As soon as Chris Thomas set foot on Philippine soil in 2017, we put him on a plane to Naga City, to witness for himself the devastation that the Typhoon delivered to the City on Christmas day December 25, 2016. As we went around the city, skeletons of broken trees greeted us, roofless and windowless houses dotted the roadside, but Naga’s usual resilient spirit was palpable. This gave us all the optimism that we needed, such that when we were finally confronted with the collapsed cage, the only reaction we could give was “let’s get this cage up as soon as possible!”
And so Chris went into high gear again, coordinating with the Mall, the FCN, the Dep Ed, and the Mayor’s office. Soon the familiar scent of burning metal was upon us as we saw the cage slowly rising from the ground, like a transformer coming to life again. It could well be a Transformer, because it’s a hero to thousands of children’s lives.
And lo and behold, when the Day came, it was nothing short of amazing. Vice President Leni gave the inspirational message – yes, the Vice President of the Philippines who hails from Naga City! The Congressman was on her side, the Mayor, the Dep Ed Superintendent, and later on, the British Ambassador himself, HE Asif Ahmad, who kicked a few balls with Chris as over 1000 children watched.
We consider this a really good start for 2017. The Cage rising from the ground, unbeaten by a super typhoon. The spirit of the young footballers of Naga City, many of whom suffered damages, but whose spirit is just as unfazed. And so we shall march into 2017 with a spirit so strong, our enemies should be worried….