FEU beats Lady Bulldogs to end skid


Pumped-up Far Eastern University (FEU) ended a pair of losing skids on Saturday, cutting a taller National University (NU) to size as the Lady Tamaraws clinched their third win in the 77th UAAP women’s volleyball tournament at the San Juan Arena.

The Lady Tamaraws banked on the superb games of Bernadeth Pons and rookie Toni Rose Basas to overpower the Lady Bulldogs, 25-21, 26-24, 25-10 and snapped a two-game slide heading into the Christmas break.

Read more in UAAPSports.tv

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FEU opens football title defense by beating UST

MANILA, Philippines – Far Eastern University (FEU) coasted to a 7-4 win over University of Santo Tomas (UST) to open its title retention bid in style Sunday in the UAAP Season 77 men’s football tournament at the FEU-Diliman pitch.

The Tamaraws were in attack mode right from the start, pulled away to a commanding 4-1 lead at the break and never looked back.

Read more in ABS-CBN News

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Lady Tams beat UP in straight sets in UAAP volleyball

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED) The Far Eastern University (FEU) Lady Tamaraws started their UAAP Season 77 women’s volleyball campaign on a strong note as they defeated the University of the Philippines (UP) Lady Maroons in straight sets Sunday at the Arena in San Juan.

Rem Palma and Bernadeth Pons led the way for the Lady Tams as they grabbed a 25-14, 26-24, and 25-20 win to join defending champions Ateneo de Manila University and University of St. Tomas (UST) as early leaders.

Read more in ABS-CBN Online

Recent articles:
Pons leads FEU to an opening win vs UP
Palms, Pons team up as Lady Tams trample Lady Maroons
Impressive starts for UAAP volley favorites

Tams, Lady Tams set to start defense of UAAP Football crowns

Field Celebration

ACTION in the UAAP Season 77 men’s football tournament kicks off on November 29 with Far Eastern University gunning for a back-to-back title romp. Opening day matches scheduled at the Ateneo’s Moro Lorenzo Football Field features last season’s runner-up University of the Philippines taking on De La Salle at 4 p.m. and Season 75 champion Ateneo facing University of the East under the lights at 6 p.m.

The Tamaraws begin their title-retention campaign against University of Santo Tomas at 3 p.m. on November 30 at the FEU-Diliman pitch, right after Adamson University makes its return in men’s football after more than a decade of absence against National University at 1 p.m.

Despite losing Dexter Chio to graduation, FEU remains formidable with reigning MVP Paolo Bugas and ace striker Jess Melliza leading the way. The Falcons will have their first televised Thursday match on ABS-CBN against the Green Archers at 3 p.m. on December 4 at the FEU-Diliman pitch.

Other televised first round matches are the Bulldogs-Fighting Maroons duel on December 11, Red Warriors-Growling Tigers on December 18 and Tamaraws-Blue Eagles on January 15.

Women’s football hostilities open on November 30 at the Moro Lorenzo Football Field, with Ateneo battling UP at 1 p.m., followed by the De La Salle-UST tussle at 3 p.m. The Lady Tamaraws, who drew an opening day bye, also remain heavy favorites in the distaff side. FEU opens its campaign against UP on December 7.

After the Finals

DSC_0469Be Brave, Tamaraws!

The journey to the finals ended in heartbreak;  the Tamaraws fought the good fight, and lost to the NU Bulldogs – putting an end to a 60-year drought in their quest for a UAAP championship.  And, because basketball can be a cruel sport, there does not seem to be a place for the runners-up.  The champions ascend the podium amidst the cheers, and the vanquished descend to the dugout.

Losing with Grace is Part of One’s Education

In sports, as in life, you can’t win them all; in fact, for a number of us who have worked in difficult fields of endeavour, it may be more accurate to say, you can’t lose them all.  The Tamaraws of 2014 have in fact achieved more than what the pundits had predicted at the beginning of the tournament.  Crashing the Final Four would have been a feat in itself, and playing in Game 3 of the Finals perhaps a dream too far.

But the team proved us wrong.  It was an imperfect team from the very start, without their standouts of the previous years, but it was blessed with young men who were willing to work together as a team, practice hard, live together in the far off campus of FEU Diliman, and  play their hearts out every time they graced the hardcourt.

