Life as it happens. Time as it passes.

Archive for October, 2010

Last Day in Brunei

Today’s my last day here in Brunei Darussalam, my first ever trip out of the Philippines. I thank my senior pastor, Dr. Benny Abante Jr., for the privilege and opportunity to represent him in our work here in Brunei for the last two weeks.

We had a great time here learning together, me and the MBBC Brunei brethren. We were able to conduct a three-day new believers’ class, a one-night workshop for the men and workers of the congregation regarding church ministries and involvement, two nights where we got to talk about cheerful giving, and an opportunity to share the gospel and witness to seamen from the ship that ACTS Preacher Ben Dampal is steering as captain. We were able to visit several Filipinos here and invited them to church, as well as disciple new believers who got saved on the first Sunday I arrived. We also baptized one mother at the Pantai Muara beach resort, as well as learn more gospel songs from our hymns. It was indeed a very fruitful ministry visit.

Tonight, we’re having one final service just before I leave tomorrow early morning at 2AM. The members decided that they will have the service tonight at 8, have it run until 12 and bring me to the airport by 1. Tomorrow morning and evening, instead of having the service, they will be joining the MBBC Main Church for the services via webcast.

I would like to thank Pr. Henry Pangan for the hospitality, support, and partnership he extended me during these last two weeks. Also I would like to thank all the members of the MBBC Brunei who were very kind and warm in receiving your servant as a guest. While each and every member of the congregations was gracious, special thanks goes to Bro. Frank and Jigs Limboc (and to their only boy Franz), as well as to ate Ruth, Ruby, Lisa and Leah. Also to Pr. Ben Dampal for the chance to share the word to his crew on the ship, as well as having him come over with his other crew to our service last Tuesday.

We will be praying for the work here at MBBC Brunei as they prepare for their Cheerful Giving Sunday on December, as well as their upcoming 4th Anniversary on March 2011.

Terimah Kasi, MBBC Brunei!


Stable Start for Spurs

I was supposed to write “strong” for “stable” in this post’s headline, but I guess it’s too early for that adjective to start appearing on opening games, especially for a team whose future is quite uncertain after this season, courtesy of one of the Big Three’s contracts expiring by next year.

Tony Parker, who is now on his final season with the San Antonio Spurs, scored 20 points and 9 assists behind Tim Duncan’s 23 and Manu Ginobili’s 22, to help carry the 4-time champs past a defensively dry Indiana Pacers, 122-109.

While the final score seems a comfortable one, getting it wasn’t. San Antonio had an early 2-digit lead opening the game, until Indiana also caught fire in their offense and started blazing with their own guns. A couple of lead exchanges ensued during the course of the first three quarters, during which the Spurs’ defense allowed the Pacers to inch near them by the end of the third, at 92-89.

Finally, things went San Antonio’s way in the fourth with a couple of threes coming from Richard Jefferson, George Hill and, as always, Manu, who was 5-of-9 from three point territory. The Spurs also trimmed their turnovers to 14, while the Pacers lost the baby 23 times that night.

The Spurs are attempting perhaps one final time at winning a fifth NBA title, on perhaps what could be the last season for the celebrated triumverate. Parker’s contract is set to end after this season, and the next option is foggy. Manu, having renewed his contract last year for another 3 years, and Duncan, who isn’t expected anywhere else other than San Antonio, has yet to find a legitimate replacement for the French point guard. All three have figured in the last three championships of the Spurs, in 2003, 2005 and 2007. While a lot of other Spurs players can fill in the 20-point average he contributes for the team, it’s the 9 average assists he dishes out that requires critical searching for a true point guard. Coach Gregg Popovich, while mostly used to looking into his host of other players to hone skills rather than bringing in someone else through trade, might just consider choosing that option. That option, however, will require more time for that point guard to blend in with the team in order to maximize the efficiency of his position (which is why I think Richard Jefferson, after choosing to stay despite an option to bolt out of San Antonio, is finally doing well with his performance, since he has now finally grasped the Spurs’ system after a year).

So far the Spurs are 13-1 in their first game wins. They’ve been to the playoffs for 13 seasons already, one of the longest in league history. And while the favors for them are dwindling and the odds against them are increasing, the Spurs seem confident that they will strike gold this time after missing three years of Finals appearance.

The Spurs hope so.

NBA 2010-2011 Season Opener: Celtics Quench Heat…and then some sidenotes

First games aren’t ordinary games. Ask any player, any coach, or any audience in a jam-packed arena, and he will explain to you how important tip off games are.

