Baranggay: The Filipino Sports Fan

Basketball is a celebrated sport in the country; the American occupation forces imported the sport in the early part of the 20th century. The sport easily replaced a popular game at that time, football. Since then the country was easily recognized around the world in the new sport.[1] Until now, the sport continually to be the sport of the people, played, watched, and followed by a regular and increasing crowd.

The most famous team in the country’s professional basketball league is the Baranggay Ginebra Kings, and their crowd is called the Baranggay. The baranggay is even the subject of the two songs from Gary Granada; Pag Nananalo ang Ginebra and Pag Natatalo ang Ginebra. Both songs speak of the life of the Baranggay as their team plays in the playing court of the PBA. The “Pag Nananalo…” speaks of the team and their baranggay in their winning status, in the ups of their life, and in their triumph over the hardships of life. While, the other song “Pag Natatalo…” speaks of defeat, the downs, and the connection of it in the socio-political picture of the Filipino’s life.

The singer composer of the song, Gary Granada composed many songs that portray the life of common people of the land. Granada’s songs talk about the OFW’s (Overseas Filipino Workers), activists, lovers, children, laborer, basketball players, basketball fans, politicians, farmers, religious people, and many more. According to a short profile from his personal website, Gary is a public school tutor (University of the Philippines) of a masteral subject in Development Communications, chairs Kaalagad, an interfaith ecumenical community, worked as a photographer for the Department of Labor, got a KBP broadcaster’s license and worked in FEBC, and moonlights as voice and on-cam talent for PCIJ.[2]

Baranggay is not just an ordinary crowd; it is the mammoth crowd of the most famous team that ever played in the hard court of the Philippine Basketball. A television sportcaster coined the term to call the fans of the popular team Ginebra. With that, the team honors its fans by including the Baranggay for its official name of the team, the “Baranggay Ginebra Kings. For it is believed that the crowd itself could create a baranggay. Baranggay is the smallest political unit of government in the country. It came from a Malay-Polynesian term balangay, meaning a boat (Constatino 29).


We normally picture a given event as it is, perhaps you will consider that the songs from Granada, are just songs pertaining to the followers of the team. Sports events, such as the professional basketball scene in the country are a rich area for cultural studies. Right now one of the issues are in the recruitment of players, many players right now are Filipino-Foreigners, those that have at least one of his parents a native of the land and the other parent are foreigners. And that issue is also a very rich topic for cultural studies.

With the professional basketball scene, the problem lies also with the baranggay; for they may not know their importance in the basketball scene. That what’s popular is not just their team. Them as a crowd, is also popular. Imagine a team, with a crowd so big named after a unit of government, though the name baranggay is actually a diminished name for the mammoth crowd. For the crowd can even create a town, even a state if population is the criteria of creating one. What’s popular here is not just the team; even the crowd is very popular. They are always regarded as the moving force behind any team, and with a crowd like that the most popular player ever played in the popular sport of basketball eve become one of the country’s senator, Sen. Robert Jaworski. Imagine again a crowd, so moving it has its own songs. Though it is easy for the other smaller groups of fans of other team to create songs for themselves. But the baranggay, speaks of its presence everywhere. Its membership is not limited to location, age, status, and religion, ethnic group, and other diversity common to the Filipino.

The objective of this paper is to present the baranggay as not just a crowd, but as a crowd stated by Pierre Bourdieu’s essay, and the team as a part of the popular culture in the land as written by Ien Ang in her book Watching Dallas.


Both songs (Pag Nananalo… and Pag Natatalo) are pictures of the life of the people in the baranggay. It is a song about the Filipino sports fan at its best and worst. Both songs starts with the stanza:

Sinusundan ko ang bawat laro, ng koponan kong naghihingalo
Sa bawat bolang binibitaw, di mapigilang mapapasigaw

Kahit hindi relihiyoso, naalala ko ang mga santo
O San Miguel, Santa Lucia, sana manalo ang Ginebra[3]

Both songs speak of the attitude of a specific fan towards his/her basketball team. His/her love for the team even in its losing time is not negotiable. The lyrics even reflects that the teams triumph against any team is a part of their prayer, metaphorically saying that even if they are not praying, they do pray for their team while playing. Take for example some of the fans that post their praise and prayer for their team in the Internet:

