Losing gracefully


One of the most dramatic and inspirational sporting events in the history of basketball was the recent National Basketball Association (NBA) championship series between the defending champions Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs. In a hard-fought, seven-game series, the Heat outlasted the San Antonio with LeBron James proving to all that he is the greatest basketball player on the planet.

Our readers may have seen the games or read the numerous accounts about the seesaw battle between the two teams. Let me provide additional information on some of the key individuals involved.

About the coaches.

Gregg Popovich, 64, of the San Antonio Spurs is a 1970 graduate of the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. He was the basketball team captain during his senior year and eventually became the captain of the US Armed Forces basketball team that won the Amateur Athletic Union championship in 1972. He joined the Spurs in 1988 as an assistant coach and later became head coach, leading the team to four NBA titles.

In 2008, he returned to the Air Force Academy to receive the Academy’s Distinguished Graduate award. Despite his four NBA titles, he considers the Academy award as the most meaningful he has ever received.

Erik Spoelstra, 43, the head coach of the Miami Heat traces his roots to the Philippines. His mother, Elisa Celino, is from San Pablo City, Laguna. He is the first Filipino-American head coach in the history of the four major American sports leagues (basketball, baseball, football, and hockey) and the first Filipino-American head coach to win an NBA championship.

Although relatively unknown in the world of basketball coaching, he was named head coach of the Miami Heat in 2008. In selecting him, Pat Riley, former head coach and now president of the Heat organization, said: “This game is now about younger coaches who are technologically skilled, innovative, and bring fresh, new ideas. That’s what we are getting with Erik Spoelstra. He’s a man born to coach. A lot of players want the discipline, they will play hard for Spoelstra because they respect him.”

Spoelstra will surely be visiting the Philippines again. His pursuit of excellence, his ability to rise to the challenges when everything seems lost, serves as an inspiration for our people not just athletes. Now if we could only get the right leadership in place, perhaps a gold in Rio de Janeiro come 2016 can finally be achieved.

* * *

In winning his second Finals Most Valuable Player award, James showed how a champion carries himself in victory. “I can’t worry about what everybody says about me. I’m LeBron James from Akron, Ohio, from the inner city. I’m not even supposed to be here. Every night I walk into a locker room. I see a No. 6 with ‘James’ on the back. I am blessed.”

Perhaps Pat Riley said it for most of us. “We live in a world of immediate blame and immediate praise. And they’re always going to take a shot at the guy at the top of the mountain. LeBron is the greatest player in the world, one of the greatest leaders I have been around.”

The losing coach, Popovich, who had victory in his hands in game 6, had this to say: “It was a great series. I don’t know if ‘enjoy’ is the right word but in all honesty, even in defeat, I am starting to enjoy what our group accomplished. And you need to do that to put it in perspective. So, it’s no fun to lose but we lost to a better team. And you live with that as long as you’ve given your best and I think we have.”

Well said! When shall we learn to accept defeat or disappointment graciously instead of blaming the referees or accusing everyone of cheating?

* * *

My recent column on the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program and a citizen army elicited a number of comments from our readers. All favor the revival of the ROTC program as a source of leadership for the Armed Forces. They saw the benefits of some friendly competition between Philippine Military Academy graduates and the products of civilian educational institutions.

One of the possible reasons for the lack of enthusiasm of our political leaders for a fixed term of office for the AFP chief of staff and major service commanders is the fear of a military organization under a strong leadership. The revolving door scenario which provides short-term appointments to key leadership positions provides politicians with extra leverage in terms of patronage opportunities that allow for the promotion of favorites. This situation is exacerbated when most appointments are products of one single institution.

Retired Brig. Gen. Joel Hinlo mentions that there have been many studies favoring the revival of the ROTC program in colleges. The program consists of a two-year basic course that is mandatory followed by another two-year advance course that remains optional. Graduates of the basic course are given noncommissioned officer rank, while those who finish the two-year advance course are commissioned second lieutenants in the reserve force. It is possible that those with outstanding performances in the program are sometimes given direct commissions in the regular force.

Hinlo says that “ROTC develops and trains college students to be responsible. Discipline is emphasized aside from giving a chance for our young cadets to excel and show leadership qualities. I am a product of the ROTC advance course, having graduated as corps commander from UP Iloilo, ROTC in 1955.”

