The Grey Chronicles



The CorrespondentsI watched the ABS-CBN’s The Correspondents featuring a report by Dominic Almelor about the Futkaleros of Tondo. It was a very insightful documentary of the street football players of Tondo. Futkal, the brainchild of Peter Amores, literally means Football sa Kalye.

Aside from teaching football to Tondo boys, aged 15 to 18, Amores injects practical lessons in life with the hope of bringing an alternative activity to these youths. Life in Tondo had been known to be the most difficult. The popular impression of Tondo is permeated with crime, drugs, shanties, squatters, and the poorest of the poor; families eking life with disposable incomes below the poverty line.

The documentary featured interviews with the players of Futkal and shown their daily activities. One is a pedicab driver, another lives in a trailer, while another one is a gang member. Although they each had different activities each passing day, they come as one during practice rounds of Futkal using a basketball covered court as their playground.

Peter Amores state that the purpose of Futkal was to channel the Tondo boys’ energy and time from being used for other notorious activities known in Tondo to an alternative form of football. Futkal teaches the boys with the rudiments of football as well as help the Tondo boys expand their simple dreams. The lessons of the game, even in defeat, is translated by Amores into life’s lessons for these teens.

Football may be the saving grace for these Futkaleros of Tondo. The documentary ended with the growing prospects of some of the Futkaleros much the same as the movie Boyz ‘n’ the Hood. Instead of indulging on the non-productive activities that littered Tondo, the Futkaleros have regained their self-confidence as well as the pride of having found a better way to deal with their economic lot. Many have signified their desire to pour their energy, time and effort into Futkal and their studies; while one Futkalero is already reaping the benefits of the Futkalero training having been selected as a member of the football squad of a well-known university. For that, Peter Amores is worthy of the praise and accolades of a true Filipino hero.

1978 FIFA World Cup ArgentinaViewing Almelor’s report brought back some memories while I was in high school. My friends and I discovered soccer football during the height of the game’s popularity in the Philippines in late 70s and early 80s. This was the time when Pelé [a.k.a. Edison Arantes do Nascimento] was worshipped as a soccer god. It was also the time when soccer football became more popular in the Philippines than basketball, although we also played the latter. The World Cup became our staple TV show rather than the Toyota-Crispa basketball championship games.

Our informal team back then was composed of my high school classmates. We used to jog and do some stretching exercises early each morning followed with a friendly game of soccer football thereafter. Many co-teammates even became professional football players while some of us pursued what we wanted to be.

Nobody among us had became tainted with vices that teens of Tondo have been peer-pressured with. Of course, the environment we were situated at were a thousand miles compared to the crowded alleys of Tondo, neither were negative or toxic aspects of growing up were present in our surroundings then. Yet, in retrospect, I wonder what we would have indulged then had it not for soccer football.

Football became a passion for us back then and I do hope that the same would be for the Futkaleros of Tondo. Winning was not everything then. We learned something other than that. We learned teamwork, camaraderie and the enjoyment of play. Also, instead of indulging in other things not appropriate for us teenagers then, football became a sort of a healthy habit for us. The physical benefit for us was only secondary. Football became the outlet of our boyish energy and consumed much of our supposedly idle time.

I am thankful for this documentary and through this blog I owe thanks to Dominic Almelor for bringing it to the public’s consciousness, as well as for Peter Amores for providing such avenue for the Tondo teenagers.

I just hope that whatever Peter Amores did for the sake of the Futkaleros of Tondo become a model for communities all over the Philippines. If only I had some disposable income to support his efforts, I would be one of many to chip in. Remembering John F. Kennedy’s saying: Ask not what your government can do for you; but ask what you could do for your country. Amores epitomizes this and I salute such noble act!


Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 LicenseDisclaimer: The posts herein do not necessarily represent any organization’s positions, strategies or opinions. Read the full version of self-imposed rules for this blog: A New Year; New Rules. Unless otherwise expressly stated, the posts are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.
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