We all love sports, whether the popular pastime basketball or the beautiful game of football. Being the sport fan that I am, I really love to watch my favorite team in the flesh because watching it on television is not the same as experiencing a dramatic game-winning buzzer beater or an unpredictable penalty shoot-out in a fully-packed state-of-the-art stadium. The good thing is that the private sector has started to invest in sports tourism in an effort to lure people to watch sporting events in world-class facilities.

The SM Group has already completed their ultramodern basketball arena inspired from the National Basketball Association's playing venues complete with LED jumbotron and interactive ribbon displays and luxurious corporate suites. I'm talking about the SM Mall of Asia Arena, perhaps the most advanced indoor arena in Southeast Asia. In a few years time, it will host important events like a 2013 NBA Preseason game, the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship, or a UFC Philippines event. In response to this development, the Big Dome, or the Smart Araneta Coliseum as it is now called, has started refurbishing and improving its venue in an effort to compete with the MOA Arena.


It would be an awesome feeling to cheer on the Smart Gilas Pilipinas squad against a visiting an NBA All Star selection in an arena like that. I wonder how the atmosphere will be if you are on the luxury suite with all the pampering and service by an in-house butler while watching the game live.


Meanwhile, the Iglesia ni Kristo has started construction of the most ambitious project (not done by the government) of all time - the world's largest indoor arena - the 50,000-seater Philippine Arena. People from Bocaue, Bulacan must be happy with having the largest sporting venue in the country. I wonder if the Azkals can play their home leg of their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in that arena. They say that it will have a retractable roof if the Philippine Arena is transformed into a football configuration. So can the Philippine Volcanoes their home games for their attempt to qualify for the 2015 Rugby World Cup?


Kudos to INC for investing on this remarkable and ground-breaking facility even though it is intended for their church events and activities. Should they open it for any Philippine teams, it would be an awesome development.

Despite all the excitement and brouhaha, Cebu has remained in the backwater. Due to the relative lack of adequate sporting venues and facilities, Cebuanos will miss the opportunity to watch games of that magnitude. Although, Cebu have already thought of the idea of having a gargantuan sporting venue way before the foundations of the MOA Arena or Philippine Arena were placed. The Cebu Megadome remained a dream not yet realized.

I think it is about time for Cebu to have its own arena, a crowning jewel of some sort. It is high time to replace the oven-hot Cebu Coliseum with a fully-airconditioned and architecturally-pleasing indoor arena like nowhere else in the province. As the SM Seaside City is being built in the South Reclamation Area and other malls and hotels sprouting up like mushrooms. The Queen City of the South should catch up with the development and it is high time for the city government to see the benefits of having a world-class facility in the heart of the metropolis.

How long will we have to wait for it?

UPDATE: Not to be outdone, Pastor Apollo Quiboloy of the religious group Kingdom of Jesus Christ has already laid the groundwork for the proposed 50,000-seater indoor arena KJC King Dome in Davao City. Both Bocaue and Davao will soon unveil these world-class arenas for the INC and KJC congregations. Although, Quiboloy's domed structure is intended to be a cathedral, it will be the country's largest.


If Cebu will have the country's largest shopping mall so when can we a megadome of our own?


The Euro 2012 has finally kicked off in Poland and Ukraine as the top teams from Europe vie for the coveted Henri Delaunay trophy. Our greatest football heroes would be playing for die-hard fans and lovely ladies alike. The beautiful game is not about the action and drama happening in the pitch but there are colorful characters that make the experience of watching the game very much different.

Beautiful women makes it really interesting as television cameras scour the crowd for that beautiful face with the radiant smile. Fortunately, the best players in the world have the hottest wives and girlfriends that you can possibly imagine. You would be lucky if you can spot them right in front of you. Have you ever thought of forming the ultimate WAG all star team?

It would be the greatest obsession, seeing them on one team in a football pitch. Here is my list of the top eleven WAGs of Euro 2012:


First on the list would be the wife of Ireland talisman Robbie Keane, Claudine is one hot momma. If you have this hot and raunchy MILF fantasy then she would be the one that you will take to dinner.


I don't know why Italian guys get so lucky with getting their hands on Playboy playmates. If you're the AC Milan-bound and Italian international midfielder Riccardo Montolivo then you must be a lucky bloke.


Juventus striker Alessandro Matri is another lucky bastard who happens to date another luscious and sultry hottie named Federica Nargi. The 2007 Miss Italy finalist is a regular staple in men's magazine. Obviously, Italian guys fantasize her for awe-inspiring assets.