DSC_0373They gifted the viewers of the game a fast-paced brand of aggressive basketball, running down the lanes for fastbreaks or looking for the open man, driving in with artistry, guarding with intensity, and rebounding with strength.  The memories abound, and none more memorable, than Mac Belo’s buzzer-beater that dethroned the defending champions Green Archers.

Yet, when it came to the crunch they fell at the last hurdle.  It was Chair Gigi Montinola who quoted eminent alumnus former Chief Justice Art Panganiban’s text message: “…Part of winning is accepting loss with grace and sportsmanship.  That’s what education is all about.”

After pouring their hearts out, our team came short.  It was not meant to be.  Accepting defeat with grace is perhaps one of life’s most difficult yet valuable lessons.  In the twists and turns that describe the lives of most young people, athletes and students alike, dealing with failure as a friend and learning from setbacks prepare us for the roads-still-to-be travelled.  Losing is par for the course and part of our learning is “losing with grace”.

Bringing the Tamaraw Nation Together

Few people believed that an FEU-NU finals would bring in the throng.  In fact, the two final games breached the records of the “Big Dome” for a single basketball game registering crowds of nearly (in one game) or just over 25,000 (in the other).  A sizeable number of those who came and those who followed the games through radio, tv or online were members of the “Tamaraw Nation”.

If one walked on one of the FEU campuses, or read the exchange at the social network sites or listened to the incessant chants or saw the lines of students and faculty alike lining up for tickets – it was like witnessing a community reborn, brought together by a common cause.DSC_0357

Around the team and support for this band of brothers who displayed a joyful brand of play gathered a following of students, alumni and supporters from far and wide thanks to the reach of the TV networks and the Filipino channel watched by sports enthusiasts and alumni from different parts of the globe.

If one donned the FEU colors around the Araneta Center or the MOA Arena during the final four, people would stop you in the streets and say, “Go Tamaraws” as if a light had been lit.  Familiar faces of former athletes and former students graced the games, and there was pride in the school.  The team and the way they played the game somehow brought together the university community like never before.

Moreover, after the Pep Rallies, the founder’s last words to his daughter who would carry on his life’s work, “Be Brave” became a battle cry as well as a reminder of the roots of the school, its tradition and values.  Be Brave stands for Fortitude; just as Be the Best stands for Excellence, and Be Better for Uprightness.

It became a mantra that was both brief and bold, and inspired people to think beyond themselves and as a part of a school that was built on the belief to do better in life despite the challenges faced by working class students or those with modest means in life.

Continuing to Pursue the Dream

There is a book written by a Nobel laureate for literature entitled, “Next Year in Jerusalem”.  It is a tribute to the yearning and the spirit of hope instilled in the hearts of people living in a contentious part of the Middle East.  We, on the other hand, live in a country – imperfect though it is — that we can call our own, where we can pursue our dreams.

Moreover, it is a country where a young man who needed to save on transport money persevered  and pursued law in Morayta to later become the highest magistrate of the land; where a scholar athlete of the university rose to become mayor of the country’s capital city; and where a lad from Midsayap, Northern Cotobato, even now has become a member of the “mythical five” of the country’s premier collegiate basketball league; where a boy in short pants from Zamboanga City entered high school and then university at FEU to weave his wizardry on the court and generate a following of young and old alike.

FEU's best products in Men's Basketball in recent years came out to support the Tams during the UAAP Finals.

FEU’s best products in Men’s Basketball in recent years came out to support the Tams during the UAAP Finals.

The Tamaraws represent a perennial quest to continually better our lives in the style of an Arwind Santos who led the last Tamaraw champions of 2005 or a Johnny Abarrientos who led not only the Tamaraws but the teams in the professional league that he played for to a total of 18 championships.

It’s more than just a game.  It is in fact larger than life.  It represents the dream of every schoolboy in the land who has ever handled an old ball in the dirt court in the barrios or the inner city streets where FEU stalwarts like Johnny begun.

Next year, perhaps. 

The dream beckons, as we continue to pursue hoop glory or different dreams.

Ed Garcia

2014 FEU Tamaraws Thank You


Dear FEU Community,

We may have lost the UAAP Men’s Basketball Final , but thanks to all
of you, we have won the hearts of the FEU Community.