Sa buong brgy. ginebra: good luck sa game and god bless u all,
may the Holy Spirit will give strength. ang galing ninyo ha…. [4]

Though both songs starts with the same tone, they end differently. The song Pag Nananalo… speaks of the team (Baranggay Ginebra Kings) as they win the game against a known opponent, Alaska Aces. The ending part is the most interesting part for it speaks of the fans dreams being fulfilled; being in the sublime state of life while experiencing his/her team wins the game. The ending stanza says:

Tatlong minuto pa ang natitira, nang kami ay nakahabol na
Sa isang iglap nagpalit ng iskor, lamang na kami 99-94

Bumabalik sa aking isip ang manliligaw ko noong grade six.
Napapatawad ko na ang Alaska, pag nananalo ang Ginebra

O kay ganda ng aking umaga, feeling ko wala akong asawa
At ang dati kong boyfriend ay hiwalay na, pag nananalo ang Ginebra[5]

Couldn’t picture a more sublime statement than saying, “feeling ko wala akong asawa, at ang dati kong boyfriend ay hiwalay na…” the song Pag Nananalo… only shows that some of the fans of the team connect their dreams, and life to the outcome or the winning or losing of their favorite team. They even based their happiness on their favorite team. Some of the people I worked with in the past are a really die-hard fan of the famous team. You can literally see their moods are in the ninth when the team won their games the night before. Their attitude towards works are affected; their relationships are alright, whether it is with their loved ones or with their co-worker.

The other song Pag Natatalo… after the first stanza where it is a total exact of the first stanza of the other song, the proceeding part of the song, the team is losing the game. The last part of the song says:

Twenty-four seconds lamang ng lima, ang kalaban bola pa nila
Dumidilim ang aking paningin, ang tenga ko ay nagpapanting

Bumabalik sa aking isip, ang nakaway ko noong grade six
Parang gusto ko ng magka-geyera, pag natatalo ang Ginebra.

Galit ako sa mga pasista, galit ako sa imperyalista
Feel na feel kong maging aktibista, pag natatalo ang Ginebra[6]

The fan here is extremely frustrated, even opting to go to war in seeing his/her team loose their game. Recalling even a person in grade school that does her/him wrong. It’s Almost the same attitude that I saw from my co-worker when their team looses. Come to work late, and just say “talo Ginebra.” Easily irritated, and even cancel their dates and appointments.

It may seem that the sentiment of the baranggay are expressed in binary. That’s not my point in stating the song and their relation to the team’s status in the professional league. The almost binary statement is not really binary, for both songs speak of the heart of the same fans of the team. The song only states two separate situation of their team, and how it is paralleled to their life. For whether their team wins nor loose, they are still the “baranggay.”


Pierre Bourdieu was an acclaimed French sociologist whose work employed methods drawn from a wide range of disciplines: from philosophy and literary theory to sociology and anthropology. He is best known for his book Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste, in which he tried to connect aesthetic judgements to positions in social space. The most notable aspect of Bourdieu’s theory is the development of methodologies, combining both theory and empirical data, that attempt to dissolve some of the most troublesome antagonisms in theory and research, trying to reconcile such difficulties as how to understand the subject within objective structures (in the process, trying to reconcile structure and agency).[7]

Some examples of his empirical results include:
Showing that despite the apparent freedom of choice in the arts, people’s artistic preferences (e.g. classical music, rock, traditional music) strongly correlate with their social position.
Showing that subtleties of language such as accent, grammar, spelling and style — all part of cultural capital — are a major factor in social mobility (e.g. getting a higher paid, higher status job).[8]

His essay, The How To Be A Sports Fan, is an “analysis heavily dependent on notions of class and class fractions, especially that between the dominant (economic and symbolic capital-rich) and dominated (cultural capital-rich) fractions of the middle class (During 339).” This writings use the essay, as reviewed by Simon During in his Cultural Studies Reader. Bourdieu’s essay explored the sport of the football as a particular subject in his essay, while with this essay I took basketball as a specific subject or sample for this essay. I used basketball because it is the most played sport in the land with its popularity we can easily spot kids and adults alike play in almost any place in the country.

