Senator Angara and His “Nationalize American Jocks” Legislation

mcgee bltache-Rappler

McGee and Bitache (Source: Rappler)

If I seem short of patience, it is because of an overdose of despicable creatures from China to the Senate chambers to the Department of Immigration.

I have dropped Senator Angara from my list of presidential contenders. He comes up short of the essential standard that the Philippines be run by people who are intensely focused on highest need. First, he sits to the left of Senator Guingona on his aimless pork-barrel court and smiles for the cameras as if he were Vice Ganda on Showtime. Next, he takes up as an urgent matter of state the passing of bills to naturalize two American basketball players so they can play for the Philippine team and give it some altitude for international competition.

I fear they also give it some values I find distasteful. Like, the need to cheat to win. It rather smacks of stuffing the little league team with short people who are older than the age limit and hoping no one checks their birth certificates. Or a University giving out good grades to keep jocks eligible for play, an all-too common corrupt practice in the United States.


Senator Angara (Source: Inquirer)

Senator Angara is looking at the “entertainment” value of the two additions as the Philippines competes for the FIBA (International Basketball Federation) title.

Uh huh. As if real Filipinos were unskilled at entertainment.

In sports leagues in the US, these recruiting practices are frowned upon. The name for such players is “ringers”. They are good athletes recruited from outside the community to stock the local team with winners. It is patently poor sportsmanship and a practice that is banned in most community leagues.

Well, FIBA is a professional league, as it dropped the “amateur” designation in 1986, so one can argue this is no different than the Lakers hiring Pau Gasol from Spain or the Spurs grabbing Frenchman Tony Parker or the Rockets picking up Yao Ming from China.

But they didn’t have to become nationalized citizens to compete.

The only way the two American players can compete is to plaster some phony paper on them that says they are Philippine citizens.

Uh huh.Name the past two presidents. You think they know?

For sure, Senator Angara wants the Philippines to win badly. Maybe he is a jock himself, I don’t know. He recently joined Senator Trillanes in a royal rant against the Philippine sports heads for their failure to field any kind of competitive teams, and for the collapse of sports in which the Philippines has been strong. Like dragon boat racing.

I actually suspect Senator Angara is right. The Philippine sports federations are really lousy at building competitors. But fielding a winning team stocked with American ringers offers no basis for national pride, at least in my book. I mean, these two jocks are just whoring for a good deal where they can be heroes and get some advertising endorsements. They care zippo about the Philippines.

If you want to nationalize someone, how about pasting Joe Am into a bill. He has worked diligently for the Philippines for four years now, pounding his cheap Chinese keyboard to grind for a better nation. He has imported his money and his patriotic verve, and seeks no advertising endorsements. All he gets is a royal runaround from that department they call Immigration.

Or naturalize Joseph-Ivo, who has worked his brain dry providing counsel to Filipino business aspirants so THEY might get rich.

You think a couple of imported jocks can do more for the nation?

A win bought on the cheat speaks WELL of the Philippines?

Well, possibly it does matter more here, for the great masses of smiling, cheering happy-go-poverty Filipinos. That is the bare-faced truth of the matter. Filipinos are desperate for wins and care little about what goes into getting them.

There are two other reasons I don’t like the bills.

First, the legislation furthers the reputation of the Senate as a place of bad judgment, more interested in anything but the nation’s well-being. I mean, Angara was one of the principal writers of that Constitutionally challenged piece of waste paper called the Cybercrime Prevention Act, now resting in peace for the umpteenth month with the Supreme Court. The Senate has not even summoned up a sense of urgency to get a proper replacement done to get that embarrassment out of the Court and some organization into our cyber crime-fighting. But that gaggle of argumentative, accountability-deficient plunderers has time to get a couple of shill basketball players naturalized for the good of the good-time Philippines.

I wonder what the interpellation was like.

Second, the bills reflect a horrid competence deficiency in the Philippines, that there are no coaches or programs with the capacity to crank out winners. The sports chiefs are friends of friends and grand glad-handing-gadabouts. They are not rabid sportsmen zealously dedicated to the principles of excellence in competition. They can’t build widespread sporting organizations dedicated to identifying and training world-class athletes.

That’s extraordinarily sad, don’t y’think?

This is a culture of favors and power, not a culture of competence. It is the same in sports as it is in manufacturing or agribusiness. Shoddy business practices and shady business managers.

I’m not criticizing at all. Just describing . . . and pointing out the odd behaviors that emerge from a nation that does not prize competence . . .

. . . and suggesting why the rest of the world simply does not take the Philippines seriously.

