I had earlier promised a review of Allan Caidic’s book “My Life” all the way back in July, but it took a storm signal #3 to actually give me time to read it, given my busy sched. Well, no not really. Ok fine I’m not that busy. Truth is I was so bored in the ensuing 24 hour brownout that I finally picked it up, and yes as the cliche goes, I couldn’t put it down.
The P275.00 “My Life”, published by Atlas Publishing Co., Inc. is 184 pages of Allan Caidic’s early years growing up in Cainta, his early playing years before and after College, making the National Team, entering the pros, meeting the people who influenced him along the way as well as getting married and starting a family. It starts from playing in Inter Subdivision Leagues at Brookside, Cainta in the 70’s, through winning championships in the UAAP for UE in the 80s, playing for the National Team, Presto Tivoli / Great Taste and SMB in the 80s and 90s, all the way up to becoming Coach and eventually Team Manager of Ginebra San Miguel in 2004.
The ‘voice’ or writing style is distinctly his own, and sometimes a little too much of it, which I’ll get into more later. It is obvious however that Allan, in writing this book, shows that he is as intelligent as he is highly meticulous, remembering names, details and events and placing them properly into the chapters of the book that involve these.
His recollection of early playing years at the inter-school and UAAP level are particularly exciting. Here he has complete names, venues, and side – stories of interesting events, such as how his Coach got fired, other up and coming players and familiar names, and even the crazy situation around how the 1982 championship between UE and UP was won. Apparently the Fighting Maroons, overly confident after beating UE twice in the series, decided to call a winner – take – all match in lieu of the scheduled best – of – three. Prophetically enough, UE caught them at a bad day, and thrashed UP for 30 points, romping away with the Championship and surprising everyone, including themselves.
These were the old days when silly bets could still be called like that. I can imagine some overconfident UP official making the bet with his UE counterpart, forging the agreement over bottles of beer. These days, you’d probably require a Court Order to get anything even remotely like that done in the UAAP, considering how much it earns.
Other very interesting facts:
- Scouting for a team after graduation in 1980, Allan originally tried out for Ateneo and was actually playing with them for a month. However he didn’t make the ‘Quality Point Index’ (QPI) grade and so was cut. insert Ateneo remark here.
- He then tried for Mapua, but fresh after winning a championship with [tag]Leo Isaac[/tag], [tag]Junel Baculi[/tag] and Bong Ramos, the famous [tag]Coach Badion[/tag] told him he was ‘too thin’ and ‘just not ready yet’. Ouch.
- Finally he went to UE, but UE already had a lineup. And so he went to Letran, who was interested, but when he found out he had to go their Laguna school for Engineering, so he quit that, and went back to UE to wait it out and play the year after.
These as well as other interesting facts abound, which is why the book is so hard to put down. All the while, you are treated to familiar names and places, like [tag]Jojo Lastimosa[/tag] and Coach [tag]Chito Narvasa[/tag] from the [tag]Ateneo[/tag], Alvin Patrimonio of [tag]Mapua[/tag] and of course, Samboy Lim of Letran, any of which he could have been teammates with.
Incidentally, in the ‘What They Say’ portion of the book, Samboy says how he had the highest regard for Allan both as a player and as a person, and that ‘he can do a reversed (sic) slam dunk – and I cannot.‘ Just the thought of Allan dunking, let alone doing it reverse, makes my head spin. Allan on the other hand, has the highest opinion of Lim as well, as he should. They grew up aware of one another throughout their careers, were National Team teammates and according to the book, had become pretty close friends.
But far and away the most interesting part of the book was in the ‘Playing In Pain’ chapter, where he details the now infamous ‘cutting throat’ incident of April 29, 1997 involving him, Presto teammate [tag]Nelson Asaytono[/tag], and in a starring role, who else but then Ginebra Coach [tag]Robert Jaworski[/tag].
These were the days I was addicted to the PBA, so I recalled the incident along with him. After a freak collision with teammate Asaytono who just shot a missed freethrow, Allan fell on the floor headfirst, vomitted, and remained there motionless for a heart stopping 5 minutes or so. Jaworski, caught in the cameras and replayed a million times after that, was gesturing a slit-throat motion with his finger across his neck, screaming ‘Ano, ang tagal na n’yan! Patay na ba?!’ to the utter disgust and shock of the whole nation. It is a testament to his popularity that he had survived the incident and even become a Senator of the country (who probably deserves him). At any rate, never had I ever witnessed a more thoughtless, despicable display of cold blooded insensitivity in my life, and finally thru this book I get to read Caidic’s side about the issue.
Allan and who he is
Although I could plainly write here what he said, I’d rather not spoil the details so as to urge people to buy the book. And yes, I do recommend you to buy it. If you are his fan, or a basketball fan, the book is an easy 1.5 – 2 hours of light reading.
Albeit replete with interesting details, the most important reason for buying it remains to be the fact that it gives you an insight as to what kind of person he really is, as illustrated in situations such as above and in other similar incidents throughout his life. Although he doesn’t write about it specifically, it’s easy to read between the lines as to how he really felt. He would write, for example, about how he had an accident with a teammate whose spot he happened to replace, and feel the doubts he felt as to the person’s sincerity after he apologized. You can feel his anguish over being benched at his first game as a UE Warrior, likening it to how [tag]Rich Alvarez[/tag] was benched in his first game in the PBA.
Somewhat indicatively, I felt a high level of remorse as to how he occasionally lets his temper get the better of him, as he names dates and situations when he felt he should not have let himself fly off the handle. Particularly revealing are his recollections of the many frustrating times he had as first time Ginebra Coach, after Rino Salazar migrated to Alaska. At almost every game of the season it seems, he felt frustrated and out of his element. This, as opposed to the times when he talked about being the star [tag]UE[/tag] player in the [tag]UAAP[/tag], where he was obviously more confident of himself.
Those details define the man a great deal. Now, not only do I have the common concept of [tag]Allan Caidic[/tag], the Legend and possibly one of Asia’s Greatest Shooters, but also as a man who occasionally struggles with himself, his team, teammates, players, with his behaviour towards his wife and two daughters, and how he obviously wants only the best for everyone but things do not always fall in his favor.
In addition to that, Allan could very easily write some cream – puff book detailing about how great and wonderful his life was, how storied his career is and how everything is shiny and bright being a famous professional basketball player. But the willingness to share such insights says volumes about the man. Honesty is never easy, and because he chose to be candid, I am impressed.
My main, and single, glitch about the whole project however, is easy enough, and will likely be evident to anyone reading 10 minutes into the book: The horrendous grammatical errors are simply unacceptable.
I really don’t care if Allan wrote those errors himself. My opinion of the man and the player does not diminish either way. That’s perfectly okay. And besides, even if he can’t speak a word of English, getting the book written correctly is someone else’s job anyway. Specifically, the editors and proofreaders, who do this for a living. These people should read and reread every line, every phrase, every paragraph, and make sure it’s up to spunk. I’m not talking Shakespearean quality here. I’m saying you read it, grammar and spelling is correct, it makes sense, everyone’s happy. Sadly, this is not the case.
It is my opinion that allowing such errors are a disservice to him, and in many ways do not show him respect. I can stand the somewhat cheap paper and the questionable book binding. If that’s the best they can do, that’s ok. But the grammar? It is simply not fit for publishing.
At the end of the day however, what we have here is an interesting book, featuring a (thank God) interesting man. You know, it’s probably not the best of business ventures to try selling books to basketball fans. Let’s just say the don’t strike me as the reading type. I’ve come to realize though that I’m glad he did anyway, because otherwise there would have never been an opportunity for me and others like me to learn the things I did. I’m talking about playing amateur and pro ball during the 70’s and 80’s. The UAAP, the Philippine team, my heroes [tag]Samboy Lim[/tag], Don [tag]Ramon Fernandez[/tag], the [tag]Presto[/tag] team, [tag]Ginebra[/tag], [tag]San Miguel[/tag], and so on. How else would I have learned the details that I know now? Absolutely no other way.
So I recommend that people buy this book, even if it’ll just sit at your library never to be opened. If anything, I’m convinced now more than ever that there are many other stories from players and coaches in the local basketball world that need to be told such as his. Hopefully if Allan’s book sells well, then maybe they’d think about writing their own so we can learn even more. It’s quite fascinating really, and brings you back to another time. And while they’re at it, maybe they can consider getting a good proofreader as well. Just a thought.