Five years after initially signing with Ceres-Negros, Spanish forward Bienvenido Marañon has come to treat the Philippines as his home — to the point that he dreams of playing for the Philippine Azkals.
However, forces beyond his control have delayed his wish.
Still, the 35-year-old chooses to maintain a positive attitude rather than feel disappointed at his current setback.
“First of all, I want to congratulate (Angelo Kouame). He deserves to be a Filipino. We were face-to-face to become Filipino… But he was the first to get it and I’m very happy for him. I think he deserves it — I think he will be a very big addition to Gilas. I used to watch basketball, [so] I will love to watch him in the stadium. So I’m very happy for him,” Marañon told 2OT x Crossover, powered by SMART.
“And then when I got the news, I knew that my papers weren’t on the president’s table. I was just waiting for Kouame, after him it’s my time. So now we have to be quiet, we have to be calm, and soon for sure, it will be my time. So now we have to celebrate his naturalization and then it’s my time.”
The United City star and Kouame started the process to become Filipino citizens together. When the Ivorian’s bill was announced to have been signed by President Rodrigo Duterte last Monday, local football fans expected that Marañon’s would be next.
Unfortunately, though, things went south. An amendment added in their individual bills ended up ironically delaying the process for the 5-foot-8 winger. It also cost him the chance to play with the Azkals in their upcoming joint 2023 AFC Asian Cup/2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches in Suzhou, China, next month.
Maranon’s situation forced the author of his bill in the Senate, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri to follow it up in the chamber. Obviously, there’s a sense of disappointment, especially when he and no one else pushed for the naturalization because of how much Marañon has come to love his adopted nation. Still, the 2020 Philippines Football League top scorer chooses to look ahead rather than sulk at the past events.
“We all are waiting for the signature of the president. I am sure soon he will sign this one, and then the last step to get the passport in my hand is to do the oath. I can do it at the Philippine embassy here in Spain. Last Wednesday, they attended to my request and they said yes. So I’m just waiting for the papers of the president, then I will go here to the Philippine embassy here in Madrid. And then I will do the oath,” said Maranon.
“After that, I will get the certificate and I can join the Azkals… Also, as Cedelf (Tupas) said before, not only for the Azkals, but also for my team (United City)… It will be good because we can add another foreigner. We can lift the level and we can improve the team in that time.”
As a top competitor, Maranon does everything to maintain his wellness in mind, body, and spirit. It does not matter if he is at Bonifacio Global City or in Spain, he will find ways to keep fit for the next game.
While he may not have been part of the Azkals’ training camp in Doha, Qatar, he will now spend his energy with United City. The team will prepare for the upcoming 2021 AFC Champions League group stage in Dubai.
“If I cannot go with the Azkals, I will go with my team. Maybe we will start next week in Dubai with United City. I will be ready also. I want to prepare myself for the World Cup qualification games. If it’s not possible, I’m preparing myself for the Champions League with United City,” he said.
“I want to keep training hard, I want to keep going to the gym, I want to keep preparing myself and my mind and everything for the Azkals or United City and give my 100 percent. I think if I stay in my 100 percent, I can do something great there.”
It is a real shame that Maranon cannot immediately play for the Azkals in their upcoming qualification matches. However, the 2021 SEA Games and the postponed AFF Championship will take place in the fourth quarter of the year. There is still a chance that a short-term setback can become a long-term success when the time comes.