Thursday, September 09, 2010


Published in Sun Star Cebu Newspaper on Sept. 9, 2010 Thursday issue
by Noel Villaflor, Columnist - Footnote
Mike Limpag, Sports Editor

THE sound of maternal fury raged on the other end of the line.

“When you get home, you burn this violin. Your daughter has no need for it,” the voice said, obliquely addressing the nine-year-old now sulking—as I imagined —on the car seat.

“Huh?” said I, the way a terrorized man faced with an absurd situation would. I swear I could hear The Flight of the Bumblebee playing in the background.

“Do you know your daughter skipped violin lessons to play football?”

I could not recall what my reply was or whether I replied at all because the mother hung up. But there was, I remember, the faint trace of a smile, which I quickly retracted upon reminding myself that this was not the best paternal reaction to a two-headed disaster.

The first disaster, of course, was the skipping of classes. The other was my lack of pedagogic instinct to chastise the minor offender there and then, made worse by an inappropriate smile.

For a moment, it troubled me why I found the daughter’s actions amusing, and hardly objectionable.

Then it hit me: the daughter inherited this skipping thing from her dad, putting the latter’s moral high ground in question.

Several years ago, I would sneak out of the office to play an hour or so of football with the FC Ramos boys before I’d return, often with a limp, just as work began piling on my desk.

It occurred to me that the football pitch my daughter had chosen over the music classroom last Monday was the same ground I frequented as a sneaky employee.

Wave upon wave of nostalgia lapped at memory’s feet, and I remembered some more: this was the same field where the daughter learned her first football lessons five summers ago.

It was inevitable then that this name should crop up: Maxi Maximo, the man who had spearheaded a football revival in Cebu at that time.

It was Coach Maxi, along with Coach Joel Deen, who taught my daughter the rudiments of football, along with it an insuperable love for the game during a summer clinic in 2005 in that same football pitch, which has since been turned mainly into a school playground.

Maximo, following a short break from the sport, is back in the thick of things football, this time to help Cesafi with its tournament.

The events of last Monday, I came to realize, were a reminder of how not to raise a student-athlete.

In the Cesafi’s 10th season, Maximo wants to make sure of one thing: “student first, athlete second.”

“Looking back made me realize that a sports event can somehow make or unmake a person, particularly the youth,” Maxi wrote in an e-mail.

This is why, along with the Cesafi screening committee, he wants to see to it that before the students can join the tournament, which is now on its second weekend, “they have done their homework well—passing at least 60 percent of their subjects for college students or all the subjects in the case of high school pupils.”

Too often, gifted athletes get hooked on football to the point of negligence. We see too many of them loitering all their lives in some barren field. They could have used better advice.

That Monday night, the daughter and I watched the new Karate Kid, which has a lesson or two to impart. But it wasn’t Jacky Chan’s Mr. Han that did the only teaching, the late Pat Morita’s Mr. Miyage of the original movie did his fare share of pedagogy as well.

“Lesson not just karate only,” says Mr. Miyage to his student Daniel. “Lesson for whole life. Whole life have a balance. Everything be better. Understand?”


And no more skipping for me.

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