Category Archives: football

Ex-player teaches football to street kids in the Philippines, and nobody in the local news knows

Fate must really want me to blog because I’ve been encountering lots of interesting people lately.

I was on my usual past-midnight run to 7-11 to buy some snacks. Since my sister’s still awake, ostensibly studying but really watching Pretty Little Liars, she asked for me to grab her a couple of items too. This resulted a shitload of items, and at around four in the morning, it really isn’t that much of a stretch for the guy behind me in the counter to comment, “Got the munchies?”

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These are a few of my favorite things!

Since this week had me feeling a lot of negative emotions, I decided to counter that by listing the little things that make me feel good:
  • My mother’s cooking.
  • The smell of new books. The smell of old books. The feel of a book in my hands.
  • A golazo from a player I love, and a really great goal celebration.
  • Taking my first bite of quality chocolate that I haven’t tasted before.
  • The anticipation before a kiss.
  • A really good read or photo from the internet.
  • A really epic movie. Alternately, a really fluffy movie which allows me to space out.
  • My bed, after a really long day.
  • Laughing with friends. Nothing like it.
  • Getting snail mail or postcards.
  • Grocery-shopping.
  • Buying school supplies.
  • Applying lotion. Oh yeah.
  • A really good song that I can play over and over again until I get sick of it.
  • Planning pretend events.
  • Pretentious coffee. (I just can’t quit!)
  • Getting unexpected but sincere compliments.
  • Wearing my really ratty shirts at home, sans bra.
  • Potato-based products.
  • Our Awesome Fantasy Lives (Hello Pat and Jerome)
  • When it’s really cold and my breath comes out in white puffs. Happens rarely in a tropical country.
  • Making lists. And checking it twice.

There you go! Actually, there’s a lot more but this is enough for now. Goes to show that for every tiny thing that pisses me off, there is something that can make me feel good. In fact, I think the ratio could be 1:2, but it’s so easy to forget the good things.

[UK 2011] You’ll Never Walk Alone with the Fab Four

Tuesday & Wednesday, May 10-11, 2011

Liverpool was a non-negotiable part of our itinerary. Not only was Dale a Liverpool FC fan, but Jerome and I were also very excited to see Anfield and Steven Gerrard even if we were Gooners to our very cores.

I also couldn’t forgive myself if I went to Liverpool and didn’t have a Beatles-themed tour. I’ve prepared for this early on, printing 2-for-1 vouchers for both the Anfield tour and the Beatles tour. To save money, we also got the Super Offpeak train tickets, which meant we can only depart at a certain time. We knew that. However, what we didn’t know was that the Super Offpeak tickets were only valid for London Midland Trains. This naivete would start a series of sitcom-worthy events starting with…

Accidentally tricking the system.

Nobody really checked our tickets as we boarded a bright red, express Virgin Train leaving within the alloted Super Offpeak hours, so we didn’t think much of it. I guess it was around the time we were passing two or three London Midland trains along the way that we got a bit suspicious. We were making good time, much, much less than the 4-5 hours we estimated for this travel.

With a sinking feeling, we checked our tickets, the brochure, etc and proved that we were indeed on the wrong train. The good news is, it was the better train. Bad news: What if we got caught? Should we plead “No hablo Ingles”? How much are they going to fine us? They wouldn’t kick us out of the train… would they?

Liverpool, finally!

Thankfully, we got off the train, walked as confidently as we can out of the station and we didn’t get caught. Relieved and giddy, we went to some sort of tourist center to get our itineraries straightened out and to buy bus tickets. The tickets were kind of cool, they were these scratch card kind of things. One more thing to note: I have no problem understanding what I call “Harry Potter” English. But Scouse English is a bit of a challenge (Carragher videos notwithstanding). It was a test on how many “Come again?” you can ask before you come across as rude.

