Taichung, Dec. 15 (CNA) A winter basketball tournament for over 30 teams of Filipino players was launched in Taichung on Sunday, with hundreds of people gathering at a city park for the opening ceremony and to watch the first two games.
The opening ceremony of the CIASI Taichung Winter Basketball League Season 1 featured a march past, during which the teams, comprised of Filipino migrant workers and students, were judged on best uniforms and best muses.
The Taiping Stars basketball team, made up entirely of Filipino workers from the Taichung area, won the trophy for "Best in Uniform," with their clean and sharp, white-purple jerseys.
"The flags of both the Philippines and Taiwan are printed on the upper left of our jersey to symbolize the unity of Filipinos and Taiwanese," said the team's acting manager, who asked to be called Freddie. "We aim for unity not just in sports but also while at work."
Meanwhile, 23-year-old leisure management student Abigail Joy Tuano, representing the Combrads basketball team, won the "Best in Muse" trophy.
In Filipino basketball culture, muses are women who whip up support for their teams at tournament openings.
Rheden Delumen, national chairman of CIASI in Taiwan, told CNA that the tournament seeks to promote sportsmanship and respect among Filipino migrant workers.
Part of the funds generated from the registration fees paid by teams will also be donated towards relief efforts to help communities in Cagayan Valley in northeastern Philippines that were affected by massive flooding caused by continuous heavy rains last month, he said.
"We have members that are from Cagayan Valley, but most importantly it is our responsibility as overseas Filipinos to help our kababayan (countrymen) when they are in need," Delumen said.
With the opening of the tournament, about 600 Filipino migrant workers in 32 teams will now have the opportunity to play basketball in a positive and healthy environment on their day off, according to Jonathan Pascua, national president of CIASI Taiwan, which organized the competition.
"We organized this tournament to give Filipinos working in Taiwan a chance to play in tournaments just as if they were in the Philippines, " he said. "Through sports we also hope to fight homesickness."
Arthur Abiera Jr., director of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office in Taichung, congratulated CIASI for organizing the tournament.
"Winning isn't the only thing in a competition, more important is the camaraderie and friendship we develop among ourselves for the betterment of the individual members of the teams as well as our community here in Taiwan," he said.
The tournament tipped off Sunday with two games on the schedule and is expected to run until March. It follows four other basketball tournaments organized by various CIASI Taiwan sub-chapters in various parts of Taiwan earlier this year.
CIASI, the Confederation of Ilocano Association, Inc., Samahang Ilocano, is an international Filipino organization with 13 chapters and a total of about 800 members in Taiwan. It describes its main mission as being to help unify Filipino communities through sports and cultural events.