Days, even months, before the Miami Heat tackled the Boston Celtics in yesterday’s opening game for NBA 2K11, they were the most hyped up team in the league. Nobody would dare question the reason why–they had just acquired LeBron James and Chris Bosh. Now in possession of three powerhouse players in the league, the Heat seemed poised and prepared to make not just a run, but a slashing run, for the championship crown. Preseason games seemed to indicate all directions going that way. So it looked like a win on opening night was a given when they visited Boston to face the Celtics.

That never happened for Miami.

The Celtics doused Miami’s blazes with an 88-80 win on opening night at the TD Bankworth Garden, with Ray Allen leading the Gang Green with 20 points, while the other starters Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett contributed 19 and 10 respectively. Glen Davis added 13 more off the bench while Rajon Rondo directed the orchestra with 17 assists. Despite LeBron’s 31 points, the Heat was playing catch-up most of the time as the team’s other two marquee players, Wade and Bosh, were sputtering from their spots. Wade shared 13 points for the team, the only other double digit scorer, while Bosh was locked to merely 4 points.

Shaquille O’Neal scored 9 points as a Celtic that night, mostly as a recipient of Rondo’s dime drops.¬† Marquis Daniels also proved to be another reliable player for the bench with 8 points. Boston’s bench was deeper than that of Miami’s, providing 26 points compared to the Heat’s 21.

While Boston had committed more turnovers than Miami, 15 of their 17 turnovers were committed by either James, Wade or Bosh. On the other hand 15 of the 18 infractions of Boston were from all five starters. Looking at it closely, it seems that the ball rotated more with Boston than it did with Miami. Attesting to this fact are the 25 total assists of Boston, while Miami only had 15.

Miami was also outrebounded by Boston, 34-28. Outside shooting also spelled the difference as Pierce hit 3-of-6 and Allen had 5-of-8 from beyond the arc. The Celtics also were more efficient with shooting the ball at 46% field goal percentage, while Miami was lower by 10%.

But what twists this story even more puzzling is not this first game, but their respective second games.

Miami just won their game against a relatively undermanned Philadelphia 76’ers. This one seems more plausible and acceptable. But Boston lost their second game of the season. And the team that beat them is… the LeBron-less CLEVELAND CAVALIERS!

Pick your mind with that one!

School Pride: The Best of the UAAP Schools In Basketball (Part 2.2)

We continue with part two of part two of our series on the best of the UAAP Schools as far as their contribution to Philippine basketball is concerned.

Former UE Red Warriors Allan Caidic took over Rino Salazar as playing coach for Barangay Ginebra until he eventually took over as the head coach. While his career as coach wasn’t as colorful as his career as a player, Caidic was able to keep the respect he has earned during his early years as a basketball player by involving himself with charity games, as well as playing games together with the retired players from the league. He had a chance of leading Barangay Ginebra to the Finals in 2001.

Incidentally, he coached a team that has been long coached by a fellow UE Red Warrior, the living legend and former senator Robert Jaworski. Jaworski won four championships as a coach, and was part of the National Team that won two golds, a silver and a bronze in the FIBA games from 1967 to 1973. His prolific career as one of PBA’s most lasting image makes him also the oldest active player ever in professional basketball, as he was still playing at age 50. Aside from Caidic and Jaworski, another reknowned PBA coach hailing from UE was Jaime “Jimmy” Mariano, who led the now-defunct Presto team to its 1990 All-Filipino Championship Title.

The Adamson Falcons is the proud alma mater of coach Kenneth Duremdes, who called the shots for the Coca-Cola Tigers in 2008, the team he also played for the last time as a pro-cager. He was preceded by another UAAP product, Binky Favis, a former  UST Growling Tiger, and succeeded by a fellow UAAP player he had a chance of playing against during their college days, coach Bo Perasol of the UP Fighting Maroons.

The UP Fighting Maroons, though not much known for winning traditions in UAAP Basketball, has been the breeding ground for most of PBA’s best coaches. Aside from Lipa, Altamirano and Perasol, coaches Ryan Gregorio and Yeng Guiao are the other two PBA coaches who were proud products of UP. Gregorio recently moved over to the Meralco Bolts as the new head coach, while Guiao is head tactician for the Burger King Titans.

Coach Derrick Pumaren, the older of three other known Pumaren coaches (Franz and Dindo), is the third UE Red Warrior among the roster of PBA’s coaches. After serving as Norman Black’s assistant during San Miguel’s Grandslam Season, he went on to coach for five other PBA Teams.