30 Responses to “Senator Angara and His “Nationalize American Jocks” Legislation”
  1. edgar lores says:

    A. Methodology

    As before, linguistics.

    A.4. Sonny
    Noun informal
    1. used by an older person as a familiar form of address for a young boy.

    Verb (courtesy of Urban Dictionary)
    1. To literally beat the shit out of someone.

    B. Observations

    1. It was previously observed that names may adopt a verb form or a noun form. However, no implications were implied, no inferences inferred, and no deductions deduced. We shall do so now.

    1.1. Clearly, candidates whose names take the verb form are doers. So far, all are doers.
    1.2. Clearly also, all candidates whose names take the noun form are entities. So far, all except Mar are entities.
    1.3. What to make of this? Clearly, doers who are entities act from a core center. This would perhaps suggest that Mar acts, not from a core center, but from an external source. I leave it to the readers to deduce whether that source is Korina.

    2. Another refinement of the methodology is to take into account the nuances of a name. In terms of synonyms, Mar had 3, Ping had none, Sonny has none, and Grace had a remarkable 34. One implication of nuance is subtlety and another is vibrancy. Alas, Ping and Sonny are bereft of these resonant qualities.

    3. Another possible refinement is a count of the number of syllables. All but Sonny are monosyllabic. At present, no implication has been sussed out, and this must await the expansion of the sample population.

    4. It will be observed that JoeAm has omitted first-naming the Senator. What to make of this? In my Freudian interpretation of this slip, I would say this reveals a subconscious and implicit judgment of the Senator that JoeAm is loathe to reveal for reasons of delicadeza.
    4.1. Delicadeza? JoeAm? Yes, there is some incongruity in the thought. JoeAm is anything but forthright, a straight shooter. But perhaps his long association with the lovely people have rubbed off on him. At least, at the subconscious level.
    4.2. And what, pray, is the implicit judgment? Well, the core of the essay is predominantly about sports. Therefore, the candidate’s name says it all: Rank Amateur.

    C. Conclusion

    Again, in respect of other methods and of individual choice, the commenter is loath to make a call.

    However, as before, he will attempt to frame the proper question: Would you allow a youngster to go sonny on you?

    • edgar lores says:

      Addendum: Item B.2. Mar has a miniscule amount of these resonant qualities.

    • Joe America says:

      I love that Urban Dictionary, and what the hell is his first name, anyway? It took me 10 minutes to recover enough from my howling gales to type these few lines. The rest of my day is likely shot, the causes of the howling gales being stuck in my brain like a damn tune that just . . . won’t . . . go . . . away . . .

    • cha says:

      So who are you and what have you done to our friend Edgar?

      You assign numbers to your ramblings and think you can already pass yourself off as The Great Enumerator? No, no, no. You’re not having me fooled. Our Edgar was never this hilarious.

      And just so you know, Sonny Angara’s real name is Juan Edgardo. Hah! Let’s see you analyze that!


      • edgar lores says:


        1. As you know, Edgar is trying to go on retreat in his knightly quest to explore the notion of no self. Strangely, he finds that in doing so he has resulted in an explosion of doppelgangers, alter egos and multiple personalities. As Edgar seeks to dissolve the illusion of self, all the wannabes in him wanna come out. There is the would-be poet, the would-be psychologist, the would-be romantic and so on. Then there is this comic Edgar, at last free – free! – and no longer a wannabe! 😉

        2. So now you ask Edgar-the-comic to prove that he is Edgar-the-serious, that he is no enumerating impostor. Gadzooks, Edgar-the-thinker has no up-front proof.

        3. (At this point, all Edgars do not know where this is going… The visual metaphor is the Russian Matryoshka doll. All Edgars are nested together and momentarily the Comic dominates, but we do not know which one occupies the core center.)

        4. In the meantime, these are some reflections of Edgar-I-don’t-know-which about Juan Edgardo.

        4.1 “Juan” is the prototypical Filipino. He is the Pinoy Everyman. He is in no way exceptional except that he is the epitome of the average Pinoy with all his cultural strengths and defects. He stands exactly at midpoint of the short bell curve that represents the Filipino male population.

        4.2. “Edgar”, the base element of Edgardo, is the essential lovable me. Me refers, of course, to Edgar-the-comic and not to Sonny. But I am certain that Sonny, having been voted into office, possesses this selfsame self. Wait, wait… does this mean that Jinggoy is lovable too? Oh, no, no, no!
        4.3. The Urban Dictionary on Edgar: “Such an amazing friend. He’s really confusing at times and hard to understand, but once you get to know the real him you’ll understand. He’s like a big brother to everyone and is the therapist of the group. But even the guy that helps out the most needs help of his own.” Spooky. That’s so spookily accurate except for the big brother insult. Shiver me timbers.

        4.4. Edgardo is not of the diminutive form. It is the passionate extension of the affectionate and lovable Edgar. The “o” suffix imbues the name with Italianate heat. As in Fabio, fantabulous Fabio. Or as in “O Romeo, Romeo wherefore are thou Romeo?” And as in Verdi’s La Traviata, “Amami, Alfredo, quant’io t’amo. Addio!”
        4.4.1. Can you imagine how commonplace Shakespeare’s heartbreaking tragedy would have been were it entitled “Rome and Juliet”? It would have all the prosaic aspiration and intellectual verve of “Gidget Goes to Rome”.
        4.4.2. Puccini attempted to write an opera entitled Edgar about a confused young man torn between two loves. He later “bitterly repudiated” the work.

        4.5. When one integrates all of this data, one arrives at a plausibly accurate picture of the real Senator: a typical lovable fellow, a passionate sports aficionado, somewhat confused in the matter of priorities as JoeAm has detailed, who has great affection for the people of Aurora and who really helps out.
        4.6. As proof of the last part, I pull this passage from Wiki: “He was one of the remaining congressmen who offered aid to some of the wounded persons and personally brought some of the survivors to the nearby Far Eastern Hospital…for treatment when a bomb was planted by still unknown suspects at the premises of the House of Representatives in 2008 which resulted in the death of Congressman Wahab Akbar and the death and serious wounding of other congressmen and congressional staffers.”

        5. There. I, Edgar-of-no-self, hope this lengthy analysis provides some proof that Edgar-the-clown and Edgar-the-serious are complementary aspects of the same confused but strangely fascinating (but only in a clinical sense) self.

        • cha says:

          Aah, Edgar, you are lovable in whatever state you are in.

          I first got to know solid Edgar. Feet firmly planted on the ground, unwavering in his principles. A solid rock and source of stability one turns to in moments of uncertainty and disappointment.

          But who wouldn’t also love fluid and free flowing Edgar, whose words dance ever so gracefully on a page like lithesome ballerinas one moment and nimble and powerful gymnasts the next?

          And now this Edgar that gives me gas from laughing so much. He had me at Edgardo.

  2. brianitus says:

    Uncle Joe, it’s time for you to dig out your old Chuck Taylors from the old footlocker. Time to play b-ball. Time to become JuanAm.

    Honestly, I fear that our dear senators have too much time to spare.

    • Joe America says:

      I fear they do not know the slogan “No Fear”. It is an asylum run by the patients. The process for prioritizing bills seems to be to allow anyone to present anything in their turn. There seems to be no sense of national priority, or even humiliation if we consider where most bills go. Directly to the Supreme Court.

      I do have a hoop in the driveway here, and shoot regularly. I can no longer dunk, however.

      • brianitus says:

        Priority bills? Somebody ought to put up a giant FOI Now billboard in front of the HoR, Senate and Malacañang.

        • Joe America says:

          Yes. But not outside the Senate. Senator Poe “gets it” and is pushing the bill as fast as procedure and her foot-dragging colleagues permit. But if they advanced bills with more integrity (cybercrime has big constitutional problems), then the courts would be less likely to accept other challenges (like on RH). They would defer more confidently to the legislative arm of government. Right now I fear even the Supreme Court has little confidence in what the Congress is doing.

  3. Joseph-Ivo says:

    1- “…the capacity to crank out winners”. The 12,000,000 Filipinos that could be winners in many fields are out of the country. (and 12,000,000 more are unemployed, many of the rest under-employed).

    2- What you describe for basketball, the belief in a golden bullet (coming from outside) or that the solution lies in talking to the right senator (person in power), it’s all so symptomatic. But it’s an essential part to keep the small upper class thriving and to keep all the rest focused on the next match, the beauty contest or on ways to pressure ate in Dubai to work some longer hours and send some more money for an upcoming fiesta.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, nice shading of the point, the basketball bill is reflective of a national attention deficit disorder, where the real needs of the nation are not attended to.

      • edgar lores says:

        Speaking of basketball, have you noticed the game metaphors adopted by all to describe events in the PDAF scandal?

        • Joseph-Ivo says:

          … and who will find them the “ringers” to draft wining legislation to fight corruption? I’m afraid that they are too amateurish to do it by there own.

          • Joe America says:

            I wonder if we took a snapshot of the Senate every 5 years, rather like those time-lapse cameras of flowers growing, we would see a shift of character. That is, would we see more integrity with people like Poe and the Cayetanos than were here 10 or 15 years ago . . . I dunno myself, but I actually hold some of the people there in fairly high regard. I still hold hope that Sonny Angara will mature as a leader rather than a sportsman.