Another related writing is a book from Ien Ang’s Watching dallas. Simon During’s introduction of the edited essays says: “the negative view of mass culture was generally accepted by all three groups she singles out: Dallas-haters, Dallas-lovers, and the ironist.”[9] Professor Ien Ang, the founding Director of CCR, is currently an ARC Professorial Fellow. She is one of the leaders in cultural studies worldwide, with interdisciplinary work spanning many areas of the humanities and social sciences. Her books, including Watching Dallas, Desperately Seeking the Audience and On Not Speaking Chinese, are recognised as classics in the field and her work has been translated into many languages, including German, Korean, and Spanish.
Professor Ang’s innovative work focuses especially on media and cultural consumption, including:

The study of media audiences.
The politics of identity and difference in an increasingly globalised world .
Migration, ethnicity and multiculturalism in Australia.
Issues of representation in contemporary cultural institutions.[10]


There’s no other crowd like the baranggay, as there is no other team like the Baranggay Ginebra Kings. The first is the star maker, and the former is the crowd drawer. The “baranggay” is a crowd extraordinary made up of ordinary people. To quote Pierre Bourdieu again, “Showing that despite the apparent freedom of choice in the arts, people’s artistic preferences (e.g. classical music, rock, traditional music) strongly correlate with their social position.” The people that compose the “baranggay” are people from the mass based, they are the commoner, the laborer, the students, the rank and file office employee, the very people that the songs “Pag Nananalo… and Pag Natatalo… speaks of. The manner of choice as what the quote of Bourdieu says is always affected by their social position. In the first place, the sport itself is a sport of the people. That’s the reason why it is seen being played in any given place in the country. Definitely the most popular sport in the land. Their position in the society is down there, and even the manner of choice of sport speaks for them. Definitely, a plain factory worker can’t opt to play polo or golf, for the costs of playing the sport are not for the ordinary. Perhaps, Pierre Bourdieu forgot to include sport in his quote as being affected by the people’s social position. For sure, the manner of production of the people to be celebrated in the sport is also affected by the society. Players came from university rosters of players, the schools recruits the player thru their recruiting system of looking for potential high school student that might have the making of a superstar in basketball. The school sponsors students who were able to make it, until they were already graduates or opted to play for the professional league.

In her book, Watching Dallas, Ien Ang wrote about mass/popular culture banking on a popular program, Dallas. In this paper I used the baranggay, the Baranggay Ginebra Kings and the popular sport of basketball at the same level of the TV program that Ang used. “Ideology of mass culture organize not only the ideas and images people make of reality, they also enable people to form an image of themselves and thus to occupy a position in the world. Through ideologies people acquire an identity, they become subjects with their own convictions, their own will, their own preferences (During 411).” Perhaps, the crowd that compose the baranggay, have a knowledge of their own identity, their influences, that they are able of defining their own identity and destiny. Unknowingly becoming subjects of their own convictions, their own will and preferences as what Ang says.


“Basketball in the Philippines.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopdia.

During, Simon. Review of “Dallas And The Ideology of Mass Culture” by Ien Ang, and Review of
“How to be a Sports Fans” by Pierre Bourdieu In Cultural Studies Reader. Routeledge. 1999

Gary Granada. Pag Nananalo ang Ginebra. Backdoor Recording.

“Pierre Bourdieu.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopdia.

Profile. Gary Granada.

University of Western Sydney. Ien Ang. .

[1] Basketball in the Philippines. 07 March 2007.
[2] Profile. Gary Granada. 31 March 2000.
[3] Gary Granada. Pag Nananalo ang Ginebra, Pag Natatalo ang Ginebra. Backdoor Recording.
[4] Comment by elijane on 23 Feb. 2007 4:24 am
[5] Ibid 3
[6] Ibid 3
[7] Pierre Bourdieu. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopdia. 26 Mar. 2007.
[8] Ibid 7
[9] During, Simon. Review of “Dallas And The Ideology of Mass Culture” by Ien Ang. In Cultural Studies Reader. 1999. (p 403-420)
[10]University of Western Sydney. 2 Apr. 2007. Ien Ang.




  1. just browsing the net for lyrics to the song pag natatalo ang ginebra and am glad i got more than that here.

    really insightful post here. keep it up.

    wish gary would pen a song about the current situation of the league, then you can expound on it again. :D

    signing off… i’d link u up. great blog you have here. just wanna spread your work around if you don’t mind.

    spread love and peace. Jah Bless!

  2. 12tsinelas

    hi leonel. thanks for the comment.. sure you can link my blog..


  3. Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation :) Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Defenselessness.

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