Photo by Niel Victor MasoyCULTURE159
Hasty preparation worth it for organizers as fans came in droves at Araneta to pay tribute to Bryant
by Niel Victor Masoy, January 28, 2020 3:54am
On Monday morning (Philippine time), news broke that Kobe Bryant, together with his daughter Gianna, died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.
It’s a tragic event that sent shockwaves around the world, and Bryant’s Filipino fans felt it to the core of their being.
Wanting to honor the legacy of their hero, these Pinoy Kobe fans came together quickly and organized an event that would pay tribute to the Black Mamba.
Safe to say, their efforts were worth it as fans came in droves at the Green Gate of the Araneta Coliseum on Monday evening to honor the fallen National Basketball Association (NBA) great.
Frisco Marquez, 30, was one of the event’s organizers mainly composed of members of a Facebook group: Filipino Lakers Community (FLC).
“Ito nag-organize kami ng isang event para kay Kobe para sa ating lahat ‘to, para sa atin. Itong event na to, may nag PM (private message) lang din sa’kin si Kneelo [Elim]. Hindi ako makapaniwala na may ganito pala,” said Marquez.
Upon learning it, Marquez said he immediately posted the details of the event at FLC and at his own page - Lakers Nation Philippines - which has about 375,000 followers on Facebook alone.
“Dahil sa kagustuhan ko rin para kay Kobe pinush ko rin and then ini-spread ko sa mga group. Filipino Lakers Community, sa Lakers PH group,” said Marquez, who’s an IT professional.
“Then nung hapon pinost ko na rin sa page ko sa Lakers Nation Philippines. Hanggang sa ito, marami na ring pumunta. Tuloy-tuloy sa mga nakikita natin. Idol nila si Kobe. Tuloy-tuloy yung datingan.”
Kobe fans started to pile up around 7:00 p.m. The event started at 8:00 p.m and ended at about 10:30 p.m. In between that, the fans - mostly clad in Kobe’s Lakers uniform - were chanting ‘Kobe! Kobe! Kobe!’
At 8:24 p.m., the organizers lit up the candles formed as numbers 8 and 24 (Bryant’s jersey numbers in his 20-year NBA career) and offered a prayer to Kobe and his daughter.
After which, the fans were yelling anew: ‘Kobe! Kobe! Kobe!’
“Hindi rin natin inexpect eh, ganito natin kamahal si Kobe,” remarked Marquez.
At around 2:00 a.m, a few people were still coming, and stopped by to honor Bryant, who died at the age of 41. His daughter, Gianna, was 13.
Jona Antonio, 29, was also one of the main organizers of the event.
“Actually yung event na ‘to sobrang biglaan. Networking lang siya eh, nangyari. We have our own Lakers’ group which is the Filipino Lakers Community, Lakers Gang PH. Ayun nga si Joma [Guevarra], so nag attention siya o nag advisory siya na magti-tribute sila dito sa Araneta,” said Antonio, who’s a public relations professional and a former sportswriter.
“We never expected na ganito (yung turnout). So we are very thankful sa Araneta na pinabigyan nila kami (to hold our event here for free) sa araw na ‘to, on the spot kasi bukas pa dapat yung tribute yung gagawin nila, nila Araneta eh since nandito na nga kami,” she added.
The turnout was so successful that even fans from as far as Cavite and Bulacan dropped by to show their homage to their idol at the place where Bryant last visited in 2016 to hold his Mamba Mentality tour event.
In 2011, Bryant also played at the Big Dome during the ‘Smart All-Star weekend’ that saw the Gilas Pilipinas 1.0 and the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) stars took on Bryant and then young NBA stars like Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, and James Harden
“Hindi namin inexpect na maraming papunta. Yung iba galing sa trabaho, sa school. Yung iba sa malalayo pa. May galing Cavite, Bulacan para lang pumunta dito and yun nga thankful kami kay Araneta na pinayagan nila kami ngayon na mag-set kami ng ganitong program,” said Antonio.
And for those saying that the organizers are overacting (OA) to hold this event, Antonio insisted that there’s no such thing as that when it’s your childhood hero and idol was the one that came to his demise.
She added that while Bryant’s physical presence is no longer around, his inspiration and legacy will continue to live on.
“Siguro sasabihin nung iba medyo OA pero kasi when it comes to Kobe’s fans, Lakers’ fans, Kobe is part of their lives na eh diba. Kumbaga childhood hero nila eh. Kumbaga si Superman, si Batman,” shared Antonio.
“Sa mga Kobe fans and Lakers fans, ang hero talaga nila si Kobe eh. So sobrang nakakalungkot talaga yung nangyari and ayun. Yung inspiration naman ni Kobe, mananatili pa rin sa mga fans.”
Fans can still write their messages to Bryant at the message wall until Wednesday.
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