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Jul 3, 2010
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You all must know about Rafe Bartholomew, that American journalist who was so stumped about our passion for basketball that he just had to write a book about it. [firstpara] Pacific Rims was released a month ago and already, it has sold out in ever major bookstore in the country.

(Ed's note: If you've a copy, pare pahiram.)

And so we do the next best thing: We engage Rafe to an email interview. The dude is still in the US, where he is based, but he tells us he wants to give up New York and move here, and is looking not so much for a wife but for a job. Ah, what is he on?! Why, let's find out.

An American coming over to cover Philippine basketball isn’t very common. Can you tell us how all this happened?
In my case, basketball actually did bring me to the Philippines. I stumbled into the story of Philippine basketball in a book by Alexander Wolff called Big Game, Small World.

I was reading it for school and not really expecting to find anything too exciting inside, but its single chapter on basketball in the Philippines blew my mind.

At the time, I had no idea about the culture of basketball in the Philippines; it was like opening a portal into another dimension.

So I wrote a grant proposal to study basketball and its role in the country, and that led to my first year in the Philippines.

 Like anyone who’s set to travel to a foreign land, you must have had a set of preconceived notions, and expectations about the Philippines. Which of those notions were proven to be true or not by your 3-year stay here?
I really did try to keep an open mind about the Philippines before I began living there, and this was probably the only time the lack of understanding— or even, dare I say it, interest —in the country among average Americans helped me.

Most of the people I knew back then didn't know anything about the Philippines, so if they told me some kind of sweeping generalization about kidnappings or sex tourism or street crime, it was easy to write off as a foreigner jumping to conclusions.

And, during my stay I found that those generalizations, while based on real problems, are unwarranted and should be much farther from the first things that come to foreigners' minds when they think of the Philippines.

Next: Alex Compton and Chicken Inasal


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INTERVIEW BY: GELO GONZALES

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