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.

Friday, September 21, 2012

On MVP leaving Ateneo

The compre of that PLDT print ad I did so long ago. 

On MVP leaving Ateneo
by rick olivares

In 1996, I was working for Avellana & Associates as a senior copywriter. I was wrapping up my stint there and was either headed for J. Walter Thompson or abroad (I chose the latter). There was talk then that we could lose the PLDT account that generated much of Avellana’s revenue. The company had been bought by the Hong Kong based First Pacific Company and rumors were rife that the telecomms company was moving to Saatchi. Nevertheless, I was still on board for a few more JOs (job orders) as we called them. The acquisition was to be made known through among many other things, a print ad.

And I was asked to do it. I was coming off a few vastly successful campaigns with a few ones winning advertising awards. But with PLDT, I was nervous. It was like working on Philippine Airlines before. Read: tough, stressful, and well, stressful.

Now I didn’t really know MVP. I heard of what he accomplished in Hong Kong and Indonesia but it was kind of vague. Our client then, the one I liaised with was Tony Samson, who nowadays aside from writing for Business World and, is with DDB (the ad agency for Gatorade where I currently work -- Mindshare actually).

“A centerspread ad in the major dailies that celebrates the sale and how the five different companies under PLDT – PLDT, Smart, Piltel (now Talk ‘N Text), Infocom (the internet system that was being stabilized), and the Mabuhay Satellite – will work in greater concert to become the class of Asia,” I recall Mr. Samson saying about the creative brief.

The first thing that I normally do is to devour the brief and research as much information as I can so when I come up with a concept it looks informed and well thought out. What popped in my head was the five companies working like the starting five of a basketball team. I sketched a rough layout for a couple of ads and showed it to my art director. We prepared three concepts complete with compres and all (I still have all the designs including many of my thumbnail sketches for ads and storyboards as I also dabbled in illustration).

I was rooting not for the basketball concept but for something else. Now since client is king…. My art director and I came up with several designs. One was a clasp of hands during a huddle that was my favorite. Somehow we ended up with a layout I wasn’t wholly crazy about (there was another execution I favored). But it came out and that it is all that matters. Job done. Billings. Hopefully, client is happy.

I did leave in a few weeks moving into the client side and a marketing job (by then I had done advertising and public relations and marketing I believed would complete the trinity and make me a better person when it comes to work).

Never did I think I’d get to meet MVP until more than a decade later when I first began to write about the Ateneo Blue Eagles for the Ateneo website and later for Smart Gilas Pilipinas during the national team’s initial foray abroad. When I first learned of his being team patron in the early years of the new millennium, I thought back to the basketball-themed print ad of so many years ago. He loved hoops. No wonder he chose that concept.

One time, I found myself in MVP’s office interviewing him for a story for What was supposed to be a 30-minute interview went up to one hour. And what further struck me was he wasn’t late for the interview despite his busy schedule.

There was more for me to be impressed. I wrote him on two separate occasions and I was surprised that each time, he answered my email. Here’s a man who is so busy that I am sure that there are never enough hours in the day yet he took the time to answer a few questions and ideas I had percolating in my head. Wow. Of course, I like to think that the email was pertinent and not trivial.

One time while sitting idly around following a basketball game, I asked him, “Sir, how do you manage your time with all your companies and concerns?”

He smiled and said in a deliberate manner, “Very carefully. Very carefully.”

We both cracked up.

That says something about the man. He just doesn’t dive into things without doing due diligence.

Ironically today, I sat in the office of an Ateneo official talking about schools and their patrons and wondered if we were prepared for MVP leaving one day. When I got home and opened my new Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, I was shocked to read of his “complete and total disengagement from the Ateneo.”

Honestly, the first thing that popped into my head wasn’t the basketball program. Come on. There are more important things in life than basketball. As great as he is for the sports program, I think I value more how he helps school orgs and the facilities. Teaching in Ateneo today, I always tell myself that today’s kids never had it so good. Back in the day, we didn’t have much save for a beautiful campus.

I have known first hand of the problems that keep coming back like a bad itch. This was a long time coming what with differences and scars on various issues that have cropped up over the years. What I told myself upon hearing the news and reading the statement that Dennis Lucindo posted was, “This one is over.”

I understand both sides of the coin and am neither angry with anyone. It is what it is – differences. They happen. They just do.  

There will be no doubt attempts to bridge this and to extend an olive branch to sort this out now or tomorrow. What comes of this I have no idea.

Nevertheless, I am not going to wait. I do want to take the opportunity to thank MVP for all that he’s done for Ateneo (he’s only pulling out of his alma mater and not the country). He has been mighty generous and we should be forever grateful.

