A BASKETBALL court complete with a digital scoreboard, typhoon resistant roofing, and fiber glass boards has just been built on a remote island in the eastern most part of the country.
It’s the reward local folks of Manicani island in Samar got for reflecting the true basketball passion of the Filipinos, their days of playing in barren seaside courtS under the scorching heat of the sun finally over.
On hand for the inauguration of the court built through the efforts of Nickel Asia and the Hinatuan Mining Corporation are current and former PBA stars Asi Taulava, Kenneth Duremdes, Rodney Santos, Cesar Catli, and Francis Allera.
The court was established at barangay Buenavista, which won the rights to have it built in its place after winning the cage league organized by Nickel Asia last year.
“Wow, I can never do that,” said Taulava as he watched local kids playing the game barefoot at a little past noon.
“People here are so passionate playing basketball. It’s one for the books,” said the former PBA MVP.
Spin.ph was also there to witness how basketball has evolved in Manicani, which is more or less just two years removed from surviving the wrath of super-typhoon Yolanda.
Buenavista barangay captain Tito Abusejo is elated at the support given to his people, whose main livelihood is fishing, notwithstanding the rampant case of dynamite fishing in the area.
“This is the first time na nagkaroon ng liga na ganito na organized. More so, nagkaroon pa kami ng basketball court na covered. We can never be happier,” said Abusejo.
“Basketball kasi ang isa sa pinakamatinding libangan ng tao rito. As you know, nasa isla lang kami. Walang malls, walang sinehan, wala lahat,” he added.
One of the areas hardest hit by typhoon Yolanda, Manicani sure can use a break.
“Alam mo naman nangyari sa Manicani after Yolanda, we need to find ways to boost their morale. Ako nakita ko yung damage (sa area na ito), November 12, four days after Yolanda,” said JB Baylon, vice president for corporate affairs of Nickel Asia.
“Parang binagsakan ng atomic bomb ito nun. Flat na flat talaga ang area na ito. Wala ni isang bahay ang nakatayo. Dito ko unang nakakita ng disaster na naniniwala akong may psychological impact,” added the former PBA vice chairman.
“So we needed to do some psychological boosting as well. And nothing beats basketball, nakita mo naman.”
Apart from launching a sports program, Nickel Asia was also one of the first to come to the aid of the people of Manicani and the whole municipality of Guiuan days after Yolanda struck the area on November 8, 2013.
“Kung nakikita niyo po na na-clear kaagad yung area namin mula dun sa mga wreckage ng Yolanda, it’s all because malaki ang naitulong run ng mga gamit na pinahiram ng Nickel Asia,” said Guiuan Mayor Christopher Gonzales, who was praised by no less than President Aquino for the municipality’s quick response to the people’s needs.
Apart from the covered court, Hinatuan Mining also shouldered the construction of a two-storey, socio-economic building, the tallest on the island, which will also serve as Manicani’s main port.
See video of transformation of Guiuan here: