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Kodiak FilAm hosts basketball tournament to celebrate the Philippines' Independence Day

Baranof Park has an ice rink in the winter, but melts and reveals a floor perfect for indoor recreation in the summer.
Baranof Park has an ice rink in the winter, but melts and reveals a floor perfect for indoor recreation in the summer.

When many folks think of Filipino culture, the country’s food, traditional clothing, or Spanish colonization come to mind. But when it comes to sports in the island nation, basketball is king.

Marc Ignacio, who goes by DJ Marc of Island Style Entertainment, said the love for the game has deep roots in Kodiak too. Filipinos have a major role in Alaska’s commercial fishing industry, usually in the canneries and seafood processing plants.

“As far as I heard, they used to do this back in the day,” he said. “The canneries used to make teams and go against each other – and that would be awesome to see canneries going at each other.”

Today about a third of the Kodiak community is Filipino according to census data.

Ignacio organized a three-on-three basketball tournament last year and worked with the Kodiak Filipino American Association board to grow it this year.

“It’s a bit of a blessing to see all these people playing every night this week, playing their hearts out, giving us their time,” he said. “To come out here and play and participate in this tournament, it’s awesome.”

Mark Anthony Vizcocho, the board’s president, said basketball is a popular way to represent a neighborhood.

“It’s a sense of just representing your barangay,” he said.

A barangay is a form of municipal government in the island nation.

The association celebrated the Philippines’ Independence Day at Catholic Mass in mid-June, but the board wanted to do something for the whole community. Vizcocho said the tournament was organized on short notice and was announced less than a week before it started.

“The planning process was, ‘Hey, what are we going to do?’” he said.

Dozens of people signed up to compete in brackets for middle schoolers, high schoolers, and adults. There was even a free-throw and three-pointer competition. In the end, CGM Elite won the middle school division, FMF K won the high school division, and Squad won the adult division.

Ignacio said he hopes to keep the momentum going and host a larger basketball tournament next year.

“We’re just starting things off – I think it’s a good second year, second step,” DJ Marc said. “I think we just gotta learn from our mistakes and I think we’ll make it grow into something really big.”

About $200 from the registration fees will also be donated to the Kodiak Island Borough School District’s sports program.

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