Being the most expensive and valuable footballer in the world has its perks that is why Cristiano Ronaldo has a hot supermodel girlfriend on his side. Irina Shayk is not the typical Russian girl that you would like your parents to meet. Her exotic looks and golden tan skin makes her the ultimate trophy wife to be!


The Germans don't want to be left out in the train station so if you're Ronaldo's teammate then you have to pick up a sexy supermodel girlfriend too! So Sami Khedira got Germany's Next Top Model in the mold of Lena Gercke. They even took it to the next level with their sensual photoshoot with Khedira's hands covering her bare assets.


The Russian-born Swedish model Oksana Wilhelmsson (nee Andersson) can be the sexiest woman in your dreams. Unfortunately, she's already married to Sweden international and Al-Hilal FC player Christian Wilhelmsson.


Is there a rule that bars sports reporter and the player you are covering from dating each other? It seems Telecinco journalist Sara Carbonero and Spain captain Iker Casillas are breaking the rule.


They say "gentlemen prefer blondes..." so if you are German footballer Bastian Schweinsteiger then you will probably choose a girl like Sarah Brandner. She's truly a head-turner so if she's on the crowd then you would probably lose your attention on the game-winning goal.


Age does not matter if you are really in love with the girl of your dreams so much more if that girl is as famous as Shakira. Gerard Pique is truly on cloud nine as the Colombian glamor girl lights up the crowd.


To complete the list of WAG all stars, Sylvie van der Vaart should be in. The Dutch television personality and model is like the goddess of beauty because of her awesome smile that can melt your hearts out and the enigmatic personality that will put you under her spell. Did I mentioned that she's married to a hot Dutch footballer named Rafael? We'll they are like the Beckhams with a distinctive accent.


I compiled the six best national anthems in the world, excluding our very own Lupang Hinirang, and ranked it according to popularity, musical impact and style.


(1) The Star Spangled Banner -- United States of America

Composed by Francis Scott Key, this anthem is the most recognizable music you can hear whatever the event and situation may be. You can hear this music at the White House, U.S. Embassy, in a gold medal ceremony at the Olympics, at an NBA game and in movies. It has also had different renditions in various occasions, that's what makes it more interesting.

Important Notes

* The lyrics of the song came from the poem written by Key during the War of 1812 after the Royal Navy bombarded Fort McHenry.

* The tune of the song was similar to The Anacreontic Song, a popular British drinking song at that time.

* It is interesting to note that The Star Spangled Banner became the country's national anthem in 1931, the United States used My Country, Tis of Thee and Hail, Columbia as its national anthems before The Star Spangled Banner became the official national anthem.

Lyrics
O! say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming.
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming.
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?


On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!


And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!


O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: 'In God is our trust.'
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

(2) Das Deutschlandlied (Deutschland über alles) -- Germany

As a big World War II history buff, I always love to listen old military marches including that of Germany's national anthem, which I used to associate it with the Second World War but the more I listen to it the more I got attached to the way the music was composed. Its really soothing to my brains because when I listen to it, it makes me want to kill somebody....seriously....its really a nice music. Its a tribute to the great musical talents of Germany and the classical music it produced.

Important Notes

* Its alternate name Deutschland über alles became a propaganda song during the Nazi heydays.

* The music was composed by Joseph Haydn in 1797 as a birthday gift to Austrian emperor Francis II while the lyrics were made only in 1841 by German linguist and poet August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben.

* The national anthem was adopted by Weimar Germany in 1922 and became official in 1952 during the formation of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Lyrics
Deutschland, Deutschland über alles,
Über alles in der Welt,
Wenn es stets zu Schutz und Trutze
Brüderlich zusammenhält.
Von der Maas bis an die Memel,
Von der Etsch bis an den Belt,
Deutschland, Deutschland über alles,
Über alles in der Welt!


Deutsche Frauen, deutsche Treue,
Deutscher Wein und deutscher Sang
Sollen in der Welt behalten
Ihren alten schönen Klang,
Uns zu edler Tat begeistern
Unser ganzes Leben lang.
Deutsche Frauen, deutsche Treue,
Deutscher Wein und deutscher Sang!


Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit
Für das deutsche Vaterland!
Danach lasst uns alle streben
Brüderlich mit Herz und Hand!
Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit
Sind des Glückes Unterpfand;
Blüh' im Glanze dieses Glückes,
Blühe, deutsches Vaterland.

