Roger the Great


IN the Philippines, Roger Federer would have been addressed—in ascending order of his perceived sagacity or senility by clueless Filipino millennials—kuya, tito, manong, tatang or lolo to rub in the fact that he is ancient, as in tanda or gurang or any of those insensitive substitutes that make young or younger people unreasonably believe that no way will they grow old, ever.

Federer last week won yet another title on Wimbledon grass, a surface that he was expected to slip on or, worse, fall flat on his face or butt.

Neither of those wishful thoughts that were probably entertained by his lesser opponents or plainly mean people happened.

Instead, he swamped an overmatched Croatian, Marian Cilic, in straight sets that reminds us of the embarrassing defeat that he dealt Thomas Berdych of the Czech Republic in Miami more than a month ago, prompting a courtside commentator to say, “This guy [Federer] is so talented, it’s a joke!”

The joke was on the Czech veteran that was made when the Swiss great returned a Berdych forehand with what was described as a “looping” backhand, leaving the receiver with nothing for his racquet to hit because the ball was so far away from the baseline where he was waiting, preventing him from even “moving a muscle” and probably aggravating his embarrassment later.

In the 2017 Wimbledon semifinals that again featured Berdych and Federer, the Swiss calmly wiggled his way out of two tiebreaks to oust the Czech (also in straight sets), who declared in a post-match conference, “I don’t see anything that would indicate Roger is getting older or anything like that. I think he’s just proving his greatness in our sport.”

In Western society, age apparently is not a vanity issue, not even a biological one, that manifests itself in a young or younger American, for example, calling an old or older countryman Bill, just Bill, not Mang Bill or Tatay Bill, no matter if it is 20 or 40 years that divide them.

In the Philippines, however, it is par for the “courtesy” course for a young or younger Filipino, man or woman, to address an apparently old or older Filipino, man or woman, Aling/Aleng Beverly or Nanay Beverly, especially if the latter strikes the former as a senior citizen, even if their age gap is actually not as wide as that between two canyons in the Arizona desert.

If Roger the Great were Filipino, he would have retired years ago, not because he wanted to under his own terms but because he would have been bullied into doing so by probably envious peers and cowardly bashers on social media who might not even know the difference between “deuce” and “advantage” if their life depended on it.

The Philippines puts a premium on the young, not the young at heart, and that is probably the reason behind show business wannabes getting younger and younger and politicians, television anchors and newspaper columnists using mug shots that were probably taken when they were sweet 16 (actually they are way, way past 60 and, well, old as in “wrangler”).

As a country teeming with bagets, we should be hopping our way to progress and prosperity but, sadly, we are limping across drugs, unemployment, poverty, inequality and violence— and let us see what else we can add to this pile of woes.

Japan is supposed to be a graying society but look where it has been since the end of World War 2.

The Filipino millennial buys Japanese cars and electronic gadgets and stuff and what does that country get in return from the Philippines? Japayukis, hostos, illegals—all young and at the same time old even before their chronological age sets in.

Leave Roger Federer alone.

If you want to know how many Grand Slam and other titles he has won in his illustrious career or how much in hundreds of million dollars he has won since he turned professional, then move it.

If you lose your way finding out how many and how much, then you are the one who should retire pronto, not the goat that is King Roger.

He will be 36 next month.


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