Fourteen needles and sportsmanship

Around 2010 before I left the Philippines, I joined a badminton tournament. I played on both Level A men’s doubles and mixed doubles. I had to play twice the normal number of matches. We won every game to get through to the finals despite the odds, but not without taking a tow on my body. We were outmatched in many of the prelim matches, and I was forced to use 150% of my capacity to win. Soon enough I also suffered an injury on my right shoulder joint, so painful that I cannot even pour water onto my own glass without dropping the pitcher. I woke up at night in pain whenever I unconsciously turned over to the right.

I had to undergo physical therapy, hoping for my injury to improve, but it can only do so much. I was plastered on my back, and while it made me feel more comfortable, I know that I will not be able to smash. Come the championship, my back was still plastered. 1st match was a tie breaker (round robin twice to beat). I tried to play and it really didn’t go well. There was no way for me to even the odds with the plasters. So I was in a dilemma of whether to fight like this, lose the game by default, or risk removing the plasters and continue the game.

I decided to remove the plasters. That time, what I was thinking was “We have come this far, I am already in pain. I am already hurt, I will not lose without fight.”

During the men’s doubles finals, probably I can say that I was only fighting at 60% of my potential, but at 120% of my current capacity. I compensated my inability to smash with faster footwork (some people would call “flash step”). But even with that I missed some critical points, and swept the court with my shirt. It was even a harder blow on my body, and much as I would like to scream out of sever pain, my mind kept pushing to go on. It was a good game, but at the end, we lost.

During the mixed doubles finals, the flash step has also strained my body. My legs started to get stiff but I kept on going. I continued playing until my legs totally cramped out and I fell on my knees in the middle of the game that the umpire had to suspend the game for a while. I have clearly gone beyond my physical limit. I remember my very concerned partner telling me that it’s ok for her to stop the game so that I wouldn’t have to injure myself further. And all I can remember was telling her that “no, if we must lose, then we will lose with honor.” With the last of my strength, we continued the game. I , being the weaker link, was the easier target and as expected, we lost by a fair margin.

My opponents won fair and square. The only three losses we had in that whole tournament, were during that fateful day. It was stressful both physically and mentally.

I had my shoulder massaged almost every week for 6 months, but only helped a little, I still cannot pour water to my glass. I cannot even plug my charger to the wall.

My right shoulder enduring 20 minutes of acupuncture  as 14 needles almost sink deep to my bones

My right shoulder enduring 20 minutes of acupuncture as 14 needles almost sink deep to my bones

Good thing a friend recommended that I try acupuncture in Singapore. 14 needles were struck into my shoulder. Every time I inhaled, I felt the needles sinking deep to my bones. It was probably the longest 20 minutes of my life. After which the doctor pulled the needles all at the same time, asked me to punch towards the roof, and in some sort of miracle, I was finally able to rotate my shoulder, and the pain was almost gone. At times when my shoulder is stressed (push-ups, wushu training) I still feel a sting. I know that it will never be as good as it was. It was something I had no regrets on, but I promised myself never to abuse my body like that again, as I may no longer be as lucky the next time around.

And this is why I have stopped joining tournaments, and have declined most of the other invitations. At times I would join just to see whether I still have “it”, but I have no plans to win championships anymore.

I went home with two medals, a broken shoulder, sore legs, and a body that feels like all my appendages felt like being ripped out of my torso. But later on I realized that it was the most satisfying moment in my short badminton stint.

It is easy to win when you are playing in your home court, mismatch of opponent’s skills, or training period. But what satisfaction can one derive as an athlete, when all odds are in your favor, when you already know for sure that you will not lose?

Looking back, I realized what that the real spirit of sportsmanship was all about. It isn’t about winning for its own sake– it was about challenging yourself to become better.

Would we have won if I wasn’t injured, I don’t know, but I know that my greatest opponent, was not them–it was me.

On that day I didn’t give in to my weakness. I battled with my own pain. I did not make excuses. I conquered myself. I was brave enough to challenge my own limits. I won–maybe not against my opponents, but against myself. And I left the stadium a better man than who I was when I first walked in.

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Posted by on May 4, 2015 in Uncategorized


Rose under the Rain

We all saw this coming. I guess nothing can really prepare us well enough for something like this.

