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THE 10 ELECTRIFYING Emerging Blogs of 2015

Thursday, October 01, 2015

IT'S THAT time again! Digital Filipino, led by internet guru Janette Toral (Again, follow her on social media. Promise!), will honor ten websites that are making waves despite being relatively new. With that, I'm presenting my own list again. Here's my new site commendation.

1. Dugout Philippines-First, news sites like Rappler, a winner in the 2012 edition, can be nominated. Second, I am doing some sort of a website awards experiment. It looks like my experiment is a success. By the way, I'm the Assistant Managing Director for Operations of Dugout PH.

2. Runner Rocky-Aki Chua, who now wants to be known as Rocky Chua, is now into running. Thus, Runner Rocky.

3. Manila Concert Junkies-Melai Lee, who has always been a winner in this award, put up a concert blog.

Update: She clarified to me the name game, but there was no hard feeling.

4. The Lost Diaries-I only met Lou Ongpin last year, but she was that active in blogging. I even brought her to some events I usually cover.

5. Pinoy Secret Files-Thanks to The Elbi Files, "Secret Files" pages are everywhere. I even contributed at some of them (just find them hehe). So, PSF came to life too.

6. Pilipinas Daily-Again, news sites are eligible.

7. XOLXOL-Articles from this website have been in my timeline. So I believe many are into it.

8. 1M News Network-Just read my explanation for 1 and 6.

9. Bicol Bloggers-Another blogger group is on the loose, and the members hail from Bicol.

10. Girl Unspotted-I like the name of the blog.

This blog post is brought to you by the following:


On Snow Badua and press freedom

Monday, September 21, 2015

With the PBA season not even starting, Commissioner Chito Narvasa (R) imposed
a controversial ban on Snow Badua. Dennis Acosta/Dugout Philippines
BY THE time I am finishing this, the entire nation commemorates one of the most controversial rulings ever made by a president, the declaration of Martial Law in 1972. Ferdinand Marcos' "landmark" move 43 years ago put the press at the crossroads that time. Some publications closed shop, the remaining news outfits were kinda controlled by the government, and the people got used to seeing a bunch of pro-Marcos news while wondering about the latest in the protests everywhere.

Five presidents later, here comes this saga many PBA fans call the "AlPob PBA Serye". It all began when Abby Poblador guested on Mohan "Mo Twister" Gumatay and Mara Aquino's "Good Times With Mo" podcast. The PXC ring girl admitted during the podcast that she had an affair with a top PBA official. She described him as a "long-haired coach-turned-exec".

A day later, Gumatay guested on Snow Badua's radio program and further revealed more details about the said episode, which after the live broadcast was immediately shut down by TV5 because of the sensitivity of the topic (TV5 usually keeps the podcasts for on-demand viewing). Gumatay claimed that Poblador explicitly named Ginebra governor Alfrancis Chua about 15 times in the podcast and even insisted that she was a mistress of Chua. The former radio DJ and TV host, however, clarified that the model insisted on being asked with the so-called "forbidden questions" and that he doesn't usually ask the questions to people who are relatively strangers to him.

Things get a little more chippy over the weekend when Badua hit out at Chua for various resolutions he made when he assumed the post of San Miguel Corporation sports director. Badua cited through Twitter that Chua intervened on the office position Robert Jaworski was supposed to take at the Ginebra camp, hinting that the PBA legend wanted to become the club's coach again. The reporter also said that it was Chua who did not want the stars of the food conglomerate's three representing teams to join Gilas.

Nearly a week after the events of the said weekend, PBA commissioner Chito Narvasa dropped the executioner's ax on Badua by banning him, also a writer for Spin.PH, from all PBA-related activities and even requested the teams to refrain from interview requests by the reporter.

I asked some journalists about the said matter, and they had mixed reactions to the "Snow ban". For political blogger and radio host Noemi Dado, the ban was "not good. Chua could have just aired his side." Chua has actually yet to speak up about the allegations by Poblador and Badua.

My fellow writer at Dugout PH, Paolo Fule, said that the ban was indeed a huge blow to press freedom.

However, internet guru Janette Toral (You should follow her on social media. Most of the guys in the online community including yours truly look up to her. If not for her, Dugout, Spin, Rappler, Wazzup Pilipinas, When In Manila, and all the online portals you're seeing will not exist) gave a different take. She said, "Each one of us, including businesses, has the right to refuse anyone. Their actions or what they say we can't control. So [it's not a form of curtailing press freedom]."

