He was granted a one-year Fulbright grant to study Philippine basketball. He ended up staying for two more years, during which he learned the Filipino language. His fans and members of the media lauded the book and his love for the Filipino culture. To read SPOT. It started off with my own love for basketball. My father was a player, and he brought me to a gym every day from the time I was eight years old.
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He was granted a one-year Fulbright grant to study Philippine basketball. He ended up staying for two more years, during which he learned the Filipino language. His fans and members of the media lauded the book and his love for the Filipino culture.
To read SPOT. It started off with my own love for basketball. My father was a player, and he brought me to a gym every day from the time I was eight years old. It described kids playing in the street wearing their tsinelas and the way people would do anything to get a game in.
It was just so inspiring to me. I just found so much. The basketball culture and the culture in general are so rich. What are the highlights of the book? Part of the book has this narrative of the Alaska season. It was and the Alaska Aces actually won the championship so there was good love around for them. You get to see the interaction between the import Rosell Ellis and different players.
Can you name one thing that struck you during your stay in the Philippines? It was the first time Willie Miller ever surprised me with his nakedness, which is a common occurrence for many of his teammates. I was in the locker room before a game and someone tapped me on the shoulder. It was a rite of passage. I read as much as I could. Atlas Sports Weekly and Champ magazines were very important to me. Also, I got to meet a lot of the players who shared all their stories: the rumbles, the times they got elbowed and every trick of the trade.
I think I had a four-hour interview with Ed Cordero once. It just kept going and going and going. It was great. How did you get into all the basketball circles? A lot of sports journalists helped me too. I ended up interviewing almost all of the big basketball columnists here. What did you think of the gays versus midgets showdown in Cebu you went to? I guess I was bothered by it. During the first 10 minutes of the game, I was laughing with the crowd, and then the game just went on and on and on.
The players looked tired and just wanted to go home. It was a little too much for me to handle. At that time, I had been here for over two years. Why do you think no Filipino has ever written a book about Philippine basketball? Hindi ako sigurado. Para sa inyo, pangkaraniwan ang basketball katulad ng kanin. For Filipinos, basketball is part of everyday life like rice. It may not have occurred to people that such a part of their everyday life was very, very special.
How did you pitch the idea of studying Philippine basketball to the selection committee that gave you the Fulbright grant? That was a challenge because the Fulbright is an academic grant and most of my colleagues and batchmates were studying economics, micro finance, migration issues, very academic-sounding stuff.
And here I was saying I wanted to write about basketball. I think I just had to give them the evidence that basketball plays a really important and unique role in Philippine society. Luckily, I made a good enough case to pass the first round. A Filipino panel judged the second round; I think once they saw it, I was in pretty good shape. What was the audience in your mind when you were writing this book? I was writing it for an American publisher and knew that they were planning to primarily sell the book in the United States so I was writing it for that audience in some ways.
No reason to be like, "Longganisa is a sausage. When I first got it, I was jumping around and dancing in the street. There were a couple of moments like that. There was a moment when I finished the first draft; I put the last period and I just took this deep breath. How has the reception been? Which book review did you enjoy the most? At sinadyang i-publish on June The idea that it was my book they wanted to feature on one of the most important days of the year meant so much to me.
It was also a great review. Do you have plans to write another book? Plans, yes. Some of the history of Alaska, Ginebra, Jaworski, the provinces Did it ever cross your mind to become a professional player here? It crossed my mind. That would be cool. How was your everyday life here? I call those the best three years of my life and I seriously mean it.
A lot of it was just everyday life, walking around in the Katipunan area. I feel like the community there adopted me as the official foreigner Six months after I arrived in the country, I ended up as a "Bigat 10" in Wowowee. The whole neighborhood was like, "Yeah, he shouted us out in Wowowee! How was your acting stint in Bakekang? It was a very, very fun experience. I was also conflicted at times because the crew was telling me to slap a woman and call her really, really awful names.
After that, kids would run up to me and ask where Bakekang was and if we lived together. What is the most compelling aspect of Philippine culture that you took away from the experience? It took a long time for me to let go and stop trying to control every part of my environment. That sort of shows the Filipino ingenuity. Did you adopt the concept of Filipino time?
I think I have. You have been known to sing karaoke. What is your favorite karaoke song? Those are the songs I sing the best because those are the ones I practice.
I would watch MYX on Youtube and learn the lyrics that way. Hopefully, no one heard me singing in my room Walking back and forth to work in New York, I always listen to my playlist that has about Filipino songs.
Last night August 20 , even though I was dead tired and I just arrived at midnight, I still walked around in Katipunan. I saw all the people I used to see. Do you have a girlfriend? I do have a girlfriend. We met here actually. She had a Fulbright grant the year after mine. Has your game improved or changed since you played Pinoy basketball? Are you now magulang? But while I was regularly playing here, I think I was playing at the highest level I ever played in some ways.
But the defense and level of competition were very high. I think they made me a better player. I miss playing basketball here so much. What would you like to say to Filipinos? Thank you. Maraming salamat. Photos by Jean Natividad. Tell us your feels!
Sep 07, Dottie rated it it was amazing I first learned of Pacific Rims when I stumbled upon a youtube video of the author promoting his book in Filipino. Rafe Bartholomew spoke my mother tongue in a way that would put some of my schoolmates to shame. I had to replay the video to confirm that not only was he speaking Filipino with a barely there American accent, but his grammar was also nearly flawless. I know firsthand that its not an easy feat to learn a foreign language, much less master it in a way that would earn the locals I first learned of Pacific Rims when I stumbled upon a youtube video of the author promoting his book in Filipino. That kind of mastery takes a significant amount of dedication and passion. The fact that he spoke so eloquently in the language that I am so intimately familiar with convinced me that I had to read his book.
Pacific Rims: Basketball in the Philippines
That the immense popularity of basketball in the Philippines makes a franchise an effective marketing tool is only one hint of how the sport permeates through Filipino culture. PBA players and coaches often translate their basketball fame into government positions. Politicians build high-end, roofed courts not only to appease local constituents, but also because courts are often used as community centers. Bartholomew catalogs the basketball culture by linking its introduction to the history of the Philippines and pointing out that its popularity is not as unlikely as his title suggests. The Philippines embraced it, created their own style of circus lay-ups instead of flashy dunks, and even became a dominant international basketball powerhouse from the early to mid s.
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