What Duterte Fans Share with Barangay Ginebra

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This fascination with Rodrigo Duterte reminds me of the members of Barangay Ginebra.

For those unfamiliar with the history of Philippine basketball, the fans of the Philippine Basketball Association started being called “Barangay Ginebra” during the days when Robert “The Living Legend” Jaworski was the playing coach of the team.

To the further uninitiated, the legend of The Big J was, ironically enough, cemented during the 1985 game against Ron Jacobs’ NCC team. Ginebra was down by 15 points. Previously elbowed in the face and expected to sit out the rest of the game due to injury, Robert Jaworski gets back into the court. Inspired by this heroic act and amid chants of “GI-NE-BRA” and “JA-WORS-KI”, the rest of the team whittle down that 15 point lead and end up winning the game. Michael Jordan’s “Flu Game”? This is the Philippine equivalent. Barangay Ginebra was born.

Unfortunately, while the fans first celebrated the Ginebra Gins’ “never-say-die” attitude, it quickly devolved into a glorification of a style of play that was simply unsportsmanlike. Does anyone remember Rudy Distrito’s dangerous foul against Samboy “The Skywalker” Lim that could have injured him for life? For those more familiar with the NBA, imagine if the Bad Boys of Detroit were joined by Xavier McDaniel from the Seattle Supersonics and Charles Oakley from the New York Knicks.

The so-called “dark side” of the Barreling Big J surfaced when he had struck a referee a few years back. He was banned from ever playing in the league again.

I can only think that this fascination with these tough guys are brought about by our trepidation to fight our fights for ourselves. We Filipinos are known to be non-confrontational. That’s one of the reasons why social media is so popular in the Philippines, no? Social media provides a technological layer and barrier where we don’t have to face the people bullying us.

When a “champion” emerges and proposes to be a protector, we rush to their backs and taunt our oppressors knowing our “bodyguard” will shield us.

Asion Salonga, Mayor Alfredo “Dirty Harry” Lim, Fernando Poe, Jr. Robert Jaworski, Manny Pacquiao, and now, the good Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.