MANILA, Philippines - The hefty price of the tickets for the "Dream Cup" match between the Los Angeles Galaxy and the Philippine Azkals was not a hindrance after all, as what pundits had forecasted.
|Phil Younghusband and David Beckham mixing it up during the Philippine Azkals vs LA Galaxy exhibition match. Photo by Rem Zamora for abs-cbnNEWS.com.
As the minutes passed by leading to the 7:30 p.m. kickoff at the Rizal Memorial Stadium on Saturday, the P2,000 line already went all the way to Taft Avenue. From the grandstand's point of view, the gaps at the bleachers across, where the P2,000 holders were to be seated, can be forgiven.
Jinx Macabenta, the event organizer, said they were able to sell 12,800 pieces of the "cheap" tickets. The most expensive was sold at P15,500.
Come game time, it was obvious why these people were there: star player David Beckham.
Back at the grandstand, the rafters were also packed. Judging from the interviews made, most of the people there received complimentary tickets. There were some foreigners and rich businessmen, who paid for the expensive tickets to watch the game for the "thrill" and the "fun."
Bernadette Mendoza, one of Herbalife's employees, got her and daughter Kesha's tickets for being one of the top recruiters of the firm, the LA Galaxy's nutrition sponsor.
She said she has a big crush on Beckham, which became her rallying cry in order to recruit more people for Herbalife and "win" the golden ticket.
Brandished across her and her companions' yellow shirts was the word "Galaxy". Their team, whose members were scattered in big blocks around the field, became the unofficial cheer group for the Galaxy.
Screaming Beckham's name, they managed to drown out the nearby "Kaholeros", the official cheer group for the Azkals.
Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, on the other hand, said he was there to support the Azkals. He also got a complimentary ticket.
While it was his first time to watch the Azkals live, he told abs-cbnNEWS.com he has been following them on television "because of the attention they have generated for the game." While he did not say if he was also there for the Great Becks, he noted the Azkals facing the Galaxy would give them the "worldwide" experience and inspire the young ones to join the sport.
He could only surmise that the "P2,000 tickets should have been given for free to the Filipinos."
Eduardo Montenegro, half-Filipino and half-Spanish, said he paid for a couple of P15,500 tickets "for the experience, you don't get to see a team like this." Never mind that the ticket was, well, worth P15,500.
Businessman Andreas Freier brought in his Filipina wife to check out both teams. While he can afford the tickets, he said the tickets could have been sold at a much cheaper price for Filipinos. "In order to promote football, the tickets should have been more affordable."
They were able to buy their tickets at 35% of the P15,500 price a day before the big event. The tickets went on sale for a day allegedly because the organizers were not able to sell the over-the-top expensive tickets.
Freier noted that back in his home country Germany, the tickets were much cheaper. Germany is a football nation, having developed world-class talents who have competed in major events abroad.
He also noted the lack of merchandise sold outside the stadium, contrary to matches past where shirts and other souvenirs were offered to fans.
On the other hand, a student from Xavier school claimed he got the coveted ticket no less from his school. It was a different story for some kababayans who managed to secure the expensive tickets, which, from the start had turned off even the rich ones.
Maricar Topular could not hide her glee when asked how she felt about watching the game. Lucky could be said of this young woman who got her ticket and 3 others for her friends from no less than Galaxy member AJ Delagarza.
She said she has a friend who is close to Delagarza. "We went to pick up the tickets at Makati Shangri-La," where the US team was staying.
Topular is no mere fangirl, however. Asked of her views after the Azkals' 6-1 defeat, she said: "It was a friendly anyway. I wasn't minding the score already [during the match]...There was a problem with the [frequent] substitutions, however. [Was it a game plan] because it was a mere friendly?"
Jinkee Pacquiao snatches Becks' jersey from Manny
Celebrities were also there to catch the dream match. Davao del Norte Rep. Anton Lagdameo said after the game, "it was very nice...They did very well."
Asked how he got his tickets, he pointed to his wife, actress Dawn Zulueta. "I don't know how my wife got it."
Zulueta, for her part, only gave a two thumbs up. Grinning, she said: "Love it! Love it!"
Some celebrity sightings included: Maxene Magalona, Krystal Henares, Angel Locsin and Akiko Thompson.
|A giddy Jinkee Pacquiao receives David Beckham's jersey.
Not a couple of seats away from the Lagdameo couple was Filipino boxing hero Manny Pacquiao, who was the only one who probably managed to steal the limelight from Beckham.
He arrived a few minutes before the first half died down to join his wife Jinkee and his children. Despite the action on the field, the people's sights directly went to Pacquiao. Momentarily, the "Beckham" chants were forgotten to give way to "Manny! Manny!"
Later, Beckham would be giving his perspiration-drenched jersey to Pacquiao. Jinkee, however, immediately jumped up, and like a fangirl, snatched the jersey from her husband.
Fans, supporters, lolas and girlfriends
The fangirls were not the only ones who arrived in troops. Football aficionados were also there in support of the Azkals.
Businessman Eric Martel said the Galaxy match-up was a good experience for the Azkals but "obviously, they need more [experience and practice]."
He said it was a good thing that the Galaxy team, despite their experience, did not "give way" to the Azkals.
Assistant Justice Secretary Geronimo Sy was also spotted after the match. He got his ticket for free.
Sy said the experience is what really matters. "Philippine football has a chance to transform more. It requires patience, training and endurance...It's a very beautiful game."
The match against Galaxy can be used as a benchmark to further enhance their play "similar to the [learnings of the judiciary]," he even quipped.
Abs-cbnNEWS.com also interviewed Toots Leda, the proud grandmother of Azkals reserve Matthew Uy. She was waiting at the parking lot, with Azkals Carlos de Murga's girlfriend, Maria.
Even if Uy was not able to play, she said: "I'm so excited for him. He actually nodded to come here...He is not even nervous, he's very prepared."
She said Uy has had experience playing in Italy, London and Jamaica. Unlike others who tried out for the Azkals, Uy was hand-picked by Azkals team coordinator Patrick Ace Bright.
She said Uy is just finishing his football scholarship in the United States, but he will be back in January to train for the Asian Football Confederation.
She said Uy will also be bringing in his older brother, Christian, to play for the Azkals.
Asked if her grandson was starstruck by Beckham, she said Uy only has love for the sport.