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Return to Rizal (30 July 2011)
July 31, 2011Posted by on
I went back to Rizal Memorial Stadium for the first time since the Philippine National Games. Thanks to a tropical storm that skirted Luzon, gray skies and a steady drizzle greeted my homecoming. There were still traces of the Azkals match, with the benches, FIFA-labeled sheds and advertisement banners at the sidelines.
I warmed up at the grandstand to escape the rain. And lo and behold, I was awestruck by the spanking new plastic seats! The guys from the PFF (I think) took out the scratched, rotting wooden benches of the past. Too bad track athletes can’t lie down on these individual seats!
Save for a few security guards and the occasional street cat, I had the stadium to myself. Of course, the memories of that splendid game was fresh on my mind. Being a hardcore track athlete, what struck me most was the history of the place. Whilst warming up, I could almost feel the aura of past Filipino champions from a bygone time – Simeon Toribio, Miguel White, Isidro del Prado and Lydia De Vega.
I learned the ropes of the sport in Rizal. I’ve experienced my biggest triumphs (to date) and my most crushing defeats in the decades-old Art Deco stadium. Despite being antiquated and run-down, Rizal shall always be home.