Every country has a dream of bringing that 18 carat gold trophy back home and this coming July 13, Germany and Argentina will be battling it all out. So far, it has been an exciting World Cup. The last time these two countries met in the finals was in 1990 where Germany (West Germany then) beat the 1986 holders Argentina, 1-0 in Italy. I was 7 yrs old in Saudi Arabia and a few days later, the Gulf War was about to start. I had a few memories of that World Cup, it was mostly Maradona. During the Gulf War, I was mostly at home watching Captain Majid (the Arab version of Captain Tsubasa) and watched EPL games. Eric Cantona would be one name I would always remember at that time as well. Then came USA’94 and Saudi Arabia qualified for the first time, of course I was rooting for them, my country of birth. I had also started playing football at this time where relatives were telling me to play basketball instead, and I did but I just loved football more and was better at it. Saudi Arabia would advance to the second round and lose to semi-finalists Sweden, who would lose to the winners, Brazil who got crushed 7-1 by Germany a few days ago.
When I moved back here in the Philippines around 95′ I didn’t see any football around my area, but was happy when the high school I went to had a team. I immediately tried out and was their goalkeeper for 3yrs. During college I stopped, the so called university didn’t have a football team or any other sports team, except basketball. I was still an avid fan of the World Cup though and woke up early in the morning during France 98′ and watched wherever I can during the Korea Japan 2002. By 2005 I had started playing football again (thanks to online forums) and eventually found a team where I would play every weekend. My reflexes were still in touch and a mentor had helped me improve my skills. I had the ideal height as a goalkeeper and always thought I could make it in the national team, I just had to work on my punting on the ground. Yep, I had silly dreams of playing in the national team, keeping clean sheets and all, but the Philippines didn’t have such nice records then. I remember watching a scoreline of a 9-0 loss in the Tiger Cup (some scorelines were worse), the Philippines was the whipping boys of South East Asia then. As I was getting more momentum, playing in different tournaments, third division league, football was growing and so forth… I got injured, suffered a fracture in a freak accident diving for the ball in a patchy field.
It wasn’t the same after recovering for some time, I lost my morale but still had that bite in playing. So I started taking pictures, mostly football and skateboarding. Football was on the rise in the Philippines after it made a shocking 2-0 defeat to Vietnam during the 2010 Suzuki Cup. Football was suddenly everywhere. After more than a year from injury I started playing football again and met the chief photographer of the European Pressphoto Agency (EPA) in the Philippines who happened to be my teammate. I had no idea he was a photographer until he brought his big lenses on our games. We were target practice for his Euro Cup and World Cup adventures. And that was it, I had wanted to be a photographer, I had wanted to cover the World Cup. I started taking pictures more, attended workshops, quit my corporate job, went to school again and somehow made it and is now making a living out of taking pictures.
Philippines, I hope you make it one day to the big stage, Saudi Arabia for you to qualify again, Germany to win the World Cup again in the future with me somewhere in the sidelines capturing those moments.