My trip to the Philippines for the first time – Letter from Barry Behrman

I just recently returned from Manila and I wanted to share my experience with those who have never had the opportunity to visit as it is a must if you enjoy the game of pool.

If I had to use one word to describe the city of Manila it would be “Humble”.  Everyone and I mean everyone, that I spoke with was extremely nice and wanted to help in any way that they could.  Every person smiled and all conversations ended with “Thank you, Sir”. Just as in America, the sights are absolutely beautiful and unfortunately there are many areas of poverty as well.   

Efren “Bata” Reyes is a national hero and everywhere we went he was constantly bombarded with cameras.  His popularity is right up there with famous boxer, the great Manny Pacquiao, who by the way also plays good pool!  I witnessed Efren playing some awesome pool. He is in great shape and recently had laser eye surgery (everyone beware). While at dinner one evening, I asked “Efren forgive me, but what does “Bata” mean?” he began to explain that when he was around the age of 13 he fell in love with the game of pool.  He began working at a pool room and had nowhere to go so he began sleeping in the room underneath or on top of the pool tables.  The owner started calling him “Bata” which means “little boy” and, of course, he is still called “Bata” along with “the magician” as no player has ever played better, all around pool in the world.  Yes, there are great 9-ball, one-pocket, 14.1, 10-ball players, and more who play great but again, we have seen Efren play for 25 years and he has to be the best all around player, on the planet.  

I was shocked by the popularity of pool in the Philippines.  It is second to none around the globe.  It was amazing! Everyone who watches billiards on T.V. knew who I was and I was treated like royalty and it is something that I will never forget.  The billiard rooms that I visited were very nice with great tables and playing conditions.  All the patrons conducted themselves well and took the game very seriously.  

As the founder of the U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships, I would love to see billiards reach this level in America and it is not too late.  The pool industry and pool players need to come together to provided guidance and support to make it happen.  We need corporations to assist billiards just as they have done for bowling.   Bowling has been reborn in the past 10 years; this can happen for pool too!  We need strong leadership and I have seen only failures, for nearly 40 years.  Boy, what I would do to be only 20 years younger and to have the proper group of people to build a tour, just like all of the other major sports have. It is a shame that we do not have this.  Pool players should do what they love, play pool and leave the business aspect to those who know how to run a business with success for everyone, especially the players.  

Barry Behrman
Founder and Promoter
U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships