When In Manila, being a Boston Celtics diehard isn’t as simple as using them in NBA 2K12. If an active member of the Celtics visits Manila, Celtics diehards don’t just sit there posting status messages about how they wish they could see this player in person. They go out and find a way to be part of the event!
I could tell I was in the right place.
That’s exactly what I did on August 29, 2012 when I found out that Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo was visiting San Juan National High School Gym as part of his project, “Manila’s Got Wings”, where he applies the finishing touches on the school’s renovated basketball court, all paid for by Rondo himself and Red Bull.
“Manila’s Got Wings” originated from “Boston’s Got Wings”, a program which involves Rondo, Red Bull and the Boston Parks and Recreation Department donating $750 for every time Rondo records a steal in the 2011-12 NBA season.
I got to speak with Councilor Angelo Agcaoili of the 1st District of San Juan, who explained that when the San Juan city government found out that Rondo and Red Bull were planning to expand “Boston’s Got Wings” to Asia, the city government lobbied that San Juan be the beneficiary of the project.
Rajon Rondo with Councilor Angelo Agcaoili
According to Councilor Agcaoili, RSA Titan Management Group was assigned by Rondo’s camp and Red Bull to look for a city to sponsor for the project. There were specific criteria that had to be met before a city was selected, among which were the fact that the court must be free of charge for use, not prone to flooding, and that the youth should be the primary beneficiaries of the court. The San Juan National High School Gym met all these requirements, which led to Rajon Rondo’s visit on this fateful day.
When Rajon Rondo arrived at the gym, there was a collective sense of anticipation and excitement. The local police quickly arranged themselves in a human barricade, while the people in attendance crowded around the court, hoping to get a view of the Celtics point man. As soon as Rondo stepped out of his vehicle, flash bulbs started going off and people just started cheering him on as he made a rock star entrance, despite his usual nonchalant demeanor.
The program began with Councilor Agcaoili, Vice Mayor Francis Zamora, Mayor Guia Gomez and Congressman JV Ejercito delivering their respective welcome addresses to Rondo and the fans in attendance. Then, Rajon Rondo was formally welcomed by the fans and he proceeded to complete the final step of the refurbishing of the San Juan National High School Gym by applying the finishing touches on the San Juan city logo.
From L-R: Councilor Angelo Agcaoili, Congressman JV Ejercito, Rajon Rondo, Mayor Guia Gomez and Vice Mayor Francis Zamora
After a few photo opportunities with the city officials, Rondo then answered some questions from fans who volunteered to ask questions about his routines, techniques and style of play. The program ended with Rondo giving out 21 brand-new Nike basketballs to the 21 chairpersons of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK), which is symbolic of Rondo presenting the gift of the renovated court to the youth of the city of San Juan.
Rajon Rondo presents the brand new Nike basketballs to the 21 SK chairpersons.
I went into the event hoping to get a chance to ask for Rondo’s autograph, or maybe a photo with the guy, if I was really lucky. The luck of the Irish wasn’t with me on this day, though. Then again, just being there and being mere inches away from Rajon Rondo, the starting point guard for the 2008 NBA Champion Boston Celtics was already enough for me to feel like I was at the pinnacle of my fandom as a Celtics diehard.
Rondo addresses the fans in attendance.
There really is something about being in the presence of a guy who’s worn the iconic Celtics jersey and who has played on the parquet floors of the Boston Garden. They call it the mystique of the Celtic aura. And as a fan of the Boston Celtics, just being there to soak in that moment — and getting to tap Rondo’s shoulder because I couldn’t reach for a high five — that’s probably something I’ll tell my kids about for the rest of my life… unless I get to go to Boston myself one day to see a Celtics game live, then that’s a different story!
When In Manila, you will realize that basketball isn’t just a sport. It’s a way of life!
Rajon Rondo in Manila: Boston Celtics PG Visits San Juan National High School Gym