On the other hand, Jerome Gatus, a former writer at Dugout PH, considered the "Snow storm" at Chua as libelous unless Badua can prove that he was right with his tweets. The current law student at San Beda, however, clarified that what Narvasa did was clearly a press freedom violation. I actually asked another fellow journo, but she has yet to comment.

Now, my take on this AlPob thing (probably the only time I'm gonna have a say on this). First, I know some of us are not liking Snow Badua's unorthodox style of reporting, but this is not the time to tell him, "Karma yan sa'yo!" In fact, I would like to thank the former "haters" who have earned the respect of Badua in this time. To be fair, though, I think he made a wrong move on tweeting those rants. However, the tweets shed a new light regarding the "club-over-country" matter during the Gilas buildup, but that's gonna be a different topic.

Meanwhile, although I respect Narvasa's decision, I think that the "no-interview" part was kinda harsh. After all, Badua's a journalist, and it's his job to ask the newsmakers whether on radio or online. Also, I think the decision was kinda rushed since Alfrancis Chua has yet to make a statement. Not to mention that it came at the height of the issue regarding his rumored affair with Poblador. That leads me to this: Why is Chua keeping mum regarding all the recent issues about him?

Going back to the "no-interview" clause, this could pose a challenge to all the journos, whether working or campus. What if someone also hit out at a PBA official through social media? Will he also be barred from interviewing everyone? Despite all the mistakes Badua did, Narvasa could have crossed the line with that clause. It's every journalist's right to interview newsmakers, and barring him from doing so is against press freedom. But again, as what Toral said, we don't have a say on Narvasa's decision, so we have to respect his decision for now.

My hope is that this "PBA Serye" will not go through the toughest of plot twists like going to court and end "happily ever after". I do hope as well that Snow will become a better journo and a man with the lessons he will learn from this turn of events. I also hope that this will serve as a challenge to my fellow writers as well. Let's practice that press freedom but also be responsible with that. If time comes that another martial law takes place, we might never enjoy that press freedom ever again.

PS: I don't want another martial law, so... #NeverAgain!


PBA Draft Analysis

Sunday, August 23, 2015

THEY already made the picks. Fifty-four gentlemen were chosen from a pool of 63 players in the PBA Draft at the Robinson's Place Manila. Now that the smoke has been cleared. Let's compare all the mock drafts and let's see if someone got it right. Here we go!

1-2. Talk 'n Text Tropang Texters-Moala Tautuaa; Mahindra Enforcers-Troy Rosario
Tautuaa photo by Nuki Sabio/PBA. Rosario's photo by Dennis Acosta
As expected, all the mock drafts got Tautuaa and Rosario right at one and two respectively. Well, their fate has been sealed one or two weeks before the draft, although Rosario's final destination is still yet to be known as he was rumored to be shipped to TNT.

3. Rain Or Shine-Maverick Ahanmisi
All the mock drafts were busted (partially on the part of Slam) come the third pick, but San Miguel, which has been the mock draft buster in recent years, opted not to make a draft day move. Rain Or Shine, though, has other plans. The E-Painters tabbed Maverick Ahanmisi ahead of the likes of Norbert Torres (Dugout,, and PBA Talks), Arth Dela Cruz (Rivals, Slam, and PBA Talks), and Chris Newsome (Interaksyon and PBA Talks). If you notice, I mentioned PBA Talks thrice in the parenthesized websites in which each pair of parentheses represents the online portals that had the said player at third. That's because the guy behind PBA Talks made three scenarios regarding the third pick. Still, all those mock drafts were busted. A footnote: Slam's Yoyo Sarmenta actually had Ahanmisi as a ROS pick, although it was the 12th pick.

4. Meralco-Chris Newsome
Only and PBA Talks (Scenarios 2 and 3) had Newsome at number four. On the other hand, ABSCBN commentator Enzo Flojo, who wrote his mock draft in Rivals, had Chris as a sleeper at fourth. It seemed like Coach Norman Black went for the best player available in this one. It so happened that he chose a former Ateneo Blue Eagle in this one.

