LOS ANGELES – The plight of the poor, the suffering of the sick, the proliferation of pornography, gang violence and the cancer that is government corruption are just a few of the many headaches Filipinos have dealt with for ages.
But our deep religious faith has always carried us through those interminable obstacles. Even then, that faith, which is often mightier than a mango tree, has been tested once again when an earthquake devastated the Philippines last October plus a fierce typhoon that followed soon after.
But like the other trials that have swung our way, the estimated 98 million Filipinos scattered around this great archipelago's 7,107 islands, will find comfort and refuge in two things: religion and basketball.
Didn’t we, most Pinoy males, at one point in our lives played basketball as though we could make it in the NBA?
And in electing our government officials, besides looking at their credentials, didn’t we look at their respective sports programs to see if they shared our passion for that ball that bounces hard on the floor and swishes gently through the nets?
Whether you live in a flourishing metropolis or in a far-flung province, chances are, you'd run into a stranger wearing a Derrick Rose or LeBron jersey. And how about that farmer with the Chicago Bulls cap? Or the conversation you had with your barber about Kobe's impending return?
We Pinoys have loved basketball for generations, a matter of fact the NBA appreciates. And that is why the world's premiere pro hoops league have dispatched their best players to our cities for charity work, exhibition games and other endeavors that show them giving love back.
So when typhoon Yolanda, notoriously known as Haiyan internationally, took thousands of lives, destroyed properties and shattered kids' dreams, the NBA quickly rushed to aid one of their most loyal fan base on earth.
Led by head coach Erik Spoelstra, an American of Filipino descent, the Miami Heat and Carnival Cruise Lines have pledged to donate $1 million dollars to help rebuild the lives of Filipinos affected by the tragedy. To help the victims long term, Coach Spo encourages the public to help through the NBA Cares family- UNICEF, World Vision, Red Cross and other organizations who are mobilizing to aid communities and people suffering from this catastrophe.
When the Los Angeles Lakers played the Grizzlies last Friday Nov. 15, Kobe Bryant presented the Lakers donation check to the Philippine Jr. NBA All-Star team. And according to the Lakers’ community page, the organization will give all proceeds from the Lakers Youth Foundation In-Arena Auctions at all Lakers home games between Nov. 12-24 to the Philippine Red Cross to assist in the relief efforts for victims of the devastating typhoon.
Knowing that his family was affected by this tragedy and organizing relief efforts himself to help back home, fellow NBA.com Philippines writer and New York based correspondent Rodene Ivan Cortes was overwhelmed by the NBA’s assist.
“It tugs the heart pare ko, wala ngang isang Pinoy na naglalaro sa NBA, but they still threw in their helping hand,” he said.
I've always been a fan of the NBA. And I'm an even bigger fan now.
They say character shows in adversity. And the NBA has shown one that is caring and compassionate time and time again.
No, the NBA isn't just a game. It's a dribble of love, bouncing at all corners of the world and touching the lives of millions and men, women and children affected by life's cruel tragedies.