Monday, October 13, 2014

Fair Play: Help comes full circle

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's Oct. 13 edition)
MUTABANG ko kay dako sad sila kaayo tabang nako. He told me minutes after arriving for the Football for Jacob coaches’ meeting of Leylam FC a few days ago.

I asked him if he was playing or coaching, but he said he was just there to help. Later, he gave a briefing on the rules.

He won’t be named in this story. But most in the Cebu football community know him. I’ve known him for almost 15 years, ever since my then editor told me to write a feature about this young man who was plucked from the streets and became one of the best players in town.
He was the topic of a conversation, too, months ago, with another old football player whom I used to cover.


“Have you heard what happened to _____?” I said no, last I heard he was scoring goals left and right for the top club.

It was then that I learned of what happened. He had a serious illness which needs a serious treatment.

“We should do something,” he said. And the obvious plan was hatched by his friends.

Months before that, I got a call from him to help raise publicity about a football tournament their group was holding to help raise funds for a football player’s child who had a heart condition. And before that, a call for yet another tournament to help
raise funds again for another child who had a serious illness.

“Sige sya organize mga fund-raising, unsa kaha mo organize pud mi para niya?” his former teammate told me that night. But the ex-teammate added that he was concerned their friend wouldn’t want them to be too bothered to do the very same thing he did.
I told the guy, “You should and call me about it so I can write it.”

I never got the call, and as it goes in the business, I forgot all about it and was only reminded about it when I saw pictures of the fund-raiser.

Then there he was, in that meeting and I learned from himself the reason I didn’t get the call.

“Pasensya na,” he said and added that he requested the organizers of the fund-raiser for him not to contact the media, me especially.

He kept his illness secret from his family and he didn’t want them to worry. That
shows his character. Even with this, it’s the welfare of others he has in mind.

“Kung mabasahan nila sa Sun.Star, aw, mabal-an na gyud,” he said.

He said the doctors couldn’t even give a categorical answer as to the cause of his illness. One day in January, he had a fever. After three days, he had a blood test, then a dengue test. When it was confirmed it wasn’t dengue, he had test after test to determine the reason behind the numbers until the doc came up with the diagnosis—cancer of the blood.

Treatment followed, costing close to P20,000 a month on medicines alone. And he’s still undergoing it now.

No, he doesn’t have the grim air of someone with a serious disease. This man, who’s only in his 30s hasn’t changed, even joking while the other coaches were having a few drinks.

Ganahan pa ko mubalik duwa, para ma-nutmeg nako ni sya,” he said, while pointing to another former player who was cracking jokes at him.

He said the charity-event was really a big help and that was why he was there, too, because the brothers behind Leylam also helped him.

Moments like this make me proud of the Cebu football community. Despite the rivalry, the rough play, and the odd free-for-all, it’s just one big family that sometimes come together.

Football tournaments, sometimes, is not about the players or the coaches. The wins or the losses, the champions or the MVP. It’s about the people behind them.

He showed it then with his charity events. He is showing it again by helping the people who also helped him.

Help comes full circle.

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