WASHINGTON D.C. - The Filipino American community is rolling out the welcome mat for the Barakos – the Philippine team that earned a slot to the Pony Bronco-11 World Championships to be held in Chesterfield, Va. next week.
The baseball team, composed of 14 players and 10 adult chaperones, are scheduled to arrive at DC’s Reagan Airport on Thursday afternoon.
“We’re all excited to meet them and support them in their upcoming games,” said Rudy Bolipata, a community leader from Richmond, Va.
The Barakos are being hosted in part by members of the Filipino American Association of Central Virginia (FAACV).
The World Championship kicks off on July 25 but thanks to the Fil-Am community, the kids will get a little extra time adjusting to the venue, which is about a two-hour drive from Washington, D.C.
After they arrive, they are scheduled to have dinner at the Philippine Embassy and spend the night in the nation’s capital. They will be transported to Richmond where several Fil-Am families have volunteered to house them for the duration of their World Championships campaign.
On Saturday, the team will get an opportunity to shop for sports equipment at a Sports Gear store in Midlothian, Va. On Sunday, they play a series of scrimmages with a team composed partly of their Fil-Am counterparts.
To make them feel right at home, various Fil-Am families have scheduled to host dinner for the boys for the duration of their stay.
Fil-Ams are pulling all the stops for the 11-year-olds, making this one of the biggest community projects in the region. Gerry Balallo, FAACV president, has organized the small army into committees for specific tasks from transporting the team to and from their games, another for feeding them and still another to help coordinate the other support activities.
It’s worth the effort, they said, because this was a chance to demonstrate Filipino pride and unity.
The Barakos earned a slot in the World Championships by whipping Indonesia 12-2 earlier this year.
The team is composed of Jhonas Palad, Ezequiel Agojo, Danillo Mendoza, Andrei Ueda, Calvin Tingzon, Marty Ranada, Vincent Noprada, Charles Castillo, Efril Mercado, John Natanauan, Gabriele Alcaraz, Genesis Manabat, Christopher Clark and Rovic Villanueva.
They will go up against the best Bronco 11 teams from the US, Europe, South Africa and Mexico. The California squad is reportedly the favorite in the tournament.
The FAACV has urged Fil-Ams from nearby areas like Norfolk, Virginia and Northern Virginia to come watch the games and cheer for the Barakos.