5. Ginebra-Scottie Thompson, Interaksyon, Slam, and PBA Talks (Scenario 3) had the reigning NCAA MVP Scottie Thompson at number five, so we can safely say that most of us look forward to seeing the King Alta in the kit of the "people's club" (Oh hi, Global FC!)

6. NLEX-Garvo Lanete, Rivals, Interaksyon, and PBA Talks (Scenario 2) had Lanete at number six. Jutt Sulit actually had a good argument about going for Norbert Torres at sixth considering Asi Taulava's age, but NLEX was really keen on bringing in one of its players when the club was still in the D-League.

7. Meralco-Baser Amer
While three mock drafts, including my own that can be seen on Dugout, had Meralco going for Baser Amer, only Slam's Carlo Pamintuan (four writers--Sarmenta, Sulit, Pamintuan, and Polo Bustamante--collaborated for Slam's mock draft) correctly "guessed" Amer to be seventh (Dugout and Interaksyon's mock drafts had Amer at fourth). Let's just say Black just can't pass up on Newsome but got surprised Ginebra and NLEX (and even ROS) passed up on Amer.

8. Star-Norbert Torres
Flojo hit the jackpot as his mock draft was the only one that had Torres at number eight. Although he was chosen three picks after the San Miguel umbrella's first pick (Ginebra's fifth pick), it seems like the fact that Torres played for La Salle, which is bankrolled by San Miguel Corp. head honcho Danding Cojuangco, played some sort of a factor in this one (not to mention the fact that five clubs passed up on him). The acquisition also means that the returning Ian Sangalang will now have a backup at center.

9. Blackwater-Arth Dela Cruz
Almost all of the mock drafts went for Ahanmisi at ninth (Dugout had Josan Nimes, while Slam had Roi Sumang and PBA Talks considered Ryan Wetherell in its third scenario), but with ROS choosing him at third,... just backread at the opening sentence of the Ahanmisi part. Anyway, Blackwater went for (and direly needed) the best player available. The Elite need a franchise anchor, and they are hoping that it will be the point forward from San Beda.

10. NLEX-Glenn Khobuntin
No mock draft got the tenth pick right. However, I had Khobuntin as a sleeper in my mock draft for Dugout. Here's my explanation about having Khobuntin as a sleeper: If you look back at Sulit's explanation about going for Torres at sixth, my case was similar to that (I had Bradwyn Guinto), but I also assumed that Taulava could opt to stay in the PBA for a little more time. Well, my assumption of Guinto getting picked earlier did not happen (he slipped to the second round), but I was still not surprised that they passed him up for Khobuntin. NLEX got a swingman who can drive hard to the basket with his wide body but can also score from mid-range. Not to mention that he was a breakout star in the SEA Games campaign of the Gilas Cadets.

11. Alaska-Kevin Racal
The other big surprise of the PBA Draft. Alaska also went against the flow of the mock drafts and chose K-Racs, a projected second round pick by and Interaksyon (Flojo included Racal in a long list of potential sleepers and probable second rounders at the end of his mock draft slideshow), at 11th. As far as I can remember, the last time the Aces went for a surprise pick in the first round, he turned out to be some sort of a bust (he goes by the name Ryan Buenafe). Here's to hoping Alaska made the right move.

12. Rain Or Shine-Josan Nimes
Rivals and PBA Talks got it right. ROS again went for the best player available and selected Nimes. However, that means another scoring machine for the Paul Lee-paced squad. Will they make a good tandem? We'll find out soon.

Conclusion: Enzo Flojo, with five picks and one sleeper right, is the winner of the mock draft derby. Meanwhile, I am the biggest loser of the derby, only getting the locks and Khobuntin as sleeper correct. On the other hand, PBA Talks' mock draft is the best mock draft because of the three-scenario setting.

Biggest Winner: Talk 'n Text-I considered Mahindra in this one, but the trade rumors are still there, so I made that a factor in making TNT the winner of the draft.

Biggest Loser: Roi Sumang-Although I think all the teams made good picks in the first round of the PBA Draft, they curiously passed up on Roi Sumang. Even worse, he was even snubbed in the second round. He ended up with GlobalPort in the third round (technically, it was the Batang Pier's first-rounder as they did not participate in the first two rounds). It's now up to the King Warrior to prove he belongs.

PS: Tiebreaker Times also made a mock draft, but the mock draft could not be accessed as of posting.

Unless otherwise noted, all photos are courtesy of Dennis Acosta of Dugout.


