Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

It's so cool to be a part of Philippines

With NBA superstar Luc Longley and the Bulletin's Tina Maralit and Coach Jude Roque.

I have to thank my dad for bringing me to a couple of Golden State Warriors games. And then there was my grandfather who rooted for the Philadelphia 76ers and passed on to me not just a love for baseball but also basketball. Those are treasured memories that I always look fondly back on.

As a kid, I read Stars and Stripes, the New York Times, and Sports Illustrated to catch up on things NBA. With not much material available back here in the Philippines, I read the columns of Quinito Henson and Henry Liao. I would cut out their columns on the NBA and put them in a binder along with all the other NBA info I could get my hands on. Later on, when Mr. Liao asked me to contribute to Tower Sports NBA, I was stoked! Imagine that.

I watched NBA on GMA and frequented the house of my classmate, Gary Villanueva, who had a treasure trove of videotapes of NBA games and All-Star Games. I mangled copies of SI in the Ateneo library (I am sorry!!!!) for pics of Dr. J and Larry Bird. 

While abroad, I watched as many NBA games as I could. With my workplace two blocks away from the NBA headquarters along Fifth Avenue, I was a frequent visitor of the NBA Store. One time, they even put on display all of Michael Jordan’s championship rings and paraphernalia and from a die-hard Chicago Bulls fan, that was nirvana for a day. I'd go to Rucker Park to watch hoops and I'd ball at West 4th, this chinky-eyed Flip (as they called Filipinos) attempting lob passes to these cats who would defy gravity. The first time I successfully threw up one for a slam, I nearly ran to the sideline to place a call to my friend Gino to tell him of what I've done. To rebound for Manu Ginobili at the Continental Airlines Arena was and will always remain priceless.

I was never supposed to come back to the Philippines. But I did on vacation. And so I stayed and had to eventually seek out work and by default, I became a writer. I found it amusing that when I applied for the marketing manager position at Solar Sports (yes, I did get it), my old classmate Ralph Roy wondered aloud, “Don’t you write?” Well, I did, for the Guidon and occasionally contributed to the Philippine Daily Inquirer. But I always thought of myself as an advertising man. When I did leave Solar to go freelance, I have to admit that was a huge gamble because it was freelance what -- writing? What the heck did I know?

And yet it all worked out. Since I returned, I have been writing about the Ateneo Blue Eagles for and I have to admit that Atenean audience really helped me advance a writing career so much that I went back into public relations. Back in my early advertising days, I would oft be asked to also do extra work with our PR department for a variety of clients (mostly political that caused me to cringe conjuring shit for all these corrupt bastards). Why they asked me to do that I have no clue to this day. I figure they thought that I could do it. But I have digressed.

Career? I used to stalk Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Joe Quesada outside the comic book giant’s Park Avenue offices. I also once attended a workshop given by the New York Times. Each time I hoped and hoped and hoped some more to get in. However, it is a dog-eat-dog industry and Lady Luck never smiled on me. I do have though, a letter from the Times' great columnist George Vescey about a column I wrote and one he complimented as "one that could have only been written by a New Yorker." Priceless. 

But since there’s been Business Mirror (yes, there’s that indie feel), Maxim, Philippines Free Press, Men’s Health, Rebound (the success story out of the Sportsnation class I had), the Guidon (a second time around as adviser for the sports staff), interkasyon, Football Philippines, and a bunch of others. Because of this, I've been able to interview players and coaches from Real Madrid and Liverpool. I've been able to cover Smart Gilas in its infancy.  To be granted all access to the Alaska Aces locker room. To cover the Ateneo Blue Eagles like no one else has done before. And now, there’s Philippines.

My dad was once a prominent figure in the local music scene and every time he would come out in the papers or on television, we would get a copy and tape his appearances. Little did I know I'd get a taste of it as well. I keep copies of every publication and then some where I contribute. I’m on my sixth year of writing professionally and I still get the same kick out of seeing something of mine printed or read by others. To read a press release and see my name in there, it’s like, ‘Hey, am I not the one who usually sends out this stuff? And now I’m in there.” I must have done something good in my life. And I never fail to offer a prayer of thanks because all of these things are fantastic blessings for someone like me.

I feel giddy and sometimes, I stop myself to exclaim, “Holy, cats, how did I get this done?” And now to chip in a weekly column at Philippines alongside guys like Quinito Henson and Bill Velasco – all I can say, “Holy, cats, dad. Can you believe this?” I'm at a launch of Philippines not as a journo but as someone who is a part of the site. I'm standing next to Luc Longley (I got his autograph a long time ago in Chicago) and he's saying, "Good luck writing about the NBA, mate." I wish I still had my poster where I got the entire '95-'96 Bulls team to sign on. I lost that during Ondoy along with much of my life's savings and collections. But move on I have to more blessings.

Now after I finish my long-delayed book ‘Turn on the Bright Lights’, I’ve got two more writing gigs that I hope to tick off my bucket list and that’s to write for the New York Times and Marvel Comics. It sounds far-fetched. But who knows? and my other gigs never seemed likely seven years ago.

I’m still under the table and dreaming.

From the column of Quinito Henson in the Philippine Star.

Sean Anthony and I became friends during the early days of Smart Gilas Pilipinas. During his rookie year in the PBA, I had a chat with him about holding on to his confidence and working hard. Glad to see where he's at now. Sean will also be contributing to the Philippines.

Best interviews with NBA players I've done: Manu Ginobili (in New Jersey); LeBron James, Darius Miles, Kevin Garnett and Steve Nash (in New York); Hedo Turkoglu and Keyon Dooling (in Macau); Chris Webber, Gilbert Arenas, Gary Payton, Glen Rice, BJ Armstrong, AC Green, Vlade Divac, and Dominique Wilkins (in Manila). 


  1. Way to go Rick! For someone like me who barely gets to watch the NBA games, reading about the games is quite important. Philippines is a great idea - great that it will start , I presume, with the play-offs.

    Good luck with the book. I look forward to reading it.

    Good to bump into you at the AFL yesterday. "Slow-mo" division - ha ha!

  2. Looking forward to writing for it. And my name being mentioned by the Dean? Priceless. Hehe. Here's to a great one sir Rick.