(The NCAA championship is around the corner, and San Beda is poised to seal another championship. Too bad, William S. and asiong’s Mapua is already out of the running.
This essay brings me down to memory lane. Dedicated to Arjun “The King Lion” Cordero, this piece was written while downing bottles of SanMig light after San Beda’s devastating loss 15Sept 04)
“If one wants something badly, all the universe will conspire to help him achieve it.” Paulo Coelho is a liar.
Heaven knows, it was not just another basketball game. Rains poured heavily and roars of thunder were heard after the painful loss, even nature grieved with us. An earthquake shook Manila at midnight, the gods must be turning in their beds, having difficulty catching sleep, asking themselves how they could have undone a destiny of despair for the sons of Benedict. We wanted the win so badly, we gave every bit of our soul, but fate was on the other side.
I know so little about basketball. All my life, I have played ball but once, and that was in high school physical education. It was a fifty-second stint briefly punctuated by a traveling violation. I never tried again.
But then in the past ten years, since I stepped in the grounds of San Beda, I have always been an ardent supporter of the Red Lions, and the NCAA.
Even when I started working, I would not hesitate to take a leave from work so I won’t miss an important game, the same is true with many of our alumni. PLDT Chairman Manny Pangilinan will certainly agree.
I still know so little about fouls, violations, and the rudiments of basketball. I would just carefully wait for others on our side to clap before I do. (Sometimes I unwittingly cheer for the enemy), but I have mastered the art of shouting “defense!”, have memorized every note of our cheers and yells, and have also gotten used to going home with a heavy heart, after watching the Lions lose a game that they could have handily won.
I was graduated in 1999, but my education continues in the NCAA.
“What is in San Beda that you are so obsessed with, is it the association with elitist, petite-bourgeois group of gays called Bedans?”, my bestfriend Alona jokingly asks, noting my all-black outfit the day after we bowed down to Perpetual.
I refused to explain my attachment to San Beda in the same way that my belief in Christ defies any justification, but I told Alona about Arjun, in a way Christian educators in grade school tell of the lives of saints.
Arjun will forever be known as the man who did not break our heart. The man who refused tempting offers for greener pastures and bluer skies, Arjun chose to remain in the roaring pride, driven only by a sense of mission and love for his alma mater.
He wowed us from day one. Arjun played every game with an appetite as big as the typical Bedan’s craving for food. We saw the cub grow into a mighty Lion, a red roaring majestic king.
In the dying seconds of our game against Perpetual, Arjun held the ball in his mighty hands, and everyone in the gallery held their breath. Our world stopped. Our hearts refused to beat. Arjun aimed at the basket… and, alas, he missed! How can an angel break our heart?
Arjun missed the shot, and we saw him cry. It was not exactly the best way to end this year’s rally. Certainly, it was not the best way to end his collegiate sports career. “Why Arjun?,” we asked.
That afternoon, on my way home, I grieved. I did not know which to do first, write and relive the pain, or drink and inebriate myself from misery. I decided to do both, and at the same time.
For a few days, I refused to visit the bedista.com forum, I thought I’d find more wailing, I even imagined loads of sourgraping. I was wrong.
The site was flooded with messages of gratitude to our hero: Thank you, Arjun Cordero. We wish you well in your career. We love you.”
In the forum, one was quick to point out that Arjun was not the reason why we did not achieve more. He, in fact, was the reason why we overachieved and exceeded expectations.
Yes, we will miss Arjun in his #5 red and white jersey, but we will remain thankful to him for as long as our lungs breathe. Many will remember him for his daredevil moves, all will miss his leadership.
I choose to remember him for his lessons in humility.