Today is my special day, not because I’m celebrating my birthday in advance, but because I’m turning another leaf in my sports writing career.
Newspapering is my first love and for some reason, there’s something about a newspaper that caught my fancy.
Let me start with the smell of an ink, newspaper ink as what my good friend and long-time, but more senior colleague Ignacio Dy describes.
I was a working student at Lyceum when I began my “newspaper” career. After my afternoon classes, I would tread the Intramuros Golf Club at night all the way to the Port Area, where the Kagitingan Printing Press, the official printer of the Manila Standard, is located.
Before typewriters and later on desktop computers, I usually had a dipper in my hand to put ink on the offset press before the printing of the first edition of the Manila Standard. I did the dirty job, so to speak, working with the pressmen, printers, jugglers and those in charge of the print production of the newspaper.
It was like a gateway to heaven as I would sneak around the editorial section to see sports editor Mr. Tony Siddayao’s printed layout of the sports page and I would be so excited seeing the three-page sports section that will come out the next day.
For three years, I would work there. I must say the mental toughness and the resolve needed in the sportswriting business, was somewhat developed there. I’d like to thank Mr. Redentor Gancia for setting my path to my destination.
I had a brief stint with the Manila Standard’s sports section, then under Bert Cuevas, but got the biggest break of my career when I was recruited by People’s Tonight Sports, headed by Ed Andaya.
And the rest was history.
After nine years in the Journal Group, I became a journeyman, having stints with Bandera Sports of Frederick Nasiad, Manila Standard of Riera Mallari, GMA News Online of Dominic Menor and Jon Perez, TV5 InterAksyon of Jaemark Tordecilla, Mikkel Bolante, Roby Alampay and Chuchay Fernandez, BusinessWorld of Okiks Baltazar, the Daily Tribune of Aldrin Cardona, who allowed me to use a pen name, FOX Sports Philippines of Jude Turcuato, James Meneses and Kapil Chetri and now, PBA Rush with Sienna Olaso, Miguel Vea and Mico Halili. I will be forever grateful to these people.
Since I’m celebrating 23 years in the business, allow me to list down the 23 sports personalities, who helped shape up my sportswriting career.
1. NBA star Grant Hill’s visit to Manila -- Unforgettable moment.
2. Four-time MVP Alvin Patrimonio -- A hardcourt idol, covering him was a surreal feeling.
3. GM Rogelio Antonio -- My two-year coverage of chess won’t be complete without him.
4. Wang Zhi Zhi -- It was a tall order indeed, interviewing one of Chinese basketball’s all-time greats
5. Tim Cone -- When this outspoken mentor starts the conversation, you listen.
6. NBA star Damian Lillard -- We didn’t come to see him perform at the warmup line, but talking to him was food for thought.
7. Robert Jaworski -- I’m still having goosebumps each time I talk to him. By the way, I’m a Crispa fan.
8. Yeng Guiao -- Always such a joy to have him during interviews.
9. Jojo Lastimosa -- When Jolas speaks, make sure you’ll always take notes as you don’t want to miss a thing.
10. Eight-division World Boxing Champ Manny Pacquiao -- His presence is more than enough to warm your day.
11. Four-time MVP Mon Fernandez -- Nice to share nostalgic moments with El Presidente
12. Tennis sensation Katharina Lehnert -- Who doesn’t want to get near her?
13. Rubilen Amit -- She’s somebody who knows how to play with cameras on.
14. 3-Time PBA champion Ryan Gregorio -- Talking about a coach who’s telegenic, this man can also speak his mind.
15. Coach Tab Baldwin -- His rich knowledge in the game is worth emulating.
16. Many-time All-Defensive member Marc Pingris -- Never a dull moment.
17. Former PBA MVP Atoy Co -- Candid. Life of the party.
18. Rain or Shine team owner Raymond Yu -- Treating his team like family.
19. Former MVP Allan Caidic -- Talks with a lot of sense using his rich basketball experience.
20. Only PBA Rookie/MVP Benjie Paras -- Provides comic relief, but strikes a balance with serious topics.
21. Many-time All-Defensive member Jerry Codiñera -- I love his honesty more than I love his game.
22. 9-time PBA champion coach Jong Uichico -- Sometimes, you just need to pick his brain.
23. Chot Reyes -- Great coaches always find themselves back in the big big league. He truly belongs in the PBA.
To all those who have been a part of my 23-year journey, many thanks. And to those who have just joined me, please stay the course.