An open letter to the Philippine basketball fans

Friday, August 07, 2015

This is what Philippine basketball is all
DEAR Philippine basketball fans,

I know it's a hard feeling that the Philippines lost to China for the right to host the FIBA World Cup. But you know what, you guys actually made the difference in the bid.

While I don't know whether Twitter and Facebook will still be in by 2019, you still brought to social media what all of us want.

Even the whole world took notice of our bid for the FIBA World Cup, which we once hosted in 1978.

Maybe Coach Chot Reyes, Jimmy Alapag, Benjie and Kobe Paras, Manny Pangilinan, Lou Diamond Phillips, and Manny Pacquiao were there in Tokyo, but it was actually you fans who are the unsung heroes of this bid.

Trending the hashtag #Puso2019 on social media alone was a great contribution from you guys. You really made everyone feel that the Philippines deserves the hosting right.

And you know what, you guys also made me believe in Gilas more. You guys changed my perspective about small countries lacking the capabilities of hosting an international competition.

Yes, the economic capability still played a factor in the China pick, but I found out that capability is not just about the cash; it's also about the unwavering support.

Thanks to you, I became more than a basketball player, a sportswriter, and a sports fan; I became more optimistic. We can be a great host.

You guys proved that we can excel in hosting the FIBA World Cup and you really showed the Philippines' interest of hosting it.

The efforts may have fallen short, but I still salute you. Don't worry. The Philippines will host the AFF Suzuki Cup (This is a soccer event, I know), the FIBA 3x3 World Championship, and the SEA Games in the near future.

I hope you go out at the venues and show the world what we can offer. Who knows? We may take the 2023 hosting. Continue showing "husay at malasakit" for Philippine basketball and Philippine sports in general.

I hope you can trend #Puso2023 in the future.

Sincerely yours,

Ivan Saldajeno
Asst. Managing Director for Operations, Dugout Philippines


10 ELECTRIFYING reasons why the Philippines should host the FIBA World Cup

Thursday, August 06, 2015

IT HAS come down to this. The Philippines is a finalist for the hosting right to the 2019 FIBA World Cup. It has been almost 40 years since the Filipinos last hosted a World Cup of any kind. With that being said, I listed down ten reasons why the Philippines deserves the FIBA World Cup hosting right. Unlike my previous The 10 Electrifying lists, I did not rank the reasons in order this time. You may also notice that I dropped the article "the" in THE 10 ELECTRIFYING in the headline above. That's because there are more than ten reasons why, but I picked ten that make sense and struck me a lot. So here we go.

1. Rims are everywhere!
This should be a no-brainer. Like how the Americans fill empty lots with base plates and turn them to baseball pitches, the Filipinos love basketball so much that regardless of the terrain, they will just put up makeshift backboards and play there. At one point, in fact, some created basketball courts on the streets themselves that the municipal or even the barangay councils established some regulations to it.

2. Everyone talks about basketball off the court...

Another giveaway reason. For a sportswriter who also cover other sports like yours truly, basketball-related convos will always be there even if you're not on the hardwood. In fact, we got "scolded" by a fellow soccer scribe when we talked about NCAA basketball in a UFL coverage. However, a special corollary to this is something I like more.

3. ...even on Christian holidays!

The Philippines is known as the only predominantly Christian nation in Asia, but since the Americans, who introduced Protestantism, brought basketball to the country, the sport has become a "religion" as well. In fact, everyone in churches, mosques, or in other religious centers will sneak in basketball topics, even in preaching. But one classic example of this came on a Christian holiday. It was March 29, 2013, a Maundy Thursday. The Chicago Bulls dropped a bomb on the Miami Heat's 27-game winning streak and snapped it with a 101-97 win. All of a sudden, Philippine social media feeds were bombarded with Bulls-Heat posts, and I believe that game top-trended nationwide (I set my trending topic feed at worldwide). Talk about basketball "worship" in just one day!

4. Dedication to the game...

Of course, basketball being the de facto "national sport" (although sipa, internationally known as sepak takraw, is still the recognized national sport) means the Filipinos love the game too much--way more than sepak takraw, which surprisingly is only "lovable" in the South. To show a proof, some players turn to basketball for an "income", that is, they will dare each other to gamble their money in a basketball game--no matter how small you can bet. To further prove the last phrase, a known streetball statement says that the players "kill" each other on the court even for just "ice water", which usually costs only PHP3.

