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jason paul c. laxamana
jason paul c laxamana I WAS never close friends with basket-boys.

Basket-boys. You know. They were usually popular back in high school. During intramurals their matches were most significant to the class. They were the ones whom pretty girls cheered for, going wooooh! and aaaaah! whenever one of them successfully earned points for the team or stole the ball from the opponent; while I, the high school geek, served water. Ice-cold water, and sometimes, iced tea. Ah yes, class unity. Division of labor: the players (a.k.a. the credit-takers), the cheering squad, the scorer, the timechecker, and the water-servers.

Don't get me wrong. Not one bit did I find the task insulting. It was one way of making good use of me, aside from designing our class T-shirt. I wasn't fit for cheering; I didn't like the idea of wailing every now and then. Equally unfit was I for being a player. First, I am not fond of basketball. Second, I used to have vision poorer than this country's economy. Third, I found serving water quite more entertaining than going crazy over a huge, orange ball, running after it, protecting it from opponents, dribbling it, throwing it all over.

Honestly, I was never a fan of basketball. Y'all can call me a loser or gay, but I won't give that much heck of a damn. Men's basketball has become a poor basis of a guy's manliness or sexuality, and I'm not going to force myself to like it for the sake of conforming to such preposterous social standards. So to those boys who feel like full men just because they dribble and shoot and to those ladies who think guys who play basketball are the only real men in this world, you can all suck my lower lip piercing and have a free trip to the underworld.

I know none of these Ginebra, San Miguel, or any other team carrying a beverage's name that people rave about. Michael Jordan, yeah, cool. Everyone knows him. LA Lakers, oh yeah. Very cool. Whatever.

Every morning I walk along the subdivision park, I see all these "cool" boys playing basketball. One time, I have to admit, I asked myself, why I had never been one of them? Why did I have to fall in love with cosmology, the paranormal, writing, culture, history, sociology, broadcast communication, technology, linguistics, and all those other "geeky and weird" stuff?

Basketball is a game everybody—boys and girls alike—seems to love watching. That's one major reason why a lot of egotistical boys want to be inside the court. All eyes laid on you and your every move, you're already half a celebrity. Because it's sports, or in Tagalog, "palakasan," winning the game sort of proves you are better ("mas malakas") than a couple of people, who are, of course, the game's losers.

Because basketball is such a big deal in high school, victors get their names or faces published in the sports section of the school paper. And because of that, they get known by a lot more people in the campus. Fame at its finest. And when one is popular, one would certainly want to look good, so vanity takes it part. Next thing you know, most of them become campus hotties whom rowdy school girls die to spank and sleep with.

Ay ba naman!

No wonder some become full of themselves. No biggie for me, though, I'm just your average campus observer.

It was quite funny that the basket-boys from my high school shared the same interests: basketball, other sports, courtship, beautiful cars, expensive rubber shoes, Counter Strike, and action movies. Being the dominant type of boys, they had set the standards of what a "cool" boy should have interest in. Unfortunately, I found basketball not engaging; courtship, (at that time) immature and bullsh*t; pretty cars, so-so; expensive rubber shoes, unworthy of my cash; Counter Strike, an uncreative game designed for boys who like big guns and anything that explodes; and action movies, a disgrace in the industry. These were probably the reasons behind my not being close friends with basket-boys and my not being a "normal" boy.

So I was definitely not the coolest boy in school. The boy who read about Karma and Reincarnation was uncool. The boy who drew inspiration to write from the stormy weather was uncool. The boy who for some time kept a dream journal was uncool. The boy who chose to write essays about death, purpose, psychometry, pyrokinesis, poverty, etc., instead of teenybopper romance was uncool. The boy who knew about the levels of the astral world was uncool.

I had my own share of fame during high school. I have graced some pages of our school paper for having participated and won in the regional and national writing tilts. Being called by the Principal to come on stage during a few flag ceremonies to be congratulated for winning spelling bees and writing contests was pretty nice, but it just doubled the geek image that I painstakingly had.

So much for winning spelling bees. Only a person who finds the dictionary and thesaurus a great source of delight and recreation could win a freaking spelling bee. How interesting. Sure, a couple of people would be awed, but after sixteen minutes and eight seconds, you're out of their memories. They would suddenly remember you, though, when there would be assignments that involved composition in English.

Who would care if I won first place in a regional writing contest with an on-the-spot feature on the social effects of terrorism? It's not basketball anyway. Who would care if a student was Campus Journalist of the Year? He's not MVP anyway. Winning the nerdiest contests in high school just makes one a loser.

Some basket-boys looked up to me in one way or another for being into my studies and craft, but neknek da; I know they would never want to be like me by any chance. It's like a celebrity telling people on national television that he looks up to caregivers in the States, but he certainly wouldn't want to be one (unless his career drops below dayat-malat level).

Basketball, basketball. Have I missed a lot of my high school life for not learning how to play it? Have I missed a lot of my teenage life for not knowing how to dribble or pass the darn huge, orange ball?

I thought my elementary days were fun. I hung out with the "normal" boys, because they, even though into basketball, didn't play basketball as much as my high school contemporaries did. We played this game where there are two teams and we use a light ball—"touching" ball. It's like a Pinoy version of dodge ball (thus, the corrupted name of the game "touching ball" because "dodge" seemed to be a highfalutin word back in our day), really, and it's my favorite sports of all time.

When I entered high school, it was never the same again. I hung out with the "normal" boys for the first few weeks but I drifted away later on. They played basketball, soccer, and Counter Strike, which I didn't really enjoy. Because of that, I went solo. I didn't make a lot of friends and chose to study and read. Now we had a perfect geek: bookworm, no sports, no friends, not talking, nice grades. I started to wear glasses came my junior year. I never looked more awful in my life.

I knew I was uncool. Screw those who say being yourself is cool. I was myself then. What did I get?

One day, having enough of my issues with myself, I told myself, I'm going to be cooler than any of them. I'm going to be a handsome boy whom at least one gal with neat standards will want to sleep with. Without basketball.

[About the author. Jason Paul C. Laxamana, 20, is currently spearheading the RocKapampangan Project, an album of Kapampangan songs remade by local rock bands to allow Kapampangan to penetrate the consciousness of the urban Kapampangan youth. He is an independent cultural worker seeking to empower Kapampangan by bringing it (and attempt to make it dominant) in pop culture. He operates an English-Kapampangan blogzine "The Prodigal Kamaru" at http://kamaru.blogspot.com, and a blog for his Kapampangan literary works "Kulang King Yumu" at http://sisigman.blogspot.com.]

-Posted: 3:11 AM 2/1/08 | More of this author on eK!

Kitin Salas (of Angeles City, Philippines) writes...

Finally, somebody views basketball the same way I do. :-)

-Posted/Via Email: 2009-04-15 22:53:36 PDT

Norman Sinamban (of Angeles City, Philippines) writes...

Makanta ku rin.

-Posted/Via Email: 2009-08-01 01:56:43 PDT

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