In the history of Philippine sports, many foreign athletes have left their mark on their teams, teammates, and fans because of their high level of play in various professional and semi-professional leagues.
The likes of Bobby Ray Parks, Sr. and Norman Black come to mind.
When it comes to football, one of the best foreigners to arrive on Philippine shores and raise the level of the game and his team is definitely Ceres-Negros Football Club’s Bienvenido Marañon. During an interview with teammate OJ Porteria in the July 7, 2020, episode of Tiebreaker Vods’ Crossover Podcast, presented by SMART and supported by LGR, the Spaniard expressed his desire to don the colors of his adopted country.
“Yeah, for me it’s a dream come true, and I hope that everything is well and I can get naturalized to Filipino, because for me there’s nothing better right now than be a Filipino. For me, I feel like as one of them, as one Filipino after more than five years here,” said the 34-year-old.
“I feel like I’m one of them when I play with Ceres. I don’t play as a foreigner, I feel like I play as a local after all of the years. I feel very comfortable, also in the country. I love the country, I would like to live here with my family.”
Marañon joined Ceres on May 14, 2015, and to say that he was instrumental in the club’s ascent as a powerhouse team in the region is an understatement. In 99 appearances for the Bacolod-based club, the Spaniard scored 61 goals and provided 20 assists. Not bad for a guy who was originally a winger.
“Yeah, he’s way more than a goal scorer,” explained Porteria.
“I feel like Bienve is one of the most complete players that I ever played with. Whenever he’s near me, I know that if I give him the ball, he won’t lose the ball. Or if I give him the ball, I’m right back at him.
“So that’s something that me, Bienve, and all of the guys have built throughout the years… [It] was that connection, that chemistry, that comfortability with each other, and confidence that if you pass the ball to one of your teammates, we’re gonna make something happen,” he continued.
On March 3, 2020, Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri filed Senate Bill No. 1391, which is entitled ‘An Act Granting Philippine Citizenship to Bienvenido Marañon.’
If all the pieces fall into place and the bill becomes law, then the El Puerto-native is looking forward to the day he can don that Azkals kit.
“My idea here is the personal goal is to get naturalized and play even a friendly game with Azkals. For me, that is my dream.
“After that, if I get that, I would like to work with the youth to show them the way that they can survive in the future. It’s like from the next year, starting from the people who are like five, six, seven, eight years old,” said the former Cadiz player.
Amidst the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease, everything has come to a halt. However, if the day comes that Marañon plays for the Azkals, local football fans can expect him to wear his heart on his sleeve from kickoff.