Friday, September 26, 2008

Smells like school spirit: Dad discovers UAAP-mania

The champion team attends mass after the game

My classmate sent this to me.

By LARRY I. GO, Ateneo de Manila University 1982
Here finally ... the true champions.
Since I first stepped into the Ateneo as a freshman back in 1978, I have never expressed any interest in Ateneo's participation in basketball. This is perhaps not surprising as the primary concerns in the campus then revolved around social causes and social issues under Rev. Fr. Bonoan as our Dean.

It must have been a great source of frustration to the basketball fanatics in our batch like Bombit Fucio, Dave Dualan, Chot Kabigting and even Jimmy Hof that I have never attended even a single basketball game by Ateneo.

This all changed this year when my daughter who is a sophomore in Ateneo College asked me to watch a game with her at the Araneta Coliseum as my birthday gift to her. It was a request I could not refuse. So 30 years after I first set foot at the Ateneo College, I was finally going to watch an Ateneo basketball game.

The preparation to watch my first game was quite an experience. Since it was a game against La Salle, finding a ticket was an exercise in patience and perseverance. I then had to negotiate a maze of seemingly esoteric knowledge about the game like knowing what time to go (as early as one possibly can), what to wear, what to bring, and what not to bring, where to sit and what to avoid (like sitting directly in front of the Blue babble Battalion). I was greatly disappointed to learn that the Araneta Coliseum, among other restrictions, did not allow bringing in of "professional" cameras during the game.

Fours hours before the game was to start, I was lining outside the entrance to ensure that I would be able to get some seats. The line was long and hot. Thankfully, it was cool and comfortable once we got inside. I thought it was noisy outside while lining up. But I was quickly disabused of this notion once the basketball game started (UP vs UST).
The opposing bands made quick work of the hearing I had so assiduously protected over the years and shouting to one's seatmate became the normal way of communication. Mobile phones were completely useless save for text or SMS communication. How I longed to havebrought some ear plugs to save what was left of my hearing. The cheering attendant to the game was louder than a Rock Concert (or so I think?!!).

Watching the game was a revelation. Gradually, I adjusted to the cacophony around me. I was able to hear what the announcer was saying and I could even make out some words from the people seated behind me who seemed to be able to carry a conversation nonchalantly amid thedin and noise of the game.
After a while, I thought I was regaining some of my hearing and I slowly removed my hands from my ears. This illusion shattered as quickly as I entertained it for when the Ateneo vs La Salle game started, all hell broke loose.
But it was fun … and I was having a lot of fun. It wasn't just that Ateneo was demolishing La Salle, it was the unbridled excitement that everyone in the Coliseum seems to exude. It was contagious and I too was caught up in the cheering, clapping, booing and whatever else theycall those antics calculated to bring the roof down.
30 years after entering Ateneo, I was finally watching an Ateneo basketball game. I thought that Dave Dualan, Bombit Fucio and Chot Kabigting will be pleased.A few hours ago, I watched Ateneo finally win the championship.
Ateneo won the 2008 UAAP Championship. What made this championship significant is that it was a team effort and with everyone contributing to the final win.
There was no superstar complex and I could not see anyone acting like a prima donna. But what I think truly made this team champions was what they did after the game. The team proceeded to the Church of the Gesu to give thanks and praise for their victory. In my eyes, it was finally here that they became champions.
See you next year in the games (for a back-to-back championship)!

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