(3) Государственный гимн Российской Федерации (Gosudarstvenny Gimn Rossiyskoy Federatsii) -- Russia

This national anthem also a very popular music to me because it alway reminds me of three things: Soviet Union, Communism and Cold War. Its somewhat a complete "antithesis" to The Star Spangled Banner or the Deutschland Uber Alles because of the fact that Russia (then the USSR) fought against the Germans and Americans during the Second World War and also were locked in an intense Cold War with the Americans for the next 50 years. When I first listened to the music, I was watching the Hunt for Red October wherein I saw how "patriotic" the music sounds. After all many Russians died during the Second World War, it suited to the time it was composed.

Important Notes

* It is an adaptation of the anthem of the Soviet Union of 1944, with music originally composed by Alexander Alexandrov.

* The lyrics were revised for the anthem of the Russian Federation by Sergey Mikhalkov, who had supplied lyrics for versions of the Soviet anthem in 1943 and 1977.

* The hymn was adopted in late 2000 by President Vladimir Putin and replaced The Patriotic Song, which had been the official anthem from 1990.

Lyrics

A) Russian
Россия — священная наша держава,
Россия — любимая наша страна.
Могучая воля, великая слава —
Твоё достоянье на все времена!

Припев:

Славься, Отечество наше свободное,
Братских народов союз вековой,
Предками данная мудрость народная!
Славься, страна! Мы гордимся тобой!

От южных морей до полярного края
Раскинулись наши леса и поля.
Одна ты на свете! Одна ты такая —
Хранимая Богом родная земля!

Припев

Широкий простор для мечты и для жизни
Грядущие нам открывают года.
Нам силу даёт наша верность Отчизне.
Так было, так есть и так будет всегда!

Припев

B) Transliteration
Rossiya — svyashchennaya nasha derzhava,
Rossiya — lyubimaya nasha strana.
Moguchaya volya, velikaya slava —
Tvoyo dostoyanye na vse vremena!

Pripev:

Slavsya, Otechestvo nashe svobodnoye,
Bratskikh narodov soyuz vekovoy,
Predkami dannaya mudrost narodnaya!
Slavsya, strana! My gordimsya toboy!

Ot yuzhnykh morey do polyarnogo kraya
Raskinulis nashi lesa i polya.
Odna ty na svete! Odna ty takaya —
Khranimaya Bogom rodnaya zemlya!

Pripev

Shirokiy prostor dlya mechty i dlya zhizni.
Gryadushchiye nam otkryvayut goda.
Nam silu dayot nasha vernost Otchizne.
Tak bylo, tak yest i tak budet vsegda!
Pripev


(4) La Marsellaise -- France

A very interesting national anthem because of the fact it was not named after the country but after the southern French city of Marseille. The song reminds me of three things: the French Revolution, Napoleon Bonaparte, and 1998 FIFA World Cup.

Important Notes

* It written and composed by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle in Strasbourg on April 25, 1792.

* Its original name was "Chant de guerre pour l'Armée du Rhin" ("War Song for the Army of the Rhine") and it was dedicated to Marshal Nicolas Luckner, a Bavarian-born French officer from Cham.

* It became the rallying call of the French Revolution and received its name because it was first sung on the streets by volunteers (fédérés) from Marseille upon their arrival in Paris after a young volunteer from Montpellier called François Mireur had sung it at a patriotic gathering in Marseille.

* It became the country's national anthem on July 14, 1795 and was restored in 1879 after Napoleon I used the Veillons au Salut de l'Empire and Napoleon III used Partant pour la Syrie during their reigns.

Lyrics
Allons enfants de la Patrie,
Le jour de gloire est arrivé!
Contre nous de la tyrannie,
L'étendard sanglant est levé, (bis)
Entendez-vous dans les campagnes
Mugir ces féroces soldats?
Ils viennent jusque dans vos bras
Égorger vos fils, vos compagnes!

Aux armes, citoyens,
Formez vos bataillons,
Marchons, marchons!
Qu'un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons!

Que veut cette horde d'esclaves,
De traîtres, de rois conjurés?
Pour qui ces ignobles entraves,
Ces fers dès longtemps préparés? (bis)
Français, pour nous, ah ! quel outrage
Quels transports il doit exciter!
C'est nous qu'on ose méditer
De rendre à l'antique esclavage!

Aux armes, citoyens...