Throughout the season, our athletic teams have had great wins, but
also some terrible losses, and particularly painful defeats in
championship games.

However, your visible and enthusiastic support has steadily grown, to
the point where the FEU and NU game set attendance records of over
25,000 fans two Finals games in a row. Our FEU website and “Be Brave”
campaign has blended well with long lines to buy tickets and a noisy,
emphatic “Go Tamaraws Go” cheer both on Facebook pages and in
basketball coliseums.

To our Men’s Basketball Team, we remain proud of your best efforts.
From losing two major stars beginning the season to competing for the
Final Four, to emerging Runner-up in both the Final Four and the
Championship, you showed fortitude, resilience, and teamwork to win
close games after some crushing defeats. Sadly, we could not do it
again one last time. Thank you for overachieving.

To the Women’s Basketball Team, we went through the eye of the step
ladder needle to earn a championship battle with a superior NU team.
Although we lost, we should likewise hold our heads high. Thank you
for your fighting spirit in the face of overwhelming odds.

To our Cheerleaders, we appreciate all your hard work and coordinated
effort during each game and the Cheerdance competition. The bar for
winning has been considerably raised, but we must adjust to the times
and work harder. Thank you for all your artistic but athletic
halftime performances.

To all the Coaches and Athletes in UAAP sports, we thank you for your
dedication, commitment, and hard work. We may be outgunned in the
recruitment area, but we will always do our best to field competitive
and championship caliber teams. By working together with the help of
the FEU community, we continue our distinguished tradition of national
level athletes who get a meaningful university degree in FEU.

We have many other life battles to fight – in education, sports, and
culture. FEU will do its best to provide you the classroom and the
life lessons that it will take to make you rise up to the challenges
you personally face, and to add value to your character so you can be
better prepared to do well in both your student life and your
employable career.

As former Chief Justice and King Tamaraw Artemio Panganiban texted me
after the Finals defeat, ” My pleasure and honour, and thanks for
inviting me (to the games). Our team gave its best.
But NU won fair and square. Part of winning is accepting loss with
grace and sportsmanship. That’s what education is all about.”

Fortitude, Excellence, Uprightness – GO TAMARAWS GO

Aurelio “Gigi” Montinola
Board of Trustees

“Be Brave”, Tamaraws (Part 3 of 3)

"Be Brave" has become rallying call for the entire FEU Community (Photo by KC Cruz of GMA News)

“Be Brave” has become a rallying call for the entire FEU Community (Photo by KC Cruz of GMA News)



Blessed with a cast of unforgettable characters who have learned to play as a team, this year’s line-up:

Team captain Big Mac Belo’s consistent play, humble demeanor and awesome display of all around talent makes him the team anchor; his dramatic buzzer-beater for three dethroned the defending champions and his fearless drives to the basket makes this gentle lad from Midsayap, North Cotabato, the team’s go- to-guy ;

Belo_buzzerbeaterMighty Mike Tolomia’s court wizardry is a delight to behold but in private he is sometimes painfully shy; this young man from Zamboanga is the driving force in the team’s offense often converting three point shots, timely jumpers or lay ups; his biggest value though is his ability to lift the team’s spirit by his amiable presence and his ready appreciation of others on or off the court;

Achie Inigo is perhaps the team’s sparkplug, the playmaker who provides  the assists, calls the shots and fights for every ball including rebounds against much taller opponents; at other times, he converts his running shots or in one instance wins the game by a timely triple truly making him the team’s “little big man”;

Bryan Cruz is the team veteran who provides maturity and restraint during tense and hectic situations; he is the team mainstay who convenes his teammates during key moments and provides a steadying presence;

Anthony Hargrove is the team’s legitimate big man, who fights for every rebound, and whose timely tip-ins have become game-changers; originally from New Jersey, Anthony is all heart and wears it on his sleeve and his ability to become part of the team hugely appreciated by his mates;

RR Pogoy is the humble and reliable go-to guy for shots from beyond the perimeter or the inside lane, or fastbreaks; the young man from Talisay, Cebu, seems to play his best games when others in the team have off days and he never seems to tire;Coach Nash2

Raymar Jose is the dependable inside man for defence or offence, and the quiet young man with the serious mien; while Al Francis Tamsi is the team’s defensive gem with a long shot to boot; but his claim to fame is his singing voice that wowed the participants at pep rallies with his rendition of “Go the Distance” and “Faithfully Yours”;

Ron Dennison, Reeve Ugsang and Jeson Delfinado, on the other hand, provide defensive back-up for the team, ready to support, to run and to pass as part of the coach’s system or pattern of play; while Jason David, Joel Lee Yu and Gus Denila complete the roster which work hard during scrimmages and work outs at the school gym in Diliman.

