Total stranger catches glimpse of what I go through for basketball

I first met him last week in a street basketball court.

Today I saw him again in the same half court. We wanted to play, but an old man told us it was too early and some people were still asleep.

So I left. He also did, but he followed me and asked if I knew other courts.

I said yes. And then we embarked on that journey to find a court where we could play. I was walking, he was riding a bike.

I first led him to a full court, but it was already occupied. I wasn’t surprised – it was a Sunday. No school and no work.

Again, I left. He still followed me.

He asked me what my name was. I also asked his. He’s Rene, from Tacloban. Yes, the city ravaged by a supertyphoon in November last year.

We reached our destination, a half court. There, we played basketball – first one to reach 10 points wins.

I won. He wanted to play again.

I rested for a few minutes. After that, the race to 10 began. I won again.

Before leaving, he asked if he got my name right. I said yes.

He also told me something like: you don’t mind going to faraway places just to be able to play basketball.

There you go, the first human being in the world to ever catch a glimpse of what I go through to play the sport that I love the most.

2 new certificates from Coursera

This week I got two certificates from MOOC platform Coursera. The first course is about the business of fashion, while the second one is about mining.

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Germany marks 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall – so do I

The Berlin Wall – which divided the largest German city into a democratic part and a communist one – fell on November 9, 1989.

Nowadays its vestiges are popular tourist attractions.

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But for me, they’re not just places where visitors can take pictures. They don’t talk, but they speak volumes about where Germany has been, and where it is headed.

I was lucky enough to visit Germany in 2009 for a journalism workshop, through the invitation of Deutsche Welle’s DW Akademie.

Part of the Wall located at Potsdamer Platz.
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Checkpoint Charlie area. Had it not been for the name “Checkpoint Charlie,” I wouldn’t have known that that area used to be a tense place where opposing forces during the Cold War were located so close to each other.
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English. Russian. French. German. The first three languages were spoken by the victorious Allies.
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A man walks past a photo showing the multilingual sign above.
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U.S. Army checkpoint. Of course it no longer functions as such, but it serves as a reminder of the role played by the U.S. during World War II.
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Literally, “Wall Street”
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Finding old pics of my dog

I’ve stumbled upon several old pictures of my dog while looking for documents on my laptop. Wow I feel like she’s still here with us, asking for food.

This is my favorite picture:

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Glossary: The average Filipino basketball player

Here’s the blog post that I was referring to yesterday:

Actor - He sees a basketball court but doesn’t have a ball with him. That doesn’t prevent him from playing. He pretends to have a ball and shoots it. Complete with follow through.

Caller - Foul! Traveling! Double! Seriously? Oh, my shadow touched yours, did I commit a foul?

Copycat - Mentions Jordan, LeBron, Kobe (and many others) while in the act of shooting the ball, mimicking the moves of the superstars. Can imitate Jordan. But there can only be one Jordan.

Court hog - Worse than a ball hog. Prevents other guys from playing by overstaying. Makes you wonder how high the unemployment rate is.

Go getter - Sees a guy or a group of guys playing. He approaches, then tries to get hold of the ball. Excuse me, but who TF are you?

Loner - Basketball is a team sport, but it’s not a crime to play alone. Not a real definition here, but you know what I mean.

Owner - He arrives, and plays. Doesn’t care if someone’s already there.

Playing coach - Tells his teammate/s, and sometimes also his opponent/s, what to do or what not to do.

Poker player - Not gonna play if there’s no bet involved.

Rock star - Batooooooooooooooo!!! The Filipino word “bato” means rock or stone, as a noun. As a verb, it means throw, or pass. The Rock star doesn’t really intend to fight for that rebound. He won’t even bother with the defense. He stays on one side of the court while his teammates are on the other. When an opponent misses a shot and his teammate gets the ball, he will shout “batoooooooooooooo!!!” May or may not utter the actual word.

Shy type - You know he wants to play with you. You can feel it. He’s waiting for you to invite him.

Soldier - In full battle gear: Kevin Durant jersey, LeBron shoes… the works.

Talker - He knows all the stats and the players. And keeps talking and talking about his knowledge. Basketball is meant to be played, first and foremost, not to be talked about.

The One – Feels he’s the best. If he is indeed the best, that’s another matter…

And, my favorite…

Bud - Plays for the love of the game. No bets, no trash talking, no air. Just pure basketball.

Thoughts on Philippine basketball

BallGazillions of Filipino males play basketball. I should know. I’m one of them.

But I can say right now that I’m not good at it. I only play it because it’s the only exercise I know that makes me sweat like hell.

Lots of the other guys play basketball for different reasons though. I won’t discuss those reasons here, because I don’t really care.

What I do care about is this nagging question: Despite the overwhelming numbers of Filipinos who play basketball, why hasn’t no one – repeat, no one – made it to the NBA?

It can be argued that basketball is the tall man’s sport. I agree. Height is indeed might in that sport. But not always. I’ve been beaten by high school kids much shorter than me. And I’ve also beaten six-foot-tall guys.

A website I’ve seen lists Filipino men as among the shortest in the world – with an average height of about 5’4”.

I’m thinking of Muggsy Bogues. It’s not really about the height.

What’s the answer to my question? I don’t have a definitive one, but I do have a pretty good idea of what the average Filipino basketball player is like. I’ll talk about it in my blog post tomorrow.

Work. Play. Learn.

It’s been six months since the last time I finished a massive open online course. The last one was Coursera’s Songwriting MOOC offered by the Berklee College of Music.

I like MOOCs because they’re a great way to learn new stuff. The best part: you can pick the ones that are free.

Of course you need to find the time to learn new things. Finishing a MOOC requires a great deal of dedication.

I wanna finish a MOOC again. I know it’s not gonna be easy because of work (financial news editor) and play (basketball), among others. But I’m gonna try.