Saturday 25 February 2017

Full Circle

I'll start by saying I have mixed feelings about not writing this blog for some time. On the other hand, in the past year my life has changed beyond recognition, in a positive way. And so it is with a bitter sweet feeling that I write my final blog post in this chapter. I've learned never to say never, so I may be back for QPR in some shape or form but it feels unfair to you, my readers, to promise the same sort of posts that have dominated my weekends and some week nights for the past five years.

I've supported QPR since 1990, but it really became one of the most important things in my life since I started writing this blog. It has been a joy to write it and to see that people were interested to read what I had to say. It also provided me with some sort of protection for my life in London, when I lived a stressful work existence. It was my boyfriend when I lived a single life as a person who never developed a meaningful relationship with anyone. QPR let me down a few times but overall I cannot thank the obsession enough for giving me the strength to build myself up after what was honestly a very traumatic time after the loss of my mother. I didn't know it then, but I sure as hell know it now.

I thought about the title for this post 'Full Circle' some time ago when Ian Holloway came back to manage the team. At that point, I had already decided to stay in Asia and move to Hong Kong for a new job. I had found a wonderful boyfriend in the Philippines, someone I could imagine growing old with and someone who I knew in my heart of hearts was a kind and giving person. A good 'egg'.

For those who have read my blog in the past you will know that going to the Philippines was a decision I made to give myself time and space to breathe and to try some things I had always promised myself: to help some NGOs and to travel the country a little. I did do some of that, and learned what was most useful was helping people help themselves. I learned that the skill I've honed in the corporate world was worth something and used that to help those less fortunate. I also spent time in places my mother loved, fixing a house she had helped to design thereby preserving her memory and visiting our old home a few times which is now a beer bar. I also struggled to keep up with friendships I felt had existed for me before and was disappointed at times. And I watched as the country voted itself in to the hands of another psychotic dictator with a great sense of unease and fear for mine and my friends' safety. And one evening just before my 39th birthday last June I saw a guy at a bar drinking a beer; watching a movie on his own and decided it might be worth asking him if he wanted another drink on me...we had a date the following week and the rest, as they say, is history.

The truth is that going back to the Philippines this time around was a chance to make new, positive memories. And despite such a frightening political backdrop I changed my life for the better and gave myself the chance to open a box of emotions I had not done for over twenty years. I had, in effect, come full circle.

My Hong Kong childhood is peppered with a mixture of unique social experiences and very sad family problems. So when the chance to move here with my partner arrived, my gut reaction was 'No, take me back to London!'. But I forced myself to reconsider...In the end I thought, 'I've come this far already, maybe it is time to put those Hong Kong ghosts to bed'. Now that I am here, I've done a few things differently: chosen a funky pad in a very central area that I would never live in back in London (far from where I grew up as a child), I am planning to take up Cantonese, I am looking up what concerts, cultural events and museums there are...I am living my life differently. Obviously...I am adult now and that makes much of the difference. As I turn forty this year it is probably about time that I lived my life for me instead of following a path that I think will make others happy. I always used to watch others make these big decisions in their lives- like moving country, getting married, having children etc. People who moved on. I used to think these were things that happened to other people and not to me.

Perhaps that is the challenge that QPR as a club has in the coming years. It is such a wonderful club due to its small size and its incredibly loyal fans. It has always had the capability to do better than it has because of its long and colourful history, its location, the loyal fans and some of its greatest players. Its about time that the club dug a little deeper and found its real identity instead of reaching for something unattainably out of character. With the pressures of the football world: its politics and the money swirling around I realise that is hard ask. And while recent results are not consistent under Holloway I do feel we have a manager that represents us going back to our roots somewhat. Perhaps it isn't such a bad thing.

So on this cold Saturday morning in Hong Kong, I write this final post looking forward to listening to tonight's match against Preston. I bid you farewell for now and send to you so much gratitude for bringing me so much joy, some incredible memories and the most beautiful friendships. I am forever indebted always will be a lover of QPR.

