In Baguio, it is ‘futhag’ (football ‘bahag’) | Inquirer News
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In Baguio, it is ‘futhag’ (football ‘bahag’)

BAGUIO CITY—The world knows it as football or soccer. Latin America calls it “futbol” while the Portuguese prefer “futbole de salao” or “futsal” (indoor soccer).

On Saturday, Baguio introduced “futhag” or the “football bahag.”

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The crowd that gathered at Burnham Park’s Melvin Jones football grounds here was treated to the monthlong football tournament that featured several players wearing G-strings.

Spectators cheered when children threw themselves up in the air to chase the ball, garbed in G-strings, shirts and soccer shoes.

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Gatan Dalang, a former Ateneo de Manila University football player who now conducts a soccer clinic here, said G-strings evoke the Cordillera culture, so the event’s organizers believed soccer players wearing G-strings would attract bystanders to watch the game.

“Football has not been too popular here these days [until the public became riveted by Philippine team Azkals],” Dalang said.

The tournament was sponsored by the city government, whose mayor, Mauricio Domogan, had never been shy about wearing G-strings in public functions, which was why it was named the First Mauricio Domogan Cup, Dalang said.

Although it drew 23 teams from different parts of Luzon, only four teams were willing to compete wearing the Cordillera’s traditional Igorot men’s wear.

“We have a team from [the Philippine Military Academy], but we couldn’t convince them to wear G-strings. There are many college teams from other provinces, but they also didn’t care for the attire. We didn’t force them,” said Anabelle Codiase-Bangsoy, one of the tournament organizers.

Some parents, however, were not too happy about the attire “because they were worried about the weather, and the pebbled grounds of the Burnham football field,” Bangsoy said.

Secured attire

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But many relented when the organizers made sure the children played in regulation attire, except for the G-strings which had to be fastened tightly and secured with crotch guards, Bangsoy said.

A few of the young players appeared shy at the start of the match, kicking and diving tentatively as the ball went their way.

But soon the G-string match became fierce when other boys waiting for their turn began to heckle the battling teams.

The city government helped mount the event to attract new interest to a sport once made popular in the 1990s by a football team composed of girls in their teens.

The sport had been played in the late 1970s and early 1980s by high school and college students enrolled at the University of the Philippines Baguio, Brent School and the PMA.

But it was the national football championship won by the Baguio ladies team in 1990 that put Baguio on the country’s soccer map, said Ramon Dacawi, the team’s former coach.

Some of the girls played shoeless, so Baguio residents launched a fund drive to buy them shoes and equipment, he said.

Dalang runs the football clinic, called Baguio United Football Academy, which trains children aged between 6 and 12 years old. Gauging by the students who enrolled, Dalang said interest in the sport is high.

Parents, he said, appreciated their efforts to train their children “because football has become a good alternative to computer games.”

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