This post originally came out on Feb. 12, 2011, a few days after the Philippines beat Mongolia in Panaad. Read on. It’s quite fun.
TWO girls who sneaked into the media room of the Panaad Park and Stadium in Bacolod City are probably telling their friends for the umpteenth time how they fought to get Alexander Borromeo’s towel. One of them, the one who finally won the right to own the “towel,” will most likely reveal how she savored her victory by taking a deep whiff of that soaking towel.
Aaah, if they only knew who really owned it, they’d probably flog themselves silly.
Photographer Ruel Rosello, after a tough two-hour coverage, was looking forward to sending photos of the game so we could call it a night. He sat on the bench and sifted through his photos, while wiping off his sweat with a white towel.
Team captain Alexander Borromeo was also in the media center, being interviewed and hounded by cameramen. I remember he was sweating, too, but he was wiping it off with his sleeves.
The humidity was a bitch, so like the rest, Ruel was sweating like a pig. He wiped his sweat–face, armpits and all–with a towel, and didn’t notice that it fell.
A few minutes later, there was a commotion beside him and he saw two girls fighting over that towel.
Like some of the girls in Bacolod, the two had their eyes only on the Azkals. They probably assumed—wrongly—that it was only the players who were sweating like pigs that day.
Poor Ruel, he was just trying to send photos when he saw that funny sight—two girls playing tug-of-war with his towel.
“Nag-ilug sila, abi guro nila sa player to,” Ruel told me while I was laughing like crazy. “Ang nakakuha, iya pa gyud gisimhut-simhut, hastang buanga.” (They were fighting over it, they thought it belonged to a player. The one who got it, even sniffed it. It was crazy.)
Knowing how the ladies worship the players, that girl probably slept with that towel while dreaming about her dream Azkal.
If she only knew.
“Ako tani ingnun nga ‘ako man na’ pero wala na lang,” Ruel said. (I wanted to tell them, ‘that’s mine’ but decided not to)
Since then, I’ve been looking forward to someone posting in Facebook: “Hey, I got Ali Borromeo’s towel!!!”
That was just one of the many offbeat moments in that historic Azkals match.
Like those two girls, one guy who will have a story for his grand children is the one who whipped up the crowd’s frenzy with his antics.
I wanted to tell them that it’s mine but decided not to.Photojournalist Ruel Rosello on the two girls who fought over his sweaty towel.
Wearing a blue wig and with the flag painted over his face, the guy was running all over the grandstands while waving a flag and the fans cheered him on. Emboldened by the reaction, he gingerly went to the VIP section, where the stairs going to the pitch was located.
We kept cheering.
Then he dashed to the rubber oval and ran as he waved the flag. Two cops, unsure with what to do with the guy, approached him gingerly.
Then he stopped, planted the flag, kneeled and then bowed his head.
The crowd exploded!
We were cheering the guy for his bold act but a few cops, weren’t too happy and escorted him out.
Not a few of the crowd booed the cops.
There were some unprovoked booing against Mongolia at the start of the match, but they were immediately drowned by applause. But late in the match, when the Blue Wolves were dropping at the slightest touch, the booes got louder.
But at the end of the match, the Mongolians got a rousing applause as they exited the pitch and the visitors, in turn, applauded the fans. Mongolia’s team manager also thanked Bacolod City for the nice treatment their players got.
BBC REPORT. One of the surprising news I heard during the game was when Craig Burrows told Graeme McKinnon and I that BBC—yep, that giant British Broadcasting Company—was doing a story about how the Filipinos have taken a liking to the sport.
Philippine football coverage from a UK-based company? Wow, I can’t wait to see that.