After a roller-coaster ride with Mahindra last year during the franchise’s first season in the PBA, former pro Michael Burtscher now finds himself playing in a different arena.
From the hardcourt where he used to bang bodies and grab rebounds, the 6-foot-4 Fil-Swiss is now venturing into video and photography.
Burtscher, a first-round selection of Alaska during the 2009 PBA Draft, admitted that life has taken a different turn since Mahindra bought out his contract early this year after a long-drawn dispute with management.
He only played a total of 11 games in all of last season, averaging just 2.45 points and 1.73 rebounds before an injury forced him to miss the rest of Mahindra’s first year in the PBA.
But he’d rather not talk about it as he moves on with his new life outside the basketball court.
Today, the well-built former PBA forward is now using photography in a way to help less-fortunate kids.
Just a few days ago, Burtscher took the time to be with some of his friends and take a trip to Capas, Tarlac for an outreach as they try to help one mountain tribe.
“I always had a soft spot for kids and used to do charity during Christmas time with the Project Pearl Foundation and just trying to help in general where I can,” Burtscher said when FOX Sports got in touch with him on Friday.
“This outreach was a bit different because it was my friend’s birthday and she wanted to celebrate it by helping out this one mountain tribe,” he continued.
“I was told that they had no clean water and nobody in that town has a higher education than Grade 4. The kids don’t have school supplies and need to walk more than 7 kilometers to school everyday from their town, crossing the lahar field and then back again after school.”
Burtscher said what breaks his heart was the story he learned from some kids there that at times, they get carried away by the strong water current whenever they try to cross the river as going to school.
Armed with a camera, Burtscher, accompanied his 3 other friends Benji Sadac, Angela Guiliana Margaritelli and the Camilla Mengullo, who encouraged them to join her in this mission to help.
After seeing the plight of the mountain tribe from Capas, in Sitio Dalig, Barangay Santa Juliana, Crow Valley Military Reserve, Burtscher gamely took pictures and recorded the things he saw from there.
Burtscher came up with an edited video, which he has posted at his personal Facebook account to show to everyone how they can help the people from that barangay in Capas, Tarlac.
“I wanted to go and help them out by making a small video of it because I got into photography and especially aerial,” he said.
“The whole town just captured my heart, especially the kids because they are just so happy even though they barely have anything,” continued the 31-year-old Burtscher.
The soft-spoken Fil-Swiss forward, who won a championship with San Miguel Beer in the 2013 ABL season, said he actually gained more from that trip.
“I think I gained more from that outreach so I decided to dedicate myself to this tribe and share to the people how they live up there by my videos and pictures,” said the 6th overall pick in the 2009 PBA Draft.
“It’s just nice to be a blessing and know that you can have a big impact on other people’s lives.”
Burtscher said through the help of some generous people, kids from that barangay in Tarlac already have fresh, running water to drink, 4 goats and school supplies that will be enough for a year.
“In return, they gave us something far more worth than money, they gave us genuine smiles, laughter and sincere appreciation. They reminded us on how to appreciate on the things we have and that being happy doesn’t come from material things,” shared Burtscher.
Burtscher said the mission doesn’t stop. In fact, he is inviting people to join him and his friends by supporting the mountain tribe through finances or in kind as they continue their outreach mission and help create positive change in the lives of the children in Capas, Tarlac. – By Richard Dy
Follow this writer on Twitter: @richava