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My Philippine Azkals Experience

I was really looking forward to March 30. I did not have the means to go to Panaad and watch the Azkals game so I was very excited when I found out that they will grace the opening of the PFF Suzuki U23 Cup at UPLB. It's now everyday that I get to see our national players. Actually, this could be the first and the last time. But if this will be my last time to see them up close and personal, then, even without the popular players, it was still worth it.

They were scheduled to arrive at the campus by 2PM. I cleared up my whole afternoon just so I won't miss the opportunity to see them. I had my backpack ready with a marker, a white shirt (my NSTP shirt), and my phone (since I don't have my digicam with me).

I did everything that I have to do before lunch so that I am worry-free when they arrive. By 1PM, I was ready for them. Together with my friend, Lenna, we find the best spot at the grandstand.We patiently waited. I knew it will all be worth the wait. Later, my orgmates Gie and Cath also arrived (with their camera ready!) and soon enough, my friend Ica also came. We were all excited, no doubt. I was online through my phone and via a tweet from one of the Azkals personnel, I found out that the Azkals were already close to UPLB. I really can't wait. I was anxious, but I am feeling really glad that I get to have this opportunity.

The emcees then announced that the motorcade was already near. Players of the U23 Cup were asked to form a human pathway and greet the Azkals as they arrive. I did not know where to stand. I want to be in the perfect place. Soon, we can now see the motorcade approaching. The crowd went all jumpy. The girls went all wild. I was stunned, not knowing where to go. I took my phone and put it in video mode and I ran out of the grandstand and joined the human pathway. I was with the kids, but I did not mind. I saw them went down from their huge bus (with their huge faces in it). I was in the perfect spot. The first Azkal that I saw was Ian Araneta and then the rest were not far behind. The Azkals did not disappoint me. I was feeling really epic.

I took pictures, wanting to preserve a could-be-once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We cannot get close to them, so all I could have were stolen shots. And while I was happily looking at our football heroes, I heard girls at my back talking.
Tara na.
Wait lang, wala pa yung Azkals.
 Ano ka ba? Ayan na sila o!
Ha??? Yan na sila???
I looked at them with disappointment. Maybe the girl was looking for the cute guys (I don't have to mention their names. We are all aware who they are.) but I did not expect to hear that. I realized that maybe, just maybe, not everyone present in the grandstand that afternoon were football fans. Maybe some were just curious. Maybe some were just... never mind. 

Everybody was asked to go out of the grandstand. Crowd control. I understand. But how about my much awaited autographs??? We went in from of the grandstand as the RP team was presented. I did not know what to do. I waited, thought of what could be done. We went back at the grandstand again but nobody is allowed to enter anymore. I can only see their backs from where we were standing.

Then lady luck smiled at me. Roel Gener looked at me when I decided to gather all my guts to call his name. I was really surprised as I honestly did not expect that he will hear me because of the crowd. 
Kuya, pa-autograph naman po!
As I showed him my white NSTP shirt. He signaled for approval. But he was at the top of the grandstand so I cannot reach him. He told me to toss the shirt. And I did. I also tossed the pen, but I needed a second toss because I was so nervous the first time that I tossed it poorly. He got it the second time.
O, akin nalang to, ha!
He told me as he got my shirt; me and my friends laughed. I was looking at him while he is signing my shirt, and we were all praying for one thing:
Sana ipasa niya yung shirt. Sana ipasa niya yung shirt. Sana ipasa niya yung shirt.
And he did. He returned my marker and my shirt full of autographs! I couldn't ask for more.... but I noticed that Ian Araneta wasn't able to sign because he was being interviewed that time. So I went at the other side of the grandstand, behind where he was sitting. I waited for him to come back.
Kuya Ian!!!
Me and my friends shouted at the count of three. And he heard us!
Pa-autograph po!
As I showed him the shirt. And he did. He returned my shirt after he signed but the marker took a little longer as he used it to sign other stuffs. No worries!

We were ready to go, but we heard the emcees asked the crowd if we want some exhibition from the Azkals. That minute, I was immediately at the front row of the crowd as Ian, Chieffy and Angel get ready for the exhibition. Don't ask how I managed to get into the huge crowd. I didn't know either.
I took a video of their exhibition. I was really having fun. I wanted to learn those tricks, too!

We left the grandstand all smiling. I was really fulfilled. I had more than what I was expecting, a real Philippine Azkals experience. I hope that this won't be the last time. I hope that I could get tickets when they finally play in Manila.

Azkals banner at the UPLB Baker Hall.

At the grandstand.
Ian Araneta.

Suzuki banner.

More stolen shots.
Angel Guirado.
Thank you, #6!

Azkals bus.
My NSTP shirt. :)

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