|At the PBA Season Awards event at Gateway with Maan and the crew.|
Several years ago, I was covering a game by the Ateneo Women’s Volleyball Team at Blue Eagle Gym when this girl went up to me and tapped me on my shoulder. She introduced herself as Maan Panganiban and she asked me if she could also write about the UP Women’s Team. I did recognize her as a UP volleyball player and I said, I would if I had time. I eventually did but not too often as I would like because my work oft had me cover other assignments.
We became friends after that. She would oft come over to say hello or sit beside me during games or special events. During Fr. Martin’s Cup semis, we sat beside one another in the stands talking about hoops even as Ateneo battled National U in a thrilling game in which the Bulldogs won. She was polite in her cheers unlike some other boors in the audience.
When she made TV5, she came over to the pressroom, tapped me on my shoulder, and told me about the news. We celebrated that by sharing menudo and rice (the packed food given to us in the pressroom). When she was unsure of something regarding a team or a player, she would ask me. When she needed tips on the Azkals or Smart Gilas, she would ask. One time, she even went to the house to interview me about the football national team (see the picture below). When I was writing my story about Ray Parks, she was the one who served as a conduit for me and Ray (the story appeared in Rebound).
I cannot say that we were best friends or even barkada. I can’t even claim to know everything and everything about her. But we were friends. Our profession oft brought us in close contact and I tried my best to help her around sporting events and teams.
During the FIBA Asia Champions Challenge Cup, she asked if I could help her get an interview with the Lebanese team (I had become friends with them during a previous tournament). After the championship (where Lebanon won over Iran), as I made my way out of Philsports, she tapped me on my shoulder and said, “Sir Rick, for you.” It was a small saucer-sized cake.
“What’s this for?” I asked.
“That’s for helping me out and being a friend.”
A few weeks ago when I learned of her illness, I texted her and asked her how she was doing. She said she was fine and she said there I was after all this time, still looking out for her.
During the college basketball awards last Saturday, I asked Ray how she was doing and he said she was fine.
This morning, while bedridden with a migraine that has left me weak since Saturday, I spoke with Coach Eric Altamirano who broke the news to me that Maan had passed away. It made me feel worse.
I cannot claim to be the best of friends or even barkada. But we were good friends. Thanks, Maan! Nice knowing ya. If I feel a tap on my shoulder I’ll know you’re there.
Above: With Maan Panganiban at the the UFL launch at Shangri-La. There she was tapping my shoulder and we joked about it. Below: At home being interviewed by Maan and the TV5 crew about the Azkals.