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List of Articles by Eddie Alinea


Little League Philippine Series: Where the richest meet the poorest

By Eddie Alinea
20 Apr 2010

If the Little League International Baseball/Softball movement is the world’s biggest grassroots sports development in the world, it is also where scions of the richest and the powerful and those of the poorest meet, play with and against each other, especially in a third world country like ours.

Such an occasion happens annually during the Philippine Series, hosted this year by the City of Daet in Camarines Norte where boys (baseball) and girls (softball) aged 11 to 18 battle for supremacy in the Major League Division (11-12), Junior League (13-14), Senior League (14-16) and Big League (16-18).

Imagine Ivee Cojuangco, granddaughter of business and political giants, former Ambassador Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, chair of San Miguel Corp., and Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, president of the Philippine Olympic Committee, playing with Yrla Rojo, who was born and raised in the world famous ‘Smokey’ Mountain’, a former garbage dumpsite.
And Bada Lao, daughter of Nikki Lao, Nike distributor in the country, and Isabelle Gomez, sibling of International Little League district administrator in the Philippines Jolly Gomez, eating with Liza Marie Muyco, Elvie Entrina and Nerissa Benjamin, to mention a few who belong to family of farm hands in the far away Negros Occidental in the same table and sharing the same room in a public school building where competing teams are billeted.

Cojuangco, who had just finished her high school education from Assumption College, Lao and Gomez and company are all members of Team Manila entered in the Big League girls softball play hoping to regain the 14-18 division championship and the right to represent anew the country in the Asia-Pacific elimination of the World Series in its category.
“Yes, dito lamang sa Little League movement natin makikita na and anak ng mga pinakamayayaman ay nakakasama ang mga pinakamahihirap, teammates man o kalaban,” the Manila Golden Girls team manager and baseball-softball great Filomeno “Boy” Codinera said.

“ In Team Manila we really obliged all members of the team to stay together during competitions.”
“In the Philippine Series there are a few teams belonging to the upper class of society that are entered. Pero sila, palibhasa mayayaman nga, nakatira sa hotel at kumakain sa mamahaling restraurant,” Manila Charter chair Robert Evangelista, a high ranking official of the engineering department of the Manila City Hall, concurred in.

“We Team Manila, sama-sama kami maghapon, pag may praktis, pag may l.aro at kahit kumakain at natutulog because this is the essence of the Little League movement. Walang mahirap, walang mayaman. This is where children are taught how to live with their fellow rich and poor,” Evangelista stressed.

“Dito sa team na ito, lahat pueding purihin. Lahat puede ring kagalitan at murahin. Hindi kapareho sa ibang team na yung may kaya, natatakot kagalitan ng coach. We want kasi our players to learn how to play good and gain excellence,” Codinera explained.

Both Evangelista and Codineras as well as coach Ana Santiago and her assistant Randy Dizer are optimistic the Golden Girls have what it takes to stash away with the Philippine Series crown and carry the country’s colors in the Asia-Pacific tilt in Bandung, Indonesia and even in the World Series in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Besides Codinera and company, other members of the team are Carol Banay, Riza Bernardino, Melanie Macatangay, Erica Escanuela, Mariz Veronica Belleza,Ana Cariza Paghubasan and Marlyn Francisco.
Only three teams are entered in the Big League play, including Pasig City and Isabela. The team that sweeps the two-round elimination romps off with the championship.

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