The Escoto brothers have been the darling of the pep rallies and the selfies, but it was Russell’s refusal to be side-lined by a shoulder injury and his ability to overcome his fears that stand out as a testament of courage and the team’s capacity “to charge”.DSC_0120

Other Members of the Coaching/Support Staff

The coaching staff includes Josh Reyes, Ryan Betia and Ron Cabagnot.  It also includes Dario de Rosas, Jonathan de Guzman, Martin Valderrama – all dedicated to the team’s conditioning/physical fitness and a team doctor in the person of Dr. Charles Cabuquit.  One cannot forget long-time co-manager Jorge Lacson, and the team’s support staff of Jojo Borja, Joseph Dutosme, Rene Tabasin and Tata Pacana.

“Be Brave”, Tamaraws (Part 1 of 3)
“Be Brave”, Tamaraws (Part 2 of 3)

Prof. Ed Garcia is FEU Diliman consultant on the formation of scholar athletes

Prof. Ed Garcia is FEU Diliman consultant on the formation of scholar athletes

“Be Brave”, Tamaraws (Part 2 of 3)

10712695_802609513093592_5104362283324794936_nCoaching with Heart:  The Gift that is Coach Nash

Nothing would have been possible without the coaches, and none more so than the team’s head coach.  Coach Nash Racela is gifted with a keen mind, an even temperament and the ability to prepare for each game with attention to detail and an eye to make adjustments in mid-stream.

Together, with coach Eric Gonzales who took over coaching chores when Coach Nash was with national team Gilas in Sevilla, Spain, for the World Cup, and team manager Ritchie Ticzon, the three of them embody the qualities of coaching with heart – relating to players, firmly yet gently, unforgiving in their demands yet fraternal in pointing out the players’ limitations.

Johhny AAs part of motivating the team to “reach for the stars”, assistant coach Gilbert Lao would put together selected scenes from the team’s previous games or from inspiring moments from films, and show the brief film to the team . The intent was to motivate members of the team to do more — fight for every loose ball, to strive for every rebound, to pass patiently till an opening was created, to run as fast as one can or to slow the pace down when the situation demanded.

Moreover, the addition of FEU basketball legend Johnny Abarrientos and the involvement of the sports stand-out Jojo Lastimosa was a deft touch engineered by athletic director Mark Molina and the university’s athletic program head Anton Montinola.  It gave recognition to the importance of life experience and witness to sporting values that boosted the team’s morale.

Amazing Grace:  Sense of Gratitude for Life’s Blessings

Made up of ordinary boys with more than ordinary basketball skill search with a unique disposition, the Tamaraws of 2014 represent a team willing to learn at every turn.  To a man, they are grateful  for the blessings they have received in life; they are prayerful and respectful to a fault; even to this day, team captain Mac Belo still greets his elders with the traditional “mano, po” — which many young people seem to have discarded or forgotten.  They pray, or seem to, at every turn of the game, before and after, and during half times; and during practice sessions.

10726278_10152320866561949_1883366341_nWhen they succeed they turn their eyes to the Lord of Creation; when they fail, they turn to the Good Shepherd who uplifts them.

Amazing grace! “How blessed we are that we can play basketball,” this is a line that I have heard from the Tams in different variations. To deepen this realization, stories such as those of the child soldiers from Sierra Leone, or the displaced of Sudan, or, the young victims of the Tsunami from Aceh are shared with them.  And, here we are: by God’s amazing grace, playing a sport we love, able to study because of the sport

Additionally, because a number of the team members come from Mindanao, such as Mac Belo from North Cotobato or Mike Tolomia from Zamboanga, the advocacy of “playing for peace in Mindanao” was proposed to them which they have taken to heart. It is refreshing to see unspoilt athletes willing to listen and learn, and to grow in wisdom on and off the court.

