This is not a message of hate. Rather, it is a message of passion and determination to defend what a lot of us love the most – Ultimate Frisbee.
It has transformed from a simple outdoor activity many people play with dogs, to a worldwide professional sport with hopes to eventually be included in the Olympics. I have been engaged in the sport of Ultimate for about a year now, and the profound saying of “It’s not just a sport, it’s a lifestyle” can suffice for what I can say about my current experience.
The Silliman University Amphitheater, the West Quadrangle to be exact, was where Ultimate started in Dumaguete. Since 2007 until the present day, people from Silliman and outside Silliman have come together every afternoon to play a few games in the field until the sun would set. From then on, due to the persistence of the players and the reliance of a well-managed field, Dumaguete has been able to produce some of the best players in the Philippines who have become inspirations and role models to the rest of the Ultimate community. The friendships made in the Amphitheater field have made their way out of the field and through years of developing camaraderie, the lessons learned in the sport have weaved their way into the lives of so many people. The disc, the field, the people and of course the Spirit of the Game have kept us, the ultimate community, united.
A couple of months ago the Amphitheater came to a point where the grass started wilting out, and its famous green shade was almost absent. To be honest, aside from the scorching heat, daily use of the field because of Ultimate also contributed to that, so it was no surprise when the guards started telling us that we couldn’t play on that particular field. They told us to change our venue for a few months to let the grass grow back again. It wasn’t such a problem for us since we could always just play at the Perdices Oval, the Ravello Field, or the Silliman Ballfield.
Then, they started implementing all these “rules”.
The first restriction I noticed was that outsiders were not allowed inside the school area. It was understandable, since Silliman is first and foremost an academic institution and the Sillimanians were of course, the first in the priority list. All of a sudden there was another “rule” floating around that alumni of Silliman who are also Ultimate players were not permitted in the premises. Throughout the months where we did not use the Amphitheater, representatives of the Negros Oriental Ultimate Players Association (NOUPA) created a formal letter addressed to different university representatives. Some approved, some did not – but that didn’t stop us from trying to get back our go-to venue for Ultimate.
Alas, we weren’t approved to use the Amphitheater but when we thought all was said and done when we finally got formal permission to use the Silliman Ballfield, we encountered more obstacles. The guards were apprehensive of letting us use the field since first, they did not have a letter (though we have already made one) and because the field was going to be used for football (though we had no problem in sharing the field). For a few months we used that field, and last October, the Cimafranca Field in Daro was cleared out by NOUPA for Shindig United. This was a breakthrough for all of us, since we now had a big space to train and have tournaments. But again, that didn’t stop us from trying to get back into the Amphiteater.
Last November 4, we went to the Amphitheater hoping that they would let us play. We waited for the go signal, but only bad news came our way. We were told that it has been made a university rule that the field was not to be used for Ultimate ever again. All of us were devastated by the news, but as a beginner in the sport, I could only imagine what the people who have been playing Ultimate ever since it started in Dumaguete eight years ago must have felt.
The reasons they gave us before on why we weren’t allowed to play at the Amphitheater anymore is that we were using too many swear words as we played, some people changed in public, we were ruining the grass, and the more recent reason, wires were already installed for the Christmas decorations.
Grass can still grow, people can be disciplined, and a compromise can still be made. Why take away a place that means so much to us? We have not been able to receive any formal letter or announcement about this issue, and we are prepared to do whatever it takes to go back to the Amphitheater. As like any sport, we are passionate in keeping it going, and we believe that this particular field is worth defending.
The Spirit of the Game is not restrained to the field, but also outside the field. It is not restrained to Ultimate players, but it is for everyone.
Name: Lucille Jean J. Raterta
Column Name: Ultimate Warrior