Former UST Growling Tiger Siot Tanquincen coached the Barangay Ginebra Kings in 2004 and led them to winning the PBA Fiesta Cup championship. He would win back-to-back for the next conference, the Philippine Cup. With 3 championships under his belt, Tanquincen is currently the assistant to former La Salle Green Archer Jong Uichico who coached the San Miguel Beermen for seven years starting 1999, leading the team to 6 championships.

While he is mostly known to have steered an NCAA team, the San Sebastian Stags, to five straight titles, coach Arturo “Turo” Valenzona is a full-blooded UAAP product, hailing from Far Eastern University‘s basketball program. he actually coached FEU for 19 years, one of the longest tenures in collegiate coaching, and won seven championships, giving the Tamaraws the most number of championship harvests in its college history under one coach, and making FEU as the school with the most UAAP basketball championships.

All in all, 16 of the 40 enlisted and documented coaches, past and present, of the PBA were products of UAAP schools.

(P.S. Apologies for the other coaches that are not in this list due to limited availability of resources. These details were gathered from Wikipedia).

UAAP S73 Basketball Postscript (part 2)

5. NU Bulldogs

New leadership proved very effective for the NU Bulldogs, as their new coach Eric Gonzales steered the former whipping boys of the league to a decent 50% output this season–seven wins and seven losses. That’s fair enough from last season’s 3-11 card. They will keep most of their players for next year, and by then, the Bulldogs might just make it to Final Four. Of course, we’ve said this kind of forecast already for another team, which ended up zit, and so everything is still up for grabs for NU and the other three teams. But, overall, the Bulldogs have finally exorcised their demons of past defeats, and have finally emerged as a solid club. One more notch higher in their level of playing and they’re looking at a Final Four entry by next year.

6. UE Red Warriors

When the season began, the UE Red Warriors were suddenly bit by the post-finals appearance slump bug, which earned them a dismal 1-6 standing win-loss stat in the first round. Coach Lawrence Tiongson bluntly gave his prognosis about why his team is all of a sudden plunged from second to the highest, to second to the lowest. It was after that confession and repentance that the UE Red Warriors suddenly became the UE Red Warriors again. They were able to win all but one game in the second round to improve to slot number 6, which, while is still a far cry from their standing last season, is already a big indication that they can elevate their playing level at any given square-off. While rebuilding their host of players will be quite different next season, the Warriors, particularly coach Tiongson, are in a better position now to crank up their rally for season 74. They might be back in the final four as well.

7. UST Growling Tigers

The Espana-based cagers were depleted of their veterans from season 72, and wasn’t expected to be that much of a powerhouse team coming into this season. Nevertheless, managing 4 wins has earned the Growling Tigers more experience points which will make them ready and raring for next season. By then, this team’s line-up will have matured, especially their point guards. These days, it seems like efficient point guards make a difference in a team. And UST has some potential in Jeric Teng and Clark Bautista. Their maturity, and the addition of a couple of big men into the center position, is a big must for UST to climb its way back to its winning form.

8. UP Fighting Maroons

This is the part where I experience the writer’s mental block. Partly because I don’t know where to start, and partly because I don’t know how to start. Giving your take for your team isn’t as easy as giving one for the other team, especially if your team is this year’s cellar-dweller…again. And what makes it even worse is that there’s not much winning to talk about–after all, UP didn’t even win a single game. What’s even aggravating is that, before I started writing this blog, I was reading two blog posts–one was the perfect season of the San Beda Red Lions, the NCAA champs for this season, and an article about UP’s Basketball Program now in disarray. One minute I was in envy mode, the other, in frustration. And the article was as gloomy as a bad weather on a funeral service. The article talks about why UP’s season went south, and how as early as now, the good prospects of UP for next season are exiting from the program one by one, after seeing perhaps one of the saddest collapse in college basketball history. You may want to read the article and see it for yourself.

But I think that’s enough despair, already. Perhaps the one good thing is that the UP MBT is back to that starting point where “there’s no way but UP.” As always, year in and year out, I keep my hopes high for UP. The UP Community, while it must endure a full year in the cellar, will also have a cleaner slate this time to restart and rebuild the program. I’m tempted to say “basketball isn’t really UP’s forte,” but I don’t think that’s needed right now. I don’t believe in jinxing fortunes, so as early as now, I believe UP will have its sweet vengeance next season. I maybe wrong, but then I maybe right as well.

Everything’s a ‘wait and see’ for now.

