Istoryadista is a personal blog that talks about current events, politics, popular culture, video games, sports, and everything you can think of.

The Philippines always had the opportunity to become the best of what it can be. It has the best of both worlds with its rich cultural mixture of East and West, its bountiful natural resources and a large population of skilled and educated citizens that have gone far and wide to make our globalized world up and running. However, it has remained a laggard when it comes to infrastructure and overall national development that most Asian countries boast like China, Japan, South Korea and to a certain extent, our immediate neighbors of Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Metro Manila may be the most developed metropolis in the country with all the high-rise apartments and condominiums, ultra-modern mega malls and extensive highways yet it is still stuck in perpetual traffic jams and gridlock thanks to poor urban planning, inherent corruption and rapid urbanization. All economic development are centralized and revolved around Manila and all the major regional cities like Cebu and Davao.

Cultural Cringe

Renowned Filipino architect Jason Buensalido said “I think Philippine Architecture has no singular voice yet, there’s too many thematic developments that don’t really speak the culture of the Philippines well and I think one of the reasons why this is so is because of top-down development, wherein profit is always the first priority when coming up with real estate developments, such as subdivisions, high-rise buildings and residential projects.”

Most developers are building more and more shopping malls instead of preserving heritage structures only to end up creating residential gated communities with a more Mediterranean theme that is not what you expect to see in this part of the world.

It's unfortunate that we have not capitalized our own architectural heritage by making it known and distinct from all Western-style architecture so that you will definitely identify it as our own. When you visit Bangkok, Jakarta, Beijing or Tokyo, you will immediately know that you're there because of their distinct visual features that perfectly blends in with their culture and history. Whether such structure was built centuries ago or a recent one, it speaks its unique cultural appeal and expresses the sentiments of what the place is all about. As for the Philippines, we are still stuck in an identity crisis devoid of a single architectural voice that will compliment the urban experience with what our unique identity.

Whatever happened to our bahay na bato and bahay kubo influences? We're supposed to be building Filipino-style houses and preserving colonial heritage structures, not developing massive gated communities that separates the haves and have nots or building garish, faux-classical structures. Have you ever thought that the Temple of Leah or the Greek ruins at Batangas' Fortune Island truly fits in our country's architectural landscape? So much pretension for the sake of tourism money while more and more ancestral homes from Vigan to Tanjay now fell into utter disrepair.

"Whether it be a park or a lake front development, whatever it is, it has to reflect our culture and our identity. And when you talk about culture and identity, it’s a certain way of doing things by a certain set of people, and we have this basically. If you look at other industries, like furniture, graphic design, product development, all of these industries are starting to speak or reflect who we are," architect Buensalido added.

More than a hundred years ago, the great American architect had a grand city plan of Manila as truly the 'pearl of the Orient.' He once said in 1905: "Possessing the bay of Naples, the winding river of Paris, and the canals of Venice, Manila has before it an opportunity unique in history of modern times, the opportunity to create a unified city equal to the greatest of the Western world with the unparalleled and priceless addition of a tropical setting."

Unfortunately after 40 years, the once great metropolis is a smoldering shell of its former glory after the devastation it suffered during the tumultuous Battle of Manila that eventually forced the Japanese out of the country. The urban planning mistakes only happened when the country gained its independence from the United States. Eminent architect and urban planner Felino Palafox Jr. said that local/national government officials have eventually threw away Burnham's grand plan of "grand scale, wide radial boulevards, landscaped parks, and pleasant vistas," thus started the uglification of Manila.

What makes it frustrating nowadays, experts are seldom consulted by government and implementing agencies. They leave old historic structures rot and decay where these priceless relics of the past are demolished to give way to "modern" developments only to regress by adopting themed buildings that are not reflective of the country's architectural heritage.

Brain Drain and Patronage Politics

The Philippines has a lot of talented and skilled architects, engineers, interior designers and builders who end up going abroad to work. Despite having 38,500 registered architects, only $28.8 billion is allocated in infrastructure and other construction projects. Meanwhile, Indonesia has only 5,500 registered architects but construction amounted to over $344 billion!

Cities have suffered urban decay due to bad infrastructure and lack of investment of it. The country has a demand-driven buoyed by OFW remittances and business outsourcing. With that dependence, real estate developments are built upon it with massive investment in new high-rise residential buildings, shopping malls, and gated communities. Building of infrastructure centered around impractical flyovers, pedestrian walkways, and other "pet projects" by local and national officials that are often tied up to their controversial pork barrel funds.

Looking Ahead

In recent years, there have been efforts to establish a policy wherein every city and towns will have an ordinance mandating all constructions and reconstructions should be inclined with the local architecture and landscaping styles to preserve and conserve the country's dying heritage sites that were ultimately demolished to give way to culturally-irresponsible development and lack of clear architectural vision.

