Saturday, January 17, 2009


This group of basketball enthusiasts from Quiapo's Barangay 393 range in age from 11 to 16; the shortest is about 5', while the tallest stands 5'9", and happens to be only 12 years old.

They've been trained and coached during the past summers by previous varsity players, including a pro with the Philippine Basketball Association.
And practically every one has participated in various inter-barangay tournaments from the time they were able to; hence, each one knows how to play the game.

On weekdays, they
play full-court pickup games in the late afternoons or early evenings after school; whereas, on weekends, they oftentimes play both in the mornings and afternoons. About a month ago, they began playing at other courts in Quiapo against various ragtag teams, sometimes with members who were taller and heavier. So far, they have been accumulating impressive wins.

Their group remains without an official name. They're unable to think of something as unique as "Pechak", coined by a team of bigger and older boys from the same neighborhood. It is a meaningless word, but original and catchy, nonetheless. Until they could come up with one, they merely refer to themselves as "Bolpatz" when signing the schedule sheets.

There was an inter-barangay tournament held last month,
hosted by the barangay officials on Quiapo's Fraternal Street. The finals took place during Quiapo's fiesta weekend. Pechak won the Kids Division; their overall record was 10 wins, one loss. One can only imagine the impression Pechak has on Bolpatz, and how much the latter dream of someday playing against or with some of Pechaks' star players.

Bolpatz was unable to participate in this particular tournament because they lacked the sponsors to defray the costs of having their own uniforms and sign-up fees. Half of them don't even own basketball shoes; playing with only their slippers or just going at it barefoot, mind you.

Their parents are engaged in various lines of work -- from being street vendors to OFWs; thus, some of these kids go to public schools, while others attend private schools. But they have been friends since grade school; a few were even classmates at the nearby Mabini Elementary School. Some of them have been on the top ten of their respective class; to date, four excel in mathematics, Regrettably, three other kids in the team had foolishly dropped out of school this year. However, they all claim to going back next school year.

None of these kids are into drugs or alcohol, but of the three who smoke cigarettes, one had recently quit for good while the rest are struggling to kick the habit.

Another interesting aspect about this team is that it's comprised of Christians and Muslims. Despite of the differences in their religious upbringing, they share typical adolescent angst and eyebrow-raising dreams of grandeur, but the compelling force that binds them together is a passion for basketball.

Incidentally, the photo above does not show all of them; the other five or six were not present when it was taken. Their unusual large number for a team is due to a collective reluctance to say no to a friend who wants to join. Therefore, what should be a team of 12 kids has now grown to about 16, which only increases the potential costs for uniforms and sign-up fees (the more players, the higher the fees). "But how could we turn away a friend?" they'd ask in return.

When I chanced upon one of their evening games,
I was immediately impressed by their skills and sportsmanship. They played a good and clean game of basketball; devoid of silly street bravado. And when a couple of kids of the other team lost control of their elbows, Bolpatz disregarded the annoying, though painful, jabs and remained focused on the game. Indeed, I was humbled by the volunteer coaches they had in the past who guided them into becoming fine athletes.

Recently, Bolpatz hatched up a plan: to help them gain the attention of potential sponsors for the upcoming tournaments, they challenged Pechak, the champions of the recently-held tournament. It was accepted, though reluctantly. The game will be held in two weeks so as to give the shorter and younger Bolpatz more time to prepare.

The odds of winning are indeed against Bolpatz, but then again, in sports -- as well as in life in general -- the spirit to emerge victorious often spur incredible upsets

* * *

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posted by Señor Enrique at 10:34 AM


Blogger mgaputonimimi said...

they are the future of our country! ang galing nila!

January 19, 2009 3:24 AM  

Blogger JayAshKal said...

If they are really good,I am sure they will have sponsors lining up. I hope they win their game with Pechak!

January 19, 2009 5:53 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

They are indeed a fine bunch of kids, Mimi!

January 19, 2009 8:31 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

The problem is, Mario, a barangay usually only has one team that competes on inter-barangay level, and Bolpatz would become the second in theirs.

Also, with so many groups asking for donations, sponsors and contributions are becoming hard to come by. Nonetheless, with enough determination and tenacity, I'm sure these kids will win the hearts of some generous locals.

Incidentally, a friend who works for a shipping company and teaches Aikido in the evenings at a martial school on Esperanza Street in Quiapo, has volunteered to teach these kids about mental preparation, as well as proper physical warm-up and cool down exercises. He wishes that his youngest son will grow up to love basketball as much as these Bolpatz kids do :)

January 19, 2009 9:02 AM  

Blogger Edmund said...

Naalala ko tuloy nung sumasali rin ako sa lugar namin ng mga liga. Kailangan mag-solicit para sa uniform. Nagbabahay bahay kami para lang makalikom ng pera. Swerte na lang kung ang pa-liga ay malapit sa eleksyon kasi maraming kandidato ang nagbibigay.

Salamat sa pag-aalala nito. Meron na naman akong ilalagay sa blog ko.

