Reasons Why I Love Bacolod
Ramon Beleno III, Head Coach, College Women’s Football; Chair, Political Science and History Department

When I was invited to watch a game between a Philippine team and a Singaporean team, I would never miss that for the world. Not only that football has a special place in my heart, but Bacolod is one of my favorite local places in the Philippines for their accommodating people and delicious but affordable food. But witnessing the international game would mean missing 3 days of class sessions. But I told myself, I would not miss it for the world. So when I was invited, I did not hesitate to say yes.

When the plane was about to land in Silay Airport, I noticed that the place was surrounded by vast sugarcane plantations. From the airport, we rode a van towards Bacolod City. While on the road, I noticed that in the middle of the vast sugarcane lands are some parcels of football field. I said to myself that the Bacolod people really liked the game of football.

The first day, I spent most of the day by rediscovering the place. It has been 6 years since I have been in Bacolod. While roaming around, I noticed that I most of the posters and billboards around the commercial area were about football. I also noticed that unlike other places in the Philippines, I could not easily find anything connected to basketball. Basketball courts or gymnasiums are usually difficult to find. I said to myself, maybe the people of Bacolod really love football more than basketball. I was able to confirm my theory when on the next day, while we were shopping for local delicacies, the people tending the shop were able to easily identify the game ticket we were holding. They were more interested on the football game rather than the scheduled Gilas game on that same night. I said to myself, football is really famous here.

On the night of the game, when we were about to enter the Panaad stadium, I noticed that there were a lot of people assisting the spectators. People were very accommodating. Entering the stadium was a hair-raising experience. It was one of the best football pitch I have seen. But what was more exhilarating is the energy of the spectators. Even before the game, you could feel the enthusiasm of the people. They cheer even if the players are not yet on the field. You could see whole family trying to enjoy the event.

When the players entered the pitch, there was a massive roar from the almost 8000 spectators. I have not seen a football game with that much attendees. With that, I have said to myself, I really love the football culture in Bacolod. I wish we have the same culture in Davao.

The game is one of the most important game of Ceres. They need to win by at least 1 point in order to counter the 2-1 Home United win in their home field. There was a sense of urgency for Ceres. That is why, when the referee gave the opening whistle, you could hear the never ending cheer of the people. I think that the cheer actually energized the players because with just 1:28 on the game clock, Ceres was able to score their first goal. The crowd erupted. The Ceres players kept on pushing the other team that they controlled possession of the game. They have several more attempts until the 42nd minute when the Ceres was able to score again via a wonderful top corner free kick. The crowd went wild.

The 90 minutes elapsed without us feeling that the game would be over soon. We were drowned by the energy of the people. Again, I said to myself, I want this kind of football culture in Davao. It was a heavenly experience being with people who share the same passion for football. It was one memorable experience. I felt so lucky to be part of that event.

How the Bacolod people established their own brand of football culture is still a mystery to me. But this love for football allowed them to build football fields in the middle of a sugar cane fields. It allowed them to fill the Panaad stadium. But one thing I am sure of is that I want to establish that same culture in Davao. And I will do it in my own small steps—by doing my best in coaching my football team, one game at a time.

Now I love Bacolod more than their accommodating people and their delicious food. I want to go back because I want to spend time with people who share the same passion with the game I love the most—football.

My First Pro Football Experience
Raphael Claveria, JHS Sports Officer

It was a great experience for me watching a live pro Football game held in Panaad Park and Stadium, Bacolod City. It was Ceres FC, Philippines against the visiting Home United FC of Singapore held last August 9, 2017 at 7:30PM.

Knowing that I will be traveling to Bacolod City to watch a Live Football Game for the AFC Cup, I felt quite excited because this will be my first pro football game. As a sports Officer for the Junior High School I am used to watching games live but these are high school and collegiate games. Also, it was a unique experience for me because I am a basketball coach but at least I understand some of the technical rules of football.

We were early at the Panaad Stadium, knowing that tickets were sold out, we assume that a a lot of people will be there. While waiting for the game to start I noticed the ambiance inside the stadium, a bit tense maybe because it was a finals game and a crucial game for Ceres, they needed to win. There was a group of people with drums, flags, people yelling, putting on face paint, their friends and families cheering (even though a lot of foreign players are In the line up of Ceres) I only saw this on television in a sports channel covering a football match in the other countries. This made me realize that the football culture in Bacolod is different, they are football crazy. The gate attendance was around 7,500 and the whole stadium was really filled up by spectators.

This is my first pro football game experience, I really appreciate the way their crowd responded to the games, the full support of the people of Negros, it was a different culture that I saw. They are paying for the experience of a pro football game AFC Cup, and I was able to talk with one of the locals, it’s not just football that the people of Bacolod are supporting but all sports. In this case, they really love sports and understand the value of  experiencing experience.

2nd Leg of the AFC CUP ASEAN Zonal Final-Ceres FC vs Home United FC
Rey Henry De Leon, Head Coach, Grade School Boys Football

I can still remember the first time I went to Bacolod City when they hosted the National Football League (NFL). I was a member of the selection team representing the Region 11. Back then, playing in the NFL was an honor because we were playing against the best of every region in the men’s open division. Every game was a hard fought one. The experience was very memorable. After a number of years, Bacolod again, was the host of the league. We went there again to play. You can feel and see that there is something special in that place that makes the football players go back. Maybe it is because the people there are friendly, hospitable, kind, and because they understand and enjoy football.

The third time I went to Bacolod was during the University Athletics Association of the Philippines (UAAP). This time as a football coach of the Ateneo de Davao University. The thrill and experience was still very much real but on a different perspective. I can sense the respect among all those involved, from the players to the people on the stands. It was an overall positive atmosphere. The fourth time I went to Bacolod was for the National Men’s Open. I was the team manager of the team. My fifth trip was this time to coach the 10 Under Boys Team of the Ateneo de Davao. Though they were only very young players, you can see them and their opponents are very competitive. It just shows how teams from different places would like to go there and compete.

Just recently, we went to the Panaad Football Stadium of Bacolod City in order to watch the AFC Cup ASEAN Zonal Final. The teams playing on that particular night were the Ceres Negros FC and Home United of Singapore. Now, you can see the different roles I’ve been in this beautiful game, starting as a player, then as a coach, as a team manager, as a coach again, and this time as a spectator. That is from being in the middle of the action and then being on the sidelines and then, finally as a spectator, cheering and supporting our team. During that game, the stadium was at near maximum capacity, having an attendance of more than 7400 spectators. People from all walks of life are there to support and enjoy the game. Every time a situation comes up, you can see how they react passionately. The game was really exciting. You could see how the spectators, especially the Bacolodnons cheer. When a goal occurs in our favor, these spectators or fans would stand up, jump, and shout at the top of their voices. Sounded like it reached more than 120dB in sound. I can feel and hear the vibration and ringing in my ears. It shows how you could get so hooked on this sport. Truly, the experience was magical.

All of these things that has happened in my football life has been interconnected. It has transcended to different phases in my my life. It made me realize the changes, the development, the progress, the passion and enthusiasm of the sport to be a major part in my life from the moment that I discovered this game until this very day. It is my desire that I can be a part of it by sharing the simple knowledge that I have acquired to the kids especially the “18 S” of sports that I have formulated. I do hope and pray the progress will happen in an exponential way in our country by having more people play, cheer, support, and invest in football.

Thank you to Mr. Warren Concepcion and Mr. Dave Peñano for the tickets.

Edited by Simone Jaldon, Special Projects Coordinator