Many advocates want to emulate what was implemented in other countries that preserved their monuments and architectural wonders. Maybe one of the reason why it has a hard time taking root in our country due to a lack of a massive architectural wonder (like the Pyramids of Egypt, Great Wall of China or the Parthenon of Greece) to look up to.

There also have been calls for the reinterpretations of indigenous, colonial and modern architectural and landscaping styles that are prevalent or used to be prevalent in any city or town. Furthermore, they call upon a rebirth of traditional Filipino landscaping and town planning especially in the rural areas since it can easily be implemented in heritage areas within a 50-year time frame.

Unfortunately, many Filipino architecture and engineering experts lack the sense of preserving heritage townscapes where business proposals to construct structures that are not inclined with the local architectural styles have been continuously accepted and constructed thereby destroying much of the local architectural townscape one building at a time. It is only a matter of time that most major cities will burst out of its seams and implode itself from within as all the historical structures will forever be lost for good.

Istoryadista is a personal blog that talks about current events, politics, popular culture, video games, sports, and everything you can think of.

Before the Philippines became a world-class basketball-playing country, it was a football pioneer when it comes to the "beautiful game." It established one of the oldest football association in Asia in 1907 and has won the Far Eastern Games football gold with the help of FC Barcelona's greatest ever football player in Paulino Alcantara. Yet after all of its initial success, the Philippines has lost its football birthright in exchange of an American import called basketball.

Fast forward to 2017, the Philippines has just started its first true professional football league with a regional home-away flavor that is somewhat similar to the ill-fated Metropolitan Basketball Association. However, the country still remains a basketball-crazy nation even though football has made great strides in becoming part of our sporting consciousness.

In response to my previous posts, I started a mod on First Touch Soccer 15 (FTS 15) by creating the kits of all six teams of the 2018 Philippines Football League, some AFC Cup teams and even some fictional teams. I replaced the default Japanese league and changed the player names as well. Since I can't edit how the players look like, I decided to find the appropriate team that somewhat resembles a particular PFL team since some of them have African and European players.

Here are the kits and logos:

Ceres Negros FC (AFC CL/Cup 2018)
Alt Practice:
Home GK:
Alt GK:
Home 1:
Home 2:
Away GK:

Stallion Laguna FC (PFL 2018)

Global Cebu FC (AFC Cup 2018) - home kit to be confirmed

JPV Marikina FC (PFL 2018) - away kit to be confirmed

Kaya FC Iloilo (PFL 2018) - home kit to be confirmed

Davao Aguilas FC (PFL 2018) - away kit to be confirmed

Foreign Teams:
Brisbane Roar FC

Tianjin Quanjian FC

Leylam FC
Home GK:
Away GK:
Alt GK:

Bulacan Highlanders FC
Home GK:
Away GK:
Alt GK:
Istoryadista is a personal blog that talks about current events, politics, popular culture, video games, sports, and everything you can think of.

Editor's Note: As we celebrate the Chinese New Year, there is a least-known part in the history of Philippines-China relations that most people from both countries don't know. It may be just a historical footnote but there is a fascinating story behind the visit of Sulu Sultan Paduka Pahala ("Battara") in Ming China in the 15th century, decades before Ferdinand Magellan "discovered" the Philippines and just about the same time the great Chinese explorer Zheng He made his voyages far away from the Middle Kingdom.

In recent years, there has been a confrontational animosity between the Philippines and China over the waters of the West Philippine Sea ("South China Sea"). It seems that such political and territorial conflict have drawn back deep-seated resentment of Filipinos towards Chinese making it like an "us against them" mentality. There is a long history of Filipino-Chinese relations even way before the first generation Chinese immigrants settled in the country and even before the Spanish and Americans came into the picture.

It is more than 600 years ago when Sulu Sultan Paduka Pahala visited the Ming court of Yongle Emperor (Zhu De) in 1417. Together with his family and his loyal Tausug officials, retinue and slaves, they sailed through the same waters that is claimed by both countries today. During this time, the Ming has just established their rule after driving out the Mongols from China. It was also during this time when China has reestablished its influence outside its borders with ships from Zheng He reaching India, the Middle East and even Africa. The visit of the Sultan is a perfect time to reestablish good trading relations with the Chinese. In exchange for silk, porcelain, and exquisite products from the Chinese, the Sulu Sultanate gave extravagant tribute of spices, pearls, and other exotic tropical products not found in the great cities of Nanjing, Kaifeng, Beijing and Guangzhou.

According to Ming chronicles and Sulu oral histories based from the grand vizier Datu Albi Julkarnain, “the Eastern King of Sulu (Buansa and Jolo) Paduka Pahala (or Paduka Batara), the Western King of Mahalachii (Pangaturan) Maharajah and King of Mountain Kalabating (Dungon, Tawi-Tawi) called Paduka Prabu, brought their families and their chiefs, altogether more than 350 persons, to China carrying their tributes to the Emperor.”

