BERT HONASAN's years of living dangerously are officially over.
He stuck out with his brother - the famous Greg Honasan - and struggled
against the Filipino government.
But they were granted amnesty and Greg and Bert are trying to change the
country - from the inside.
Greg is a senator while Bert, a former international, is the national
soccer coach after taking over from Noel Casilao last December.
His first assignment was the President's Cup tournament in Iloilo and
Bacolod City last week. He had the help of Spanish coach Juan Cutillas -
the team's soccer consulant - during the tournament.
Cutillas was Honasan's mentor while he earned some of his 135
international caps. It was Cutillas who requested Bert be made the coach.
Honasan coached the Philipines national team eight years ago before
getting into trouble with the government and landing in jail 1988.
"I am back. The years of living dangerously have made me more mature and
patient. I am no longer as aggressive as I was as a player," said Honasan
whose face is set in a permanent smile.
In his first assignment, Honasan saw his team finish fourth in the
President's Cup when they lost out in a penalty shootout with the
Cambodian national team after the match ended 1-1.
The Thai Air Force, powered by six former national players, won the
tournament when they edged Malaysia's Glamoir Malay Mail 1-0 in the final.
The Philippines drew 1-1 with Malay Mail in their opening match before
beating the Singapore Under-23 side 2-0 to qualify for the semifinals.
However, they were beaten by Thai Air Force 2-0 in the semifinals.
"The tournament was a good exposure for the team. This is part of our
Jakarta Sea Games preparations but we cannot expect too much immediately
because many of the players lack international exposure," said Honasan.
"But we are certainly heading in the right direction with the
Philippines Football Federation (PFF) and the Philippines Sports
Commission going all out to make soccer big," said Honasan.
For the Sea Games, the Filipinos are likely to train and play in either
Cambodia, Vietnam, Japan or Australia.
The PFF launched a five-year development programme this year with 2000
as their target year to make an impact.
The programme reaches out to the grassroots with youth tournaments for
the various age-groups, coaching seminars, football fiestas and the
national league being increased from the present 10 to 25 teams by the