The Philippine’s own brand of basketball is officially known as the PBA, but it can more accurately be called as the corporate sponsor’s ultimate wet dream.
You see, instead of cheering for their city’s team, fans shout out brands.
Forget about watching primal battles of Raptors vs Grizzlies or of heated club rivalries of Barcelona vs Real Madrid.
Instead, you’ll get to witness the epic battle between a bottle of gin and a bucket of paint.
I know what you’re thinking, “Well, what about us fans who don’t really want to cheer for liquid containers?”
You can also stand behind the messaging prowess of the Talk ‘n Text Tropang Texters, the toll booth efficiency of the NLEX Road Warriors, or the alluring aroma of the Blackwater Elite. Here’s the full list of current teams if you don’t believe that those are actual team names.
At least the quality of basketball is actually pretty good.
Luckily, the Pope just came to town with several insights including this gem that inspired us to think of how the PBA can be improved:
So let’s imagine a league whose nationwide marketing and immense fan dedication benefits something else other than corporations.
This is exactly what Filipino-American graphic designer-nature lover, Albert Balbutin, wondered. Why use a mediocre product to name a team, when there is so much out there to shout about? He said:
“Imagine watching a game where teams represented the province you’re from and not some energy drink you don’t like.”
Perhaps something that deserves more attention… like the environment.
So Albert went out and came up with his own.
The Mindoro Tarictics
If you’re like me, you best know the island of Mindoro as the sole habitat of the Tamarraw, which already has a team named after it. But we also have the endangered and lesser known Mindoro Tarictic, a type of Hornbill named after its unusually large beak.
League Position: The Underdog
What makes it special:
Because it might just be the only endangered bird in the world that is being protected by prisoners ranging from former thieves to drug dealers.
As you can probably guess from its name, out of the Philippines’ 7,107 islands, it can only be seen on Mindoro. And on that island lies the Sablayan Prison and Penal Farm, which just so happens to be located by the largest remaining forest in Mindoro along Mt. Siburan.
Prisoners here have been trained to conduct biodiversity surveys and monitor wildlife populations. How’s that for hardcore mutual rehabilitation?
It makes a great deal of sense if you think about it. Since they spend every single day in the Mindoro Tarictic’s habitat, they’re probably the best ones to name as its protectors.
Oh and the Mindoro Tarictic is also part of the family that spreads the seeds of 749 different species of plants, helping forests increase in size just by pooping.
Read more about the importance of Tarictics in The 5 ways you don’t notice killing wildlife is ruining the Philippines.
Here’s the team getting ready to defend the Tarictic’s honor on the court.
The Palawan Bearcats
League Position: The Fan Favorite
Palawan holds so many locally unique wildlife that it’s practically a different country from the rest of the Philippines.
One of these is an animal with the body and fuzziness of a small bear coupled with the balance and whiskers of a cat. Guess what it’s called (or just look at the image above if you’re feeling lazy for games).
Yup, it’s the Palawan Bearcat.
What makes it special:
Besides from being the closest thing to a real life teddy bear you and I are ever gonna get, the Palawan Bearcat is one of only two carnivores in the world that can use its tail for grabbing on to things like trees and the hearts of fans around the country (potentially).
This allows it to climb, jump, and traverse the tree top forest canopies of Palawan with more grace than Tom Cruise ever had in Mission Impossible.
The place itself would benefit from the exposure of its its plate tectonic past. The greater Palawan region is actually considered part of the Sunda Shelf bioregion rather than that of the rest of the Philippines.
Unfortunately, Palawan is under increasing pressure from coal power plants, mining companies, and pawikan poachers that are constantly eyeing its remaining forest and marine resources for profit. Albert says that,
“If the Palawan Bearcat was made a flagship species for basketball fans to admire, Palawan’s natural beauty and mysterious traits might be finally appreciated and therefore preserved.”
Here’s Mike Cortez doing just that by scoring the first points for his new team:
The Philippine Eagles
League Position: The Defending Champs
Creating new basketball teams without highlighting the national bird would be an injustice to a environmentally aligned PBA.
I mean, just look at it:
Standing at an average height of around 3 feet along with a wingspan that reaches 7 feet of awesomeness, the Philippine Eagle is just about the largest of its kind in the world.
Click here to read about the rare photo of a Philippine Eagle recently discovered carrying a monkey by its ass in Luzon.
It works especially well as a flagship species too since, in order for a mating pair to survive, you’d need to safeguard 133 square kilometers of healthy forests.
That’s more than the combined size of Makati, Pasig, and Parañaque.
It’s because of that huge requirement that there might be as few as 250 left in the wild.
But it’s also the reason why there’s a big need to keep them from getting fewer: if their habitat is healthy, then we’ll also be helping everything else that relies on forests to survive.
According to Albert:
If we lose the Philippine Eagle, we won’t be too far away from losing our forests and the lives they support, regardless of species, including us humans.
Plus, commentators will get to say things like “soars to the basket” and “flying past defenders” anytime they want.
Albert sums it up by asking:
Why call it the Philippine Basketball Association if promotes corporations and not the Philippines?
Let’s make a league that lives up to its name.
It doesn’t even have to be about the environment (although that would be nice too).
You can see the rest of Albert’s take on PBA teams along with more of his amazing design work on his website, www.filipeanut.com.
This post was written by volunteer nature lovers. If you think it was helpful, please consider sharing it on Facebook and Twitter to help raise awareness about the Philippine environment.You can also sign up with your email at the bottom of this page so you can be notified when new stories are sent in.
Bonus: If you want to give the PBA a makeover with a new team that inspires more affection, you’re gonna have to fork out at least P100 million in fees and operation costs to the league. Now you know why the PBA consists of names you would normally find in a kitchen pantry. Alaska anyone? Buksan ang Purefoods!