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

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Almost there!

This is exciting, isn't it? It's still rough -- the images, especially the back cover, are grainy and the text is maybe a tad corny, but that's how the flap copy tends to be. Chances are, when this book is released in June 2010 from NAL/Penguin, it's going to look a lot like this. I've always been a fan of this wire image of this kid about to take down this rim with one of his air tsinelas sliding off his heel. It's superimposed over a shot of a game I saw in Sorsogon.

The book isn't quite done yet. My editor and I are still making some minor tweaks. But the heaviest lifting is done. It's based on an import conference I spent following the Alaska Aces from inside the team's locker room, where I witnessed the sublime basketball wisdom of Joel Banal (who may want to create a line of hoops-themed fortune cookies), the antics of Willie Miller, the intense planning of Tim Cone, the rat tail of Rey Hugnatan, a season-saving three-pointer from Dale Singson and much, much more. Along the way, I take lengthy detours to explore the historical milestones of the Philippine game, the impact of Billy Ray Bates and Norman Black, the quiet beauty of homemade hoops in the provinces, Crispa/Toyota, Ateneo/La Salle and even the Cebu Gems/Negros Slashers rivalry. And blended in with it all are a few personal scenes, things I experienced that were so rich that I had to work them into the narrative: My star-making turn in Bakekang, how I ended up reinforcing the Boracay Cockpit Arena Cockers alongside former Pasig Pirates PG Jonathan de Guzman in a local tournament, how I made a fool of myself in said tournament and much, much more.

One thought on completing a project like this, which I might end up repeating a hundred times over the next year, is that what feels best about finally achieving this goal (or being so close that I can taste it) is not that I'm proud of myself, but relieved that all the people who so generously gave me their time and insight are actually going to see the product of that. These were not people without better things to do, they were many all-time great players and coaches like Norman Black, Tim Cone, Baby Dalupan, Philip Cezar, Atoy Co, Ronnie Magsanoc and many, many more. They spoke to me about their careers and their own loves for the game long before I had a book deal, and for years I was haunted by the possibility that I wouldn't be able to pull it off. Talk about utang na loob; this was mine. And I was thrilled and remain elated that the people and country who gave me so much would get to see an actual book about Philippine basketball that hopefully validates the time they gave me. (Of course, to properly pay down my debt of gratitude, I will be writing puff pieces about players and coaches' Brothers Burgers franchises for the rest of my days.) I look at this book as a love letter to Philippine basketball and the Philippines in general, and I hope when it's released, readers will feel that way too.


Anonymous skeed said...

Congratulations! That is truly awesome.

1:58 AM  
Blogger Pon said...

awww sweet! hope you do a book tour here :)

6:22 PM  
Blogger coachj12 said...

Congratulations neighbor! And more power to you! Can't wait for the release of your book.

1:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow! can't wait for the release. i'm a big fan.

i live in cebu and it sucks that some good books aren't circulated in this part of the country (yep, sad but true). hope to see this helluva book appear in the bookshelves of bookstores here.

advanced congratulations.

1:41 PM  
Blogger Welo Rivera said...

Rafe!! I am SO PROUD OF YOU and how you remain to be one of the humblest and down-to-earth people I know in this world!

Can't wait to get a copy next year. GALING MO TALAGA :)

P.S. Miss you and my favorite US city!

5:23 PM  
Blogger Perfect10 said...

More humble than Buddha, the Great Rafe.

Only a couple more months to go. I'll be in line to cop a few just to pass out on the streets to anyone who begs me for change.

12:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pare, ang galing talaga. Read reviews of the book and bilib kami sa iyo.

11:30 AM  

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