At the Liverpool Lime St Station

Anfield

Anfield, home of Liverpool FC

Our first stop was Anfield, home of Liverpool FC, a stadium with more history than Man City, Tottenham and Chelsea combined. We got there a bit earlier than our scheduled tour so we ate lunch at this little place near the stadium. It had drawings on the wall of famous Liverpool players, Istanbul 2005, and this very interesting caricature right here:

His armband proved he was a red, Torres, Tores… LOL

Then it was time for the stadium tour. Anfield was incredible, though a bit outdated compared to the Emirates ( I couldn’t help comparing how state-of-the-art the dressing room at the Emirates was compared to the one in Anfield). The tour guide said there are plans of expanding, or even moving the stadium, kinda like what Arsenal did when it switched from Highbury to the Emirates. I know a lot of die-hard fans would be upset about this, but I get it, Anfield isn’t netting as much in ticket sales as the bigger stadiums and as I said, it’s a bit outdated. Well, personally, at least I got to see it before they moved. I couldn’t say the same about Highbury. 😦

Anfield Stadium Tour

The magic moments for me were 1) when I touched the “This Is Anfield” sign and 2) when “You’ll Never Walk Alone” blared through the speakers when we were seated on the pitch-side. Full disclosure: It was more of a “Ha! I got to touch it, bitches!” feeling on the first one, unlike the emotional attachment on everything during the Emirates tour. But admittedly, the second one was sort of emotional. However intimidatingly intense LFC fans are, when they sing the song, it’s fantastic.

Touching the “This Is Anfield” sign, like so many LFC players did/does.

There were two key things we didn’t get to do that I still regret before going to sleep: Have our pic taken in front of the Shankly Gates and visit the Hillsborough memorial. We didn’t forget, exactly. We spent too much time in the museum (I just had to finish the documentary on the 2005 CL win in Istanbul) and I was afraid we wouldn’t make it in time for the Beatles tour. Sometimes I think it’s my fault because I was the most gung-ho on the Beatles thing. (But it’s the Beatles! THE Beatles!)

The Beatles Museum, Albert Dock

The Beatles Museum, Albert Dock

We took a bus from Anfield to The Beatles Museum at the Albert Dock and made it in time for the last call. The Beatles and some of their songs are as familiar to me as the nursery rhymes of my childhoof but clearly, there are a lot of things I didn’t know about them. The museum was incredibly informative, and also fun. It also made an effort to be enjoyable to both adults and kids. Since I was a little of both, I especially enjoyed it. Is it an exaggeration to say these four lads from Liverpool changed the world? I think not. Is there another band with more influence on the music scene that the Beatles? Not really.

Beatlemania!

So who’s my favorite? I have to say John Lennon, mostly for the song, “Imagine”. Though Sir Paul McCartney was quite the hottie when they were younger. WHEN THEY WERE YOUNGER, OKAY?

Imagine…

After the museum at Albert Dock, there was supposedly a part 2 at Pier Head, but I knew we wouldn’t be able to make it. It was too bad, but we did get to hang out at the Beatles-themed Starbucks at the Albert Dock. That was majorly wicked! It probably is the coolest Starbucks store in the world right now.

I forgot what I bought, but it was more expensive than I was used to.

Pier Head and Liverpool High Street

After Beatlemania, we took a lot of pictures around the beautiful city. We still went to Pier Head for sightseeing and to take a few lot of pictures, especially of the Liver bird. There was a viewing dock which had a view of… I really have no idea. It could be Isle of Man, or it could be another part of Liverpool. When we were there, a lot of city improvements were being done, maybe in preparation for the 2012 Olympics, but it was still glorious. The architecture was beautiful in some of the buildings. We wandered around the high street in hopes of seeing Alex Gerrard or some other WAG shopping, but no such luck!

I ♥ Liverpool

Since we are never not hungry, we decided to eat at some fish and chips shop near Liverpool ONE. It was not as good as the fish and chips shop in Greenwich. Then we had a couple of drinks at a Wetherspoon pub. I forgot what it was called but it had nicer restrooms than the ones in London.

Still in Liverpool!

Missing the train home and the worst hotel experience

It was a bright, sunshiny day and we took our sweet time around the city. This was a mistake because we missed the last train going back to London. After a few minutes of panicking, we decided to ask a couple of traffic cops (one of which was a cutiepie who I thought was going to offer us his house) if there are bus stations which have late trips back to London. We were directed to one such station, but we soon found out that riding a bus to London took a very long time and was more expensive that if we stayed the night in Liverpool.

