Coaches, residents: Smokey Mountain field needs Mayor Isko’s help
Smokey Mountain’s “field of dreams” has helped pull kids living around the garbage dumpsite earn an education through playing baseball.
Residents and coaches hope it continues to do so, and are asking Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso to stop the conversion of the field into one of the city’s impounding areas.
“All we want is an assurance that once the pandemic is over, the city hall will clear the area so our teams can continue training here,” Smokey Mountain team coach Manny Llave said. “We can’t stay silent over this issue.”
The baseball field, constructed by hand by players and their coaches in 2008, has hosted the Philippine Series and was visited by foreign teams and even American ambassadors Harry Thomas, Philip Goldberg and Sung Kim.
Llave said tow trucks have been parked in the facility since late October and their club headquarters, where they hold meetings and store equipment donated from abroad, has also been occupied.
“It’s a classic story about a city not maintaining parks and open spaces for residences,” Philippine Baseball Association secretary general Pepe Muñoz said. “Many of the players here received scholarships to play baseball or softball.”
Mark Philip Beronilla picked up baseball at a young age because of his proximity to the field. He eventually attracted a scholarship from the University of Santo Tomas, where he is now a junior rehabilitation sciences major.
A pitcher for the national men’s baseball team, Beronilla is one of more than 70 athletes who used to play at the formerly infamous dumpsite and have now become professionals.
In 2014, its 13-16 girls team won the Little League Asia Pacific and represented the country in the World Series in Delaware in the United States. Other squads have played in Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and China.
Among the national team members who rose from the Smokey Mountain were brothers Gino and Gerone Riparip who are with the men’s softball team.
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