Basketball Mania in the Philippines

Children play basketball along railroad tracks bounded by shanty houses in Manila on March 12, 2008. (Jay Director/AFP/Getty Images)

When you think about the Philippines, basketball fandom probably doesn’t immediately come to mind—but maybe it should. In Harper's Magazine editor Rafe Bartholomew’s new book, Pacific Rims: Beerman Ballin’ in Flip Flops and the Philippines’ Unlikely Love Affair with Basketball, he takes the reader on his personal journey through basketball culture in the Philippines.

The book informs the reader about the history of the sport in the Philippines, but Bartholomew also guides us through a culture where basketball is so popular, that it makes its influence known in almost every facet of society.

Pacific Rims is also full of Bartholomew’s personal experiences, which range from the hilarious to heart-warming to the bizarre. Some notable gems include the time he was mobbed in a rest stop by employees who mistook him for a famous PBA player, his guest appearance in a Filipino soap opera, and attending an annual "midgets versus transvestites" basketball tournament in Cebu.

Bartholomew calls Pacific Rims his “love letter to the Philippines” and his affection for the country, the people, and the sport really shines through.

Asia Society Online recently spoke to Bartholomew about his new book. Read the interview and watch a video here.