Quoi ! des cohortes étrangères
Feraient la loi dans nos foyers!
Quoi ! ces phalanges mercenaires
Terrasseraient nos fiers guerriers ! (bis)
Grand Dieu ! par des mains enchaînées
Nos fronts sous le joug se ploieraient
De vils despotes deviendraient
Les maîtres de nos destinées!

Aux armes, citoyens...

Tremblez, tyrans et vous perfides
L'opprobre de tous les partis,
Tremblez ! vos projets parricides
Vont enfin recevoir leurs prix ! (bis)
Tout est soldat pour vous combattre,
S'ils tombent, nos jeunes héros,
La terre en produit de nouveaux,
Contre vous tout prêts à se battre!

Aux armes, citoyens...

Français, en guerriers magnanimes,
Portez ou retenez vos coups!
Épargnez ces tristes victimes,
À regret s'armant contre nous. (bis)
Mais ces despotes sanguinaires,
Mais ces complices de Bouillé,
Tous ces tigres qui, sans pitié,
Déchirent le sein de leur mère!

Aux armes, citoyens...

Amour sacré de la Patrie,
Conduis, soutiens nos bras vengeurs
Liberté, Liberté chérie,
Combats avec tes défenseurs ! (bis)
Sous nos drapeaux que la victoire
Accoure à tes mâles accents,
Que tes ennemis expirants
Voient ton triomphe et notre gloire!

Aux armes, citoyens...

(Couplet des enfants)
Nous entrerons dans la carrière
Quand nos aînés n'y seront plus,
Nous y trouverons leur poussière
Et la trace de leurs vertus (bis)
Bien moins jaloux de leur survivre
Que de partager leur cercueil,
Nous aurons le sublime orgueil
De les venger ou de les suivre
Aux armes, citoyens... 


(5) God Save The Queen -- United Kingdom

What more can I say? This national anthem is very royal in nature after all the United Kingdom has its kings and queens as well as it shares of brat princes. Interestingly, it is also used in other British commonwealth members and dependencies.

Important Notes

* The origin of the tune is surrounded by uncertainty, myth and speculation. In The Oxford Companion to Music, Percy Scholes devotes about four pages to this subject, pointing out the similarities to an early plainsong melody, although the rhythm is very distinctly that of a galliard, and he gives examples of several such dance tunes that bear a striking resemblance to "God Save the King/Queen". Scholes quotes a keyboard piece by Dr. John Bull (1619) which has some strong similarities to the modern tune, depending on the placing of accidentals which at that time were unwritten in certain cases and left to the discretion of the player (see musica ficta). He also points to several pieces by Henry Purcell, one of which includes the opening notes of the modern tune, set to the words "God Save The King". Nineteenth century scholars and commentators mention the widespread belief that an old Scots carol, "Remember O Thou Man" was the source of the tune.

* It is one of the oldest national anthems that is still played.

* An interesting twist occured during World War 1 and 2, God Save the Queen was played eventhough the British Empire was ruled by kings.

* Various territories have their own national anthems like Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, etc. It has its translated versions in Canada (French) and New Zealand (Maori).

Lyrics
God save our gracious Queen,
Long live our noble Queen,
God save the Queen:
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us:
God save the Queen.

O Lord, our God, arise,
Scatter her enemies,
And make them fall.
Confound their politics,
Frustrate their knavish tricks,
On Thee our hopes we fix,
God save us all.

Thy choicest gifts in store,
On her be pleased to pour;
Long may she reign:
May she defend our laws,
And ever give us cause
To sing with heart and voice
God save the Queen.*

* When the monarch of the time is male, beyond the other alterations mentioned above, the last line of the third verse is changed to "with heart and voice to sing/ God Save the King".


(6) Hino Nacional Brasileiro -- Brazil

In the land of samba, football, Copacabana, Amazon and sexy supermodels, the national anthem is as upbeat as the beats of the bongo drums. Makes me dance because the melody is very catchy. The music always reminds me when Brazil plays in international football especially in the FIFA World Cup.

Important Notes

* It was composed by Francisco Manuel da Silva in 1822 and had been given at least two sets of lyrics before a decree of 1922 gave it the definitive lyrics, by Joaquim Osório Duque Estrada, after several changes were made to his proposal, written in 1909.

* In style, the music resembles early Romantic Italian music such as that of Gioachino Rossini.

*During the Imperial period (1822-1889) and in the early years of the Republic, the national anthem was usually performed with no lyrics.

Lyrics
Ouviram do Ipiranga as margens plácidas
De um povo heróico o brado retumbante,
E o sol da Liberdade, em raios fúlgidos,
Brilhou no céu da Pátria nesse instante.

