I have almost forgotten how it was to be engulfed in a sudden rush of excitement. I have realized I almost allowed myself to forget the sleepless nights just thinking of how the day crazily went by. And I almost fooled myself, and maybe everyone, that I've became numb and deaf to the call of my first love. And I never expected myself, in such a long time, to set foot to that place that used to be my world.
The new face of Araneta Coliseum hasn't made as much impact as it gave me one hot October afternoon. I was to set foot to an old home. I was to say hello once again to the people I have spent so much good time with. And I was to see the game that has etched a great deal of memories in my life - basketball.
I, as a young kid, about 6 years old and a girl at that, used to be glued in the television with literally my whole clan, 3 times a week watching basketball. And since time immemorial, I have never supported any team other than Ginebra. They may have gone thru several name changing, Ginebra or Gilbey's or Gordon Gins, they will always be Ginebra.
I used to think my fascination and support to the team was because my fave player of all time, Magic Man Dondon Ampalayo, was part of the team. But after he had a semi-hiatus and came back donning a new uniform, being Alaska, my heart was still with the Gins. Then I thought maybe it's because of Jaworksi. He, as everybody believes, is the heart and soul of Ginebra, if not the PBA itself. But Jawo retired from playing, became a senator but lo and behold, I am still on the Gin Kings' side.
I grew up looking at the faces of Jaworski, Dondon, the Loyzaga Brothers, Mamaril, Rudy Distrito, Leo Isaac among other Ginebra players. Then came new blood for my team in the name of Jayvee Gayoso, Marlou Aquino (now with SLR), Bal David (retired they say and has migrated in the States), Noli Locsin, Vince Hizon (where's he?). Also in the team was the low profile but ever dependable players as Benny Cheng, Pido Jarencio (retired?), Wilmer Ong. Several imports hold a special place in my heart for being such a wonderful help to my team - Michael Hacket, Billy Ray Bates, Chris King, Joe Ward.
2 years back, I somehow lost the interest. I felt there are other shows that could take my time other than PBA, and other games that I can enjoy doing like volleyball and badminton. I lost track of the new names in the league (though from time to time, I hear several names from my siblings who are still so much into it). My Ginebra wasn't the old Ginebra I fell in love with. It was the same feeling I had when Dondon officialy hanged his jersey up.
Until that sunday afternoon when my sister was able to drag me into seeing a game with my kid. I thought to myself "What the heck!". And so as I enter Araneta once again, savoring my every step on the stairs, seeing other people going from one gate to another looking for a good spot, entering the main door and seeing once again the arena where my idols have played, an old feeling creeped in my veins and started to fill me up.
I am here again. Loving being there. Enjoying every tick of the clock. Screaming to my heart's content until my voice became so hoarse. And looking around, for one minute, I kept quiet and just let myself drown in the deafening chants of the crowd saying "Ginebra! Ginebra! Ginebra".
As a closing note, I have established such a higher respect and faith to Erik Menk. He's one helluva player.