“Di naman Pinoy ang mga yan!”

It makes me sad that until now there is still this “half-Filipino” vs. “pure-Filipino” debate in Philippine football. It’s not only politically incorrect but also stupid in my opinion. Clearly, there is nowhere in our laws that gives a measure of being a Filipino by blood or by breed. Per Article IV of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, one of the criteria to be considered as a Filipino citizen is “those whose fathers OR mothers are citizens of the Philippines”. Some of the current members of the men’s national football team have either a Filipina mother or a Filipino father, thus qualifying them to be natural-born Filipino citizens. Plus, if we take FIFA’s requirements for a national player, everyone who makes it to the Philippine national football team is definitely a Filipino. To question that, as well as THE Philippine Constitution, is a mark of ignorance. Or stupidity perhaps.

But still, if you’re going to bash the team because they don’t look like Filipinos, you should carry that out to the other sports organizations that send representatives in international tournaments that do not fit your stereotype. Just to be fair. If you go along the stereotypical way of thinking, why not question Smart-Gilas for sending Chris Tiu (Filipino-Chinese) or Asi Taulava (Filipino-Tongan) to basketball tournaments abroad? Or question the Philippine Olympic Committee for sending 3 Filipino-American swimmers to the 2008 Summer Games? Or Binibining Pilipinas for sending Venus Raj (Filipino-Indian) in Miss Universe? I know it’s not a sport but what the heck. Nobody seems crying about that. Why question only football? Why? Besides, when these half-Filipinos do well in American Idol, we are quick to point out “Proud to be Pinoy!”. Ba’t di natin yun magawa sa Azkals?

These players have very little to gain compared to the privileges they would receive in Europe. Yet, they choose to wear the Philippine colors. And for that, we should be grateful. The Azkals are Filipinos. They represent the Philippines. Like their looks or not, they are Filipinos.

We Filipinos should think twice when we say something bad about our fellow Filipinos. It reflects the kind of attitude we have towards each other. Our attitude towards the Fil-foreigner players of our men’s national football team is one of the reasons why our nation is not only geographically divided but also morally worlds apart.

And puh-lease let us stop this Azkals vs. (insert name of sports team here) thing. This is not football vs. basketball. Or dragonboat. Or boxing. These sports can co-exist. Wag hilahin pababa ang isa para itaas ang isa. We need to support our sportsmen and women, whether they performed well or not.

Let us kick discrimination, bigotry, hatred and crab mentality in Philippine sports. I’ll look forward to the day when the 95 million Filipinos could shout in unison: GOAAAAL!

Go Philippine Azkals! TEAM PILIPINAS # 1!