Red, my law partner, and I have decided to learn golf. This announcement will surely come as a surprise to people who once knew me as an activist of sorts, or at least, a proponent of alternative lifestyles. Whatever happened to the cause of the oppressed? But before they condemn me as a sellout to the establishment, let me tell them why I have taken this inevitable turn in my sports life.
First, I have come to realize that I will never become a basketball superstar. Thirty four years of shooting the hoops hasn’t gotten me anywhere. I have yet to win a championship in any of the leagues that I joined, not even in the neighborhood ligas in my boyhood Barangay Quirino 2-B in Quezon City. My best finish ever was fourth place overall, and it ended with me shooting and missing a couple of free throws that could have been the winning shots for my team. That’s a highlight by the way, because most of the time, I was warming the bench.
I still play basketball, most of the time with my kids in our garage. But my sons, Juancho and Hans, have gotten better at it that I end up losing in our shootouts, and get heckled at by these babies. "Tell me Tatay who's the hotshot?," they jeer me 'til bed time. Indeed, as Kobe Bryant knows by now, losing stinks. The message is clear. Basketball is going to be just a spectator sport for me. I can try jolens or I can try golf.
Second, in this country, golf is not a sport, it’s a trade. There is a story that the biggest corporate takeover in the last few years involving the acquisition of the controlling stake in PLDT, the crown jewel of the Philippine corporate world, was sealed in the golf course. And there have been countless times that golfing clients called me in the middle of their games about documents that I needed to immediately draw up to seal a transaction they closed while playing golf. There was one occasion that I had to bring documents for signing in the seventh hole, and I looked odd in my white barong and leather shoes, documents in tow, braving the heat in the middle of the green. And to golfing professionals, a deal as big as the PLDT sale is just one of many deals that can happen in a day. And you see them smiling at you as you come to the green in your business attire, deed of sale in your hand, wondering how much money you make running after golfing businessmen. You could actually hear Rod Stewart singing “Some guys have all the …”
Third, it feels good to whack a ball with a club. Try it with your broomstick and your left shoe. For the most part of my life, I have lived a non-violent life. What's the Mahatma Gandhi word ? -- ahimsa or active non-violence. Whenever confronted with over-bearing clients who think they are God’s gifts to my firm, I smile at them and bill them like they were indeed God’s gifts to my firm. I have managed to remain polite with associates who couldn't get their subjects to agree with their verbs. I have been patient with corrupt judges and continue to address them as “your honor” -- although sometimes, in my left brain the syllable “dis” is spoken allowed, as in “Your (dis)Honor.” Prosecutors, who come unprepared in hearings and ask for repeated postponements, take some heat from me, especially when my clients are languishing in jail. But at the end of each tirade, I manage to shake their hands, and tell them, it’s not their fault, but the system’s. These people deserve a whack. But my education restrains me a lot. So, you can imagine the catharsis I get whenever I whack a ball with a club, and it flies way up in the air without complaint, obedient as I have been to the “slings and arrows of outrageous” people. Imagination has its rewards.
In my mind, I still am an activist and a proponent of alternative lifestyles. Most of the causes that I fought for have been lost, some of them I believe, have been abandoned and left for me alone to carry on. I still feel for the oppressed. But age makes you a little less agile, a little less angry, a little less sad, a little more playful, a little more open to the ways of leisure, and a little more creative in your protests. And I don’t know how. But as I approach middle age, with club and ball in hand, I vow to keep the lost causes of my life. Who can possibly tell? Maybe golf can bring the championships I never won? I’d be okay, though, if at least, golf would come with the accounts that I never had -- the San Miguel takeover would be fine, thank you. But the real treat is when I hit the space between the ground and the ball, and the ball bellows as it flies up in the air with the faces of the assholes of my day.