Thursday 29 September 2016

Heavy heart

Queens Park Rangers 1 Blackburn Rovers 1
Queens Park Rangers 0 Newcastle Utd 6
Huddersfield Town 2 Queens Park Rangers 1
Queens Park Rangers 1 Sunderland 2 (EFL Cup)
Queens Park Rangers 1 Birmingham City 1
Burton Albion 1 Queens Park Rangers 1

Just looking at the list of match results over the past month makes me feel extremely low, never mind the fact that I haven't been there and witnessed, as have many of my good friends back in the UK, what appears to be an unambitious team spirit.

And, over the past few days, I am reading from afar, about the latest football controversy which may well involve at least two QPR managers. In my QPR whatsapp discussion group no one is shocked or surprised, but rather, frustrated with a system that has been so obviously filled with corruption at the expense of the fans who spend their hard earned money supporting their clubs in numerous ways. One is easily left to conclude that greed, foreign investment and the globalisation of football has led to where we are now. This makes me sad from a deeply personal perspective, and the experience that I am currently going through has made this all very relevant.

There is no doubt that the world is going through what appears to me to be a very negative 'isolationist' phase. I look at what happened in the UK with Brexit just after I left, I look at the Philippines and the attempts of the new President to isolate himself from its key allies (such as the US and the whole of the EU - ref: 'fuck you' statement), in the name of 'nation building', and this close battle in the US between Clinton and Trump - with Trump's increasingly xenophobic rhetoric. It feels like the world has gone completely gaga.

I am living proof that it is possible to be 'global' in the way that one exists. I am half British and half Filipina. I have lived in both countries and can speak both languages. I feel at home with both cultures and understand what it is to be open minded, and accepting of other people despite differences and to even celebrate those differences. It wasn't until I was about 13 that I understood what the word racist even meant - perhaps that was due to being brought up in HK which at that time sat in a very anomalous place as a colony full of people who were, biologically and culturally like me. And so I find it extremely hard to take when I see countries turning more inward. It's so far from the way many people were talking about globalisation and multiculturalism no less than ten or fifteen years ago. And it breaks my heart because I can understand why people feel that way and why it has happened. Because those in charge have failed to win the hearts and minds of people round to wanting a liberal democracy and what it has to offer. Yes, from the UK all the way to the Philippines - people want something else and feel that current or past governments have failed to provide real assurances (be it finance or security related) for the hard working masses. What's dangerous is that such feelings can easily turn in to hatred or retribution.

What the hell has this got to do with football, and with QPR? Football's globalised nature, and the fact it is so well loved by many people around the world leaves it open to the same problems that we see in politics, including the propensity for corruption. QPR is no exception. Personally I have always loved the connection we now have with Asia through our Malaysian ownership - but of course I will sit and listen to arguments where friends are very clearly unhappy with what they see as 'foreign' intrusion in to the sport and in to their club. And what they see as very reason matches are being moved around to weird days and times, that changes in logos and team colours are being made, that greedy agents are forcing managers and clubs to spend big on 'past it' Champions League players. It's a very tough argument for me to win on the day, especially after a heavy QPR defeat or a series of poor results.

I have no idea what the answer is to all of this. My heart tells me that one has to believe that human decency will win out in the end. But when I look at football and its corruption issues, and I look at the wider world that we live in where issues around security, poverty and immigration dominate the headlines I realise that people are being made to believe that we are living in fear. And because of that we're all starting to feel so depressed, whether we are buying in to that fear or whether are witnessing it happening, both in football and in politics.

Right now the world feels like a really dark place. And whist I write this with what is, an extremely heavy heart, for the UK, for the Philippines and for my club which is (judging from recent news on Hasselbaink now being caught up in the Telegraph sting) likely to go through even more turmoil, I do have to have some faith. One thing I do realise is that whilst corruption does exist, and while there are despotically-disposed leaders everywhere, some places are more corrupt than others. And some places see more equality and justice than others. I am currently living in a place where there is a very loose definition of justice. Not only that, but even the very definition of human rights is being questioned by people. I have to believe that at least in the UK there is a little more of an even keel and understanding of right and wrong, as well as a respect for due process. And that, in general,  people there believe in equality and a general sense of fairness. Perhaps this is the shake up that football needs, but I truly hope the trees being shaken around the world right now will yield more positive seeds than I can currently see for the future. 

