By Raymund Antonio
In the aftermath of the basketball brawl between Philippines and Australia, Vice President Leni Robredo has reminded Filipinos they should do the right thing even “patriotism and courage demand in our righteous anger.”
“This is an issue that strikes a chord with many of us, simply because it is not just about the basketball game itself nor the fracas that followed, but about our own individual notions of what it means to be Filipino,” she said.
Robredo, a former housing chief, acknowledged it is easy to understand the Gilas players for what they did as claimed by others it was a “defense of Filipino pride.”
“We are a nation and a people whose history and experience are sadly replete with many instances of subjugation and humiliation, and lashing out at ‘foreign abuse’ can readily be taken as an expression of patriotism and courage,” she said.
The Vice President released a statement on Wednesday night a couple of days after the massive fight that broke out between the Boomers and Gilas Pilipinas during a FIBA World Cup Asian qualifying match.
The two teams figured in a bench-clearing brawl in the third quarter of the game held at the Philippine Arena, which resulted to the ejection of 13 players. Australia went on to win by default.
While the actions of Gilas players reflect their patriotism and courage, Robredo claimed it can mean “more than giving vent to our anger, even during the times when there is ample justification for it.”
“The curses we hurl and the punches we throw, whether literally or figuratively, may provide immediate satisfaction. But if they undermine the essential justness of our cause, they serve us poorly,” she said.
Courage, Robredo stressed, “often demands restraint,” as she also emphasized that “strength must come with self-control.”
With the “failure to grasp this truth,” the Vice President concluded, “many victories have been lost.”
After the melee, Gilas Pilipinas players have already offered their apologies to their fellow Filipinos and the visiting Australians. They were highly regrettable for their behavior unbecoming of a national team.
The Vice President recognized these players for “owning up to our mistakes, and doing what is necessary to set them right,” which she said, is the “deeper expression of Filipino pride.”
“We can be proud that there are many of our fellow Filipinos who are finding the courage to do precisely that,” Robredo added.