        • Joe America says:

          Interesting. I had not, but will read now with a third eye.

  4. Jeronie Frias says:

    is the naturalizaton of Blatche and Mcgee apples and apples with how the Azkals are composed or simply diametric? I can’t get myself as well to be compassionate or at least be proud about the Azkals, more so when I’m abroad just because these guys are totally foreign if not clueless about what the Philippines is all about.

    the thing is we’ve got enough foreign blood already for the Gilas team and most of the brown skinned players in the team if not American born, were trained in the US. I mean c’mon, we only qualified for the world championship, it’s not like we will win it all if we add those two guys in.

    but bottomline, he needs some mileage so yeah, Angara will do all kinds of stupid stuff (at least in the eyes of thinking Filipinos) just to get it.

    • Joe America says:

      I enjoy watching the games stacked with Americans, but I don’t like them so very much. I want my team to be MY TEAM. To some extent, the Philippines is a ship out of water in the arena of basketball because altitude IS important. Just as it is a ship out of water for winter olympics because snow and ice are hard to come by. But the Philippines ought to aspire to excel in baseball, in soccer, in boxing, in gymnastics, in water sports (do colleges have competing swim teams, as they do in the US?), in archery and shooting, roller skating, and other sports that don’t require altitude or ice. By my observation, Filipinos are incredibly athletic and skilled, but get no regimented training.

      I lived in Mindanao on the beach for a time, and it was amazing watching the kids, age 10 to 14, doing their beach backflips and tumbling. Zero formal training. Just an aptitude. I thought at the time, man, what if there were avenues for them to perfect those skills???

    • Just to give you a more pragmatic outlook especially when it comes to the Azkals.

      Is it the the fault of Azkals’ manager Palami that dwarf-like Filipinos spent almost a century focusing on basketball– the sport of giants?

      Of course not. Hence, it’s needed to be pragmatic and get those half-euro players since it’s LEGAL anyway. The media attention the mestizos got; I thought it was good for the promotion of the game in the country on the least.

      How can most Pinoys say that they aren’t proud of the moderate Azkal success when I bet most of them were oblivious to the existence of Azkals, or football in general, before the Younghusbands came?

  5. manuel buencamino says:


    It is not cheating. Angara’s proposed bill is meant to avoid cheating. A naturalized Filipino is a Filipino. FIBA rules do not make a distinction between natural born and naturalized citizens. Using rules to your advantage is not cheating, it does not even come close.

    Now if the Philippines were to fake the papers of the American cagers THAT would be cheating. And that is precisely what the proposed bill will avoid.

    Naturalizing cagers to qualify them to play on the national team is no different from naturalizing Rupert Murdoch as an American so he can own print media and broadcast networks in the US. It may leave a bad taste in the mouth but don’t blame the players – Murdoch or the Philippines – they are just playing by the rules of the game. They don’t make the rules. Go to FIBA or the US Congress and ask them to rewrite the rules so that they are more in keeping with the intent of the rule.

    Those who play by the rules follow rules to the letter. Here Red Auerbach gives high school kids tips on competitive advantage. Actually neither example is prohibited by the rules so strictly speaking it is not cheating. It may not be sporting but it is not cheating.

    • Joe America says:

      On reflection, I agree, and hereby withdraw any and all aspersions that Senator Angara is “cheating” by advocating the two bills. It may even be sporting if you belong to the John Stockton or Charles Barkeley schools of play, that anything you can get away with is fair and proper. Both were highly respected by other players and their fans, and were big-time winners.

      Now, of course, the slippery slope arises when a politician believes his profession is sport and plays by the same sense of “whatever I can get away with” is perfectly fine.

    • Have to agree with MB’s pragmatic view. It’s like a lawyer trying to find a loophole to win a case.

      Yet, there are 3 glaring underlying problems here:

      1. Angara wants mileage
      2. This bill is reeking of the shortcut mentality; you know sign good import players instead of developing a strong pool of young ball players. Rather like beating red lights, jaywalking, get-rich-quick pork barrel scam, etc..
      3. This is still about the obsession on the sports of GIANTS that the Pinoy DWARVES love.

      • Joe America says:

        The problem is, the sports infrastructure is weak. Baseball takes a big field and a lot of equipment. Who can afford a glove? A cheap rubber basketball and a court of cement, we can do that.

        Soccer takes a big field and goal posts and there are no local leagues.

        Coaching does not exist, or is very limited. For all the obsession with basketball, no one does a pick and roll on the local level. They do the showboat dribble and throw up clankers.