The Sultan's state visit was accorded with lavish ceremonies culminated with the exchange of gifts. They were billeted in luxury accommodation and were entertained by servants befitting that of royalty. It is not known but it is widely believed that on October 8, 1417, the Sultan contracted a mysterious disease in the middle of his trip along the Grand Canal and died at Dezhou. The emperor has commissioned artisans and sculptors to build a tomb for the deceased Sultan, which still stands today.

It was a royal funeral even "formal for a Chinese king" and he was even accorded with an honorable name "Gong Ding." In the epitaph, the Yongle Emperor wrote:

"Now then, the King, brilliant and sagacious, gentle and honest, especially outstanding and naturally talented, as a sincere act of true respect for the Way of Heaven, did not shrink from a voyage of many tens of thousands of miles to lead his familial household in person, together with his tribute officers and fellow countrymen, to cross the sea routes in a spirit of loyal obedience."

The tomb (苏禄国东王墓, Su Lu Wang Mu) is located at Beiyingcun, Decheng, Dezhou, Shandong, China. A Chinese-style portrait of the late Sultan with his sons will great you at the entrance. The path leading to the tomb is decorated with the same features as that of a royal burial place for a Chinese prince. It was filled with stone tablets, royal monuments and sculptures of sheep, horse, and human.

Interestingly, there was a 1987 Chinese-Filipino film "Hari sa Hari, Lahi sa Lahi" directed by Lili Chou and Eddie Romero and starred by Vic Vargas as Paduka Pahala and Gang Wang as Wang Hsing Gang. It is unfortunate that it is not easy to find a copy of the whole film anymore.

The story needs to be told and should be in our history books. If the Chinese made a film about this extraordinary historical figure then maybe our television stations that keeps churning telenovelas and fantaseryes should consider doing a remake of "Hari sa Hari, Lahi sa Lahi."

It is just extraordinary for a leader of a small island nation gets the honor and respect from the most powerful man at that time. The Middle Kingdom is opening its doors to welcome the visitors from Sulu does not happen all the time in history. China has been in constant conflict with various dynastic rise and collapse, foreign invasions and territorial expansions yet never in our country's history that one of our own is praised and respected with a historical marker in his own memory.

So what happened after Paduka Pahala died?

Eldest son, Rakiah Baginda, accompanies his mother back to Sulu to succeed his father as Sultan. The late Sultan's second wife Gemuning (or Kamulin) remained with her two younger sons to guard the tomb and observe the three-year mourning rites.

As respect to the family left behind, the Yongle Emperor has made sure that the family is well provided with accommodations and pensions. Although Gemuning returned to Sulu in 1424, she returned to China and never went back to the homeland. A Teochew gazette in the 18th century described what happened to the two sons:

"His second son Wenhali and third son Antulu and some 18 followers stayed to tend the tomb. At that time, they could not mix with the Chinese because of their language, but the Muslims all took them in, and led their children and grandchildren to practice their Muslim customs, so they adopted their faith . . Now there are 56 households of them, scattered in the northern and western , and they intermarry with the Muslim people."

It is believed that when Gemuning and her two sons died, their remains were buried in the same mausoleum that housed their father's tomb.

Oral traditions suggested that his descendants who remained in China were eventually absorbed into the Hui ethnic group and became Chinese subjects by the 9th year of the Kangxi Empire in 1731. Apparently taken from their forefathers' names, the surnames An and Wen became common in over 3,700 modern-day 20th generation descendants in Dezhou and across China.

Descendants of the Chinese and Filipino line of the Sultan have started to reconnect of their shared history, why both our countries as well? There is no need to draw battle lines and confront each other on things we don't agree, both countries should bridge the gap of misunderstanding and build trust and respect on what we share in common.

Istoryadista is a personal blog that talks about current events, politics, popular culture, video games, sports, and everything you can think of.

It has been quite a while when Filipino basketball fans experienced a basketball league that has a true home-and-away format and single season champion that the National Basketball Association is known for. Sure we had the defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association and now have the regional ASEAN Basketball League but we don't have a stable national league that plays home and away all season long. Until now.

Many have tried to recreate the dream that was the MBA (Liga Pilipinas, Mindanao Visayas Basketball Association, Filsport Basketball Association, Countrywide Basketball League and other incarnates) by incorporating a home-and-away basketball league in the Philippines. Let's face, the Philippine Basketball Association is already showing its age with its archaic league format, dwindling attendance and TV viewing share and controversies that have turned off a lot of fans. Sure, the PBA still employs the best basketball players in the country and many up-and-coming players are still aspiring to be in the league. But the PBA's continued "risk aversion" to reinventing itself to a true national league with teams all over the country is holding it back to become bigger than it is right now.

