Pinoys in Maldives unite for Azkals' biggest game

By TJ Manotoc, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 29 2014 08:04 PM | Updated as of May 30 2014 06:38 AM

MALE, Maldives -- Beng Fermina's friends and family have been living and working in the Maldives for years and when they first heard of the Azkals being a part of the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup, they immediately got ready to support them.

“Sa airport palang, two days before nun, nag-prepare na kami,” said Ate Beng. “Meron naka-assign sa lahat, sa banners, sa corsage sa airport para pag labas ng Azkals, kada player lalagyan ng flowers.”

“Andun kami sa lahat sa training sa init; sa hotel sa labas lang kami,” she added. “Matanaw lang namin OK na kami.”

They screamed their throats hoarse especially in the Azkals' last game versus the hometown Maldives in the semifinals. Ate Beng admits, the Azkals experience has helped them become more united.

“Dati, even though may Filipinos in Maldives, hindi kami lahat-lahat nag-uusap,” she said. “Pero dahil sa Azkals, tignan n’yo ‘yung Filipinos in Maldives ngayon, minu-minuto may mga post atsaka lahat-lahat na nakikipag communicate, kilala na namin halos lahat, nagkaisa na talaga kami, unity na talaga.”

Some of them even produced home-made props, including a hand-sewn Philippine flag.

“Para po sa preparation sa game ng Azkals, mas maganda talaga ‘yung gawa talaga, mahirap naman mag-cheer ng walang flag ng Pilipinas, so gawa talaga namin. One night lang namin tinahi, hangang finals ito gagamitin,” said Ramil Bagot.

Meanwhile, teacher Jerry Bosito recounted a harrowing incident when locals tried to rob him of his game tickets for the semis game versus the Maldives.

“May humarang sa akin na tatlong naka-motor, nung una sabi nila, 'Pahingi ng ticket,' pero wala ako ticket, so kinuha ‘yung pera ko, yung laman lang naman sa bulsa ko,” he said.

“Pero dala ko laptop ko, cellphone ko, pero ‘di naman kinuha, tapos binataan ako, ‘Pag ‘di mo kami kinuhan ng ticket tomorrow night, sabi, 'babalikan ka namin.' Naka-sunod pala sa akin, tapos bago ako pumasok sa apartment, binusinahan pa ako.”

They are just some of the hundreds of Pinoys in Maldives ready to give their all to cheer on the Azkals and be part of history in the AFC Challenge Cup.