      • edgar lores says:

        1. “Using rules to your advantage is not cheating.” – MB

        2. There are rules and rules. We know some rules are “legal” but “unethical”.
        2.1. Most rules are built on some basic rules or principles.
        2.2. Is there a basic ethical principle being violated here?
        2.3. At the spur of the moment, I cannot think of any.

        3. Perhaps the question to ask is: Who is being cheated?

        3.1. Other countries’ teams because they face a “performance-enhanced” Filipino squad? Nope, there may be FIBA rules against performance enhancing drugs but none, or so I gather, against performance enhancing imports.

        3.2. Home-made Filipino players because they will not receive stratospheric wages and benefits that these imported stratospheric players will receive? Na-ah. You get paid for whatever unique skills and attributes you have.

        3.3. The Filipino people because tax money is being spent for foreign resources that are not in the national interest? Nooo. It is in the national interest if these imported players win a trophy for the motherland and cover it with sporting glory.

        3.4. But what if these imported players do not deliver a trophy? Well, there is no guarantee of anything if you buy something. Caveat emptor or something like that. And we do buy tanks, jets, battleships that are made elsewhere because we do not have the mojo to do so. In this case, we are buying potential mojo.

        4. The worst one can say of the Angara bill is that it is opportunistic.
        4.1. Wiki: “Opportunism is the conscious policy and practice of taking selfish advantage of circumstances. Although human opportunism often has a strong negative (pejorative) moral connotation (in contrast to e.g. biological opportunism, used as a neutral scientific description), it may also be defined more neutrally as putting self-interest before other interests when there is an opportunity to do so, or flexibly adapting to changing circumstances to maximize self-interest (though usually in a way that negates some principle previously followed).”
        4.2. I rather think this describes the Filipino to a T.

    • Joseph-Ivo says:

      This touches a core problem of our democracy. Laws are voted not in the interest of the majority but in the interest of a small group. Ask thousand Filipinos if they will consider McGee and Bitache compatriots and the answer will be no and still a few can decide that they are. The same applies in many other nations. The root cause? Money. A few are able to optimize the value of a sport and make huge profits in selling players or clubs, TV rights, merchandizing, etc. Therefor they have to continually “adjust” some laws. E.g. from “a national team consists of players born and raised in a country” to “… 5 years residence in the country” to “… legal nationality”. Even if the gut feeling of all citizens is different.

      Isn’t it similar with what caused the financial crisis? Laws are bended in favor of the 1% by a small group of people manning a carousel from Wall Street to rating agencies, to the administration, to lobby groups and back to Wall Street. If as an investor can make lawful windfall profits if the law is tweaked a little in his favor. His previous, also being his future colleagues, will be very willing to teak it as proposed.

      Supporters, voters have to find people who really represent them. But how? I’m pessimistic when I see how the 1% can use a tea party to promote “less legislation” so the water can flow easier to the oceans of centralized wealth.… Democracy is bad, but all other systems are worse.

      • Joe America says:

        “Democracy is bad, but all other systems are worse.”

        I’m not sure we have tried all other systems yet. For instance, we have not tried the corporate model with a board of directors representing the people. Democracy in the US has gone mad with partisanship because congressmen have lost track of their main obligation to serve the nation rather than the party. Democracy in the Philippines is a ship out of water because the culture is based on a hierarchical alignment of power and favor, and so power and favor is what drives the government. As you clearly point out.

        The advantage of a corporate structure is that it is also hierarchical, but based on the performance of the whole, driven by leveraging the performance of the individuals. Democracy in the Philippines has too many divided voices speaking into it, and no honorable voices representing the masses (the leftists alledgedly representing them only listen to their own irrelevant rhetoric).

        I think I need a blog to sort this out better.

      • edgar lores says:

        “Laws are voted not in the interest of the majority but in the interest of a small group.”

        It’s a lot worse in a non-democracy.

  6. Wow. It’s amazing how a post about a pathetic Senate bill sparked a little talk about the shortcomings of a democracy.

    I hope there’s a legal mechanism that sets priority areas of legislation, and penalizes legislators who violate it. Priority areas such as FOI, education, health, small-medium enterprise promotion, law and order and the like.

    Joe, I think you made some pragmatic remarks on why the dwarves should pursue basketball. Football – what the rest of the world call soccer– or baseball are quite too expensive for the low-income majority.

    BUT before becoming a sports powerhouse, setting priorities tells me that the PHL should aspire to become a quality-of-life powerhouse first and foremost.

    PS: I will be glad to hear more about your corporate model.

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