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Facebook, Football, Time

First, there was Facebook!

It is almost two years since I first joined up, and even then, I only did so out of sheer curiosity, nothing more. CNN was running a short news clip about a legal wrangle between Mark Zuckerberg and some former college friends. Since I was online at the time, I thought, what the heck…

The opening splash was plain, even unimaginative. I could not see what the fuss was all about. Since I really could not satisfy my curiosity just by looking at it, I registered…

And the rest, as the cliché goes, is History…

I have lived on this earth long enough to have realized a long time ago that, indeed, everything happens for a reason. I cannot help but smile silently to myself when I look back at that day.

My niece Apples, among my first “friends” on Facebook, I guess summed up – and accurately at that – my first venture into social networking: “Aba ang Uncle, hindi na anti-social!”

Indeed, I kept away from Friendster even when everyone else was jumping onto the bandwagon. I just simply felt – and still do – that it was contextually shallow and was, therefore, a waste of time.

But Facebook, once I was registered, appeared to me, even in the beginning, simple but well thought of and was, therefore, conceptually elegant. I got hooked…

Most of the people in the initial network that I built, naturally, had at one time or the other had something to do with the school with which I continue to be associated. That all changed late last year when, to my indescribable glee, I started finding long-lost teammates from my playing days in Taft.

Among these was Tommy, the guy who played on the wing opposite to where I was assigned to prowl in just about every game we lined up for together. Not only did we play in the DLSU NCAA team, we also suited up for a club called San Agustin in Division I competition.

Because I got hooked up with my teammates again through the magic of the Internet – and Facebook, to be perfectly fair – I started recalling things I had not thought of in nearly three decades!

Not long after Tommy and I started talking to each other again here on Facebook, he told me that he would be coming home to the Philippines from the States for a month-long summer vacation. He also said he would like to meet up not only with me but also with our other teammates with whom we were hooked up through Facebook.

I instantly felt a sense of eager anticipation; at the same time, the prospect of meeting up filled me – if I’m being honest – with not just a little anxiety. Oh, have I forgotten to say that the last time I spoke to Tommy face-to-face was back in 1982? That would be… uhm… only 27 years ago…!!!

Would the years have changed him? Would meeting up be awkward? Would we still have things to talk about?

Tommy arrived in the country a couple of weeks ago, and had already gone on tours of Puerto Princesa and Bohol. Earlier this week, just back from Bohol, he sent me a text message saying that he might be able to pay me a visit in Lipa today; but that he would confirm it on Wednesday.

I did not even bother waiting for his confirmation. I just simply took it for granted that he would be coming, and immediately made the short trip to the next office to buy De La Salle shirts for him and his lovely wife Fe. The next day, I also bought a couple of Ala Eh shirts for them. Since every visitor to Lipa has to leave with barakong kape, I bought a few packs of these, too!

That was just me trying to deal with my anxiety.

Hay naku! What an utter waste of nervous energy, as it turned out. The moment I saw Tommy walking towards me just outside the Diokno, it felt immediately like it was only the day after we last met back in 1982.

There was no awkwardness and we talked spontaneously as though there was no three-decade gap from the last time we saw each other. There was so much to catch up on and it was just too bad he had a golfing engagement in the afternoon.

Gano’n pala ‘yun… This may seem strange to those of you who have known me as the football aficionado all these years. But my love affair with the beautiful game was lengthily from the vantage point of that of a coach; and it was only today that I realized that the bonds established within a football team – or any sporting team, for that matter – by way of shared joys and pains will, indeed, stand the test of time.

Thanks Tom! I found great joy today not only in meeting up with you but also in the knowledge that many lads who trained under me will one day have reunions similar to what we had today and not feel awkward even if they have not seen each other in decades.

[First published on Facebook on July 10, 2009.]

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