Se o penhor dessa igualdade
Conseguimos conquistar com braço forte,
Em teu seio, ó Liberdade,
Desafia o nosso peito a própria morte!

Ó Pátria amada,
Idolatrada,
Salve! Salve!

Brasil, um sonho intenso, um raio vívido,
De amor e de esperança à terra desce,
Se em teu formoso céu, risonho e límpido,
A imagem do Cruzeiro resplandece.

Gigante pela própria natureza,
És belo, és forte, impávido colosso,
E o teu futuro espelha essa grandeza.

Terra adorada
Entre outras mil
És tu, Brasil,
Ó Pátria amada!

Dos filhos deste solo
És mãe gentil,
Pátria amada,
Brasil!

Deitado eternamente em berço esplêndido,
Ao som do mar e à luz do céu profundo,
Fulguras, ó Brasil, florão da América,
Iluminado ao sol do Novo Mundo!

Do que a terra mais garrida
Teus risonhos, lindos campos têm mais flores,
"Nossos bosques têm mais vida",
"Nossa vida" no teu seio "mais amores". (*)

Ó Pátria amada,
Idolatrada,
Salve! Salve!

Brasil, de amor eterno seja símbolo
O lábaro que ostentas estrelado,
E diga o verde-louro dessa flâmula
- Paz no futuro e glória no passado.

Mas se ergues da justiça a clava forte,
Verás que um filho teu não foge à luta,
Nem teme, quem te adora, a própria morte.

Terra adorada
Entre outras mil
És tu, Brasil,
Ó Pátria amada!

Dos filhos deste solo
És mãe gentil,
Pátria amada,
Brasil!


(6) 義勇軍進行曲 (March of the Volunteers) -- People's Republic of China

I recently had a recent fascination with the March of Volunteers primarily because of the growing prominence of China in the economic, political and military aspect. Just like the Russian national anthem, the music sounds like the "communist" patriotism associated with the former USSR. It reminds me with the way China dominated the 2008 Olympic Games she hosted wherein the song was repeated over and over again.

Important Notes

* It was written by Tian Han during the 1934 Republic of China era for a play he was writing at the time. Popular stories suggest, however, that he wrote it on a tobacco paper after being arrested in Shanghai and thrown into a Kuomintang (KMT) jail in 1935. The song, with a minor alteration, became the theme song of the 1935 patriotic film Sons and Daughters in a Time of Storm, a story about an intellectual who leaves to fight in the Second Sino-Japanese War. It was one of many songs that were promoted secretly among the population as part of the anti-Japanese resistance. The song was released as an album by the Pathé label of EMI in 1935.

* It was used as the national anthem for the first time in an international conference in February 1949 held in Prague, Czechoslovakia.

* During the Cultural Revolution, Tian Han was imprisoned, and the March of the Volunteers was therefore forbidden to be sung; as a result there was a period of time when "The East Is Red" was used as the unofficial national anthem.

Lyrics

A) Chinese

起來!不願做奴隸的人們!
把我們的血肉,築成我們新的長城!
中華民族到了最危險的時候,
每個人被迫着發出最後的吼聲。
起來!起來!起來!
我們萬眾一心,
冒着敵人的炮火,前進!
冒着敵人的炮火,前進!
前進!前進!進!

B) Transliterated

Qǐlai! Bùyuàn zuò núlì de rénmen!
Bǎ wǒmen de xuèròu, zhúchéng wǒmen xīn de chángchéng!
Zhōnghuá mínzú dàole zuì wēixiǎn de shíhou.
Měi ge rén bèipòzhe fāchū zuìhòu de hǒushēng.
Qǐlai! Qǐlai! Qǐlai!
Wǒmen wànzhòngyīxīn,
Màozhe dírén de pàohuǒ, qiánjìn!
Màozhe dírén de pàohuǒ, qiánjìn!
Qiánjìn! Qiánjìn! Jìn!

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{picture#https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-AgIZYN7u_Hg/VZvLmrA0hpI/AAAAAAAARt8/mscbLJ1All4/profile%2Bpic.jpg} JP Canonigo is a historian, professional blogger and copywriter, online content specialist, copywriter, video game junkie, sports fanatic and jack-of-all trades. {facebook#http://www.facebook.com/istoryadista} {twitter#http://www.twitter.com/jpthehistorian} {google#http://plus.google.com/+JPSakuragi}
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