Bienvenido Marañon said he is very thankful for the many opportunities presented to him at Ceres-Negros FC. (Ceres-Negros FC website)

A STEADY and notable fixture in the local club football scene in the past half decade, Spanish striker Bienvenido Marañon said he is very thankful for the many opportunities presented to him at Ceres-Negros FC, which unfortunately this week announced that it is talks to sell the franchise and is set to exit the Philippines Football League (PFL).

Joined the “Busmen” in 2015, Mr. Marañon, 34, has been a key contributor for the club since, helping Ceres dominate the PFL where it is the three-time defending league champion.

This is apart from the many memorable performances he had, and victories he was part of, with the team in various international competitions.

For him, his stay with Ceres has been mutually beneficial as it also did a lot in helping him further chart a steady professional career in football.

“I’m very grateful to our boss (Leo Rey Yanson), also to Ceres. I didn’t expect that everybody will know me but after these few years especially to be in Ceres, everything was getting better every single year until right now that everybody know me,” said Mr. Marañon in the recent episode of Tiebreaker Vods’ CPT Crossover podcast, where he and teammate OJ Porteria were guests.

“We play a lot of games and that for me is nice especially when we come from the Philippines. They say that we are the best team in Southeast Asia and I’m lucky to be part of this team,” he added.

Last year was pretty solid for Mr. Marañon and the Busmen that had them winning a double locally, taking the PFL league title and the Copa Paulino Alcantara.

They also played in continental tournaments in 2019, competing in the preliminary stage of the AFC Champions League as well as in the AFC Cup where they reached the ASEAN Zone semifinals.

In 2020, Ceres got off to a strong start, making it all the way to the playoff round of the AFC Champions League. In the AFC Cup it is in good standing with seven points in Group G built on a record of two victories and a draw.

Then came the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, which Mr. Marañon said really disrupted everything for them and something he laments.

Making it more regretful for him was the fact that they were angling for another great run for the rest of the year, anchored on what he described as one of the best teams for Ceres.

“You know why I’m very sad at this time? I’m very sad because the team this year that Ceres have for me is one of the best teams that we have ever had. Now this year, we are playing really good, we start really good. I have too much confidence in this team,” he said.

The woes continued for Ceres after it announced on Wednesday that it was in the process of talking to investors who will be taking over the management and ownership of the club in preparation for the PFL and the resumption of the AFC Cup.

It cited as one of the reasons the financial toll that COVID-19 has had on the team, making it really hard to maintain a competitive squad.

Ceres though assured that it is doing everything it can to help in the smooth transition to the new owners even as the Philippine Football Federation said the spot of Ceres in the ongoing AFC Cup will not be affected with the change of ownership.

Moving forward as the football community awaits for activities to resume on a wider scale, Mr. Marañon is hoping that gains in football would be sustained to further the growth of the sport in the country.

Among the things he wants to see, he said, is introducing football to kids so as to develop in them the love for the sport at an early stage.

“We have to start [with] the kids. I’m sure I tell you if we start from the kids, after a few years I’m sure that the football will be the same level like basketball here,” he said. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo