The night before our final trip to distribute aid in Northern Cebu, we did our final computations and realized we had roughly PHP20,000 more pesos to “spend”. Instead of buying more rice or canned goods, we had a late afternoon, slightly harebrained idea to bring sports equipment to the baranggays we were visiting the next day. The rationale was that we wanted to distract the kids, to get them out on the courts, to do something physical. So we hit a local close-out warehouse, and ended up purchasing 20 regulation-sized basketballs, 40 mini-basketballs, 4 hoops/nets, 40 badminton racquets and 60 shuttlecocks, and a couple of soccer balls. After we had distributed the food packs and the children’s loot bags, the slippers, clothes, underwear and blankets, we took out a sack of balls and started shooting some hoops…
The adults and kids quickly gathered back around the basketball court and it was “game on”… Older kids and young adults were asked to line up at one end of the court, and they got one shot from the free-throw line — if they made the shot, they won the basketball, if not, they returned to the end of the line and tried again. The spectators started to gather, the encouragement and the jeering was growing and the fun was truly beginning. To get people in the mood, our Santa took a few shots (he missed)…
…while our diminutive in-house songwriter and singer (with current top hit playing in the Visayas) proved her mettle by sinking her first shot to the cheers of the growing crowd.
I stepped in to make it more challenging by blocking folks… though I have to admit I left a lot of room for the kids to take their shots…
…but the Teen has a really competitive streak…
…and at her height, she was at par if not taller than most men attempting to win their basketball.
Notice her shadow in the photo above, doesn’t it look like a Nike ad or logo? :)
Even senior citizens had a go and The Teen didn’t let up on defense… but we all cheered when this man WON a basketball! But the most amusing comment of the day was overheard by one of our crew… When the Teen got tired from all the jumping, I took her place for a few minutes, and one of the guys on the line said, in Cebuano “asa tung tomboy na gwapa, daku’g lawas man ani…” which loosely translated is “so where’s the tomboyish pretty girl, this guy is tall and chunky”… If I weren’t on an “aid mission” I would have taken offense at that — hahahaha. And the Teen raised her eyebrows at the “tomboy” reference… :)
The other end of the basketball court was for the younger kids vying to win a mini-basketball. They were having a bit of a challenge from the free-throw line so we moved them closer to the basket. Within say 15-20 minutes, we had away the basketballs set aside for each of the two barangays… and asked winners to make sure the balls would be shared and that pick-up games would take place in the days and weeks ahead. Folks continued to play even after we left, despite it being high noon in the first barangay we visited.
I realize this is the most frivolous aspect of our trip up North, but it was the most enjoyable. Each time a kid smiled, laughed or cheered I knew that if only for a moment, we had distracted them. There was a palpable lightness in the air, a real fiesta feel. And adults and kids were both in a cheery mood.
This will be the first and only photo you will ever see of me messing around with a soccer ball. I haven’t played soccer in nearly 40 years! But surprisingly, a LOT of kids also joined in and the soccer balls were also a big hit.
It was a tad chaotic, but shooting basketballs while others are kicking a soccer ball and still others were playing badminton on the same court was a scene from a cartoon or funny movie. Yes there was amusement. But there was also hope in the air, a feeling that things were on the mend, homes were starting to get repaired, some farm crops salvaged, debris cleared and trees starting to grow new leaves, funds for some repairs were being sent home by relatives abroad, jobs starting to return to their areas… yes, the storm was bad. But the Filipino spirit is better and shall overcome even the most trying of challenges.
After the soccer balls, out came the badminton sets, another huge hit. Several pairs of girls and boys had a go and we left them with ten pairs of rackets per baranggay and 30 shuttlecocks. But I have a a final smile-inducing story related to the badminton rackets… which links back to the Binch Body briefs in the first post of this two-post series. At the second barangay we visited, when I took out the badminton rackets, I literally got swarmed by some 40-50 kids who all wanted to grab the rackets for themselves. It started out okay, I am 6 feet tall after all, so I could hold the rackets up in the air out of their reach. But fun turned a bit desperate, and the crowd turned a bit unruly, and I have scratches to show for it, but worse, in the middle of the commotion, I could feel my shorts around my knees, and realized they were all pulling and tugging around me and I was being inadvertently disrobed! I was a bit worried about my cell phone and wallet in my shorts pockets so I had to throw the rackets away and quickly reach down to grab my shorts while the kids scampered away. Some of our crew saw this and burst out laughing… at least I didn’t have my colorful Christmas themed boxer shorts on yet… but perhaps, just perhaps, it would have been safer if I had been wearing some Binch Body briefs instead! :)
This last trip up North ends our relief efforts in Northern Cebu. We have spent all of the donated funds and will be posting a more detailed account of how they were used in the weeks ahead. I will also post about trips to other parts of the North, and a distribution in Culion, Palawan — I didn’t get around to writing all of them in chronological order during the mad rush of the holidays. We wish to THANK YOU ALL PROFUSELY and to relay the incredible gratitude of the people of Northern Cebu to everyone who sent cash donations, gifts in kind, volunteered your time or said a prayer or two. From our home to yours, we wish you all a very Merry Christmas!
Marketman, Mrs. Marketman & The Teen