Love Medley: Guitar Instrumental Trio

(I’m reserving the post on MICA’s performance during the 18th NSC next week, when all the pix from the Convention are all in from the delegates who went there. Also, I can’t post the video of the Scripture Video here yet. It won FIRST PLACE, and is qualified for the ISC next year. Not wanting to pre-empt any outcome by then, the video will be restricted to private viewing only through YouTube. You may leave your e-mails and/or your Youtube user name if you’d like to get exclusive invites to view the vid. More stories about this and the NSC next week. For now, enjoy this appetizer!)

This is a tutorial video I made for the piece entitled “Love Medley” a medley arrangement of the songs “Nothing Can Separate Us From His Love,” “Love Lifted Me,” “Such Love,” “Everlasting Love,” and “The Love of God” for trio guitar rendition. This piece was performed by the Instrumental Trio Guitar contestants of the Metropolitan International Christian Academy for the 18th National Student Convention held at Cagayan De Oro, and they won 2nd place!

Congratulations to Jael Cruz, Dustin Melosantos and Keano Magsombol for bagging 2nd place honors!



The Thing About Brunei… (Part 2)

… is that it’s hotter here than in the Philippines. Since it’s closer to the equator than the Philippines, they enjoy longer daylight, but endure more scorching sun. At 6PM here in Brunei, it’s as bright as 4PM in Manila, but that means the sun is already up and blazing as early as 9AM, all the way to 4PM.

… is that they’ve got a lot of welfare going on here. In tagalog, andaming libre, that is, for the nationals. Since the Sultan is one of the wealthiest in the world, he seems to find it enjoying to pay for a lot of things for his people. Hospital benefits and education are free. They hardly pay any tax. The only ones paying taxes are the big corporations, not the individuals. If you’ve got no home of your own, the Sultan is willing to pay one for you–at BND 50 per month, payable for 25 years. That’s Php 1500 per month for 25 years for a house that features 2 rooms and air-conditioning. San ka pa?

… is that they pay utilities at a very low price. For each month, a regular home pays only 2 Brunei Dollars–that’s 60 pesos! As for the electricity, they only pay BND 30, or Php 900, for a house that has all appliances available, PLUS THREE AIR CONDITIONERS!

… is that you can tour the ENTIRE COUNTRY in one day. Since traffic is very light, the free ways are really free, and the drivers are ALL disciplined, the trip around Brunei can start at 8AM and end at around 4PM. Try doing that in Manila. Good luck.

… is that their Sultan is perhaps one of the most down-to-earth head of state in the world. You can see him driving his own car on the way to the palace, taking a stroll with his grandkids in the eco-park, or simply walking down the busy city of Bandar Seri Begawan, greeting people like he knew them very well.

(I’m sorry, the uploading of the pics are taking too long and is making the laptop hang. I’ll try to update this post with pix when I get a clearer, stronger wi-fi signal).

The Thing About Brunei… (part 1)

…is that it’s clean. Surprisingly, I haven’t heard a single dump truck come around our place to pick the garbage, and it seems like for every one hundred houses, there’s only one big garbage area for everyone. Either they don’t create that much trash, or they’re good at recycling.

…is that they’ve got some commodities here which are cheaper than those in the Philippines. Imagine this: a liter of diesel here is only 30 cents. If I were to convert that to a regular full tank in the Philippines, I can already get a full tank for my Crosswind for only Php 900. In fact, car gasoline here is cheaper than a 1-liter bottle of water. As for the car where that full tank will go, here in Brunei, you can buy a decent second hand car for only BND 900, which is a little over Php 28,000! I even saw an ad where they’re selling a Mercedes Benz E-Class for only BND 2,000, which is almost Php 70,000!

…is that it’s quiet. Believe it or not, I was on the freeway for 1 hour, city streets for half an hour, and walking around two blocks for one hour, and I did not hear one, single car horn blow (according to Kuya Henry, folks here are not used to blowing the car horns, since they’re all patient, yielding and educated drivers, a rare occurrence in the Philippines). There are no night clubs, bar joints, or any areas here where there’s a nightlife. There are no riots, videoke night outs, or inuman sessions in the streets. This is no exaggeration, but from the third floor mezzanine of where I’m staying, at that moment that no car is passing, you can hear two nationals talking…across the highway!

…is that they’ve got a place called Kampung Air, literally “water villages” which are considered the slum areas in Brunei. These houses are built on top of swamps and shallow marshes in Bandar. Here’s how “slum” they are: they have cars on their own, which are parked in a strip of land on the edge of the swamps, and each of the houses here have aircons. That’s right, let me capitalize that for you… AIRCONS!

More coming your way next time.