For Filipinos, migrant basketball league more than just a game

10/25/2020 05:25 PM
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Kalinga Basketball League Nankan 2020 opening game SHL Taoyuan vs. Lakay Taoyuan. CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020
Kalinga Basketball League Nankan 2020 opening game SHL Taoyuan vs. Lakay Taoyuan. CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020

Taoyuan, Oct. 25 (CNA) A winter basketball tournament consisting of 21 teams, aimed at consolidating friendship among Filipinos in Taiwan, tipped off in Taoyuan on Sunday, with hundreds gathering for the opening ceremony and the first three games.

The opening ceremony of the Kalinga Basketball League Nankan 2020 featured a march-past, during which the teams, consisting of more than 400 Filipino migrant workers, were judged on best uniforms and best muses.

Tournament organizers, members of the Cordillera Organization in Taiwan (COT), also played a gong -- known as a gangsa -- as members of the Filipino community performed a traditional dance to welcome guests and bring a festive cheer to the occasion.

The gangsa is indigenous to the cultures found in the Cordillera region of the northern Philippines.

A member of the Cordillera Organization in Taiwan playing a gangsa. CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020
A member of the Cordillera Organization in Taiwan playing a gangsa. CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020
Members of the Filipino community dancing to gangsa gongs. CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020
Members of the Filipino community dancing to gangsa gongs. CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020
President of the Kalinga Group in Taiwan John Dao-wan Dacio (second right) plays a gangsa with other members from the Cordillera Organization in Taiwan. CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020
President of the Kalinga Group in Taiwan John Dao-wan Dacio (second right) plays a gangsa with other members from the Cordillera Organization in Taiwan. CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020

COT members, who number over 1,000 in Taiwan, are always ready to share their culture with others and hope to bring unity among the various Filipino communities in Taiwan, said John Dao-wan Dacio, president of the Kalinga Group in Taiwan, one of four COT sub-groups.

The Solid North basketball team, made up mostly of players from Ilocano communities in the Philippines, won the trophy for "Best Uniform," with their eye-catching red, white, black and yellow jerseys.

The Ilocanos are one of the largest ethno-linguistic groups in the Philippines and trace their origins to the provinces along the northwestern seaboard of Luzon.

Their jersey's design was inspired by the San Miguel Beermen basketball team in the Philippine Basketball Association and incorporated both the Taiwanese and Philippine flags.

"We are here in Taiwan, but we came from the Philippines," Solid North shooting guard J.R. Blancas said, adding that it meant a lot to him to play on a team composed of Ilocanos.

But the league means even more than simply regional connections. "The unity of OFWs participating in this league is very important to us," Blancas said.

Solid North basketball team with CIASI Taiwan national chairman Rheden Delumen and boss Ronald Li of R.J. Fiesta store. CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020
Solid North basketball team with CIASI Taiwan national chairman Rheden Delumen and boss Ronald Li of R.J. Fiesta store. CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020

Meanwhile, the United Ilocandia won the "Best Muse" trophy, which was accepted by the team's muse Diana Ross Cejas, a 25-year-old Filipina factory worker from Taoyuan.

In Filipino basketball culture, muses are females who whip up support for their teams at tournament openings.

Mercy Kuan, deputy head of the Federation of Filipino Communities in Taiwan (Northern) and president of the OFW Family Club in Taiwan, said Cejas stood out because of her confidence.

United Ilocandia team muse Diana Ross Cejas (center), deputy head of the Federation of Filipino Communities in Taiwan (Northern) and president of the OFW Family Club in Taiwan Mercy Kuan (right), and Cordillera Organization in Taiwan Taipei President Marvin Ayyawat (left). CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020
United Ilocandia team muse Diana Ross Cejas (center), deputy head of the Federation of Filipino Communities in Taiwan (Northern) and president of the OFW Family Club in Taiwan Mercy Kuan (right), and Cordillera Organization in Taiwan Taipei President Marvin Ayyawat (left). CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020

Arnel Sagorsor, former COT vice president and current sports coordinator, said the tournament is aimed at strengthening the friendship among Filipinos and also sportsmanship among the players no matter what community they may come from.

"We also hope to generate some funds, even if just a small amount, from the tournament's registration fees to help fellow OFWs in distress," said Sagorsor who hails from the province of Benguet in the southern tip of the Cordillera Administrative Region in the Philippines.

Taiwanese player Guo Zhen-yuan (郭鎮源), who plays center for a team called the Nankan Rookies, said it was the second time he has played in a Filipino basketball league and says he formed his team with workmates from his work place.

"I don't have difficulty communicating with my teammates because they are friendly and have no trouble accepting me," he said.

The tournament, which held three games Sunday, is expected to run for around two months. There will be 126 regular season games before the playoffs are hold.

A player from Lakay Taoyuan scores a reverse layup against SHL Taoyuan. CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020
A player from Lakay Taoyuan scores a reverse layup against SHL Taoyuan. CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020

The Filipino community, which has over 150,000 migrant workers in Taiwan, often holds basketball tournaments throughout the year.

(By William Yen)

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CIASI / CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020
CIASI / CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020
Apo Lakay / CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020
Apo Lakay / CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020
RP-CIC / CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020
RP-CIC / CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020
United Ilocandia / CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020
United Ilocandia / CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020
Sunflex / CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020
Sunflex / CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020
I-Mei / CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020
I-Mei / CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020
SHL / CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020
SHL / CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020
Nankan Rookies / CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020
Nankan Rookies / CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020
Solid North / CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020
Solid North / CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020
Hitachi (white) / CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020
Hitachi (white) / CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020
Hitachi (blue) / CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020
Hitachi (blue) / CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020
Lakay Taoyuan / CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020
Lakay Taoyuan / CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020
Flavor Pinoy / CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020
Flavor Pinoy / CNA photo Oct. 25, 2020
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