Missing the court | amid the health crisis, Karma Lounge PH team captain Ruel Kondo and his friends extend helping hand for the community under the Frontrow Banner


By John Mark Herrera - Published May 14, 2020

Not getting to do old normal things, or for every athlete's case, play sports for a very long time - have kept most of them inside their respective homes and forced them to get creative in keeping themselves fit and game-ready. Donating goods and cash assistance have been at the forefront of fundraising activities and other ways of reaching out to the less fortunate, during these trying times.

For Karma Lounge PH team captain, Ruel Kondo, whose team was playing in the KOTC Q1 2020 Inter Pick-Up League before the tournament was halted by the COVID-19 pandemic - he and his team along with very close friends, all decided to go out and personally deliver their donations to the people in need during this season.

"Having your life all of a sudden pause is never easy. But this pandemic on the other hand was so difficult, not only for me but for millions of others in the world, I’m sure. Business and income just one day stops. And for many that was a huge problem, which brought fear, anxiety and for some, even depression." said the longtime KOTC participant, who played for team HUPxMSC, before donning the Karma Lounge PH uniform this year, to represent his business.

The idea of being at the comfort of their home gave them the security, but the idea of many Filipinos being left out with no source of income and not enough food supplies to feed their families, had Kondo and his team thinking of what they can do to help ease the rough situation.

"Not being able to get out of the house for months and hearing mostly negative news and the number of cases increase rapidly adds onto it. For me, I was more concerned about others, got anxiety and depression thinking about others that are less fortunate than I am. Though I was scared for my family and my son most especially, I was confident that we can somehow get through this mentally and physically. We were able to eat 3 times a day, and drink vitamins to boost our immune system. But what about those who can’t afford to do that? Paano na sila?"

And it didn’t take long for him to find people in his circle who were also willing to go out of their way to help create an initiative which will play a big role in keeping the hope alive for people in need.

"After a week of quarantine, I felt depressed from all the negativity I see in the media. I was paranoid and carried a thermometer in my pocket and checked every hour even though I never really felt sick. I needed to do something, I couldn’t just stay home and lay all day doing nothing. Because eventually, I would go crazy. I even deactivated my Facebook for some time to avoid all that. But the day I reactivated, I saw that Frontrow was helping so much already. I then called my good friend and CEO of Frontrow Sam Verzosa and asked him if I could help somehow. And that's how it all started." he explained.

The amount of goods donated were overwhelming - just right in line with the group's vision of reaching as many people as they can in this mission. With him during this mission are Sam Verzosa, Gab Valenciano, Ace Ramos, Katrina Saluta, Maam Gretz, Marlon Limpin, Jeff Catimbang, Melai Catimbang, and AL Chinchuntic from groups Team CSG, TRIBU BABAYLAN, and MP FOUNDATION.

"First we got our hands on thousands of milk and donated to so many babies. Then we were able to get 3 million pesos worth of Spam and Pure Foods corned beef. We repacked about 3,000 relief goods and distributed personally, along with boss Sam to different barangays. that are in depressed areas. And last week we restocked on milk and donated milk everyday once again while repacking and distributing at the same time. It gets tiring and my body is sore, but seeing the families smile and all the babies happy and drinking milk instead of rice water, makes it all worth it."

In high spirits after accomplishing their team's mission, the movement served as a form of bonding for him and his brothers in arms. Most of the time, they keep the good vibes alive via social media group chats.

"Since naka lock down tayo naguusap usap naman kami thru group chat. Syempre sa tagal ng walang laro nagbabalak na magpapawis kahit sa private court lang pero hindi talaga pwede so wala sa bahay nalang ensayo, tulad ko busy ako sa paglalaba kaya ayun ang workout ko." he shared with a chuckle.

Kondo is known for his fun style of playing basketball - throwing jokes while playing on the court or lifting his teammates up in the middle of the huddle by laughing off some bad plays while concurrently telling them to focus on the next play. But his way of leadership echoed loudly in his simple, yet inspiring message to the public.

"Kapit lang. Malalagpasan din natin to. Tulungan nalang din siguro sa kapwa tao and importante tiwala lang sa paginoon at mag dasal nalang lagi. Pag kailangan ng tulong, wag kayo mahiya lumapit sa amin baka sakali kaya namin tumulong di ba?"

The group will also extend help to the referees, whose children are in need of nutrition, as the movement is set to provide milk and other goods for their families.

Despite the long break from basketball, these ballers at heart chose to stay ready, so when the time comes that the game gives them a call, they'd be able to lace 'em up right away. Getting to reach out and help the community is one way to make the most out of this long lull from the normal routines - as we play the role of a team player in the battle against COVID-19.

Multiple communities were given the mentioned goods during the said mission. Names of the areas are as follows:

1. Lupang Pangako, Barangay Payatas

2. Barangay Scout Triangle, QC.

3. Zirkoh and Klownz Comedy bar employees

4. Barangay Tumana Marikina City

5. Sampaloc Manila

6. Sapang Uwak, Aetas Tribu Porac Pampanga

7. Holy Trinity Church, Balic2 Sampaloc Manila

8. Napindan Muslim Community, Lower Bicutan Taguig

9. Milk distribution all over Metro Manila

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Looking for a way to help the community?

You can donate and get a personalized artwork in return!

Kings of the Court PH is selling customized artwork at PHP 700.00. They have an artwork catalog that you may choose from (https://bit.ly/2RzU7ex). Designs are compatible to your preferred sport. It can also be a souvenir to your loved ones who are frontliners to show that they are our #SeasonMVPs.

The #YourTimeToShine is a campaign which aims to raise funds. Proceeds shall be for the donation of PPE’s and food supply to our frontliners through various organizations, and financial assistance to our employees in need during these trying times.

If it's not purchasing, you can share this to your friends and family members, to raise more awareness of the campaign. That would be appreciated too!

Go to Kings of the Court PH on Facebook, to know more.

Photos from Ruel Kondo