even considering us for promotional tours. But it could’ve been greater, more beneficial to a sport that already has a reputation of being elitist if everything was made more accessible (i.e. cheaper) for everyone. How many parents out there have to break the news to their excited kids that they can’t afford to take them to see the Azkals play David Beckham’s team? How many football fans have been deprived to see their team perform against a team of a higher caliber (yes, even if they do just play in the MLS)? And how many people who can reasonably afford to buy the tickets, in annoyance and disgust, are now boycotting the match on principle alone (many of the footie fans I know, myself included)?

I don’t know how these things get negotiated and planned, of course, (who knows, maybe the organizers will barely make money even at these prices) but I can’t help but think that there was a miss somewhere. How could there not be, when the whole thing now reeks of greed and profiteering when, in the first place, the point should have been the promotion and advancement of the beautiful game?

Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

A Call to A(u)ction

I’ve been thinking about writing a post related to this for a while, but I was having second thoughts for a couple of reasons. I think charitable giving is a deeply personal thing, and it’s easy to rub people the wrong way when talking about it. I also didn’t want to seem too preachy. But I’m writing about it now in line with a huge event for UNICEF.

I’ve always known that there was a UNICEF Philippines, but, in the last year or so, their work has been brought to my attention on a regular basis through Daphne Oseña-Paez’s blog. She has been appointed a UNICEF Special Advocate for Children about a year ago and her regular posts and tweets about her work with the organization and ways to contribute stuck with me. And UNICEF has been my go-to recipient in times of crisis (Ondoy, the Haitian earthquake) and personal offering (like when I prayed for this to happen) since.

This month, UNICEF Philippines is holding its first major public fundraising auction entitled Auction for Action. Organized by Daphne Oseña-Paez, it features furniture, sculpture, paintings, jewelry and experience packages for the public to bid on on eBay. The auction goes live on May 25, with all proceeds benefitting UNICEF Philippines.

The items you could bid on include pieces by sculptor Ramon Orlina and painters Juvenal Sanso and Dominic Rubio. Kenneth Cobonpue, the Cebu-based furniture designer to the stars is donating two pieces. Brad Pitt famously purchased his Voyage bed for himself and Angelina Jolie, the same bed featured in the video for Maroon 5’s aptly titled “Never Gonna Leave this Bed.”

You can claim that you and Brad Pitt share a furniture designer!

Also up for auction is an armchair from Daphne’s namesake line of furniture.

Event founder, host and contributor, too!

If furniture and art is not your thing, though, there are experience packages you can bid on. A foodie would definitely jump at the chance to have a meal specially created for him/her and three other friends by Chef Tonyboy Escalante of Antonio’s in Tagaytay. Antonio’s was ranked 5th in Miele Guide’s Asia’s Top 20 Restaurants, so obviously, its regular menu is already outstanding as it is. I can only imagine how wonderful a customized meal will be.

Bid your way to foodie heaven..

If I had the moolah for it, it would be a tossup between that or the Azkals experience package, where the winning bidder would get to sit in the dugout with the Philippine National Football Team at their upcoming World Cup qualifying match against Sri Lanka. Y’all know how boy football crazy I am, so you can imagine how envious I will be of the people who will not only get to watch the match live but also sit with the team on the actual bench.

A chance to be right in the thick of it! And by "it" I mean the match action, not the Younghusband brothers.

But unless the package involves actually sitting on a wooden bench and having to act as a water boy/girl and equipment manager for the team (although, you know, thinking about it I wouldn’t mi…), in all likelihood, I won’t be able to afford even the minimum bid for the Azkals package, or any of the items for that matter. That doesn’t mean I can’t help UNICEF, though.

If you’re loaded enough to be able to bid on any of the items then please invite me to join you watch the Azkals good for you and I hope you win the item you bid on. But if you’re like me (i.e. poor not wealthy enough to afford any of the items up for auction), there are still ways to do our part for the children of our country. You can make your donations for any amount at the UNICEF Philippines website. You can choose to make a one-time donation or, better yet, you can sign-up to make monthly donations and be a UNICEF Champion for Children. Any monthly amount will be accepted, and can be directly charged to your credit card. Here’s an idea of what your contributions can do:

This is what your money can do.

