I don’t know how this happened. I would have assumed that they adopted baseball in the manner of Japan and Taiwan. After all, the Philippines housed U.S. troops for many decades. Filipinos are… well… generally rather short people. Basketball is a game for very tall people.
Yet, everywhere I went the kids were playing basketball… even in the shanty towns of Lapu-Lapu City. The courts were sometimes improvised in dusty lots. I took a picture of this goal in a town called, literally, “Crazy Town,” a small town about an hour’s drive south of Cebu. Filipinos have such an odd sense of humor. Crazy Town is not that far from a town named “Stinky Town.” When we drove through Stinky Town we discovered that it was aptly named for its general odor of fertilizer.
The Karaoke Queen’s nephew, Paolo, invited me to play in several games with his college friends. We played on an open air court covered with a steel roof. Even at night, the temperatures were in the 80s, so we sweated our asses off. The kids were remarkably friendly and generous in allowing an old fart to play with them. I had a lot of fun, although leg cramps often took me out of the action.
The Queen’s family laughed at me for wanting to take a picture of this strange wooden basket. Moalboal is a two hour drive south of Cebu. It is quite poor. People farm in the old fashioned way. The beaches, however, are stunningly beautiful. We enjoyed a picnic of fresh fish and pork grilled over charcoal while the kids played in the water. I especially enjoyed the BBQ’d squid, served in a sauce of its own ink.
When you get in close, the basket becomes even more beautiful.
I grew up on the Illinois-Indiana border. This is the epicenter of basketball glory. My mother grew up in Bloomington, home of Indiana University. Basketball is religion in Bloomington. In the small towns of Illinois and Indiana, you will find a basketball goal attached to just about every barn and garage. Sometimes, the goal is erected in the back yard. I was amazed to discover that this passion for roundball has spread to the Philippines. One day, a great Filipino player will make it to the NBA.