“It’s more than just a game” – though the Tamaraws play each game to win, they seem to know that there are other values at stake: sportsmanship, moral courage, taking on a cause larger than oneself. However, I must say that what also drives them on is “finding joy in playing the beautiful game”.DSC_0010

In the end, though the journey requires a marathon mentality – it’s all about taking one small step at a time, focusing on each play at a time, trusting in one’s teammates and coaches, finding joy in the journey,  knowing that to compete means “to seek together” and to give one’s best every time one dons the university colors.

The voice of the school’s founder resonates till this day:

“Be Brave, Tamaraws!”

To be continued…

Part 1

“Be Brave”, Tamaraws (Part 1 of 3)


Prof. Ed Garcia is FEU Diliman consultant on the formation of scholar athletes

(The journey to the finals has been the proverbial “long and winding road”.  A do-or-die Finals Game 3 beckons, but sometimes it is worthwhile to reflect on the joy of the journey even while one works towards the destination.  It is in that spirit that these reflections are shared.)

“Breaking the Silence” was the first book my former student Anton asked me to read, even before I set foot on Far Eastern University’s Morayta campus.  Authored by Lourdes Reyes Montinola, Ph.D.,  it tells the tragic story her family experienced at the hands of the retreating Japanese forces who in the 1945 Battle of Manila killed people at will, including her father whose last words to her daughter was:  “Be Brave!”

In a sense, this summed up the life of Nicanor Reyes and the mission he had undertaken — to bring education to the working class students who normally had to confront adversity to pursue their studies.  The institution he had founded was the first to offer night classes for young men and women who wanted to improve their chances in life.  In brief, the school he founded aimed to provide learning opportunities for young people with modest means imbued with the will to advance in life.

Be Brave!

4The first letter in the acronym FEU, I was told, stood for Fortitude.  And, “Be Brave”, the founder’s last words to his daughter, I thought, best expressed this aspiration.  In a first meeting with the university’s scholar athletes at the gym in FEU Diliman, I shared the founder’s story and the two words which seemed to have captured his legacy: “Be Brave.”   The impact was immediate.  They understood instantly because as athletes they knew that to succeed in sports one had to overcome fear and doubts, and believe in oneself and in one’s capacity to do one’s best.

Desire, Discipline and Dedication to Be the Best

In evening conversations with the members of the team at the gym, I recall one session when a number of questions were posed:  What is your dream?  What do you want to accomplish this year – for yourself and your team?  Almost to a man, the members of the Varsity team shared their stories of confronting adversities in life.  They wanted to give back to their families, and they aspired to use their God-given talents on the court to better their lives and the lives of their families.  “I come from a broken home,” one of them said, “and I want my parents to reconcile.  Hopefully, through what I can accomplish on the court I can help bring them back.”  For a good number, they wanted to succeed in sports and in life because they wanted to help uplift their families’ status in life.

Three of the team members come from Mindanao, a core from Cebu,  Bohol, and Bacolod, two brothers from Pampanga, one from Las Pinas, another from Novaliches, one from Canada, and one from the US.  The desire to excel and to belong to a winning team was part of each one’s dream; they were willing to develop the discipline to train and work hard, and to contribute to their team goal of becoming better despite the setbacks and the heartbreaksby dedicating themselves to the common quest.

“Dreams from My Father” was another book shared with the team because it tells the story of a basketball player named Barrack who gained his confidence on the basketball court.  He was an improbable candidate with an even more improbable life story, but because of the self-belief he gained on the hardcourt he achieved and persevered.  The qualities he acquired in the court he was able to apply in the way he run his campaign to win the presidency of the United States, and even as president he continues to play the game.

FEU last won the UAAP Men's Basketball Championship in 2005.

FEU last won the UAAP Men’s Basketball Championship in 2005.

On the eve of a crucial match, we watched a tape of the UAAP finals of 2005 where Arwind Santos led a steady Tamaraw squad to beat a feisty team of Green Archers — a game we watched in the evening conversations before the series with LaSalle.  After the loss against UE, we watched in awe at the way the San Antonio Spurs passed the ball around to win the NBA championship against the big stars of Miami Heat.  It was teamwork winning against the best individual standouts in the league.

