We play it on the computer and on the streets. We cheer from our living rooms and from the sidelines. We talk about games and players and teams and coaches. We go all out, local or international. Even NBA stars that visit the country are in awe of how crazy we are about basketball. But why?
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Welcome to the Philippines, where the men are five foot five, the everyman's Air Jordans are a pair of flip-flops, and the rhythm of life is punctuated by the bouncing of a basketball. Rafe Bartholomew arrived in Manila with little more than a Fulbright scholarship and an urban legend that Filipinos loved basketball more than anyone else on the planet.
He'd heard that the l Welcome to the Philippines, where the men are five foot five, the everyman's Air Jordans are a pair of flip-flops, and the rhythm of life is punctuated by the bouncing of a basketball. He'd heard that the locals constructed jerry-rigged hoops out of any material they could get their hands on-car hoods, driftwood, twisted rebar-and built courts everywhere, from cluttered street corners to the slopes of volcanoes and in the thick of jungles.
Allured by the idea of an island nation full of people who love the game as irrationally as he does, American journalist Rafe Bartholomew arrived in Manila to unlock the riddle of basketball's grip on the Philippines.
On his unforgettable journey, Bartholomew spends a season inside the locker room of a Philippine professional team, dines with politicians who exploit hoops for electoral success, travels with a troupe of midgets and transsexuals who play exhibition games at rural fiestas, and even acts in a local soap opera. Sweating his way through hard-fought games of 3-on-3, played with homemade hoops for cent wagers, Bartholomew uses a mix of journalistic knowhow and the hard- court ethics he learned from his dad to get in the paint and behind the scenes of Filipinos' against-all-odds devotion to the sport.
Get A Copy. Hardcover , pages. More Details Original Title. Other Editions 5. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Pacific Rims , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Dec 18, Nicolo Yu rated it really liked it Shelves: sports. He really dove into his subject and he probably would have gone native after experiencing what the Philippines had to offer.
He ate the food, inhaled the smog in his daily commute and played hoops with ballers who wore flip-flops. Along the way, he moonlighted as an actor for an episode of a tele-novela, became a contestant for a noon time show and witnessed during a small town fiesta the spectacle of a transvestites versus midgets exhibition game that had the charm of professional wrestling and political incorrectness that shook the American to his core. His exposition is clear and concise, his brave and flawed attempts to translate local idioms notwithstanding.
He tried and got some of them right and surprisingly only a few of the expressions wrong. A true hoops enthusiast, the idea where basketball is the preferred sport of a country whose men had an average height of five feet and five inches intrigued him enough to convince his government to grant him a Fulbright scholarship to support his investigation of Philippine basketball.
A true basketball fanatic would enjoy this book. He had locker room access and the players were all too willing to share their frustrations and hopes. Sep 07, Dottie rated it it was amazing. I first learned of Pacific Rims when I stumbled upon a youtube video of the author promoting his book in Filipino.
Rafe Bartholomew spoke my mother tongue in a way that would put some of my schoolmates to shame. I had to replay the video to confirm that not only was he speaking Filipino with a barely there American accent, but his grammar was also nearly flawless.
That kind of mastery takes a significant amount of dedication and passion. The fact that he spoke so eloquently in the language that I am so intimately familiar with convinced me that I had to read his book.
It was the least I could do to show my appreciation for how he not only chose to write about an important facet of Philippine culture, but also embraced it as his own.
First and foremost, this is a book about basketball. The fact that it is about Philippine basketball only makes it marginally more interesting for me. You see, I am not an avid hoops fan. I do enjoy watching games once in a while, but that is certainly not reason enough for me to proclaim my love for it. Like every Filipino, however, my life is intricately connected with it.
When I was 11, I came to school with my hair in pigtails with twisted rows. It was a cool hairstyle my yaya came up with that morning. I never wore my hair that way again. When I was 12, I realized where I wanted to go to college while watching a televised basketball game with my father.
Two years later, when I was 18, I came into my History class and saw Chris Tiu sitting in the last row why oh why did I have to be seated in front? It was unbelievable. He ended up joining our class for one semester. That same year, I learned that a basketball ticket is worth more than a couple of hundred pesos. It costs a couple of hundreds and six hours of falling in line. He and Papa used to play in the mornings, when Pa would execute these fancy turns that were inappropriate for a man of his age and weight, until his back gave up on him and he had to stop most of his physical activities.
It was good while it lasted, though, even if Papa did suck. It gave them something to do together. I remembered all these things and many more like the time a basketball hit me in the head right on the spot where my barrette was clasping my hair, the barrette broke and my hair was ruined while I was reading Pacific Rims. It was so palpable that it was jumping off the page. He is a basketball addict; he confesses this early on. But he also comes from a very different environment, a different country, a different culture.
He was only supposed to stay in the Philippines for a year; he stayed for three. Safe to say, I liked the book but I love the author. I would look outside the window and see a group of kids in old flip-flops on their way to the court.
What matters is that there is a ball and there is a ring practically anywhere. We can work our way around everything else, for the love of the game. Nov 19, Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly rated it really liked it. How must you you live your life? You can try having a lifelong passion for something you can never excel in. Yet How must you you live your life? Yet the similarity ends there. Filipinos are short? No problem. Get some big American black players and naturalize them.
They seldom win games, mainly because even if they have one or two big fake Filipinos they compete with teams with ALL their players just as big and as quick and talented. The obvious solution to be competitive is to field an all-American big fake Filipinos, but the problem would be how to make it still look like a Philippine team. Fairly recently the country hosted an Asean basketball competition. The Philippine team kept on losing. Apart from the international schools where children of expats study, the Philippines has two most expensive universities—the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles and the La Salle University Green Archers.
These are were the children of the rich and famous in the country study. Their alumni run big businesses, the government and anything in the country that has money in it. Even the American ambassador to the Philippines would be there watching.
And the quality of the game? Again, the author is very tactful. Tang and J. Casio whose name sometimes appears as Jayvee and the abominable Jvee , were as abbreviated in height as they were in name. However dull the action, the fans preserved their fever pitch. They screamed for defensive rebounds, loose balls, and out-of-bounds calls that favoured their teams.
May 25, Ruel rated it it was amazing.
Book Review: Pacific Rims
When hoops fan and Fulbright scholar Rafe Bartholomew first arrived in the Philippines, he had hoped that basketball mania really was as pervasive in the country as he had been told. Filipino basketball players and fans far exceeded his expectations. As a result, his year-long research grant turned into a three-year journey through Filipino basketball culture, and his book, Pacific Rims: Beermen Ballin' in Flip-Flops and the Philippines' Unlikely Love Affair with Basketball is Bartholomew's self-described "love letter to the Philippines. Though the book centers on the sport within the culture of the Philippines, Bartholomew finds that the two subjects are inextricably intertwined. His personal experiences—traveling with a popular Philippine Basketball Association PBA team, being mobbed by fans in remote rest stops, and debuting as a Filipino soap opera star—give the reader a unique perspective on a culture that is as vibrant and captivating as a PBA championship game.
Why Filipinos Should Read: ‘Pacific Rims’ by Rafe Bartholomew
Book Review: Pacific Rims by Rafe Bartholomew