by Oliver Carlos
Hotbed is an idiom which means “a place of origin.” In sports, hotbed refers to a place where legends are born. It’s a locale which has a reputation for being strong in a certain sport. When I was in elementary school, I observed that the USSR was a hotbed for chess grandmasters. I often read in newspapers stories about Karpov and Kasparov. I also observed that Kenya was known as a hotbed for marathon runners. In the Philippines, the south (Visayas and Mindanao) is arguably a football hotbed.
There are many football greats who hail from the south. Popular Azkal Chieffy Caligdong is from Iloilo. Many football coaches and executives are also from the south. I also noticed that certain UAAP juniors football teams are composed almost entirely by recruits from the Visayas and Mindanao. Football must be really big in that part of the country.
Recently, I discovered that this passion of the Visayans for football extends far beyond what I have imagined. I had a chat with my Dad about his life as a UPLB student in the 1960s, and he told me campus sports stories in his time. The Visayans were the stars in his stories.
My Dad was not a football player, but he’s very much into sports. He lived in a boarding house in the Forestry campus and in the afternoons, he would play tennis with his peers. UPLB’s upper campus was complete with sports facilities- tennis, basketball, volleyball, and football. These playgrounds were just a doorstep away from the students’ dorms and boarding houses. Interestingly, in the 1960s, the site of the basketball, volleyball, and tennis courts was the the lot in front of the Forestry admin building. Meanwhile, the football field is still where it was 60 years ago. That’s the open grassy space 100 meters in front of the Forestry dormitory.
My Dad said that every afternoon, the Forestry football field was so alive with “open-play” games. His Thai roommate was a legend in that playground. In addition, he said that the players that you can find at the Forestry football field were either Thai or Visayan. “Bisaya” and “football” were synonymous words in campus in the 1960s.
It’s very admirable of the Visayans to keep their long-running tradition and image continue half-a-century later. They have maintained their reputation as a footballing people. They have a certain brand of football that is unique from the style elsewhere north of their place.
If the southerners are known by their football passion throughout the decades, we followers of Christ also have this challenge to live up to our name as well. Our heartbeat must be evident to all. We must be a peculiar people of virtue, and other people around us must see this in us. We read in 1 Peter 2:9 (ICB):
“But you are a chosen people….You are a nation that belongs to God alone. God chose you to tell about the wonderful things he has done. He called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
As Christians, what are the words that are synonymous to us? Love, Joy, Peace, Holiness, Power, Victory. Since we are God’s people, we should be known as a unique people of Christlike character. People should see that we have great joy in our hearts, and a positive outlook on life. We are the shining light that the gloomy world is looking for. Our happy disposition must be contagious in our workplaces and homes.
People should see that we have a heart overflowing with thanks to the Father. We shouldn’t be frequent grumblers. People should notice the prayer warrior in us, we should not be worriers. When people look at us, they must see a little reflection of God in our eyes. We are to be channels of God’s love and blessings to the people around us.
If you are not yet this kind of Christian, don’t worry. The important thing is you have the desire to be like this, and you ask God to transform you. We become this kind of people not by our own effort, but by God’s power as we surrender to him our lives and follow Jesus daily. One day, people will notice the difference God has made in your life.