5. ...and to the ball too

One picture that I liked recently is a viral photo of some people taking the ball, which fell to the creek, back to the playing court. While basketballs (original or fake) are being sold everywhere, some don't mind buying new ones and exert efforts to save their old ones from flowing to the waters, breaking glasses--even going to the roof of their neighbor's house just to get them. It's as if a basketball is like gold to them.

6. Men become gentlemen, even for just at least four games.

Here's a funny corollary to the gambling factor in basketball. A barangay councilman dared his friend to a PHP170 thousand bet during the recent NBA Finals between Golden State and Cleveland. To make sure that one will not run away from the other should he lose, they signed a "memorandum of agreement" witnessed by no less than the barangay council itself. Talk about being gentlemen even for just two weeks! The official ended up with the ton of cash as the Warriors downed the Cavs in six games. P.S.: Hey, Mr. Ombudsman, can you check on this?

7. What was thought to be the most boring finals series became the most-watched ever
A "surprisingly" huge number of fans filled the Smart Araneta Coliseum to the
rafters in Game 3 of the UAAP finals.
When NU whipped Ateneo and FEU shocked La Salle in last year's UAAP semifinals, many thought that everyone will just turn his attention to the NCAA and ignore the finals. Some fans even asked the UAAP to stage a battle for third just to get some fan heat. The league did not respond to the clamor, and the fans of the Bulldogs and the Tams responded with the bang. All the three games of the NU-FEU finals series were well-attended. In fact, the last two games broke the Smart Araneta Coliseum record for the most number of paying patrons, even overtaking the Crispa-Toyota games. I'm proud to say that I witnessed many historical moments there, especially when the Bulldogs ended a 60-year drought. To cut it short: Filipinos don't matter if their teams are not in the finals; as long as a finals series will be played, expect the influx.

8. Even stars from other sports play basketball too!

Basketball is too much of a craze in the Philippines that some of the stars from the other sports try their hands in a game of hoops as well. Petron's Gretchen Ho and UP's Kathy Bersola once played basketball before becoming volleyball stars. On the other hand, soccer sensations James and Phil Younghusband of Loyola were once dared in a game of pop-a-shot by Bob Guerrero. The most flamboyant example of this, however, is no less than boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao. To show his love for basketball, the former eight-division world champion plays basketball during day-offs in training. What's more, he coached and even played for the Mahindra Enforcers in their debut PBA season (as the Kia Carnival). Expect him to stay in his spot for next season. Aside from that, he also founded new basketball clubs like the D-League's MP Hotel Warriors and the incoming Mindanao Aguilas in the ABL. He also recently expressed full support for the NCAA's Letran Knights.

9. Even the league officials sneak in after the game to play ball!

One cool thing about being part of the media is that I also get a chance to play some basketball after the day's fixtures are done. I actually played basketball this past week against the NCAA ManCom and the guys at ABSCBN. By the time I'm finishing this, I was done playing against the ABSCBN team starred by no less than PBA legend Olsen Racela. I lost in all of the games (Sir Paul Supan of JRU is one heckuva sniper, and Team ABS is too much for us, although I got an offensive rebound against Anton Roxas with a sneak-in box out move :D), but it was fun. Even the bouncers also play basketball after the games too.

10. Height doesn't matter!
Ginebra guard L.A. Tenorio (left) posted this photo of him, Jimmy
Alapag, and Hamed Haddadi on his Instagram.
The Filipinos are among the shortest people in the world in terms of average height, but they are also the craziest basketball-wise. Grantland's Rafe Bartholomew subtitled his well-known Pacific Rims (not to be confused with the robot-themed movie) "The Philippines' unlikely love affair with basketball", probably describing how the relatively-short Filipinos get hooked to a game where height matters. Gilas Pilipinas, however, showed the antithesis of it. It's all about the heart. Gilas compromised its lack of ceiling with a brilliant basketball play that amazed the whole world. Despite finishing the 2014 FIBA World Cup with a 1-4 record, most of Gilas' losses were close ones, and some international hoop junkies even thought the team would have been 4-1. No wonder the theme for the Philippines' hosting right bid is "Puso 2019". For me, however, this is the most important reason. It's not about the height; it's about the passion.

(Credits to the owners of the photos used)

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