Mr. Lim Eng Peng
MMTLBA Board Members
December 11, 2012
Ladies and Gentlemen:
The letter that you are about to read is undoubtedly one of the most, if not the most, difficult letters we had to write during Tiong Lian’s forty-two year history. We are sure that it will elicit all sorts of reactions. We, therefore, would like to make clear before we continue that this letter is not meant to challenge, malign, or condemn any other member school of this esteemed organization. The purpose of this letter is simply to impart to you a painful decision that we have reached after serious deliberation and consultation – that is, to terminate our membership from the Tiong Lian.
This decision to withdraw from Tiong Lian comes from the realization that we do not foresee ourselves taking nor do we desire to take the same path that the organization is treading. In particular, we are referring to the recruitment process that our school has resolved to never adopt. We know that the recruitment of new players to bolster team line-up is a common practice among schools. What our school cannot reconcile is the fact that if other schools are aggressively recruiting players and we are not, our players will not be able to take part in a level-playing field. We have seen how one school has followed the path of another in recruiting new players. What if other members too would give in to the idea that “if we can’t beat them, join them”? Our players will be reduced to unwilling participants in lopsided games, the turnouts of which are already foregone conclusions. This is a scenario that we can best avoid by simply leaving the league.
This is also not the first time we are voicing out against recruitment. In fact, our stand against recruitment has remained constant throughout the years. In a letter that we have sent the committee in September 2008, we have foreseen the negative effects of recruitment. One of these would be that recruits who are promised scholarships, sponsorships, or other types of deals may see sports as a way to get ahead in life. Instead of playing because of their love for the game or their school, these kids may see their talents as a lucrative means to get the things they want in life. The values that we hope to instill in our youth will, thus, be greatly distorted. Another would be that the selection team we send to Taiwan each year is supposed to be made up of overseas Chinese. With a very lax recruitment policy, representatives to the team may not even be familiar with Chinese-Filipino culture. We certainly have no objections against Filipinos playing in the league. As a matter of fact, there are many pure Filipinos who have graduated from, are currently studying in, and have played for our school, but because they are “home grown,” they are just as well-versed as their pure Chinese counterparts in everything Chinese-Filipino.
Schools which are active in the recruitment process claim that better players will “upgrade” the tournament and add prestige to the league. We, on the other hand, see popularity and glamor as secondary to the league’s original goal of fostering friendship, camaraderie, and sportsmanship among the member schools. We also pose that the tournament has already enjoyed tremendous popularity, especially in the Chinese-Filipino community, and has had media exposure long before the recruitment process started. The league has also sent players into the major leagues like the PBA, PBL, UAAP, NCAA, even the Philippine team.
No doubt other schools will perceive of our withdrawal as a “chickening out” since the chances of winning for our team have been drastically reduced. We love to win; who does not? But we can say with conviction that winning is not the end-all and be-all for our school. We are not sore losers nor do we have the habit of sour-graping. Throughout the long history of the Tiong Lian, during the years when our school was not even in contention for any top spots, we continued to be an avid supporter of the games, many times even winning the best ticket-seller award. The Tiong Lian tournament is an avenue for our students to come together, to display their unity and loyalty, to give their support for one another, and to fraternize with students from other schools in the spirit of friendly competition. For us, winning is not everything. Our athletic program is a part of the holistic educational program we have for our students. We are, therefore, committed to developing homegrown talents and to making the athletics program a vital part in the process of teaching responsibility, perseverance, leadership, and teamwork to our students. What we cannot bear to see is the idea of sending our students into an arena where they cannot even compete. The futility of the struggle can result in serious self-esteem and confidence issues so prevalent among the young.
The Tiong Lian Board has tried its best to come up with rules as safeguards against abuses in the recruitment process, e.g., limiting the number of new recruits to three a year. It is sad to note, however, that rules already amended in an official capacity can’t be implemented because there are some member schools that are not happy with them. Also, as of late, we have come to notice that Tiong Lian board meetings have increasingly become more heated, venturing into the territory of discourtesy. We acknowledge that arguments and debates are natural parts of “gentlemanly” dialogue and discussion, but when these exchanges escalate into the yelling of invectives and insults and go totally out of control, we have to lament how we have lost sight of our original mission-vision to promote friendship, camaraderie, and sportsmanship, and have sunk to the levels of incivility.
We have spent many wonderful years with the Tiong Lian. Together, we have weathered many challenges and controversies, but the latest issues we are facing have increasingly become unhealthy for our school and students. Is winning of such importance that we should sacrifice the essence of the league just to achieve it? Seeing ourselves at cross purposes with the organization, we have no other recourse but to signify our intention to withdraw our membership from the Tiong Lian. Our decision is an independent one, and we have no intention of influencing other member schools. We are very much pained by this decision, but we leave without regrets.
Thank you very much for your kind attention!
Mary Angeline Yu-Pineda