Monday, June 21, 2010

Your mom or grandma could have been a girl basket ball player!

Two sporting events were of world-wide interest lately:  the opening of the FIFA World Cup in South Africa, still ongoing with favorite football teams still being frenziedly cheered on by rabid fans with the noisy vuvuzelas, and the NBA championship confrontation between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics, which lasted up to Game 7 with the Celtics falling with a loud thud heard around the world while Kobe Bryant was hugging his MVP trophy.

Futbol is not in the popular vocabulary of the Pinoy world, and football fans in our country who are in frenzy monitoring the Mundial 2010 group rounds so that they can figure out for the betting who's going to run away with the copa  probably number less than those who voted for wannabepresident JC Reyes or Nicky Perlas.

But that's not the case with the NBA where almost everyone in 'Pinas including the primary school kids got glued in front of TV sets cheering on the Lakers or the Celtics and their favorite iconic players. And that happens too when the PBA or the NCAA or the UAAP or the barangay summer youth leagues from Batanes to Tawi-Tawi go into the final rounds.

We understand why futbol is almost alien to Pinoys except where Don Bosco brothers put up schools or mission houses or around open spaces where Europeans and Asians from former Old World territories gather to roll and kick the ball in their leisure days.  It was never in the athletics program of the public school system that the Americans initially implemented in the early 1900s (they have another kind of football!).

However, basket ball (that was how it was spelled in the old days) took root in the Philippine Islands a few years after it was invented in 1900. It came with the Americans who put it into the organized athletics program of the public school system.  To the American education authorities, a balance curriculum consisted of academic instruction ('the three R's, geography, history, and certain cultural and professional branches'), industrial work ('clearly defined form of vocational training'), and physical training ('physical exercises to improve physique and health').  

Physical training involved general school games like group and play yard games, and organized athletics comprising baseball, indoor baseball, boys' and girls' basket ball, volleyball, track and field, and tennis, which were the areas of competition in amateur meets within school divisions, of inter-provincial organizations and the Philippine Carnival.  Many of the rules governing the athletic games were based on those used in the United States "with special adaptation to the needs of the country."  These were all gathered in a handbook issued as Bulletin No. 40 in 1911 (revised in 1913)  to all public school teachers for guidance.    

For boys' and girls' basket ball, the Spalding's Official Basket Ball Guide for Boys was used, but with some modifications for the girls. For example, a boys team for match games consisted of five players, while the girls had six players, the extra player being known as "side center."  A boys game consisted of halves of twenty minutes each with a rest of ten minutes in between, and basket change at the end of the first half.  On the other hand, a girls game had three periods, the first and third of ten minutes each, and the second of fifteen, with a rest of five minutes between the first and second and ten minutes between the second and third; and baskets changed after each period.

Girls' basket ball could have been greatly encouraged, and this is evidenced, for example, by twenty-six girls teams (see picture above) of the Central School of Laoag. The other pictures tell us that girls' basket ball was an interesting feature in the athletic meets. 

It's possible then that our parents or grandparents who went to the public schools before the second world war had several specialized athletic teams to join in, and we are not surprised if our mothers and grandmothers were in basket ball teams.

At this juncture, we do not know how long girls' basket ball remained in the meet events before the war, or when it was dropped from the organized athletics program for some reasons, say, because girls' interest did not get to be as frenzy as the boys'.  We post-war babies did not see our girl classmates get recruited to basket ball teams although some were into softball (not baseball); we never saw tennis rackets too.

There was a revival of girls' basketball (modern-day spelling) early in the millenium, and a national team had competed in the regional and world games.  Of recent memory is the inclusion of women's basketball in the UAAP or NCAA, and we're wondering if it's still there although the championships are not as madly watched as those of the [male] Blue Eagles, Green Archers, Tamaraws, Maroons, and the like.

Well, the only time we'll see women basketeers again will be in the next Olympics in London, I guess.


Bureau of Education. (1911, 1913). Bulletin Nos. 40-1911 & 40-1913.  Athletic Handbook for the Public Schools. Manila: Bureau of Printing.  Retrieved from[1913].040.

Bureau of Education. (1916). Sixteenth Annual Report of the Director of Education, January 1 to December 31, 1915. Manila: Bureau of Printing. Retrieved from

Government Publication. (1920). Facts and Figures about the Philippines. Manila: Bureau of Printing. Retrieved from

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