Visiting Pampanga family watches the Warriors, their dream come true
Emil Amok!

Visiting Pampanga family watches the Warriors, their dream come true

/ 11:56 PM April 21, 2017
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The De La Cruz family from Pampanga take in the Warriors game as tourists: Sophia, 12; Nina,13; Bettina,7; Miguel, 6; and parents, Michelle and Michael.INQUIRER/Emil Guillermo

The Warriors are on a mission of a No.1 seed in the NBA Playoffs: The Championship. But after a gluttonous 2016, when they won more games than any team ever only to lose in the finals to the Cavaliers, they’re doing things differently.

They’re being crafty.


In the First Round against Portland, after the Trailblazer back-court blitzed them with 75 points, the Warriors still won by 12.  So what did we expect for game 2?

At the last minute, the Warriors announced Star Kevin Durant was not going to be even seated on the floor for Game 2. Left calf strain? He did come off the injured list weeks ago. But after playing nearly 36 minutes on Sunday, scoring 32 points, and looking no worse for wear? Resting maybe.


Enough to disappoint some fans.

But not Michael De La Cruz. He was sitting ten rows up from courtside and having the time of his life.

With his shaved head, De la Cruz looked like any American Filipino. Prone to hip hop. At his side was a little guy, who looked like me when I was young. He had my kind of haircut, beach boy bowl; and as my friend the comic, Rex Navarette might say, he was a “husky boy.”

So I stopped to talked to them.

Did they mind Durant not playing?

Not at all.

“We’re tourists,” he said. “From the Philippines.”


No need to ask for his papers. He had Warrior tickets.

And what better highlight in life than to be close enough  to breathe the same air as Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors at a playoff game of his favorite team.

San Miguel?

That’s the PBA, my friend.

In America, he’s all Warriors.

You’ve got to be pretty lucky or special, or with some disposable cash to be Filipino and in the area I was gleaning for my “man in the seats” interview.

But it was really special for De La Cruz who was with his whole family, a veritable De La Cruz basketball team.

Six of them in all, four kids: Sophia, 12; Nina, 13; Bettina, 7; Miguel 6; and wife, Michelle.

That’s six tickets which likely set them back at least $1,000.

It was the first time in America for the whole family, and  De la Cruz could only describe his family vacation anchored by a Warrior playoff game  as a “dream come true.”

Not bad for a guy who said he was in the trucking business “back home.”

“Hauling gravel and sand,” he said

Business is good? He nodded.

“We’re doing all right,” he said, adding he’s not super rich. I suppose meaning, not oligarch rich. Not crony rich.

He’s just six-Warrior tickets rich on vacation from Pampanga rich, from trucking and hauling dirt. Life is good.

Naturally, I was curious about his perspective on the Philippines.  Does he like Duterte?


Voted for him?


What about the new survey taken by Social Weather Stations that said 73 percent of respondents were worried that they or someone they knew would become victims of executions. I asked him if people are really scared?

“No,” De la Cruz said. “We love Duterte. Because he makes us safe. Maybe the drug addicts don’t like it.”

But what about those extrajudicial killings. Do people fear they could get killed?

“Don’t believe everything you read,” De la Cruz said, who added, he does read the Inquirer. “Watching TV Patrol makes it worse. But when you go there and live there (in the Philippines) you’ll feel safe. You can walk around, feel safe, no one harassing you.”

And the poll about the 7 in 10 who feel they can be shot by mistake?

“Well, if you’re in a community (where drug traffic exists) they’re going to say that. It’s not totally true. The reality is we’re safe. We’re safe with Duterte.”

His family came back to the row of seats that was theirs for the night.

“We’re all Warrior fans,” said Sophia, the 12-year-old.

Favorite Warrior?

“Stephen Curry,” Nina, the 13-year-old said.

Mother Michelle shows off an Under Armor logo on her shirt, Curry’s brand. “It’s a very wonderful experience to be in the arena, the ambiance,” Michelle De la Cruz told me. “It’s just so wonderful.”

Noisy, happy, fun.

So maybe they’ll come to America? For good?

Michael Delacruz had an easy answer.

“We like it in the Philippines,” he said. “Back home. There’s no place like home. You can go around. It’s easy. If you have the money here, it’s good. Dollars.”

But the peso world suits him fine.

His buddies all watch the Warriors on TV. Or at least the part of his group that don’t root for the Cavaliers. And Durant or no Durant, De la Cruz is just happy just to catch a Warrior playoff game while vacationing in America.

“We’re just hanging around,” he said. “Enjoying the moment.”

Of course, he was. And he did. The Warriors demolished the Trailblazers by 29 points, without Durant. He was resting. So was the De la Cruz family, on vacation.

Emil Guillermo is an award-winning journalist and commentator who writes from Northern California. Follow him at

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TAGS: family vacation, Filipino Duterte supporter, NBA, NBA Playoffs, PBA, professional basketball, San Miguel, Star Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Trailblazers, Warriors
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