Filipinos follow the game of basketball conscientiously. They either play in the streets of Manila or watch the Philippines Basketball Association (PBA) or the National Basketball Association (NBA) games. There is no doubt that Filipinos immensely love the sport. Feels like it is ingrained in the Filipino culture. When you go in any street in the Philippines, you’ll likely see a basketball court. Filipino ballers often play basketball in their regular footwear, the rubber slippers, famously known as “tsinelas”, or sometimes even barefoot because basketball shoes are way too expensive and can be unobtainable for some in the country.
Jeff Masancay The founder of Bata Sole, started a non-profit organization focused on helping the community and providing brand new shoes to less privileged citizens of the Philippines. The concept of Bata Sole started when Jeff Masancay and his brother visited their family back home, in the province of Pangasinan in 2012. “We were immediately in shock and in awe, and heartbroken to see the poor living conditions for the children. We came across a worn-down basketball court and noticed the kids did not even have shoes to play”, Jeff says. Regardless of every kid’s situation, Jeff saw the kid’s excitement towards the game. The next day, they decided to throw a basketball tournament for the kids. It was such a great camaraderie for both Jeff and the kids. Through this experience, his fondness for the game grew more than ever.
In 2017, Jeff Masancay and Bata Sole team started the initiative that aims to collect and distribute shoes to poverty-stricken communities in the Philippines. “He really is the spark that created the mission of Bata Sole.” Jon Francia, a key member of Bata Sole, stated in Pinoy Bounce Show. Their mission was to collect and deliver pairs of shoes to Mangatarem, Pangasinan during the village’s annual fiesta. Jeff and the Bata Sole team collected 800 pairs of shoes and distributed them to local ballers of Pangasinan. This inspired multiple Filipinos in the Chicago community. In 2019, Bata Sole painted 5 basketball courts throughout the Philippines and distributed over 1,200 pairs of shoes to the community.
Building Bata Sole opened up a lot of opportunities for Jeff. He collaborated with numerous organizations such as AmazonSmile, Jackfruit company, Tuckettes, Exhale and Physter. They also had partnerships with multiple Filipino leagues and other non-profit organizations in providing pairs of shoes for the Special Olympics in Chicago. These gave him more opportunities to raise awareness about this charitable institution.
Sadly however, the Bata Sole postponed their mission trip in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Fortunately, the organization and the Chicago community were still persistent and continued to help the community of Laguna by sending 100 pairs of shoes. The sole purpose of Bata Sole is to give a helping hand and build a bridge between two different worlds. From visiting his parent’s hometown to giving thousands of shoes to impoverished children in the cities of the Philippines, Jeff Masancay is surely an inspiration to the community.