Rain has been pouring softly this morning. When I saw a notification coming from Sr. Ems, somehow, I already knew what it was going to be about.
t. rose 1-001-fade
Some won’t know her now, some used to be her students, and there are some, who, like us got the chance to know her a little better during our MTAP training.

Probably, out of all my teachers in high school, it was Teacher Rose who I had respect for the most. She walked around the school corridors with her head held high, exuding a distinct aura of authority, and almost an intimidating one at that–fitting for a prefect of discipline. I can say because of this, ours was a love-hate relationship. I was very bad student, and very rebellious, a little more aggressive than the normal teenager in puberty.

When she entered the classroom, she would greet us in a deep voice, but with a very cheerful spirit. Her english was perfect. She taught math like no one else: it was not about the formulae, that math is NOT about the numbers. It was logic. It was maximizing the little things you know, and use logic to work your way to those we don’t know. It was finding a common ground and use a common truth to arrive at a plausible answer. It was solving things one at a time. And with such a cheerful disposition while teaching, it was…fun.

She wasn’t interested as much in the final answer. It was about the equation, because it was proof that you understood what the real problem was. It wasn’t just about getting to the answer, but how efficiently we were working. It was the time when I deeply understood the principles behind the techniques. We mastered her techniques, and whose techniques, we pass to the next generation of math students.

Our lectures were based on common sense. She developed in us a sense of critical thinking, teaching us to constantly ask “why”. She was never afraid to be challenged–she knew and she believed EXACTLY what she was teaching us. 
It was this aura of integrity, wisdom and passion that I can safely say were what inspired me to become a math teacher, myself. It was her.

Critical thinking, yes, this was probably the greatest thing I learned from her, and something I hopefully passed on to my students.Upon finding out that some of my students have become math teachers themselves, and had me to thank for it, I tell them to thank the one who taught me to become the teacher you knew, and thank us by inspiring more people. Just like she did.

14 years have passed since I last saw her. The teacher I remembered standing tall walking around the school grounds, now lay bedridden. And yet, that cheerful spirit has never changed. She would talk very casually, and with a smile always painted on her face. We were trying to smile away a stage 4 cancer. It was heartbreaking. But when I see her smile, how can I not smile back?

I will always remember your smile. The integrity that you instilled in us. The integrity founded on reasoning and critical thinking. The passion in guiding our students to succeed. We fought a good fight Teacher Rose. You, with so many people, some of them you don’t even know, who rallied to your aid in this battle.

No more suffering. No more pain. We are going to be okay T. Rose. Don’t worry about us. We will be ok. Heed the call of our Creator in peace, take solace that we are making the world a better place one step at a time, as you would have wanted it. We will carry on your torch.

Thank you for touching our lives in more ways than one. Thank you for being an inspiration to hundreds of people. I’m sorry that I didn’t have the courage to apologize for all the bad things I have done to you in the past-for giving you so much trouble, for those times when my naivete has gotten the best of me. I never showed you how much I appreciated all your sacrifice. I’m sorry that I can no longer tell you enough how wonderful you were. I’m sorry T. Rose.I’m really sorry…

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Posted by on July 15, 2014 in Uncategorized


A long but touching story of "Andoy"

I received this story through e-mail a very very long time ago. Just in time for Christmas and with the Santinos and the Bro’s…


Somewhere in Milaor, Camarines Sur, Philippines there lived a fourth grader
boy named Andoy who would follow this route to school everyday. He has to
cross the rugged plains and cross the dangerous highway where vehicles are
recklessly driving to and from. Once passed this highway, the boy would take
a short cut by passing by the Church every morning just to say Hi to Jesus,
and faithfully say his, “Magandang umaga po” in Bicol dialect. A Priest, who
was so happy to find innocence so uplifting in the
morning, was faithfully watching the boy.

“Kamusta Andoy! Papasok ka na?” (“How are you Andoy? Are you off to school?”)

“Opo padre…” (Yes, father) He would flash his innocent grin, the priest would be

The priest was so concerned that one day he talked to Andoy, “From
school…”, he advised “do not cross the highway, you can pass through the
Church and I can accompany you to the other side of the road… that way I
can see that you are home safe.

“Thank you father.”

“Why don’t you go home? Why do you stay in this Church right after school?”

“I just want to say “Hi” to my friend, Jesus,”

The priest would leave the boy to spend time beside the altar, talking by
himself, but the priest hid behind the altar to listen to what this boy has
to say to his heavenly FATHER.

“You know my math exam was pretty bad today, but I did not cheat – although
my seatmate is bullying me for notes … I ate one cracker and drank my
water, Itay had a bad season and all I can eat is this cracker. Thank you
for this! I saw a poor kitten that was hungry and I know how he feels so I
gave my last cracker to him … funny but I am not that hungry. Look, this
is my last pair of slippers … I may have to walk barefooted next week….
you see this is about to be broken. But it is okay at least I am still going
to school … some says we will have a hard season this year and some of my
classmates have already stopped going to school. Please help them get back
to school again, please Jesus? … Oh, you know, Inay had hit me again, it
is painful, but I know this pain will pass away, at least I still have a
mother … Jesus, you want to see my bruises? I know
you can heal them ….here… here and….oh … blood … I guess you knew
about this one
huh? Please don’t be mad at Inay. She is just tired and she worries for the
food in our table and my schooling that is why she hits us… Oh, I think I
am in love … there’s this pretty girl in my class, her name is Anita …
do you think she will like me? Anyway, at least I know you will always like
me, I don’t have to be anybody just to please you, you are my very best

Hey your birthday is two months from now! Aren’t you excited? I am! Wait
till you see my gift for you…. But it is a surprise! I hope you will like
it! Oops, I have to go…” then he stood up and calls out,

“Padre, padre, I am finished talking to my friend. You can accompany me to
the other side of the road now”
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Posted by on December 22, 2009 in fillers,emo,TBB's-pick!


Trying Hard

I strive to be good. It’s not my life’s pursuit to be better than everyone else. I can live with the fact that I win some and lose some. I accept that sometimes I’m the pigeon and sometimes the statue. It’s not the most pleasant experience, but I find it easier to continue living forward because of this.

I am thankful of what I have. I don’t need to be smarter or richer or more goodlooking than the rest of the world just to appreciate myself. If there’s anything I will compare myself with, is with who I was before, and who I want to become. I base my happiness neither on other people’s net worth nor the attention that I am getting.

I have worked hard for every achievement that I have done. I do not have to cheat or smear anyone to get me where I am. Integrity is it’s own reward.

You know what? Congratulations. Get all the attention that you want , boost your EQ to your heart’s content. But don’t get frustrated if you cannot beat me. There’s nothing you can do against someone who’s not even competing with your ego game.

Do yourself a favor. Get a life. Stop bothering me.

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Posted by on July 7, 2009 in the-bitter-bastard




In an effort to offer a possible explanation why my officemate’s friend is finding it so hard to get some lovin as soon as other foreigners arrived, I introduced the concept of how my girl friends (mind the space between ‘l’ and ‘f’) choose between two men. These are defnitely NOT canonical, and feel free to object as you may please. Of course there’s always the pure unconditional love thing, but these are the types of women that I would especially be watchful of anyway.
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What’s Your Name’s Hidden Meaning?


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Posted by on January 25, 2009 in about-the-author


Shutting Up and Shutting Down

When I was in college, I realized that I have lost my faith in competitive debating. Which was, perhaps, why I decided to leave my team, just as fast as I got in, and avoided confrontational arguments ever since, whenever I can. I am drifting away from the arrogance brought by being right all the time.

I hated the fact that people will accept my arguments just because no one can refute them. I hated the tendency of people only wanting the truth that they want to hear. I hated the fact that some people will resort to debates not to broaden their perspective, but to find someone else to think FOR them. I have no respect for people who, instead of attacking the situation, attacks the technicality of how it was said, if not attacking the person himself. I condemn all forms of senseless blabbering just for the sake of being “correct.” I despise people who contradict everything just to show off how smart they are. I hated the way that debates are turned into sports, where the object is to win, defeating the purpose of why debating was formed in the first place.

So I will not argue about politicians and religion where people do not need evidence, or where people do not want evidence. I will not argue over things that I consider petty or will not improve my way of life regardless of who wins. Silence is one of the hardest arguments to refute. I will just smile at them. I myself find it hard to persuade a man who does not disagree, but smiles.

Now, I only argue for one reason, and that is for the pursuit of the “truth.” I would hear people out before I speak. I will only speak if there is a need to, and not just to show off. I will not decorate my language. I will only say what is needed, in its barest form.  Read the rest of this entry »