Taipei, Jan. 26 (CNA) A two-day Lunar New Year basketball tournament for members of an international Philippine Ilocano organization opened in Taichung on Sunday, with hundreds gathering at a local park for the opening ceremony and the day's games.
Rain forced the event to move to a park with a covered basketball court and delayed opening day action to determine Monday's semifinalists. But that did not diminish support for the event, the sixth annual sports festival organized by the Confederation of Ilocano Association, Samahang Ilokano (CIA-SI) Taiwan.
The Ilocanos are one of the largest ethnolinguistic groups in the Philippines and trace their origins to the provinces along the northwestern seaboard of Luzon.
The tournament is being held just two weeks after the Taal volcano started erupting earlier this month, causing thousands of Filipino families to take shelter in evacuation centers across Luzon, and the group has taken notice.
Nelson Palaris, legal officer at the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) and national advisor to CIA-SI Taiwan, told CNA he hoped the event would take on special meaning following the eruption.
"There is a saying in Philippine basketball that we will never be defeated because if we work hard we will eventually overcome our problems," he said.
A week prior to the tournament, CIA-SI Taiwan donated 1,200 kilograms of rice and other daily necessities such as canned food and surgical masks to evacuation centers in the Philippines, said Rheden Delumen, CIA-SI Taiwan's national chairman.
"The objective of our organization is to serve and help communities who need our help," said Delumen of the group, which has over 800 active members in 13 chapters in Taiwan.
The relief supplies will help people affected by the eruption, which has caused food prices to rise, said Andy Banguilan, the national officer of the executive council of CIA-SI Taiwan and a native of Batangas, one of the areas affected by ash fall.
The opening ceremony of the CIA-SI Taiwan Sports Fest 2020 featured a parade, during which the basketball tournament's 13 teams, made up by members of the various chapters of the organization, were judged for their uniforms and muses.
The Hsinchu chapter team won the trophy for "Best in Uniform," with their eye-catching red, white and black jerseys that featured both the Philippine and Taiwanese flags.
"We have both flags of the country because we are proud to be from the Philippines and at the same time we love working and living here in Taiwan," said Santos Vilog, the team's point guard and designer of the jersey.
Meanwhile, the Taoyuan chapter won the "Best Muse" trophy, which was received by the team's muse Jovelyn R. Sinense.
In Filipino basketball culture, muses are females who whip up support for their teams at tournament openings.