The national basketball craze resonated in Manila during the Sun Life three-on-three basketball challenge.
It’s August 10, 2013. Jimmy Alapag had just sunk a cold-blooded three with less than a minute remaining in the last quarter. Korea calls a timeout, and the entire Mall of Asia Arena is rumbling with Queen’s 1977 hit song “We Will Rock You.”
On the next possession, Gabe Norwood blocks Kim Min Goo’s attempt for a shot outside the arc. Norwood tips the ball to Ranidel de Ocampo, de Ocampo to Jayson Castro. With 24 seconds left on the clock, Castro swoops in for a layup. It’s a ball missed! Marc Pingris immediately cleans up the rebound and scores a two, sealing a seven-point lead in the game and, alas, securing Gilas Pilipinas’ spot in the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain.
A decade later, as Gilas Pilipinas players had once again converged for the 2023 FIBA World Cup, the country’s fervor for hoops and shots had only grown intense. And the national basketball fever had gotten even more amplified after Sun Life Financial Philippines brought together hundreds of local players for an exciting court game, dubbed the Sun Life 3×3 Charity Challenge, in the third week of August this year.
It had become an opportunity for the public to showcase their skills on the court and experience the basketball frenzy that has had the country in a grip since time immemorial. Beyond the thrilling matches, Sun Life’s basketball challenge was also a bid to elevate sports communities across the Philippines.
For every player who joined a team, the Canadian financial services company pledged PHP 4,000 toward renovating basketball courts and launching fitness programs in different cities, so that more Filipinos may stay active, live healthier lives, and ultimately enjoy the sport.
Showing up at the event to support the cause were celebrity players and seasoned pros—including Marc Pingris, Ael Banal, Brent Javier, Jollo Go, Andre Felix, Gab Banal, Thor Gomez, Brent Paraiso, John Custodio, Axel Torres, Pat Sugui, Kirst Viray, Ralph Molina, Martin Reyes, Miguel Aytona, Hendrix Jim, and Martin Javier.
“Promoting movement is an important aspect of Sun Life’s health and wellness advocacy. We constantly explore fun and engaging ways to promote it among Filipinos, especially the youth,” said Sun Life Chief Client Experience and Marketing Officer Carla Gonzalez-Chong. “For this particular initiative, we took inspiration in our country’s love for basketball so we can encourage everyone to make physical activity a part of their lifestyle.”
On social media, Sun Life Financial also attempted to capture the same Filipino team spirit during the Philippines-Korea face-off. Every like, share, and post with the hashtags #MovementMatters and #SunLifePartnerforLife triggered another PHP 4,000 donation toward the cause. A parallel initiative was held in Jakarta, Indonesia—in which Sun Life was able to accumulate a donation amounting to PHP 40 million in total.
“We’re thrilled about the momentum we’ve set for the #MovementMatters campaign, and [we] look forward to everyone’s continued support,” Gonzalez-Chong said. “With our concerted efforts, we can certainly help more people live healthier lives.”
In partnership with Beyond Sport, a global sport-for-social-change foundation, Sun Life aimed to encourage more active lifestyles among marginalized youth in the Philippines, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam, taking heed of the Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance’s Annual Report in 2022.
The report previously showed high levels of physical inactivity and sedentary behavior among children and adolescents across Asia, contributing to high rates of cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, obesity, mental health challenges, and other damaging health outcomes. Furthermore, in terms of overall physical activity, Hong Kong and Malaysia attained a grade of D, while Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam received an F, which means less than 20% of children aged 6 to 17 achieve an average of at least 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity in a week.
Beyond Sport Executive Director Fred Turner highlighted how young people globally face barriers to accessing sport and all the advantages that come with it. “Often, that barrier is as simple as having a safe space to move and play,” he explained. “We are proud to partner with Sun Life to improve physical and mental well-being outcomes for marginalized youth. We hope this program, built with community and sustainability in mind, will help them develop life-long habits that will allow them to thrive.”
Images by Sun Life Financial.