CLEAN SLATE: Why love for sports?

Clean Slate: Moses P Billacura

Sometimes I wondered, why my career path went into sportswriting and later on, into sports management.

It was actually Leonilo “LGC” Claudio, publisher of the defunct Daily San Pedro Express(DSPEX) and two-time president and chairman of the Philippine Press Institute(PPI), who gave me a break.

I’m trying to recall who told me about the opening of a sportswriter’s position at the DSPEX but for sure it came from the campus journalism fraternity.  I think it was Dahlia Corbeta, Theresa Sampaton of the HCDC  Crossroads, Gil Villarejo and Jessie Vero of the UM Collegian.

There I met the Stanford University-educated  and very amiable Michael Dacudao Locsin, our Bureau Chief, UST-educated and The Manila Times veteran Florencio Ranido, Sandy Perez was our military and police beat reporter, manong Jess Ibanez, our Editor, and Neil Bravo was our sports columnist along with Lan Espinosa. Bing Gonzales and Morie Aguilar were our photographers.  Manong Roger Balanza, who years later became City Press Secretary, Andy Rara, who joined ABS-CBN, also wrote for the paper. Manong Lan Daval was our cartoonist.

At that time, DSPEX was also publishing Prensa Zamboanga and Kutawato Express.

Being cub sportswriters, I and Corbeta, Sampaton, Villarejo and Vero were not using the IBM Computers at that time but we were using the old reliable typewriters. Good thing, there was Typing 1 and 2 courses in college.

That sportswriting job also gave my Papang Marcial, who was already retired at that time, a break from paying my college tuition fees.  A week before the exam, I go to sir Nilo and tell him about my upcoming exam and with his baritone voice, calls his secretary Mila, “Milaaaa, ang cheke.”  I was a working student at that time and never left that paper until it closed down.

It is true that a sportswriter’s salary is just enough to make a living and not enough to raise a family at that time, nonetheless, because of our love for sports, many of us stayed with the vocation for awhile until I was the only one left, hehehe.

Then came Butch Ramirez, then sports consultant of Mayor Digong, who gave us a break in sports management and finally, we can afford to buy our own beer and pulutan every Friday at Sage Pizza (used to be located in front of our Edge Davao office), hahahaha. And the rest is history.

Anyway, if you probably ask me what is the best job that I had, it was actually being a sportswriter. That’s it.  And for probably insane reason, even if the pay was low, we just love doing it.  That’s the very reason why, we have to be correspondents for the national papers and do PR work for sports organizations, aron maka afford mig palit ug beer ug pulutan oi, hahaha.

And why people are involved in sports in the first place?

For sports leaders, it was an opportunity to serve the community, to give something back. Such has been the case of many sports leaders who led their various sports associations.

For others, they used their position to further their interest, business interest, actually, to be able to be “humot” to those who are in power, aron maka kuhag contrata.  And I don’t see anything wrong with that.  In this world, it’s a “I scratch your back, I’ll scratch yours”, ana lang.

I’ve seen sports leaders spend their hard-earned money for sports development and many sportswriters know it because we are just a small community. 

That is the very reason that aside from reporting sports news, sportswriters have also become brokers between the private and government sports sectors in the conduct of sports events.

Sports leaders, just a few of them, fortunately are “badlongons”, have been spending their own money for years and years and with partnership with local and national sports agencies, they were able to sustain their sports program.  

That is why we salute those sports leaders who have been helping in the development of the sports that they so love.  And it is that very reason that many of them were never replaced as regional directors or regional presidents because of their love and dedication to the sport.  Hangtod na lang nangamatay sila like Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas regional director Regino “Boy” Cua, the godfather of amateur basketball development in the region, whose position is now well taken cared of by Glenn Escandor of The Royal Mandaya Hotel.

Their spouses were even complaining, “Ga sige rag gastos, wa may kita diha”. That is really true.  And yet they keep doing it. Crazy isn’t it? 

Why are we in sports?  Is it for prestige? Gusto mo sikat? “Panginabuhi”? For additional income?  Too many reasons.

In the beginning, it was actually true love for sport.

And eventually, it led to other opportunities.  Opportunities that either made them or broke them.  Ang uban, nadaut ang ngalan sa ilang pamilya, tungod sa kwarta.   Ngano?  Big funding can sometimes tempt you to do what is wrong and if you do that right thing, and your name will be remembered for all time.  Gugma versus kwarta, pag pili asa ka?

Again, in the beginning it was pure love.

Let us keep it that way.  To all lovers of sports, Happy Valentine’s Day!