For all of its imperfections, there is something special about the Philippines. Maybe it’s the trademark Filipino hospitality, the cuisine, the beaches, but tourists continue to visit the country time and time again.
There are many foreigners who seek to settle down in the Philippines. Football star Bienvenido Marañon is one such person, and he disclosed his love for the country in the July 7, 2020, episode of the Tiebreaker Vods’ Crossover Podcast, presented by SMART, where he and his teammate, OJ Proteria, were interviewed by host Cedelf Tupas.
“One time in March 2015, I was playing in the second level in Spain. And Carli (de Murga) was there in Spain because he got injured in the Philippines and he had to recover there. So I met him and he asked me if I wanted to go to the Philippines,” recalled the 34-year-old on how his good friend tried to recruit him to replace an outgoing teammate.
Despite having a comfortable life in Spain while playing in the Segunda Division, the thought of playing for a young club in an upstart league far away in South East Asia intrigued the 5-foot-8 winger. It was as if a new challenge immediately beckoned, and he was very interested in giving it a go.
“De Murga told me to come to the Philippines. He told me that the football in the Philippines is growing. He thought that in the future, everything will be really good, especially the team that he worked was really good. That was Ceres,” added the former Cadiz player.
With the deal done and dusted on May 15, 2015, Marañon not only had to adjust to new surroundings in his first few months with his new team. Hand his teammates also needed to acclimatize themselves to coach Risto Vidakovic’s methods.
“Risto, when he came here, the first year he just wanted to control everything. He didn’t care about the league. He just (wanted to) control everything. Who’s the best player? Who do we have to sign? What do we have to do? What time do we have for training,” explained the El Puerto native.
“So that time was really good for us because we lost the league, but we win all the rest. So, in that time, Risto has (signed) many players, and they bring to Ceres from 2017… Little by little we grew really, really big. Every month was like something good. Until now, everything is amazing. This three years ago for me, I think, is the best team I had ever. I enjoyed a lot. I couldn’t enjoy more than in Ceres.”
Fast forward five years, later Marañon feels deeply rooted in the Philippines, so much that he has ambitions of playing at least one game for its national team. Further than that, he dreams of settling down in the country once his playing days are over.
“One of the places that I like to live in the future is in the island, alone in Boracay, in the middle of the beach. To live in the island, to live there with humble people, not like here. In the future, I would like to leave here in Serendra,” he shared. “I would like to live there because, for me, that feeling is like the people are so funny.
“The Filipinos are like similar to (those who I lived with before), so I like that because here BGC is like when you live in Madrid in Spain. And I live in the south, living around the beach is something similar to the Philippines. I also like to live here for my family, it’s the best option. But in the future, if I get the passport and I stay here, I would like to live on the island close to the beach with the people.”
If Marañon does get to settle down in the Philippines, though, he still plans to be active in the sport that brought him around the world and changed his life. When the times comes, it will be about paying it forward.
“My first dream is to get naturalized to play with Azkals and then, help them to have the youth people to start playing football. And then continue with them every single year until the football is something important in the Philippines.”
Truly, Marañon has his heart set on staying in his adopted country and continuing to serve the football community. It is safe to say that his conversation with De Murga has resulted in something more fulfilling than they first imagined.
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