MANILA,  November 16, 2004 (STAR) SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin M. Henson - My good friend Simon Lee of Paniqui, Tarlac, wrote the other day expressing his disgust on the Fil-Shams in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA). His letter was sent from his paper trading companyís office in Vancouver.

Simon, who spends half the year in Manila and the other half in Canada, coined a new term for the Fil-Shams. He called them "Fil-Shames."

Here are excerpts from Simonís letter.

"I read in the news about the so-called Fil-Shames. I think it is high time we got rid of these basketball mercenaries masquerading as Filipinos to regain our lost dignity as a people.

"These Fil-Shames take advantage of a PBA teamís greed for championships and enjoy astronomical salaries from P350,000 to P500,000 a month in our country where many poor Filipinos live below poverty level. They drive flashy cars and go around with women who dream of having green cards. Some of these Fil-Shames are known to maul men and molest our women in bars like they own the country. We look like a poor nation of willing suckers. Shame on some PBA team owners, government officials and judges.

"Many of these mercenaries shout to high heavens that they are Filipinos who love his country and want to live here. But we all know that they come only because of their love for our money and good life which they can never have in the US. If they truly love this country and want to live here, why didnít they come back long before getting the chance to play in the PBA?

"Without the lucrative contracts as PBA players, will they throw away their US passports just to be Filipinos? Donít make me laugh. Where are the likes of Ricardo Brown and Willie Pearson after their playing careers were over? Deep in your heart, you know the answer better than I do.

"In other Asian countries where there are also professional basketball leagues, they do not entertain this kind of mercenaries. Are we too rich to throw away money and national pride as suckers just for championships? How many times did the Chinese and Koreans win the Asian championship with their homegrown talents? A few of them are even now in the NBA. Why not use the money to develop our homegrown talents which are plentiful? We were long-time Asian champions when the Jaworskis and Ocampos were around. As a basketball-crazy people, donít we believe in ourselves anymore?".

Simon, of course, refers to the Fil-Shams who falsified their documents to obtain Filipino citizenship for the privilege of playing in the PBA as locals. There are legitimate Fil-foreigners whose Filipino citizenship is confirmed by the Department of Justice and who enjoy the rights of every Filipino citizen as mandated by the Constitution.

Another friend Mon Datol got in touch from Toronto. Mon used to write sports for the Evening Star as Butch Maniegoís assistant sports editor and appear on TV as a boxing commentator. He left here five years ago and is now a Canadian citizen. Mon underwent a double heart bypass surgery in 2002 and now has a mechanical aortic valve. He publishes a 40-page Toronto monthly community tabloid called The Philippine Courier with a circulation of 10,000. Mon also writes a column for Philippine Newstoday, a community paper published in Vancouver.

Here are excerpts from Monís letter:

"My family is here with meĖtwo daughters and an 8-year-old granddaughter (donít be surprised, I was so young when I sired my children in l974 in Baguio City where I had two years of college education). I Ďformalizedí all marriage documents in l994 when my wife petitioned the children for immigration to Canada. They couldnít go without me as Canadian law requires the father to go in a family-immigrant petition. Thatís why Iím here and I eventually became a Canadian citizen in 2002. I got my dual citizenship last year.

"I studied early childhood education (ECE) and teacherís aide (TA) courses here and graduated last year. I work part-time as a substitute teacher in the Catholic school where my granddaughter studies. I also do some private tutoring to Chinese and Italian kids who are poor in English and math during summer. Next year, I plan to fully concentrate on my paper which will become a fortnightly.

"Boxing will always be my Numero Uno sport. I keep track of whatís going on in the beakbusting business in North America. But when I got sick (heart problem from 2000 to 2002) medyo wala na akong nalaman sa boxing scene natin. Bumalik lang ang knowledge ko sa local boxing in 2003 and since then, tuloy-tuloy na. Lately lang ako nagkaruon ng communications, again, with Manny Lopez, but, sinubaybayan ko ang Olympic sojourn nila. I even had special articles in my paper about it.

"Mas magagaling ang mga Pinoy journalists compared to mga Canadians or any other North American writers. Very basic sila. Walang tatalo kina sirs Teddy Benigno, Max Soliven, Mr. Expose Ernie Maceda, and in sportswriting, nobody could beat Edwin Gabutina, Dodo Catacutan, Lito Tacujan and the guru himself, Quinito Henson (no kidding). By the way, I watched you in the NBA Finals. Are you covering the Finals this season?

"I watched Michael Jordan in his last playing days in Toronto against our team, the Raptors, and our superstar Vince Carter. MJ is really GOD in basketball. Ice hockey and major league baseball are two of my other favorite sports now."

Simon and Mon are this columnís Canadian connection.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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