From personal knowledge I can say that Hinlo is an exemplary product of the ROTC program. He joined the Air Force and took up personnel courses in the United States and graduated from the Air Command and Staff College in Spain.

Another outstanding ROTC graduate is Maj. Gen. Jose Magno who served as head of SouthCom and later, served as national security adviser. He was also chair of the Government Service Insurance System during the administration of President Fidel V. Ramos.

As I mentioned before, perhaps the finest product of the ROTC program anywhere in the world is Gen. Colin Powell, a City College of New York alumnus. As an ROTC cadet, he learned that being in charge meant making decisions no matter how unpleasant. In ROTC drill competitions, he realized that you cannot let the mission suffer or make the majority pay to spare the feelings of an individual. Many years later, he would keep a saying under the glass of his table at the Pentagon. It read “Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off.”

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  • aristeosj

    That is in America,sir,a first world country.
    i bet you are very much aware that we live
    in a place called Philippines,a third world country.

    Unfortunately,all of her leaders and most of her people
    are living up to its status as being a member of a developing

    Nothing more…nothing less…

  • Emmanuel R. Santiago

    I would suggest that you look into the records also of Lt. Col. Cresenciano Santiago, a product of UP Diliman ROTC (a corps commander also) and eventually became a commandant of UP ROTC during the time of UP President Edgardo C. Angara. Col. Santiago led his cadet officers in denouncing Pres. Marcos and Gen. Ver during the People Power Revolution on national television (PTV 4). Like Col Santiago, Pres Marcos and Gen Ver also belong to UP Vanguard. He also served under Gen, Magno in Malacanang after the EDSA revolution. Col. Santiago opted for optional retirement and started to practice law in Bulacan. At one time, he became the legal counsel of the Diocese of Malolos and Bulacan State University. He became the president of Samahang Pangkasaysayan (SAMPAKA in Bulacan), president of IBP-Bulacan and active in church related activities.
    There had been numerous articles about heroes of EDSA People Power Revolution but none has so far mentioned about the significant contribution of Col. Santiago and his 1986 UP ROTC Cadet Officers.

  • Eelap

    They will still be great men even without rotc. It is not the institution it is the character.

  • leodegardompruna

    People makes an institution, institutions built character, and character defines a nation. God bless the Philippines.

    • Manga Gamud

      Tama po kayo diyan…

  • Celsa Joson

    I was touched by the sight of Popovich embracing Lebron and later Wade. Such a genuine show of sportsmanship towers any character on the court, particularly the “never say die”. Compare this act with the attitude of Sonny Jaworski after his team’s defeat with Shell some years back. He refused to enter the court after repeated calls from the emcee to accept the runner up trophy, demeaning the efforts of Shell as the champion and insisting that Ginebra was cheated. Yet Jaworski was elected senator. In here we can see an obvious weakness as a race. It is no surprise to me that convicted criminals, drug lords and drug users, felons and outlaws are elected as public servants because we have lost our sense of moral and ethical values.

    • Manga Gamud

      And remember also that Jaworsky was banned for life in the PBA and reinstated only withe help of the late Pablo Carlos.

  • gmaisthebestpresident

    ROTC? ang experienced ko sa ROTC eh for two years half day kayong tatayo sa parking lot ng school na wala namang gagawin. tapos yung mga magbabayad para hindi umattend eh mas mataas pa ang grade.

  • ting0508

    Losing in an election in the Philippines is always due to cheating. Look at Erap, Binay and Enrile, these three muskeeters are blaming the PCOS for the debacle of their corrupt Senatorial team.

  • josh_alexei

    But Mr. Farolan, the overall objective of having ROTC in Colleges and Universities is what that counts. A very Few individuals that exceed from the Ranks will not justify its existence. Canada Armed Forces are no Less distinguished than any Country and I would say will STAND second to none, but it has no compulsory training whatsoever…we have Cadet training starting at age 12 to 18 but it is pure Voluntary and it is mostly for fun and leadership training for boys and girls and its most famous products are the Astronauts who were all previous Air Cadets and a number of Canadian Forces Generals and not a Single one of them been INVOLVED in shenanigans.

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