Ever since I left Manila, the list of the things I’m missing out on seems to grow longer and longer. Artists like Jason Mraz and the AI S10 idols oblige their throngs of fans in Araneta, but couldn’t be bothered to even take a peep at wee Singapore. Football-fever struck Manila as well, and I could only watch the FB updates as my high school friends troop to the game stadiums together.
So when a friend sent a shout-out about watching the Lions-Azkals friendly game in Singapore, I immediately raised my hand for tickets. At last! I have ZIP knowledge about football; I couldn’t tell you what the red/yellow/technicolor cards meant, even if my life depended on it. But what the hell, it’s been so long since I’ve been to anything nationalistic and I’m determined to yell, cheer and heckle for my country.
A massive wave of blue shirts greeted us as we made our way to the Jalan Besar Stadium. The grandstand tickets were sold out a good 4 days before the game, we were told. Apparently, a lot of Pinoys also wanted in; you would have thought that it was Ginebra battling it out that day. Despite the rain, the crowd stood their ground, as the queue winded along the sides of the whole stadium.
So in case you haven’t heard yet, we lost the game. Maybe it’s true that despite their popularity, the Azkals are still pretty much a green team with a long way to go. Or maybe the Lions were just stronger, faster and felt more compelled to protect their home turf. As for me though, as much as I would have wanted nothing more than to erupt in boisterous celebration ala-Pinoy, I was happy enough to see that despite everything, there is still something that tugs in our hearts that makes us flock to see and support our home country together. We may not kick ass in this game, but it’s okay to just be happy together, to cheer together, to hope together.