Wednesday 7 September 2016

Another universe

Queens Park Rangers 2 Swindon Town 2 (4-2 PEN) - EFL Cup
Cardiff City 0 Queens Park Rangers 2
Barnsley 3 Queens Park Rangers 2
Queens Park Rangers 0 Preston North End 2
Queens Park Rangers 2 Rochdale 1 - EFL Cup
Wigan Athletic 0 Queens Park Rangers 1

The games have been coming thick and fast and being so far away it hasn't been easy to keep up, especially given the 7 hour time difference. God only knows how I'll cope when that changes to 8 hours in a couple of months.

Transfer deadline day has come and gone...and there's been a lot of talk about how the Championship is becoming as ridiculous as the Premier League- with bigger teams involved, large sums of money changing hands and Sky Sports dictating irritating schedule changes away from the traditional Saturday. To quote Loft for Words 'Everything we used to hate about the Premier League, well it's all here now as well'.  It's a valid moan, but outside of some big clubs being relegated (and hasn't that happened before?) is this really new news? Haven't we always known that this division was as competitive, if not more than the Premier League, albeit different in football style and calibre?

And I am not sure that this season so far, has shown itself to be more disruptive to our scheduled fixture list as previous ones. In fact, now being based so far away I know for a fact I've only been able to watch one bloody match due to televised viewing and that was the very first one. All other shifts have simply been the domino effect of other events and not just TV scheduling.

Nonetheless, I get it, I also have this nagging feeling of despondency when I think about the last few years supporting QPR. Apart from that one fateful day at Wembley, it seems to have lacked the excitement, passion and heart that is supposed to be associated with our club. So what is it that's getting us down?

I am learning one important thing. While experience and age can count for something in terms of the wisdom that we hold, you can never legislate for what will happen tomorrow and how everything converges together to create the universe of your existence. This all sounds a little trippy dippy doesn't it?  But looking at my own recent experience with moving over the Philippines for this sabbatical I've had a tough time adjusting back in to the culture and the norms even though I know it well and have lived here before. Of course, I realise that I may have had unrealistic expectations and those around may have also had unrealistic expectations about my presence here too. Not only that but we're currently experiencing here some political shifts that, to some, are extremely worrying and they do make you appreciate the most fundamental rights in life which perhaps back in the UK we take for granted. With all of that in the context of my decision to work with various NGOs and social enterprises here as part of my own personal ambition to want to help my country in the development sector and do my tiny part in alleviating the huge problem of poverty, you can imagine how my head is swirling around and wondering about where I am and whether I've made the right decision. And yeah, sometimes I do feel despondent. Actually, sometimes I feel really sad. And sometimes, I am frightened.

And so to what is happening at QPR, has this feeling of despondency come about because there has been an element of grinding our results so far, and scoring from set pieces as opposed to more exciting open play? Or has it actually been because we're still going through an important period of change where we (as fans) are yet to accept that our whole universe simply isn't the same and not just the bits of it.

I like to think about it within the context of the 7 stages of grief (outlined below). I won't be doing it in this blog post, but all hardcore QPR fans could probably track our course in this journey since the Tango & Cash days. And in my opinion we've  been stuck in stage 4 for some time. This may explain the feeling of despondency...

1. Shock and denial
2. Pain and guilt
3. Anger and bargaining
4. Depression, Reflection, Loneliness
5. The Upward Turn
6. Reconstruction
7. Acceptance and Hope

Fear not, however, as the next stage is the Upward Turn and there will be certain things that we will learn to accept and live with or live without. I'd like to think in my bonkers little mind that maybe this will be signalled via an unprecedented cup run (so shoot me).

It's so easy to never make a change, to want things to be the same as they always have been, or how you were told they would be. But where would be the fun and the learning in that? And on that note I'd like to welcome our solid 7 new signings in to the QPR universe and wish them all the best at this blessed club of ours.

