25 May 2011

So: The Azkals in Cebu

By Michelle P. So
Caught in the net

ARE the Azkals a national treasure that they need to have security all throughout their stay in Cebu such that guests who enter the resort where they are staying are screened?

From the way the team’s administrative manager is said to have instructed the resort staff, yes, they are. And the team is using human resources whose services the public is paying for to secure the players.

I’m talking about the local police who, in all likelihood, can’t even match the names of the Azkals to their faces. I can’t either. I recognize only the German coach, Hans Weiss (heart sign here).

For the Azkals to ask for privacy during their downtime is understandable, but for legitimate journalists to be barred from entering the resort on say-so of the Azkals’ administrative manager is inappropriate.

The Azkals, who arrived in Cebu yesterday without the crushes ng bayan Phil and James Younghusband and Anton del Rosario, are here for five days for various commitments.

They will hold football clinics for kids, shoot a commercial, do training stuff and have a mall tour.

The Sun.Star Cebu team and a local ABS-CBN crew, which were following the Azkal bus from the airport to the Mactan resort where the Azkals are staying, were stopped by the resort’s guard who wedged himself between the Sun.Star vehicle and the bus.

When asked why, the guard said he was under instruction not to allow the local media in. He was apologetic and said there was only one media unit that was allowed access to the Azkals in the resort. Only the Manila-based crew of the TV show “Sports Unlimited,” hosted by Dyan Castillejo and Marc Nelson, had the pass.

A member of the resort’s management told the Sun.Star team that they have received instruction from the team’s “admin manager” that the Azkal players were to have police security at all times and that no one, especially local journalists, was to go near or approach the players.

When the team arrived at the airport, the Azkals were surreptitiously ushered out to their bus. If not for their huge bus, no one would have known that the Azkals were around.

This was necessary to avoid the players being swarmed by adulating fans like what has been happening wherever they went, it was said.

We Cebuanos are not easily star-struck. We don’t go gaga over artista; we are not the screaming type. Even if we women desire to embrace, say, Piolo Pascual, we keep our distance, hold our breath and just keel over. I’m lying, of course. Truth is, we women need to be restrained from jumping at Piolo and choking him with our embraces.

Anyway, back to the Azkals. They have become public figures and are idolized by kids who play soccer and adored by young girls. They have been flying from one city to another in the Philippines on requests of their fans that they be seen up close and personal. A picture or a handshake with a celebrity or an “idol” like the Azkals makes a whole lot of difference between patronage and disinterest.

The Cebuanos have long asked for theAzkals’ visit to Cebu. And now they’re here but what has happened? We can’t go near them because if we do, we risk ourselves of being shooed by their police escorts.

The Azkals have asked for the public’s support for the team, that we watch them play and root for them, that we bombard the heavens with prayers for wins.

But someone in the team is alienating the Azkals from the public whose support they need. If this continues, the Azkals will truly become a national treasure that is best placed in a vault and be made inaccessible.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 26, 2011.


  1. bitter! lolz

  2. hmmm.. i wonder what the mall tour + autograph signing is for.

  3. they just don't want any person to follow them around, take their pictures, ask them a bunch of already-answered questions, etc... if you're not a person, you have the right to complain.

  4. Actually I am really wondering about these Azkals travelling almost around the Philippines. Photo shooting there, mall tour here, clinic there, autograph signing here, bonding from one province to the next!!! There is nothing like that here in Europe when it comes to the national team, specially if they are preparing for a tournament. The management is handling and presenting the players like superstars. This has nothing to do with the football at all. What have they achieved till now??? Nothing really yet if one would consider the seriousness of the sport "football". All what the management have achieve at the moment is popularizing the players not the sport football. This is showbizz. Here in Europe if the team is preparing for a tournament they will have a trainings camp, stay in one place, concentrate on the training and improve their tactics and skills. And to think they are already cream of the crop. Have been playing football since their youths and been trained from top trainers. Look what these Azkals are doing, roaming around checking in expensive resorts, shaking hands and signing autograms, cutting ribbons etc. which has nothing to do with footbal anymore but showbizz.

    It would be better if you would stay on the ground and stop floating and acting like superstars just after a very thin success (if one can call it already success)
    over MONGOLIA and MYANMAR. Try to be "humble" and not "hambog".

    On top of that, this roaming around the country cost a lot of money. Who financed all these expenses? Mr. Palami? It all ends up the same, we Filipinos are good in showing up and unwise usage of money.

    The way it looks at the moment Philippine Football is more of a circus rather than a sport art.

    Still I wish you luck and hope that the Azkals and its management will put it's feet back on the ground.

  5. To drum up support for football in this basketball-crazed country. That's the goal. And that's good one.

  6. It's all a circus. That's why I was never an Azkals fan from the start. I support Philippine football but no way will I be an Azkals crazed football fan. I have played with some of this Azkals before in national tournaments and they are just a bunch of mediocre players, ang dudumi pa maglaro. This is pure showbiz. Azkals = all bark but where's the bite??? The name itself is not as respectable. We pride our national football team with a stray dog??? And one more thing - basketball and football could and should coexist. Sa mga sumusunod diyan sa bandwagon, these so called so-so football fans/supporters/experts, stop comparing football with basketball. Basketball has it's place, and so football is!!!

  7. to anonymous- bitter much?