Last year, I shared that the highlight of an otherwise bad year for me was finally finishing the book “Basketball, Beyond Passion” for Alex Wang.
The book reflects the growth of a social club of basketball lovers and metamorphosed into a medium for Alex to extend a helping hand to a lot of young and old cagers the past 25 years.
I was the lead writer, just as I was in the first book project I got involved with, “The Big Difference”, an auto biography of the country’s greatest cager, Caloy Loyzaga. It was his son ex-PBA player Chito Loyzaga, an old friend of mine who requested if I can help him out with the book “The Big Difference” as his tribute to his dad.
Between these two book projects, the Loyzaga book entailed more difficulties for sure. In fact, had Caloy not decide to take a vacation from Australia, here in the country at the time that Chito was serving as a commissioner of the Philippine Sports Commission and I was one of his two consultants with Nino Sinco, whose daughter photographer Anna Sofia was also involved, chances are, the book project would not have pushed through.
With Caloy here with his family, except for Joey and sister Princess, I told Chito we could do the book project as the principal interviewee was here.
I came up with the book concept as the contents and the flow, then came up with a list of veteran writers to co-author the book with me, including Quinito Henson, Beth Celis, Tessa Jazmines, Ignacio Dee and Henry Liao. Fred Nasiad, my partner for Wang’s book, did the research, while the late Albert Almendralejo worked on the admin side of the project.
We also spent a lot of time with the Loyzaga family, especially with Caloy and Chito, wife Vicky, and daughter Bing. I did three chapters plus several short anecdotes from people who personally knew Caloy.
I remember promising Vicky that we will finish the book while everyone was still in this physical world, and we did, launching it in 2013 at San Beda College, Caloy’s alma mater. Caloy left this world early 2016.
I also got involved in Baby Dalupan’s book, “The Maestro”, but only in the pre- planning side. My biggest contribution was to suggest that Tim Cone does the foreword as he had the distinction of breaking Baby’s record of PBA titles.
On the other hand, the book for Alex, being a mini-book project only, was supposedly much easier and we could have finished it earlier, if not for the COVID pandemic, limiting our in-person meetings and interviews and the fact I underwent my quadruple bypass heart operation early March last year, though I did work on the book while recuperating at the house.
I also remember telling my doctors before the operation that they should not allow me to die as I still had to finish a book and maybe that helped me survive, too.
What added also to the difficulties in writing Alex’s book was his being a very sociable person that every time we meet at Punta resto bar in Mandaluyong, he would also invite other people not necessarily connected with the book. I had to tell him to do one-on-one or only with another co-writer in Danny Simon.
This project gave me the opportunity to touch base with former basketball personalities, including ex-PBA player Fritz Gaston, whose national women’s team then received a lot of assistance from Alex, same with the likes of PBA gunners Ato Tolentino, Vergel Meneses, Vince Hizon, to current players Robert Herndon and Allein Maliksi. They all gave their recollection of Alex as a basketball patron.
One difference in this book is the fact I asked Alex’s family, wife Joy and his kids, to write something on Alex, and the pieces came out beautifully.
And Alex ended up reading his book only when Fred finished the layout and we had it printed finally, launching it late December last year. One good thing, Alex agreed to sell his book but only if all proceeds go to the typhoon victims in the South.
Fritz and I took the challenge and so far, we are in target with at least P30,000 to be raised, including a personal donation from Alex.
By the way, allow me to congratulate me and my wife Marissa as we celebrate our 39th blissful and otherwise wedding anniversary on January 15, the products of such union include our three kids, JM, Janis, and Jemi, all grownups now, grandkid Livi, and a place of our own.
Not bad for a struggling sportswriter more than four decades ago.