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How basketball strengthens bond between Fil-Am fathers, sons

Monica Galozo | TFC News Virginia Beach, Virginia

Posted at Nov 04 2021 04:16 PM

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Basketball is considered a big part of Filipino culture, and for Raymond Sarabia, a US Navy veteran in Virginia Beach, the sport is his father's legacy.

Raymond's dad played in the UAAP for Manila Central University in the 1950s. Now a father himself, Raymond passed on his love of basketball to his two sons. His 21 year-old son Chris developed a stronger passion for the sport, which began when he was just 4 years old. When Chris was a senior in high school, he became a local celebrity as after years of sitting on the sidelines, he finally got to play and scored his 4-point career best. For Chris, those 4 points are a big deal because he has Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism.

"It was the final shot of the game. Kahit yung kalaban, natutuwa (Even their opponents were happy for him)," Raymond noted. The father added that basketball is a source of hope and encouragement not only for Chris but also for himself. Raymond is currently battling stage 4 indolent lymphoma, a type of blood cancer.

"Nung na-diagnose ako, sabi ko, syempre nakakalungkot pero sabi ko sa sarili ko, 'binigyan ka ng Diyos ng advance notice. Sabihin sayo baka meron kang five to ten years left na lang sa buhay mo. Gawin mo na yung gusto mong gawin' (When I was diagnosed, of course, it was saddening but I told myself, 'the Lord gave you an advance notice, saying you may only have five to ten years left in your life, so do what you want to do')."

Raymond and Chris are members of a basketball team of fathers and sons from Virginia. The team competed in a recent intercity tournament called Beach Ballin' 2021 hosted by the Virginia Beach Filipino Basketball Association. Over 50 teams from 15 US cities competed in the tournament. Those without fathers still feel some family love.

"Playing with my titos... [And] this entire event practicing once a week - it's brought me closer to the feeling of what fatherhood is," basketball player Josh Gomez said.

For Air Force veteran Allan Araneta who is frequently away from his family due to work, playing basketball with his son is a bonding experience. "The experience keeps us mas malapit (The experience brings us closer)," Araneta pointed out.

Although the Virginia fathers-and-sons team exited the tournament without a single victory, they somehow experienced a winning moment when during their final game, a 3-point shot was released by Chris just a few seconds before the buzzer hit.