Manila Vanilla

What it's like to be a U.S. Fulbright scholar, basketball player, journalist, and the whitest man in Metro Manila.

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Location: Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines

New Yorker by birth, shipped across the globe to the world of malls, shanty-towns, patronage, corruption, basketball and a curious burnt-toast smell that wafts around at dusk

Monday, April 21, 2008

PBA Mascot Update -- Condom na Condom!

We're almost a month into the PBA's new import conference, and it's been pretty uneventful to date. The imports are all solid, with a few recognizable names like Aaron McGhee, who was on the Hollis Price Oklahoma team that went to the Final Four, Darius Rice, who used to bomb threes for Miami in the Big East, and Randy Holcomb, who was one of those west coast players who was always listed in Street and Smith's as the conference's top gun, but you never got to see him play. But it's still too early in the conference to report many developments on the basketball end. If Saturday's Red Bull/Alaska game is any indication, however, that may soon change; Alaska's coach Tim Cone was ejected, Alaska's import Holcomb broke Rich Alvarez's nose on a flagrant foul, then Red Bull coach Yeng Guiao nearly attacked Holcomb before Red Bull won the game in overtime. We've only just begun...

But one of the wonderful things about the PBA is that even in the absence of interesting basketball, there are boatloads of other intriguing tidbits to focus on. Here, once again, I point to one of my favorite continuing themes in Philippine basketball: commercialism and, specifically, the PBA sponsors' mascots. Anyone who's visited Araneta this conference will have noticed that some old friends -- Mr. Softee, the Xtreme Magic Sing Mic Man and the Casino Ethyl Alcohol guy -- are M.I.A., but their replacements are charming. The first is the Yakult bottle. Nothing too weird here. Just a smiling bottle of yogurt drink to make your digestive system happy. As you can see, little girls in fuzzy tiaras go wild for live yeast cultures in their morning drinks.

But the real inspiration for this post -- and I apologize for being coy and holding the punchline for the very end; it's very un-reporterly of me -- is the cream-colored "L" thing. The consensus in the crowd is that it's a dead ringer for a condom. Its little mohawk looks like a reservoir tip. The first time I saw it, I was sitting a row behind Alaska reserve center Poch Juinio, and as it walked by, he yelled, "Condom na Condom ito!" Basically, "It's a condom!!!!!!!!!!" Later, I was informed that the "L" stands for Lacto-something-ol, and that it's a cousin of Yakult. Ask anyone at the Araneta, however, and they'll tell you it's a condom. Of course, the kids love it, too.

It also makes me wonder: Just how long will it be before the PBA accepts sponsor money from Frenzy or one of the other local condom brands and allows them to parade an actual walking condom around the games. Would it be a wrapped condom, or a giant, grinning, strawberry-flavored, rose-colored phallus? I'm going to give the league the benefit of the doubt and say that the higher-ups would have the good sense to protect whatever minuscule shreds of family-friendliness and dignity that it still has, but it wouldn't be the most ridiculous thing I've seen the league do.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's supposed to be a Lactobacillus-- a beneficial bacteria that lives in the human digestive and reproductive tract. It's also responsible for fermenting milk into yogurt (and hops into beer). So I guess both Yakult and San Miguel have equal claim on the "L" guy.

10:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought the L was for love. What's the Tagalog word for love?

11:02 AM  
Blogger Bryan Anthony the First said...


1:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You definetely wouldn't see a huge condom walking around during an NBA game.........hilarious


4:18 AM  

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