Wednesday 10 August 2016


Queens Park Rangers 3 Leeds Utd 0

How wonderful it is to start a season with a win- and not just any win but an emphatic 3-0 one! I chuckled when I saw Polter score as I am surrounded by opposing views on the man. My father hasn't been convinced that he is the ticket for several months now, and my mate Gemma has considered plastering his name on her son's shirt this season. Serious stuff. Personally I think he represents what  QPR appears to be becoming: hard-working, positive, competitive and passionate about the club's values. Last night's @qprpod spent a good bit of time discussing his calves and how fit he appears to be, but as per Steve's comments, it isn't just Polter's calves getting a run-in but the whole team's fitness level. And this appears to be making a significant difference. 

Fitness matters a lot in this league - more games, more often, less quality football so more aggressive and physical play. This is obviously a massive priority for JFH who has now had time to get the team to the level he wants it to be. I suspect that (in part) this is what allows us to be competitive.  'Competitive' is a word he uses a lot in his interviews. It's not very original and sometimes you wonder what is really behind it when managers say that want their team to be competitive, especially when it's the answer to the question of what the target is for the season. I mean what the hell does competitive actually mean? Does it mean it doesn't really matter if you lose as long as you try? Does it mean you want to get to the top and be promoted? Does it mean you want 6th place? Does it mean you want 17th place? More often than not I feel like it's a cop-out of an answer. 

Having said all of that, 'suffer' is also a word JFH likes to use in interviews, and it's made me think a lot. He mentioned it even during the post-match interview last Sunday in the context of the latter parts of the game. He was reported in Get West London  'you learn thing about your team (sic)' as a result of suffering. I like this thinking because, as much as it sounds  little negative, it is a realistic approach at the task ahead. Not just for one game, but for the whole season. It simply is no exaggeration to say that the Championship is one of the toughest leagues in the world. It truly is a marathon and not a sprint. And perhaps within that context, the words 'competitive' and 'suffer' don't feel so out of place. Because actually, you've got to look at each game individually and not get carried away. Nothing is certain and unlike the PL where one can generally (I say generally given last season's surprise) predict the top 6, it can be a right lottery back in the bruising Championship world. There simply has to be an acceptance that there will be tough times as well as easier times, but that the approach to managing those tough times that will the key to success. 

I also like the fact that it also aligns with my view of the player Polter has become. He has moved country, learned a new language, obviously trained to an extremely high fitness level and shown his passion (not always too cleverly). And I am sure these things have not come without difficulty and just a little bit of suffering. On a lighter note though, he isn't very trendy and I am not sure about his haircuts or dress sense. He's also a little goofy on his social media pages. All in all he doesn't appear to come with the typical footballer mannerisms we fans have become so used to since we started to splash out on underserving players. 

Perhaps he will become a QPR hero after all?

Tuesday 2 August 2016

Remember Love

A season preview from afar...

Well hello there everyone. It feels like a lifetime since the end of last season especially now that I am living abroad. I've been asked by several friends to keep up with the blogging, so I will do my best to do so even though I won't be able to watch every single game.

Not working for the last 4 months has been a very strange feeling, but it's probably the best (and luckiest) decision I've ever made in my life. As per previous blogs, it hasn't been the easiest settling in but things have improved now that I am now doing all the things I want to do - helping others, enjoying music and travelling the country and Asia.  Nevertheless, I know that this coming week is going to be a little more painful because the new season starts and I will long for Loftus Road and I will miss my friends even more. I'll miss the cheeky Nando's, the walk down South Africa Road and picking up AKUTRS, a drink and/or a boogie at the Springbok (which I hear is now closed!), a Tequila at Habanera,  a hug of joy after a win or a hug of commiseration with my footie friends...Sigh. What have I left behind?

For those long time readers of my blog, you will know that 2015 was not the greatest of years. In truth, 2016 didn't improve a lot for many of my friends or family either. A big shock for me happened when one of my best friends was struck with Influenza in March and it was really touch and go at one stage. It was only the day before I had left for the Philippines that she was finally out of her coma and began to talk again. I feel blessed to have been able to witness it before departing. I am also happy to say that after four months in hospital she is now healthy and at home!