So, we decided to stay the night in the city… somewhere near the train station so we wouldn’t miss the first train out. Sounds like a good plan, right?

NOPE. We found a cheap hotel near the station, but it turns out there was a reason it was cheap. There were bedbugs. Dale was the first one to realize this while Jerome and I didn’t feel anything throughout the night. Unfortunately, there was no denying it once we threw back the sheets in the morning and saw very well fed bugs. Disgusting! And bedbug bites don’t appear instantly so I thought I was safe until we were back in London, where the itching and swelling were exacerbated by the high alcohol content on the cider we drank (no scientific basis, but that’s when they really started to show). Bedbug bites also lasts weeks before they disappear, and you get a paranoia that wouldn’t go away even after the marks are long gone.

Bedbug experience aside, I am determined to go back to Liverpool for the following reasons:

  • Picture at the Shankly gates and to visit the Hillsborough Memorial
  • Part II of the Beatles Tour at the Pier Head
  • Cavern Club
  • Hard Days Night Hotel – a Beatles-themed hotel where I’m sure there are no bedbugs
  • I have to replace the Steven Gerrard water bottle I lost at the airport

My Year in Highlights – Top 5 of 2011

Last day of 2011! In a few hours, I will be counting down to 2012 (My year! 12.12.12!) Since I have been whiny and ungrateful for some parts of the year, I would like to make amends for that and have a lookback at the blessings I received (in abundance) this 2011.

5 – Still my baby: My sister’s 18th birthday

Sweety @ 18, June 9, 2011 (Balai Kapampangan)

What? No way! I couldn’t believe it either. In my mind’s eye, my sister is still this little kid who went and plunked down next to me while I was performing for our 5th grade field demo:

Mind handing me my poms back, bb?

And then suddenly, I’m shelling out ungodly amounts of cash so we can celebrate her 18th birthday! 18th! She’s an adult, according to the constitution. Except that she still sleeps next to me, and can out-brat the best of them. Okay, so I have been noticing that she’s been growing up, but I hope she knows that there’s no rush to. I’m perfectly happy to do everything I can to make sure she enjoys NOT being an adult a while longer.

4 – Smart Dream Cup: Watching Azkals vs LA Galaxy live

David Beckham, everyone!

Who would have ever thought I’d ever get to see one of Beckham’s corner live? Or that I could be just a floor away from the entire LA Galaxy team, including Landon Donovan? Now, I am no big supporter of MLS, but surely, seeing men like Becks and Donovan play has to figure in my 2011 list.

Sure, our NT was practically massacred with a full time score of 1-6, but something should be said about playing against a team of LA Galaxy’s caliber. Plus, I’m sure some of our players were pretty happy just to shake with Beckham after. Hands, I mean.

3 – A Visayan adventure: Cebu-Bohol with the girls

What’s a trip to Bohol without seeing the Chocolate Hills?

This wouldn’t rank so high if it did not come at a time when I needed a vacation badly. After all, I’ve been to Cebu and Bohol before. The last time was different though, as we stayed longer in Cebu. This trip, our focus was Bohol — mainly Panglao and its beautiful beaches.

It was my first time to go rolling in the deep snorkeling. While I was sure I’d meet my salty death at sea someday since I barely know how to swim, I’m keen to try new things (or at more likely loathe to miss out on new things). The verdict? I’m glad I did it. Under the sea is where it’s at, babes. Okay, seriously, it was beautiful. I cried when we got to the drop off– and no, it’s not because I was terrified. The sheer magnificence of the view drove me to tears, etc.

Everyday I’m snorkelin’

It’s weird to segue from the snorkeling to this topic, but I cannot post about this and not tell you about the wonderfully fresh seafood that you can have cooked at Balicasag Island. Oh, just thinking about it makes me hungry! (Apparently, fish are friends AND food.) Speaking of food, Bohol Bee Farm is also one I highly recommend in terms of food. It’s also a very romantic place at night.

