I picture the final scene in the Lion King. Where Scar is finally defeated. The hyenas are driven back into the shadows. And Simba lets out a roar.
In one moment of victory, good comes back to the Pride Lands. The Sun shines. The grass grows. The animals come back. The circle of life continues.
Or if you’re more of a Star Wars fan – maybe those moments when they blew up the Death Star. One shot brings the whole battle station down. Then in cut-to-cut (or wipes in the Star Wars editing world) scenes, in around a minute, all the light comes to the galaxy. It seems as though all the Star Destroyers crashed themselves out of depression, the AT-AT walkers just collapsed, distant planets threw their own parties, even Yoda comes back to party, and the Ewoks dance.
Yeah. In my most hopeless romantic moment, that’s how I imagine these winning sports moments. I believe in the power of sports and its role in nation-building so much that I imagine that glorious moment when one victory could so suddenly open the floodgates of all things good, and suddenly wisdom, truth and light will rain down on the Philippines.
As we say in Manila, “Asa.”
I know. One glorious Pacquiao punch – no matter how epic – could instantly solve corruption. One Azkal winning goal couldn’t instantly help us achieve all agrarian and infrastructural goals. And yes, I know, one Gilas win, no matter how brilliant, hard-fought or patiently waited-for, could instantly make our politicians as truthful as we hope they would be.
Yet, here I am again in my hopeless romantic moment. A moment that seems to be extended because of this euphoria that everyone – I mean everyone – continues to feel, too. From a Company VP to the driver, from the security guard to the tambay – everyone who has ever played basketball, and everyone whose life has been changed because of it. Here I am, raised by basketball, taught by basketball, seeing life in the context of basketball, and sometimes even seeing God in the context of basketball. Here I am fully cognizant of, and reveling in the insanity of how my people have chosen a sport so recklessly, and with the same recklessness fallen in love with it. Here I am in that hopeless romantic moment.
So as we say in Manila, “pagbigyan.”
What if — we could bottle what we love about this last Gilas win: the teamwork, the skill, the long-term planning and future possibilities it opens up, how our basketball officials came together, how we earned the respect of the world, how we put aside our own teams and cheered as one, and of course, puso.
What if— we could bottle that and use it in other fights we face?
We are a small nation. Geographically, we are bits and pieces of crumbs thrown on some small portion of the map. And in some maps, we don’t even make it. Biologically, we are Lilliputians. Either because of centuries of colonialism or our own incurable social psychosis, we allow ourselves to feel small compared to foreigners. We also make each other feel small. Our biggest oppressor is our own government. Our taxes are burdensome and are used by those who might never have put in a decent hour of work. And the money we get to keep, goes to just trying to make ends meet, if ever they do. Our public transport system is hazardous to the public, is a miracle when it is able to transport you on time, and has no semblance of a system. Even nature makes us feel small: earthquakes, storm surges, and floods the size of titans.
And yet, we dream big.
That is why we persist. That is why we force ourselves into the jampacked train. That is why we hang on to the jeepney’s estribo. That is why we take two to three additional jobs. That is why we continue to build houses after typhoons.
Because we dream big – for ourselves and our families.
What if —- like we did in basketball during these past two years (including FIBA ASIA last year)— dream big? What if, like we did in basketball, stop using our size as an excuse and instead use it to our advantage? This time though – for our country.
What if we could bottle how we fought and worked and cheered and celebrated as a country these past two years, and unleash that, and fight and work against the giants of corruption, broken promises, and despair itself. What if we could bottle the same spirit that had the world in awe, and use it for other awesome tasks like rebuilding a decrepit infrastructure? What if we could capture that same puso and transfer it to government offices, to Batasan, and to Malacanang itself? What if the laban on the court is infused with the laban that sent us to the streets to march against a dictator?
Why not? We view life in the context of basketball, anyway.
I know, I know, the Lion King and Star Wars moments are movies. Cartoons and Science Fiction. But hey. I’m dreaming big.