Sunday, July 27, 2003

Thursday, July 24, 2003

This Lawyer is a Jock

You know you haven't been exercising for a long time when you step into a sports shop, you look around and you're shocked by the price of rubber shoes. It's PHP 4,000 (about US$75) a pop for a new pair of Nike cross training. Goodness! The last pair I bought was a Grosby First Five for a then pricey PHP 500 (at PHP 20 to US$1 about US$20). But then I realized that was three Michael Jordan retirements ago. Rubberworld, maker of Grosby shoes and the lone Philippine shoe maker to brave the multinational dominance in the industry, has gone belly up. There are no more Philippine brand rubber shoes in the market and nothing sells below PHP 2,000 (US$38).

Nonetheless, my arthritis has given me no choice but to go back to my first love. A sharp pain on the right knee has reminded me of my mortality. It has been bugging me for days and no diversions of any sort can take my attention away from the sting. As a result, I've limped my way up and down city hall and have found myself in embarassing situations. Indeed, it can be quite uncomfortable when you drag your foot around and an old lady asks and you respond "Arthritis ho. Kayo rin ba may Arthritis?" ("Arthritis. Do you have Arthritis yourself?"). Indeed, my years of physical inactivity have started to collect their dues. My excuse: too much work in the office. Looking back, the most rigorous form of exercise I've had for the last twelve years was speeding through three flights of stairs to beat Judge Raul de Leon's 8:30 am rollcall to avoid getting fined.

Pain has a way of altering behavior. Thus, I decided to go back to the activities of my youth. Before law, politics and literature, there was basketball. Atoy Co was the icon of the age. I was a shooting guard, adept at doing no-look passes, behind-the-back dribbles and devil-may-care drives. I trained with the best street thugs of our district where most basketball games ended with a bonus boxing match. I took early morning jogs and played the hoops afternoons and evenings. I pumped iron and even used improvised weights wrapped around my legs to improve my jump.

Unfortunately, my basketball career took no longer than five minutes. During the San Beda High School try-outs for the Red Cubs in 1983, I took the honor of being the first to drive against the young and towering Benjie Paras. My lay-up got blocked so hard I thought the ball exploded. Benjie Paras would later become the highest paid professional basketball player in the Philippines and I, a bit shaken by the insult, would settle to being a highly-charging notary public.

Alas, the Benjie-Paras-block-shot-of-a-lifetime is not going to deter me from going back to my jock days -- not the memories, not the state of the shoe industry and most certainly not the pile of lawyerly work on my desk. With Yoyoy Villame's CD in the background --"mag-exercise tayo tuwing umaga, tuwing umaga, tuwing umaga.." -- I'm back to being a jock.