Somebody must have noticed that “Glowing Goldies” was too limp-wristed a description of members of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) basketball team.
It was, with the name reminding one of a bakeshop, a goldfish and a fairy-tale character.
And so the hoopsters from UST are now known as “Growling Tigers,” which sounds fierce enough, only that there are no tigers in the Philippines.
But what the heck, the name smacks of machismo and derring-do, despite distorting zoology a bit.
Anyway, there are no “Blue Eagles” either in the country, but what’s to prevent Ateneo de Manila from calling its cage squad that, when the bright boys behind the name must have known for a fact that there are such birds of prey in the country coming in all colors (except blue)?
Not to be outdone by UST, members of the De La Salle University quintet are known as “Green Archers,” even when Philippine history shows that archery was never big in the country, even dating back to the pre-Hispanic era.
Tweaking historical and scientific facts come easily for Filipinos to suit their colonial mentality.
But “UST Batu-Bato” sounds too Pinoy, “Ateneo Maya” conjures smallness, “La Salle Mamamana” seems very literal.
And so we have the National University (NU) “Bulldogs,” the University of the East (UE) “Red Warriors” and the University of the Philippines (UP) “Fighting Maroons.”
What do they have against native dogs or native “mandirigma” anyway?
Mispronounce “Maroons” and what do you get but macaroons, small almond cakes or biscuits?
The Far Eastern University (FEU), however, would not join the bandwagon, being the only basketball team in the UAAP (University Athletic Association of the Philippines) to take pride in the past of the archipelago.
Members of the FEU five are called “Tamaraws,” obviously in honor of the tamaraw, which looks like a carabao and is endemic to the Philippines (Mindoro provinces) and supposedly an endangered species.
The team, however, is far from extinction, having reached the Final Four in the UAAP’s 78th Season and earning it a shot at the crown in a best-of-three championship series starting today against UST, which is apparently basking in the wisdom of the name change.
Over at the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), we have the San Beda “Red Lions,” when there are no lions in the country, much less red ones.
There’s the Mapua “Cardinals,” when there are many other and more “masculine” feathered friends that are also endemic in these parts.
San Sebastian College “Stags” and Jose Rizal University “Heavy Bombers” are two other NCAA teams that you would mistake for foreign (read: American) squads.
The Adamson University “Falcons” are a spoiler because there are such birds in the Philippines (they are called “lawin”).
But, apparently, no one is complaining about the names of these basketball teams.
The reason is that the local NCAA, in particular, drew inspiration from the US National Collegiate Athletic Association, and so did the UAAP from the NCAA.