My late mother used to tell me that what was important in life was not all the events that occurred or happened to you but the way that you dealt with those events. Perhaps a nice way of saying 'shit will happen,  deal with it'', but I like to think nowadays that it simply it re-iterates the old saying 'Life is a journey, not a destination.' And through all that has happened these past 18 months, my brother has been giving me some great meditation tips. He came to visit me here last month and I was so pleased to see him. One morning, after a pumped up gym session we had a 15 minute meditation session.  As  'new age' as it seems, I learned a little something about just taking the time to simply breathe, love yourself and, love others and EVEN love someone who may be a stranger. Like that person who annoys you because she keeps spelling your name wrong at Starbucks, or the lady who never serves you at the bar, or the man who doesn't stand up for a pregnant lady on the tube. I am sure there is a much more intelligent reason behind this meditation but for me it just signifies that sometimes it is better for your health to just let go and remember love. And if perhaps you are a little lost, you might just find love for yourself.

It was interesting listening to the latest QPRPOD today and the difference in opinion between Clive and Paul- one believes that this pre season, we are being pragmatic and the other believes we are not being ambitious enough. We've got a Championship now full of massive clubs having come up from below as well as those relegated from the PL. We've got a few important players but nothing ground-breaking and we're still without a new striker in sight. It's been a pretty low-key pre-season (perhaps the one we've always wanted?). With this context and having seen last year's wild and unexpected Premier League result I suspect what we will find that this season one of the toughest to predict. So whilst I love the banter, the arguments and the varying ambitions amongst the QPR fans...I am going to resign myself a little to fate and let go and remember love (or at least, I'll try!).  So what if the third kit isn't great, so what if Polter will be our hero next season, so what even if the lower loft is still the family stand this season? Blah blah blah.

On that note, this week I will be embarking on a journey with a group called Dream Big Pilipinas which focuses on transforming under-privileged children's lives her in the Philippines through football and education. In a country which is obsessed with boxing and basketball I am super excited to see the work that they are doing and hope that I can help them in some way. Take a look at their website and love a little.

I'll be watching on Sunday night from here, with hopefully not too many tears in my eyes.


Tuesday 10 May 2016


Burnley 1 Queens Park Rangers 0
Queens Park Rangers 1 Bristol City 0

Unfortunately I am not in a great position to comment on the quality of the last two matches. The first one started at the ungodly time of 2345 my time and I fell asleep mid way through, and I missed the other one completely forgetting the earlier kick off. Nevertheless, I continue to feel compelled to write and for some reason some of you still keep reading and wanting more. So it is a pleasure to continue, even though I know you know this isn't really a blog that's just about QPR. It's about everything really going on in my life. 

As you know I am currently in Manila and I've been witnessing what could be the most important election the Philippines has ever been through in its history. Who many people describe as the Philippines' own Donald Trump is about to be put in to power, and whilst he has been voted in by a disillusioned majority, there is an elite minority that are afraid of his rather extremist views and potential policies (never mind the boorish, oafish behaviour and comments). But in some ways, viewing it ever so slightly objectively, perhaps it is exactly what this country needs to create the change it badly needs. There are a lot of people that write a hell of a lot better than me about politics so please read this opinion on the 'phenomenon' of Duterte  by Jorge Mojarro Détente's rock start phenomenon to give you a little background and some good global comparison points. I suppose the defining comment for me is in his words 'Until now the system was being kept because it was beneficial for the political and economic elite, but the appearance of Détente might become an opportunity to acknowledge that the quality of democracy can and must be improved.'

It's very easy for British citizens living back in the UK to take for granted what has been a working, well oiled machine of democracy of its own. And what we are witnessing here in the Philippines is enough time passing now for an extremely young (since independence) and fast growing country and its people (of all classes and levels of wealth), learning to live with the consequences of what a real democracy is. And only time will tell whether the decision made at this election was the right one by the will of the people. If it is not, the country has to learn to do what it needs to do legally, rightfully and in peace if it has a chance in hell of progressing. 

Over the last 24 hours I've been seeing news about major changes taking place at Loftus Road. I must say, JFH does not hang about, and it has felt quite hurtful that Ale Faurlin and Clint Hill have been released. It has been quiite a shock to the system only a few days after the end of the season. And for some, ongoing talks to keep Hoilett the Toilet feels like rubbing salt in the wounds. On the other hand, I've liked JFH. I make no complaints about what he has done so far — no the results weren't amazing but they weren't too bad considering what he had to work with this season. And he just comes across as the 'right sort'. I've watched him shake the hands of every player from both teams and every official after every single match. This is decent behaviour to me and it shows me he is a thoughtful person on many levels.  But I've also seen him get riled up when he thinks people are taking the piss (near-fisticuffs at that match where Hoilett disappeared in to the ground), and I like the fact that he has fire in his belly.

