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Rain or Shine… the Tamaraws Plowed Away

COME sleet, wind and high waters, nothing was going to stop the PAL Tamaraws from getting into the field at Cabramatta last Saturday, 2 February 2013 for the Cabra Vale International 9s.

The heavens may have been pouring buckets, but the weather did not in any way dampen the spirits of the PAL Tamaraws.  The boys roughed it up through nine games in the rain and mud, made it to the finals but were one step short of the cup.  However their overall performance ranks the Philippines now 4th in Rugby League international.

It’s been a year since the boys made their debut on Cabra Vale greens and they have tripled in number.  This year, three teams – the red – white – blue – were fielded to show the might and force of the Philippines. All the players were of Filipino heritage.  Also evident were the supporters on the sidelines complete with volunteer Filipino and Aussie Medicos in bright yellow shirts tended to the players massaged them and strapped them back in colourful tapes as good as new.

Three tents were pitched and colour coordinated too in the red, white and blue.  And it was bustling with excitement, the place where the weary players bruised, battered, at times even trickling with blood came to be mended, grabbed a bite or drink, caught their breaths before rushing on to their next battle. Here too, huddled together and keeping warm were the supporters, families and the better halves who bundled cozily their children who waited to catch hugs from their daddies between matches.

Consul General Anne Jalando-on Louis, along with Consul Marford Angeles and Cultural Officer Rachel Calisin braved the weather to wish the teams luck.  “Congratulations to the Tamaraws and I hope you continue on” said Consul General Louis. She also commended families and supporters for giving their time, energy and resources to building the teams proudly representing the Philippines.

Sponsors, Mr. Arnul Pan of Philippine Air Lines and Atoy and Tess Sayas of Zignal Travels were also on hand to cheer the boys on.  “We will keep doing this in the years to come,” assured Mr. Pan as the boys gave him a rousing cheer.  Mr. Sayas in his dual role as President of the Philippine Community Council of NSW (PCC-NSW) also expressed the council’s support for the group along with PCC director, Solina Lapalma.  Andrew Everingham who plays for the South Sydney Rabbitohs in the National Rugby League was also present to give his support to the teams.


Filipino culture was visible as when the New Zealand boys took the Consul General’s hand to do the traditional “mano” (putting the elder’s hand on their forehead as a sign of respect.)

A new sense of brotherhood prevailed; Filipino patriotism had been awakened and was flying high as evidenced by the boys’ facebook comments which were simply oozing with pride for the Philippines.

“Proud to be a Filo” was the common thread.  “Thanks for giving us the opportunity to represent our heritage. Couldn’t be prouder to be wearing the colours of our heritage,” said Fred Arquiza.  “I had a blast meeting everyone and playing the game I love with my new found Pinoy brothers. Putting on that jersey was one of the highlights of my life.” said Micah Hines. From Jason Bedford before the game: “Game Day!  Team Philippines Alive and in full effect!  It’s time to represent my mum’s homeland, along with my brother and 44 other Pinoy brothers.”  And after the game Bedford said: “It’s like sending family back home!  Gonna miss you brothers.”

Team Captain Luke Srama summed it up: “There are a lot of people that we need to say thanks for the weekend.  To Clayton, Mark, Rick, Tom, Erick, all the coaches, the sponsors – especially PAL and Zignal – the Philippine Consulate – our families and friends. We’re all part of Philippines Rugby League and I still can’t believe how much we have grown in just a year. Everyone’s hard work off the field too, gave us all an opportunity to play international Rugby League and we’re so proud to be wearing the Tamaraws jersey for the Philippines. Thanks to everyone!!!”


Nelson Mandela said it best:  ‘Sport has the power to unite people in a way that little else can. Sport can create hope where there was only once despair. It breaks down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all kinds of discrimination. Sport speaks to people in a language they can understand.’

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