You can help feed and educate the children of the Philippines

And while ₱500 a month can seem like a substantial amount, I find that it helps to think of it in terms of days or purchases. ₱500 a month is only about ₱17 per day. That’s also around the cost of three Starbucks Venti Frappuccinos or four McDonald’s Quarter Pounder Value Meals. Or you can think of it this way: not only do you help children in need by forgoing a delicious but calorific blended coffee drink or a juicy but greasy hamburger, you’re also preventing the expansion of your waistline. And, as already mentioned, you can choose to donate as little as you can afford, even if it is just ₱10 a day. That’s still ₱3,600 a year which will go a long way to helping many children in need (it’s sure to send good karma along your way, too).

I hope all that didn’t sound too preachy. But if I convinced even just one person to donate even the smallest amount to the cause, then being called preachy would all be worth it. Spread the word and who knows, maybe YOU can inspire other to help this worthy cause.

Photos from Daphne’s Diary’s Auction for Action posts and screengrabs from the UNICEF Philippines donation page. Visit Daphne’s Diary for updates and details on other items up for auction.

Wanted: Competent Football Journalist

I knew the Azkals (the Philippine National Football Team) won their group match against Bangladesh, 3-0, on Friday. I didn’t really find out more than score, though. So yesterday morning, I picked up The Philippine Star and read the article about the win (online version here).

And here’s what I found out about the game:

  • That the Azkals sang “Ole! Ole! Ole!” in the dressing room after the win.
  • That the music was so loud in the dugout, you couldn’t hear the person beside you.
  • When the final whistle blew, Coach Michael Weiss “lifted his arms, with clenched fists and faced the sun.”
  • That each time the Azkals scored, they “whooped it up like they never did before.” (what does that even mean?!?!?!)
  • That the Philippines made the semis of the AFF Suzuki Cup last year, beating Vietnam 2-0 along the way (… hey, wait a minute…)
  • That newcomer Angel Guirado, who, “once inside the PENALTY” launched a shot to score is “the angel from heaven.”

Because that’s what I was dying to know about the match. Thank you, Abac Cordero and The Philippine Star.

Is this what I should expect from the football articles of one of the country’s biggest dailies? More paragraphs about how the team celebrated than on the actual match itself? What they sang and not the formation they played in? Information on Guirado’s angelic origins and but not his earthly footballing credentials (he plays in the Spanish Tercera División for CD Ronda and used to be in the reserves for Atletico Madrid)?

I know that football is just starting to gain popularity in the country and that, in all probability, Sky Sports-level analyses won’t really find a mainstream audience just yet. But I’m not asking for Jonathan Wilson to cover Philippine football. All I am asking for is that the coverage be informative, relevant and that the bulk of it to be about the actual game. While I suppose the Younghusband fan girls will be thankful for the image of James “bouncing up and down, arms linked” with his teammates, articles like these are a disservice to the rest of the Philippine population (not dreaming to be Younghusband wife) who are just discovering football.

Football has had a hard enough time gaining ground in the country and articles like this do nothing to help the sport. How are we going to make people who are new to football appreciate the skill that goes into a scoring a goal, the grace it takes to dodge defenders, the reflexes required for a save if an article on an outstanding 3-0 win focused more on the locker room than on the pitch? How are we supposed to sustain interest in the sport (especially when matches like this were not aired live in the country) when more words were written about the coach’s victory pose than on the first goal scored (I counted. It was 10 versus 6)?

It’s understandable that our local sports journalists aren’t used to writing about football. Let’s face it, the Philippine National Team has never really given them much to write about up until a few months ago. But is it really that hard to stick to the facts of the game? I’m sure any sports writer would have at least a basic knowledge of the sport. Even if they’ve never watched a La Liga match before the Azkal win over Vietnam, they’ve now had four months since to get a crash course on the offside rule and what merits a red card versus a yellow (Ronnie Nathanielsz desperately needs those lessons).  They could’ve read up on thousands of articles to get an idea on what a match report should look like. Actually, they didn’t even have to go through that many. All they needed was to go through, like, TWO, to know that no one really needs to know what song they sang in celebration, at least not by the second paragraph of the article.

So please, for the sake of the sport and basic journalistic standards, could The Philippine Star please get a competent football journalist? If a dedicated football writer is too much to ask, could you please get Abac Cordero never to write on football again some basic news writing lessons alone time with the Guardian football site?