January 19, 2009 1:01 PM  

Blogger Sidney said...

Nice to have you back Senor!

Great looking team... I hope they win in the next tournament!

January 19, 2009 1:02 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Bago ko nakilala ang tropa na ito, Edmund, wala akong kaalam-alam sa sa patakaran ng mga liga. Sa ngayon ay unti-unti ko ng napagaaralan.

Tama ka, kailan madiskarte ka din sa pagso-solicit kasi dami mo din competetion. Di lang sa liga kundi sa mga pangburol at panglibang ng mga iban taga-barangay, pati na din sa mga sanggol na may mga sakit. Kundi didiskarte bawat miyembro hindi sila talaga magkakaroon ng pangbayad ng uniform at quota sa paglaro. Ma-drama din pala ang sumali sa liga ... hehehe.

Ang isa pang malaking problema ng Bolpatz kaya hirap sila mag-solicit: nasapawan sila ng mga champion na Pechak (siyanga pala, may miyembro ang Pechak na kuya ng mga Bolpatz).

January 19, 2009 1:38 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thanks, Sidney!

They do remind me a lot of the kids in the old TV series, "Our Gang" (named Little Rascals in some areas).

Yes, we're all keeping our fingers crossed :)

January 19, 2009 1:41 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

great to know that these kids aren't into drugs or street gangs ! This is think is one that the parents and the community must be thankful for.

Hope these young underdogs win their game. As we all know, everyone has a chance - it ain't over till its over :)

January 19, 2009 7:34 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thank you for pointing that out, BW!

In this same neighborhood where these kids come from live some of Quiapo's notorious (handgun wielding) teenage gang members -- some of whom had been arrested and convicted of robbery and rape. One was recently thrown in jail for almost hacking off the hand of a barangay tanod with a machete.

Crystal meth and other illicit drugs are also readily available in this part of the city. In fact, the area named Vietnam (a short walking distance away) was only raided when Mayor Lim took office. It harbored the hub of Quiapo's largest shabu distribution network.

And yes, the parents and other local folks are very much appreciative of those who participate or support the community's youth athletic programs, for they provide empowering after-school activities for their children. Unfortunately, though, funding for which often requires public contributions.

January 19, 2009 9:51 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

sana madala nila yang pag uugali na yan hanggang paglaki nila... konting konti na lang ang mga taong ganyan...

January 20, 2009 4:08 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Sana na nga, Lino. Kahit na may kakulitan din sila, dahilan sa kanilang batang edad, for the most part, mabubuti silang kabataan.

But you know what? Despite of some people's negative perception of Quiapo in particular, and Manila in general, there are many unsung heroes and decent-living folks who live there and who are raising their kids to become fine citizens. And I truly appreciate the opportunity of having been invited by some of these Quiapenses to get a glimpse of their personal struggles and triumphs.

By the way, one of these Bolpatz kids was cited by his high school for honesty -- with a poster and all -- for finding a wallet with substantial amount of cash in it and handing it over at the principal's office; even refusing to accept a cash reward. I asked if I could do a seperate feature on him about it but he declined out of shyness. Amazing, isn't it?

January 20, 2009 8:01 AM  

Blogger Nicky said...

yeah... Basketball legends in training... But still they lack support... National sports officials import some US grown athletes (rather than the homegrown) to compete in International competitions...

January 20, 2009 10:36 AM  

Blogger Dennis Villegas said...

It's always good to see kids involve in sports activities rather than just "barkadahan" that can lead to drugs, delinquency and violence.
Here in our community in Cubao, I have sponsored a kids' basketball team for our inter-barangay Liga, because I believe that they need our support on such worthwhile activities.
If e do support them, then they will know that they are on the right track of life.
Thanks for sharing the story of the Pechaks/Bolpatz.
Btw, I always pass by that Fraternal street from my work in the university to my walk-around in Avenida. I would love to spot those kids.

January 20, 2009 11:33 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

That is so true, Nicky! Despite the abundance of talented local athletes, our sports officials remain smitten by those from foreign lands.

January 20, 2009 1:12 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

That'd be swell, Dennis! And with your experience in supporting Liga teams, I bet you'd be more objective if asked to assess these kids' true athletic skills and potentials.

They've been playing lately near National Teachers College in San Sebastian Church area. I will contact you once the Pechak-Bolpatz game has been set, and hopefully, you can attend the game :)

Many thanks :)

January 20, 2009 1:21 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...


'Newbie to your site here. I like the street photography you do. Someday I'd like to do some photography like that again in the streets of Manila. But I digress ... the kiddie basketball leagues do remind me of my own youth while growing up in the Philippines. Are you going to post a series of photos on this kids -- like maybe see them in action playing in one of their games?

January 27, 2009 2:02 AM  

Anonymous retouching said...

A great combination of pictures and articles in this photo blog!

August 11, 2009 6:11 PM  

Anonymous beauty said...

Really I appreciate the effort you made to share the knowledge. The topic here I found was really effective to the topic which I was researching for a long time.

November 19, 2011 6:22 PM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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