Spare tickets

"I think some people working at DLSU would feel the same way I feel right now," Carmel's post on Facebook said. "I am beginning to feel [and] think [that] many people just know me, or become my friends, during UAAP season, when there's a must-watch game."

It's an unofficial Lasallian rite of passage: you can't be one if you haven't seen the Green Archers, in this case the basketball players, play live. In that case, then I am not truly a Lasallian. I have never seen the Green Archers live.

Well, actually, I have never seen any UAAP game live. It's not that nobody invited me - sure, watching the games at the (then Smart-less) Araneta Coliseum is really a barkada affair, and watching alone is really sad - but really, I just never felt like it. It's partly because I live far away, but mostly because I just never felt like it.

Then again, I'm not a guy who follows basketball. I watch occasionally, and I talk to friends about it (hello to you, Dexter), but I'm not what you'd call an expert. I was talking to a colleague about this year's UAAP men's basketball finals, between a returning La Salle and a resurging UST, and the basis for my series prediction - that the Tigers, sorry, will win - is based solely on what makes for a good storyline. The Tigers win, the underdogs win, the older Teng wins before graduating, and maybe Pido Jarencio has a nervous breakdown. It makes for a very fulfilling season finale, so to speak. The Archers win, the younger Teng wins, and... yeah, that's admittedly boring, but - and this is a stretch - a bit of a symbolic victory, since Ateneo didn't even make the final four. "Up yours, inflated eagle," you might say.

(Come to think of it, my theory doesn't sound that farfetched... if you're a subscriber to the idea that the referees cooked the second game in favor of La Salle. But meh. People are just looking to fight other people.)

But for obvious reasons, I want La Salle to win. I've a surprisingly kind logic to this: I want my brother to experience a UAAP victory party at least once. Me and my sister have been to the last one, six years ago, and it was a chaotic, slightly lawless mish-mash of thousands of students and alumni, converging on a very small space, standing where you ought to sit, eating free pizza. The only thing I remember happening on that date is my sister complaining when I told her we had to go home. "Ten pa lang!" she said, not caring that we live relatively far away and, if we stayed an hour later, we will not get home until the next morning.

My brother is, predictably, more active in watching the UAAP live. Apparently, students today don't have to form a line from the Yuchengco lobby to the other end of the campus just to buy tickets to the game - all they have to do now is sit in front of their computers and wait for 10.00 to strike, not unlike how we enroll in our classes. (They go online, not in line. I can't squeeze this alliterative whatnot elsewhere.) Of course this means you're at the mercy of the servers, and my brother, aiming for upper box tickets, was dismayed to see all of them disappear in a minute. He had to settle for general admission tickets. You know, where the drummers are.

I asked him if he could buy me a ticket. I figured, if I would watch just one UAAP game, it would be the one this coming Saturday, the last between La Salle and UST. Of course I don't know much about how these things work: he can only buy tickets for himself. I will have to fall in line outside to get in.

The second game was, of course, a very frantic affair; patron seats, which usually sell for P400, were being resold, online, for P45,000. "Damn scalpers" were the thoughts going through the heads of students, feeling entitled at the chance to go through this so-called ritual, more so when the story of an Araneta employee giving a whole wad of tickets to a scalper surfaced. So, if I want to get tickets, I either have to fall in line outside MOA Arena on Friday night (you know how crazy these things get), or get some from our alumni office, and since my alumni card is dead - P5,000 for lifetime membership seemed too much when we graduated in 2008 - I have no idea at all.

Maybe I could ask Carmel?

"If you're going to talk to me only because you think I have a thousand spare tickets or access to 10,000,000,000,000 tickets, please do not expect a reply from me."

Facebook, again, but I suddenly felt a bit guilty for managing to convince her to give me one of the tickets, allotted to her office, for the premiere screening of Sir Doy's Paglipad ng Anghel. Sure, that was low stakes, and I was a student of Sir Doy's, and a lot of my friends were on the production team of that film, but still. I was a mooch!

But then again, I don't think I talked to Carmel just because I needed tickets. I mean, how would I know? And besides, we talked about, uhh, other things before the screening. I still remember her. Of course I do.

I knew the tickets were a long shot anyway. What do I have to lose? I haven't seen a UAAP game live ever. I don't know the players. I don't have a good idea of the season's storyline, to keep with the metaphor. I'm not a student who joined La Salle solely because of the basketball team. Hell, I don't even know the cheers. I don't remember all the words to our alma mater song. ("Hail, hail, our alma mater, hail to De La Salle!") I can always watch on TV, where there's a little chance of me looking foolish. I sound bitter, I know, but believe me, I'm not.

I mean, why should I be bitter? I'm the guy who never goes to the alumni homecoming. I never went to University Night. Katia told me years ago - and by "years ago" I mean "back when I was still a student" - that "these things only come once in a lifetime! You will regret not going when you're working." And I replied, "I have to go home." A measly, lame excuse. So unbecoming of a Lasallian. Oh my, what will these people think of me now? I mean, I have been to public screenings. I understood the significance of a La Salle victory when I got back on campus from our retreat and ended up watching an understandably sparse screening at what was then Z2 on a Sunday afternoon with some blockmates. But still. I am lame! I am boring! I am... oh my goodness! I need to get my hands on a fucking ticket!

When I was a frosh, I actually went in line for a ticket. Early in the season. First game of the season, I think. Not voluntarily, though. Someone from SBCA - I'm not sure if either Huey or Isa know them - approached me, asking me if I remembered them (I didn't) and somehow convinced me to let them use my ID so they could buy an extra ticket for themselves.

"Hindi, hihiramin lang namin ID mo."

"Eto," I said, giving them my ID.

"Hindi," the guy said. "Pipila ka. Pipila ka doon."

I was befuddled, but I thought I was doing them a favor, so I did. And then, for some reason, I left, realizing I wasn't supposed to be there. I don't remember much about it.

That was eight years ago, and thinking back, I realize that these guys remembered me, and thought I was stupid, and tried to take advantage of my "autism", as their taunts back in high school went. Well, I'm not that stupid anymore. And I'm still not that desperate for a ticket to a game that never really spoke to me... at least until I find myself in the middle of another public screening and I attempt to yell my heart out. Just to fit in.

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