What’s in a Word?


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Wow what a quarantine period it has been so far. Less than three months into this crap, a plethora of history happened.

I mean between talks about curves flattening (in all honesty, can you really do that?? Hahaha), renaming parties to mañanitas, accusations of incompetence in the DOH, MMDA, DOTR, PNP, corruption, sovereignty issues, laws about terrorism (of a virus?), economic hardships, local and regional travel problems, etc., OH MAN!!!!!! That’s a year’s worth of current events compressed in less than 80 days!!!!!! And it’s all BAD!!!!! Stinking bad actually.

And what has happened so far? I’ll tell you. Words. Words thrown around to accuse. To defend. To justify. To explain. And to apologize. Happens hourly, daily now, doesn’t it? But to what end?

Well let’s hold on a bit, lest I be accused of politicking for one side or another, this is not the proper venue for that. Just merely a descriptive of our current events today. But by God we need prayers!!!!!

Well, this is a sports site. And so far, nothings happening on the competition side. Athletes have been reduced to working out privately. Sporting events are closed. And the personalities that be, former and current players, as well as managers, and of course, coaches, are at one time or another, being interviewed in podcasts, conducted webinars, well, in other words, everybody is online now.

Hahaha. A coach interview. It will lead to this discussion anyway won’t it? Well everyone is aware of it now so let’s just look at what happened.

Well what really did happen?

It started as an innocent podcast interview really. Coach Tab Baldwin being interviewed about the Philippine basketball landscape. Innocent enough. And rightfully interesting because of his wealth of coaching experience and success with the Ateneo basketball program so far.

But as it turned out though, picking his brains and his response to the process was a powder keg explosion nobody anticipated.

Well in fairness to the Coach, he is a foreigner. A Westerner, an American, an Australian, a non-Asian. There is no racism in this, mind you. It’s just an explanation as to the cultural differences between Westerners and Asians.

It’s of course a well known fact that Westerners are frank people. They are opinionated. They say what they say, they mean what they say, and they don’t care about your feelings towards the issue at hand.

An Asian is different. You understand what I mean? Before an Asian opens his mouth for an opinion he has, he looks at the receiver first. He has to speculate what the reaction would be. And it’s actually worse if the recipient is a close friend or a loved one. We just don’t want to hurt the feelings of another human being, much less someone you love.

What makes this more complicated is that there are certain societal and organizational structures to follow. And certain heirachies too.

And now the issues at hand. Tab candidly blurted out his views. He questioned the PBA import format. He practically wanted to add more imports and the number that can be used in a game. He pointed out inequality in referees calls saying that fouls called on an import is not the same as a call on a local player.

He further elaborated that all these were “administrative” in nature. He practically called the problems that he sees, an administrative flaw. And not adopting his views is detrimental to Philippine basketball.

Enter the commissioner of the PBA. When he read about Tab’s responses, it suddenly became Enter the Dragon. Talks of fines and suspensions suddenly rocked the sports news. From the PBA commissioner no less.

It, of course, didn’t end there. Enter the Dragon Part 2. The coaches and the infrastructure of coaching. He said that coaching in the Philippines was technically immature. We don’t follow the European system based on player development. He basically called coaches technically backwards.

It may be true. It probably is. But look at the word “immature”. I understood him intellectually. Immature is just a word to say “not mature”, right? Meaning it’s young. Early stage. In fruit parlance, hilaw pa. NOTHING WRONG with the statement.

But for you to call an Asian, or specifically a Filipino immature, well, that connotes a different thing. It comes across as “you have an attitude problem”, or ‘there are advances in coaching techniques but you are not mature enough to accept or learn them”.

Tell me I’m wrong but the coaches went ballistic on him, including one under his same management group. 

Well in truth, isn’t this just a problem

of cultural communication gaps? To him, calling a person a monkey is a racial slur. To us, calling your friends unggoy ka (your a monkey), is a playful banter.

I hope I’ve made my point about the issue but there is one more thing to discuss further. Accountability. Remember, this issue is ballistic already. To tell you the truth, I think the Gilas program is in peril if this isn’t resolved.

Coaches can withhold their players can’t they? And both in the amateur and professional levels, as long as Tab is around and this isn’t resolved. Then name calling such as immature and unpatriotic will just make matters worse. Just like the politicians.

What would it take then to resolve this mess? I am telling you, ACCOUNTABILITY!!!!

His supporters will contend “why? He never said anything wrong. Truth hurts. Manipis lang kayo”. One even called a coach “talunan naman yan sa mga teams na hinawakan nya e”. Don’t deny it. I read it.

But what is exactly his accountability then? Well if you read the article intently, it’s right there. Plain and simple. It’s indiference to our culture!!!!!

Maybe he thought he meant no disrespect in anything he said and I believe he still believes so. But sir, you are in Asia. You are in the Philippines. You have been here for quite sometime now. Years.

Coach Tab should make the effort in learning our culture, specifically our communication cultures a lot better. Please know that what you say is not necessarily the way you want it to be received.

Look at a prenuptial agreement. To an American, it’s just a contract. To a Filipino, sometimes that’s a sensitive issue for some families. Look at a will. Same thing. Westerners welcome the procedure, but some parents in the Philippines will get offended. Buhay pa ako, pinaghahatian nyo na ari arian ko. 

So again, does he have an accountability to make amends? I would say, culturally, YES. You may not agree with me but look at the reactions. Except for his followers and supporters, everybody wants his head. High placed, intellectual people. The commissioner of the PBA and the BCAP, the coaches of the Philippines united. The commissioner found him arrogant. The coaches found him condescending.

What would it take? A simple apology would suffice I guess. After all, this article merely points out that it was a miscommunication brought about by cultural communication differences. That’s all!!!!

You can take this advice however you want to. Call it unsolicited. Call it bias. Call it what you want. All I’m saying is there is a problem in the Philippine basketball landscape now and I think this will solve it. Else get ready for the consequences.

What’s in a word? To a Westerner, a word is a word. To an Asian, a Filipino, it’s just like what you say in the cyber world. Think before you click.

Stay safe everyone.

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