(First of two parts)
We’re only getting older, baby
And I’ve been thinking about it lately
Does it ever drive you crazy
Just how fast the night changes
Everything thing you’ve ever dreamed of
Disappearing when you wake up
Harry Styles was sliding into the chorus of One Direction’s Night Changes as Nessi Ramos parked outside a mall in Victorias City.
“I’ll just get some coffee,” he says.
“I only had a few hours of sleep,” he tells the DNX team as soon as he went back to the driver’s seat with a cup of iced coffee.
A few hours earlier, dateline Escalante City.
Nessi, a former professional soccer player and his best buddy, Engels Escultor, a public school teacher were out in the field at the Escalante Central Elementary School leading kids in endurance and stamina drills, ball handling and control, and, later, officiating scrimmages.
Beside the pitch, parents lined the stands, cheering like college students everytime a goal is made.
On a small table, native delicacies and bread, and a thermos of native coffee, was ready on the side for parents and the young athletes.
“Touch the marker!” Nessi yells as boys aged 15 and below sprinted during a drill designed to improve their stamina and agility.
Earlier that day, on the way to Escalante, Nessi, 25, was busy answering calls, directing staff of his businesses – Inday Gamay’s Lechon House, a barber shop and a printing shop he runs with Engels.
As soon as he dresses up in a dry fit shirt, soccer shorts, and ties his Adidas X Ghost cleats, Nessi becomes a coach, trying to “pass on what I have learned to the young ones.”
This eagerness to pass on skills that can be used not only in soccer but also in their lives is something that Nessi does not take lightly and seems to have put his heart and spirit into.
“Opportunity waits for him abroad,” his mother tells DNX over breakfast at Chick N’ Belly, another local business that has mostly occupied tables as early as 10am.
The Central School and Chick N’Belly are close to a school where rallyists use to gather during mobilizations or rallies in the 80s under the Marcos I administration.
Not far from Chick N’ Belly, at the public plaza, a giant raised fist marks the nearby spot where paramilitary forces opened fire on a crowd of peasants and farmworkers on 20 September 1985, a day before the commemoration of Martial Law declaration.
That marker used to be the first thing that can be seen as one enters the city proper.
Now, what one sees first is a public toilet.
Too, conversations among natives who grew up in Escalante during those dark days no longer center on the hublag (movement) or the pakigbisog (struggle).
Though some who talked to DNX do not deny that they were among those who got swept by the popular sentiment during the 80s and have, in many ways, contributed to the “struggle.”
Nowadays, it is no longer the struggle but football that gathers people. If soccer is religion in other parts of the world, it does have its own congregation that’s growing in Escalante City.
On any given afternoon, Sundays not included, the Central School pitch is filled with boys, 15 and younger, all in soccer outfits, most wearing cleats.
Beside the field, on most days, parents or older siblings of the young booters cheer them on, reacting as if the scrimmage they are watching is a Primeira Liga match.
Emily Cabanero is one of those mothers. She said the soccer training provided by CHF has helped parents who are busy with their businesses or work.
In a sense, CHF training has become like a nanny for them.
“We used to worry where our children are after school hours. Now we know where to find them, we know where to go to fetch them,” she said.
To be continued