Of course, the trip wouldn’t be as great if I weren’t with equally great people. All the jump shots and binge eating and being pissed at other tour groups were made all the more interesting because of the parts played by them. So Pat, Mils, Jing, and Dada, thanks for the mini-break from the real world.

2 – Malaysia truly Asia: Going to Kuala Lumpur to watch Arsenal’s pre-season game against Malaysia XI

Victoria Concordia Crescit

I have met with a lot of incredulity when I tell people why I was going/went to Malaysia. Non-footballing fans could hardly believe I would go to another country just to watch a football game. First, you wouldn’t believe how cheap the tickets were, compared to the ticket prices at the LA Galaxy game. Especially considering the fact that the open training is included. But enough justification. It was Arsenal, for heaven’s sake, and I wouldn’t need a Visa and a ton of money to watch them play LIVE.

It’s crazy that I can say that… I watched them live. It was just a preseason friendly, but hello, if I just rolled a bit, I would be where Robin Van Persie was. Needless to say, this was my hallmark year as a Gooner. I can’t wait until I retract that statement though, i.e., watching a game at the Emirates!

Jerome and I also managed to squeeze in some sightseeing around Kuala Lumpur, but mostly we just ate. We enjoyed the food there and the teh tarik.

1 – A life’s dream realized: The UK trip

In front of the Parliament House and Big Ben

This is by far the highlight of my year. Not only did I personally see one of my best friends married to the love of her life, we got to stay in one of the best cities in the world. I went on a tour on not one, but two legendary stadiums, one of which is the home of my Arsenal FC. I saw Stonehenge. I laughed and wept and sang along to “Wicked the Musical” at the Victoria Apollo Theater. I shopped at Harrods (okay, at the food hall, but still…). I watched a football game at an actual British pub and my team won. I stood in front of Botticelli’s “Venus and Mars” and got weak at the knees.  I had my picture taken at practically every landmark in London, and then I got to ride the London Eye and see it all from a different perspective.

Stonehenge rocks!

Did I ever tell you about the time we went to Greenwich and just whiled the afternoon away at zero degrees longitude? Or that time I pushed a cart through a wall so I can get on my train to Hogwarts? What about that time I visited the museums in London, with friends and then alone, and thought to myself, “I can be happy here.”? There’s so much I can tell you about this trip, and not just the main things we did as tourists, but the in-between moments like going out in the cold to get something to eat and riding the Underground with Bonnie Wright (and the tram with the Wimbledon FC).

At the butt of the dinosaur at the hall of the Museum of Natural History

This trip has been my dream ever since I can remember. While other kids dreamed of going to Disneyland, I wanted to go to London and ride a double-decker bus to see the sights. Now that it has been realized, am I content? I’m terribly happy for the experience, but it just makes me want to come back for more.

As I was writing this blog, I figured I must have done something good to enjoy so much good fortune this year. Thanks to the people who made it awesome, and those who helped me through the bad times. Most of all, thanks to God for giving me a chance to live some of my dreams. It truly was a great year, wasn’t it?

Thanks to foursquare and facebook’s new timeline for making this yearend lookback so much easier.

P.S. I’ve tried to make this not all about football (the restraint!) so I did not include stuff like “Kaka playing again after a long injury spell”, “Copa del Rey win (and Sergio dropping the trophy)”, and “Mikel Arteta signs for the Gunners”.

Well, this is unacceptable.

I am woefully behind blogging about the UK trip, not to mention these other things that you may or may not see on this blog in the future. It all depends on my free time and motivation:

  • Cebu-Bohol trip with the girls (which girls? Stay tuned to find out! LOL).
  • Iche’s wedding
  • Binondo food trip with Ajay and Angel, plus other snippets of their stay in the Philippines.
  • Stalking Beckham, Donovan & the rest of the LA Galaxy and the game tomorrow. Yes, the game hasn’t happened yet, but I’m 80% sure I wouldn’t be blogging about it immediately. Unless something epic happens. Like me ending up at the Galaxy locker room.

I wish I could say I haven’t been blogging much because of a highly exciting, jet-setting life, but I was either busy with a bunch of TV series or the SAP Cert. I passed that one, by the way. Not sure what to do about that though. The universe hasn’t spoken to me yet.