Issues and Criticisms

The emergence of a new league like the MPBL may be a good ground for unknown and undiscovered players to make a name for themselves. If this league is managed right, it can expand to other provinces and eventually to Visayas and Mindanao where it will eventually become a true national league. But the question remains, will they do the right things that the MBA didn't do and prevent it from a catastrophic demise? Only time will tell. So far, everything is good with medium-sized gyms hosting each team were filled to the brim.

The 12 PBA teams are not enough to get all the best players employed and when I say the "best," I mean the very best amateur standouts and veteran journeymen who can still do some moves (many are no longer in the big league). So having a separate league can be a safety net for them. Outside of the PBA, there is the ABL or the PBA D-League while some opt to complete their five-year eligibility in the UAAP and NCAA before taking a chance at the PBA Draft. No wonder, PBA rookies are much older compared to other leagues with a draft system in place. On the other hand, the MPBL has a direct hiring process so anyone can try out and play for a team. Five homegrown talents are guaranteed to get roster spots and teams also have the option to get ex-professional players like Gary David and even Marlou Aquino.

Some critics have called it the "Manny Pacquiao Basketball League" poking fun at the league founder, boxing icon and ex-KIA 'player-coach' Manny Pacquiao's failed basketball career. Others have also branded it as "Maharlika Manila Basketball League" due to the absence of any Visayan or Mindanao teams. While it is also often called as a glorified "ligang labas," which is a term used for informal basketball leagues organized around country during fiestas and part of political self-promotion by local government officials. Often, these "ligang labas" games attract a lot of ex-collegiate and PBA players to play in remote barangays for that big prize money. Essentially, MPBL somewhat operate in this lines so that the "over-the-hill" players trying to catch up with their past glories team up with virtual "who knows" for a basketball title.

Using the name of the locality is the way to go, I understand that each team has corporate sponsors that bankroll its operations but it's kind of gaudy to include the corporate name into the team name. LeBron James' team is not called the Cleveland Goodyear Cavaliers right? They can probably work on the branding of their teams by using creative wordplay or even using another monicker. Why would you call your team, the "Kuyas"? I'm sure there are other things Bulacan is famous for.

Local Market and LGU Support

Metro Manila is already a saturated basketball market and the PBA is feeling the effects of dwindling attendance and rising ticket prices. However, the MPBL has filled up their venues with enthusiastic fans even though some of the players are not yet known, plays are a little bit unpolished and team chemistry is not yet there. However, it has one compelling element that the PBA can't replicate unless if it's Ginebra (San Miguel and Magnolia to a certain degree) - a true home crowd and team-branded homecourt. The essence of having a road team winning against the home team with its partisan fan support is not truly there in the PBA.

I really don't mind local governments playing a very "active" role in team operations but it would be appropriate to remove political ads in the league. The way I see it, some 'epal' politicians may hijack the popularity of this league to serve their plans of getting reelected and catapulting them for higher office. Another issue would be for teams that won't do well in this league, will they just disband just because things don't go well or keep on competing? I really hope teams would stay and keep improving otherwise it would be like the PBA where there is a constant roulette of teams changing names and owners.

Possible Future Growth Paths

Sure, MPBL can compliment the PBA but what if all the emerging stars will be lured to play in the PBA and PBA D-League? I understand that the end goal of this league is to replicate the NBA to up to 20 teams all over the country but creating a balance and ensuring a viable league is a different story. Pacquiao has even said that they won't compete with the more established PBA but if there is a common trajectory, both leagues would eventually compete as soon as a the growing regional league will become more popular than the corporate-based league. Whatever diamonds in the rough discovered, many of them will soon be playing the PBA.

Regional rivalries will fuel the success of this league based on the premise that my city is better than your city. Soon we will see visiting fans coming in to support the road team. Manila Clasico will become an old and bygone basketball ritual.

If the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas will reformat the way basketball leagues are run in the Philippines, I can see the PBA accede to the clamor for a single-season, home-away basketball league by adopting the MPBL and MBA format. If not, they can create a three-tier league format in place with the PBA becoming Division 1, PBA D-League becoming Division 2 and MPBL becoming Division 3. Having a promotion-relegation is a bit too far and it may complicate league management if that will be adopted. Japan's B.League has already implemented it.

Travel costs can be a bit high for a pro team but if ABL teams like Alab Pilipinas managed to do it then I don't see any reason why an MPBL team in the Visayas and Mindanao cannot do it, let alone a much financially-able PBA team. It all boils down to an efficient scheduling, improving regional transportation infrastructure, new basketball arenas in the countryside and stable peace and order situation. Until now, it is just a dream.

Imagine former MBA teams resurrected as MPBL teams like the Pasig Pirates, San Juan Knights, Iloilo Megavoltz, Negros SlashersCebu Gems and perhaps Manny Pacquiao's very own team.