Is he the person we need? And if we want real change at QPR, isn't he going to make some decisions that we aren't necessarily going to like? We didn't vote for him and nor did we interview him but for now surely we have to support him until such time that we feel he isn't doing the job he has been hired for, which presumably is to turn the club's fortune's around and create a stability and growth which we haven't seen at the club for several decades. 

I could be completely wrong, but let's trust him this summer and next season. Part of the responsibility for the progress we want at QPR lies on us fans supporting whoever is at the helm when required. Let's face it (and with all due respect to the American and Filipino electoral process), JFH is no Trump and no Duterte. We're in pretty safe hands. 

Sunday 24 April 2016


Cardiff City 0 Queens Park Rangers 0

Brighton Hove Albion 4 Queens Park Rangers 0

Queens Park Rangers 1 Reading 1

So, here goes my first blog post living away from London covering three matches I didn't get to see and only one which I was able to listen to fully (well, that's if you don't count the 5 minutes of the Leyton Orient match that was covered at the beginning)!

Life has been hot here in the Philippines. It's nearly 40 degrees during the day and generally very humid. But I am lucky to be living in a place that has this weird breeze which I think might be something to do with being by the Pasig River. This isn't the prettiest river in the world, but then again Manila was never the prettiest city. Well, not since about 1945 anyway. 

I've written before about how I've constantly tried to reconcile the fact that I come from two places. Even though I was born in the Philippines and spent much of my childhood here, I love the UK dearly as well. And even though I love the UK for its safety, it's organised way, its tolerant nature and lack of corruption, I am always drawn to the chaos, the dirt and the passion of the Philippines. It will be the story of my life until I leave this world. 

So in my first few days here, I can say I am still in a period of adjustment. Everything is different. And when I am on the other side (be it here or there) I often forget how different it is, and then realise I need to change a little. Expectations simply can't be the same, whether that be about how you eat, sleep, drink, exercise, hang out with friends or family...make plans. And things that you might be disappointed with in the UK are simply just the norm here. To be fair, the same goes the other way around. Last time I returned to the UK from 18 months living here it took me over a year to adjust to life again in the UK. Life is complicated though. It isn't as simple as just being in a different place with a different culture. Whatever one is going through personally has  a huge bearing on how one behaves, and how one deals with change. Past experiences have been painful for me whether it be centred around my love life, or the illness and death of my mother. And it's very strange to now be faced with no major challenges other than my own goals and dreams. I find it very hard to be selfish. 

The last three results at QPR can only be explained as indicative of a period of adjustment. And it's no bad thing. A 4-0 hammering at Brighton was upsetting but if we're honest with ourselves, it shouldn't be a surprise. They are better than us in many ways. The other two results, showed some promise but there is obviously still some work to do. Some things will obviously need to change (giving Washington more time perhaps), and other things may improve if Jimmy continues to push his work ethic. 

I asked my friends from the Tequila Rs to give me a quote or two of their view of yesterday's match. I haven't received them yet — but I did get a 'pre-match quote' from Gary which read:  'Boring game, why is Phillips playing? Good equaliser by Chery. Ref is terrible!' With hindsight, Gary wasn't spot on, but he wasn't far off. And I suppose having thought of this in the first place is an indication of how there are some things we should surely expect, and others we simply can't predict in this time of change. 

What I can say is that, like me, living out in a different world which I may well already be familiar with from years of living here in the past, we need to be patient. I believe that the world can change, and people can change — sometimes for the better. And the things that change for the worse, well life is too short to focus energy on those things. 

So, goodbye Phillips, but please stay Jimmy. I think you have the right ideas and the strength to make difficult decisions with an understanding of the culture and the colours of the club and its fans. Perhaps, like me, you could be (to use a phrase my brother coined), a cultural chameleon.