Whenever I see a Johnny Walker Black Label or Jim Beam bottle, one of the first memories that comes to mind is that of probably the first Pinoy (outside of family) that I met in New Zealand, in Auckland 2003, Engr Norman Latosa. We weren’t drinking then, and he was still quite formal and polite, having just been introduced to me by my brother George, but after that, we had lots of quality time spent over many a bottle of liquid fire, as it loosened tongues and made every joke funny.
He was (and is) such a first-rate drinker that he could nurse his drink without finishing even half of it (if he was driving home later) or, he could outdrink half a dozen men twice his weight and towering over his modest frame.
But that w0uld be unfair to him, remembering him only for his love for wine and good company. He has since the early part of the previous decade been organizing basketball tournaments for the Auckland Pinoy community, particularly in and around the North Shore City area. He has successfully managed year-round basketball for youth, inter-color, age-group, over-35 and, the most competitive of all, the Men’s Open version of Pinoy basketball under the aegis of Pinoy Basketball sa Auckland (PBA), one of the pioneering Pinoy sports organizations that have spun off into various tournaments and clubs throughout the Auckland region, and probably elsewhere in NZ.
Largely because of the talent development spawned by the PBA of Norman and his group of merry men, Auckland has sent several quality teams to the annual nationwide Pinoy sportsfests held during the Queen’s Birthday in June and the Labor Weekend, when by rotation, different NZ cities like Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch (among many others) host multisport extravaganzas, including of course basketball.
Either because of the quality of basketball talent, or just the fact that Norman’s PBA has always attracted the best players, Auckland teams have usually fared well in these NZ wide Pinoy sportsfests. But more importantly, the friendship and camaraderie that sports and athletics foster are the best results of the Queen’s Birthday and Labor weekend events.
As usual, with people like Norman, the honor and recognition associated with leading basketball clubs is secondary to the sense of accomplishment of having served community and countrymen, and this we guess is what keeps him going after so many years. He doesn’t receive anything for his time and effort and yet he continues to hold tournament after tournament without expecting anything in return.
And that’s why Norman Latosa is my favorite Kinoy !
PS. You can read about current activities and tournaments of the the PBA on their website, http://pinoybasketball.co.nz/ Mabuhay!
*Kinoy is a contraction for Kiwi-Pinoy, a non-racial term for Pinoys who live, permanently or otherwise, in New Zealand.
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