In brief, the team imbibed the spirit of the beautiful game and learned lessons in small doses.

Band of Brothers with Team Spirit and School Pride

The team is quartered in the sprawling campus of FEU Diliman (now, a Zone of Peace), and they are housed in the dorm just below the basketball gym – seven or so in three large rooms together with the reserves who play an important part in the team scrimmages and practice sessions.  They sleep, rest, eat, pray and play together; but team spirit does not come automatically – it is built over time, painstakingly in their conversations with coaches and with each other before and after games, and especially after practice sessions or during their free time.  They go to class four days a week, and Wednesdays and weekends are reserved either for the UAAP games, for study or for recreation.  In the end, trust is earned and developed over time.

One of the highlights in the team’s journey was the Morayta and Diliman Pep Rallies in the month of September where the entire team first wore their “Be Brave” T-shirts and where Tamsi sang his unforgettable version of “Go the Distance” while the team danced to the tune of the “Wiggle” to the delight of their fellow students and fans at the huge quadrangle in Morayta.  Be Brave Pep Rally

The other “Be Brave Pep Rally” took place amidst the rhythm of heavy rains and the cheers of students from Grade 1 to Tertiary at FEU Diliman which has become the Tamaraws’ home during the last several months.  Meeting face to face with their “constituents”, the students who support them through thick and thin, seeing their glad faces and feeling the warmth of their support – were critical ingredients in getting the team over the hump, so to speak.  On Facebook and Twitter, the moments with their favorite players were posted and messages exchanged thus instilling a sense of pride in representing their school.

Mental Toughness and the Ability to Deal with Failure as a Friend

There have been at least four character-defining moments confronted by the team:  the heartbreak loss to Ateneo after leading by double digits for more than three quarters of the game; the humiliating loss to UE by over twenty points in the second round; the second game of the Final Four play-off with DLSU where the Archers buried the Tams by 21 in what was perhaps their poorest showing after the regular season, and the victory of NU Bulldogs over the Tams in Game 2 of the Finals.UE

Heads bowed, dreams seemingly dashed, and disbelief mixed with regret was how they looked at the dug-out after each loss. Each defeat is tough and is different, and one never seems to get used to it.  How does one bounce back after a heart-breaking defeat, how does one deal with such stunning losses, how does one become even better after a defeat that stares you in the face?   How does one lift the team’s spirit?  What does one say or doesn’t say?

How does one go back to the court to deal with the mental lapses and turn-overs, to practice the foul throws, to take the shots that were not taken, to jump higher to snatch that elusive rebound,  to improve the defense, to fine-tune the offensive patterns that seemed to have been the team’s previous strengths?  Mental toughness is indeed an ingredient in any winning formula, if one is willing to aspire for gold.  It takes character to move forward.

After one such heart-breaking loss, I recall Anton calmly saying that though we lost, we did not lose our lives or limbs, for that matter.  We just lost a game, and we can overcome that.  Worse things have happened to others, and we can get back on our feet.  After every single defeat, the Tamaraws have bounced back – big-time; that is the meaning of character.

At another time, we recalled, shared and recited the words of Cervantes’  Don Quixote, the man of La Mancha:  “To surrender dreams – this may be madness; to seek treasures where there is only trash.  Too much sanity may be madness.  And, maddest of all, to see life as it is, and not as it should be”; or, calling to mind Alfred Lord Tennyson’s Ulysses:  “Come, my friends, it is not too late to seek a newer world….to strive, to seek, to find and not to yield.”

To be continued…

Record crowd watches FEU vs NU Game 2

1604923_803749632979580_137324189722831531_nMANILA – Students, alumni, and fans of the Far Eastern University (FEU) and National University (NU) made history on Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum when they broke the attendance record of the historic venue.

A total of 24,896 paying patrons watched Game 2 of the UAAP Season 77 Finals between the FEU Tamaraws and the NU Bulldogs, breaking the previous record set just earlier this year.

Game 7 of the PBA Philippine Cup in February 2014 was watched by 24,883 fans.

Read more in ABS-CBN News

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