MANILA, Philippines – The bonfire has been a significant tradition in Philippine collegiate basketball for many years because it symbolizes exhilarating triumphs on the hard-court.
Colegio de San Juan de Letran had its own bonfire celebration after winning its first basketball crown since 2005 by defeating San Beda College in the do-or-die Game 3 of the NCAA Season 91 Finals on Thursday, October 29.
The Knights spoiled their long-time rivals’ bid for a record-setting sixth-straight basketball championship in the process.
The Muralla-based brigade had to hold off San Beda in overtime as the red-and-white troop sparked an 8-0 run within the last two minutes of the fourth quarter to force a 5-minute overtime period.
Photos of San Beda shirts and placards in a bonfire prior to being ignited evoked distaste on social media. At least one photo on Instagram showed San Beda placards being incinerated.
“The essence of having a bonfire is to celebrate a successful run towards the championship,” said Ryu Policarpio, an avid supporter of the Red Lions. “But they displayed barbaric and vile gestures by putting a San Beda shirt and San Beda placards in the fire.”
last night's celebration! WE ARE THE CHAMPION #ArribaLetran A video posted by Alyssa De Jesus (@imalyssssa) on Oct 29, 2015 at 9:12pm PDT
NO MORE ROAR! 6peat your face. Yey! At last! My college life is finally complete!!! #ARRIBALETRAN #ncaaseason91champion #w17nessletran A photo posted by (@maicaluag) on Oct 29, 2015 at 12:02pm PDT
Another video on Instagram shows a flock of Letran supporters chanting "Beda Tulo Laway," a heckling version of San Beda's Indian Yell, during the bonfire celebration.
The jeer is a reference to San Beda being an all-boys institution from its founding up until 2003.
The heated rivalry between both schools started on October 28, 1950 when the “Murder Inc.” duo of Lauro “The Fox” Mumar and Herminio "Togay" Astorga steered Letran to an NCAA seniors title over the Carlos “Caloy” Loyzaga-led San Beda.
In 2007, San Beda got a measure of revenge for its disappointing defeat in the NCAA Finals 57 years earlier by sweeping Letran in a best-of-3 encounter.
San Beda followed it up with 2012 and 2013 championship wins over Letran before the Knights has finally set foot on the Promised Land at the expense of the Red Lions this season.
“Even rivals or foes should respect each other outside of the court. They displayed the opposite,” Policarpio added.
In an open letter to San Beda by Francis Ponce, he apologized for the act on behalf of the entire Letran community.
"The act of burning San Beda shirt is downright classless, and for that, I apologize, and that’s all that there is to it. Your shirt has been burned and that is wrong in so many levels," he wrote. – Rappler.com