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The measure of the Filipino spirit

PROBABLY one of the hardest things to deal with is when you believe in someone and put your faith and trust in him to do what’s right and just and above all to carry through with building the remarkable legacy left by a father and you end up with a feeling of emptiness.

We are referring to Atty. Chito Salud, the former Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner and now the President and Chief Executive Officer of the pro league.

The son  of the eminent Rudy Salud, whose untimely passing was an irreparable loss to all of us who cared for him deeply because of his human qualities and his remarkable ability to help mold our character in a positive fashion and to teach us the values and virtues of being not just a media man, but an individual imbued with the noble characteristics of a Filipino.

That simply meant, as he would always remind us, to adhere to the principle that integrity is non negotiable and that God and country must come above all else.

It was his good friend, Lito Puyat, the two-time president of FIBA, the international governing body for basketball, who advocated the deeply emotional phrase, “Para sa Bayan,” which Rudy lived by in his role as PBA Commissioner during his eminently successful tenure and as the founding secretary general of the World Boxing Council, whose Constitution and By Laws he crafted and in various other positions in which he, by his profound example, earned the public trust and respect.

Regrettably, his son Chito whom we remember as a young man with enormous talent and a sharp legal; mind, has painfully for us, failed to live up to our expectations.

It may mean almost nothing to him, but it means a lot to us because he is the son of a father, whom we loved dearly and respected beyond belief.

We have always subscribed to the fact that actions speak louder than words and when Chito Salud in his remarks before the PBA Press Corps during its annual awards dinner said that he didn’t want to pay too much attention to the negative things surrounding the formation of this year’s Gilas Pilipinas men’s basketball team for the FIBA Asia Championships in China, where only the winner will automatically qualify for a place in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, he was far from being forthright.

We can understand his reluctance to bother about the criticism of some PBA teams, because, quite honestly, the truth hurts.

But even that doesn’t upset us too much. What does, however, is Salud’s reiteration of the league’s support for the national team program. That is simply not true.

When he was Commissioner, Chito Salud committed to use his persuasive influence and leadership to get the PBA teams to support the national team. In the end it was only Fred Uytengsu and Alaska who, in commendable fashion, gave coach Tab Baldwin three of the Aces outstanding players in Calvin Abueva, Sonny Thoss and Dondon Hontiveros, which is more than any coach could have asked for.

Salud spoke about wanting to focus on the silver lining which he characterized as giving our opponents the element of surprise to widening our pool in the future.

Dear Chito, the need was here and now which would then set the tone for widening the pool in the future.

The call to stick together to have more exciting times and to battle  through differences, find a common ground and keep advancing the ball sounds too much like a discredited politician rather than the talented son of an illustrious father.

The only valuable remark worthy of Chito was his statement of having nothing but gratitude to those who have played, are playing and will play in the future.

Gilas Pilipinas is a team worthy of our wholehearted support, our fervent prayers and a debt of gratitude for remembering the ennobling line, “Para sa Bayan.”

We thank the coaching staff led by the amazing Tab Baldwin and assistants Jong Uichico and Alex  Compton and each and every member of our team.

Play with the courage Filipinos live by. Play hard but play clean. Win or lose, you have  all won our eternal gratitude and respect for accepting the challenge when others begged off or were required to.

You gentlemen are the true measure of the Filipino spirit. Let it burn in your hearts as well as ours, as you strive to bring honor and glory to our country.

Remember, win or lose you are heroes of our time.

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