Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sixty Years' Worth

The Blue Eagle Gym turns 60 years old today. To mark the occasion Ateneo is staging a photo exhibit, and an exhibition game by players from the university's past and present UAAP Men’s Basketball championship teams.

[Photo credit: ADMU website]

Ateneo alumni inevitably wax nostalgic about the Quonset hut-inspired campus landmark.
Old gym turns 60
By Sev Sarmenta
Philippine Daily Inquirer

In a country where sports facilities do not rise as swiftly as condominiums or townhouses, there is a tinge of nostalgia when you look at and feel the old sports venues. They represent a fraction of our youth, of good times spent playing or cheering ourselves hoarse. Many of them are worn out and tired and yet buoyed by the memories of yesteryear.

Such is the case for the Blue Eagle Gym. Built in 1949 as the first structure on the Ateneo Loyola Heights campus, the gym came to life with the cool winds of the hilly area as its natural ventilation.

Some have even tried to recreate it.

I, of course, have my own memories of that gym. Most of them are good.

For instance, I've always called it "Loyola Gym" instead of "Blue Eagle Gym." I'm not sure why; perhaps it was because the former rolled off the tongue better. And even though I only played on that court twice, from 1996 to 2007 I saw tons of Blue Eagle games there.

It was at the Loyola Gym where I watched a tune-up game where the Ateneo crowd cheered more for a visiting player—Mark "The Spark" Caguioa—than for the home team. Caguioa was a newcomer to the country at the time, yet was already tearing up the PBA as a rookie for the Barangay Ginebra Kings. He was persuaded to address the crowd at halftime, and the fans cheered all the more when the supposed "Amboy" began speaking in Filipino. Caguioa then brought the house down by revealing that he almost played collegiate ball for Ateneo instead of in the US.

[Photo credit: / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0]

It was also at the Loyola Gym where I once stood in line overnight to get good seats to an Ateneo-La Salle match. But not only did the Blue Eagles lose the game, the lady I watched with kept cheering for former neighbor, Green Archer JV Casio. And to think that we were seated at the Ateneo side of Araneta Coliseum!

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