While I am sad it has come to this, by nature, I grieve for a moment then move on. I guess living in an unforgiving New York climate does that to you. Unlike my crappy boss who looks for people to blame, I on the other hand am a solutions-oriented person. My Plan A has a Plan B and Plan C and D if possible.

This is what I have been saying, Ateneo. Do we have a Plan B or Plan C to MVP pulling out? Not just for this but also for many other things from us being on the fault line to the traffic that chokes Katipunan Avenue and the eyesore that is SM Blue (the matuwid na daan is nothing more than a clever PR line that at the end of the day is full of crap). Things happen and well, we have to be ready. Ready to move on and at once ready to bridge the gap.

I guess it’s like family. We quarrel. We get upset. Some times, the differences are more than a gap. They are a chasm or the great divide. I have my issues with family as well but at the end of the day, we’re family. We'll patch things up and well, we'll kick back and laugh at our travails and pitfalls. 

So a heartfelt thank you from me for all you’ve done for our school. I like to think of the old tagline for PLDT – “Touching lives.” Yes, that is so.

If this is done as I fear it is (but hope not), I want to quote some lines from Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” that says,

“Must end that work the ides of March begun.
And whether we shall meet again I know not.
Therefore our everlasting farewell take.
Forever and forever, farewell, Cassius!
If we do not meet again, why, we shall smile;
If not, why then, this parting was well made.”

One Big Fight, sir.


  1. It's sad to see him go. I was part of the 2010 graduating batch that he delivered his speech to.

    I was a little upset that the speech was plagiarized, but but looking back I still remain moved by it. The genuine content far outweigh the failure in delivery.

    The man has given so much to our community without getting a thing in return. He provided us with amazing facilities and sponsored so many programs that we would be lacking without.

    It is understandable that The Ateneo is in it's current state of limbo, being tied down by it's roots whilst being a forward thinking institution. Something's eventually going to give.

    I can only hope and pray that their differences be settled because each can do so much through one another.

  2. What will happen to us in the future is uncertain. Do we have any other significant benefactors/patrons who support our school?

  3. Looking at just the basketball angle, although I quite agree that "There are more important things in life than basketball", MVP and his AkTV have done a good job marketing and bringing the NCAA (and his SBC) to the viewing public (but the actual live views in venues is another story). In a way, his failure to bag the coverage of the UAAP, of which Ateneo is very much a part of, was one of his "failed" attempt at "acquiring" or merging an otherwise profitable business endeavor. Currently, the UAAP and Studio 23 present a conflict of interest as it were to his TV and internet business, as well as conflict of positions in other fields and convictions (ones he mentioned in his letter). Coupled with highly visible setbacks --- mining leaks, recent fail in Asian basketball stints, senate "bangayan" which drags his name along, and the ghost that apparently still haunts him, plagiarism (he still mentioned that in his 'parting of ways' letter), I couldn't blame the guy for the outburst "uuwi na lang ako sa HK. Ang gugulo ninyo."

    This isn't a dig at MVP (Ateneo couldn't thank him enough for what he had done for the school; that would forever be etched in stone, and building), but if he were a married guy, he would take something like these --- differences in views and outlooks, moral suasions (yes, pinagsasabihan din tayo ng spouses lol), and relationships that consequently go south --- with more understanding and patience. In short, "wag naman sana masyadong matampuhin".

  4. A few comments, sir, which I think need pondering on:

    1.All of us would agree that we owe a lot to MVP and we thank him for all that he has given to the Ateneo (and we need not count all things that he has given to the school), and Fr. Jett could have perfectly captured everything we feel for him right now: "regret, but respect."

    2.I am part of Batch 2010, and I also thank MVP enough for his words of wisdom... but I would be more inspired if it were his, that even in that little detail, those came from his own experience, his own way of dealing with life, his own way of saying things. I understand my professors (and some of my friends) who brought out the issue... not because it is a little academic detail that has to be scrutinized, but MORE IMPORTANTLY, it reveals his character as a human being (and I would not even go too far in saying that this recent event even revealed something more about him). Small mistake it may be, but it left a feeling of betrayal to those who listened to him, to those whom his words really matter. I also felt sad for MVP during the day that the plagiarized parts were exposed, but I guess Ateneo did the right thing at that point.

    3.I'm a hardcore Blue Eagles fan since 2002, and it would be painful to see another possibly looming Dark Ages, but if this is a consequence for Ateneo standing up for what it believes is right and not bowing down to the whims of a businessman, I'll gladly take it. At least at the end of the day, Ateneo remained to be what it is: a Catholic university that invites people to discourse that leads to better and well thought out decisions. Simply put, the University did not send MVP away (and I believe the Jesuits would welcome him back if he wants to). Rather, it was MVP who split with the Jesuits, citing "irreconcilable differences" which could have been seen as "points for dialogue and agreement."

    4.I'm still thinking about winning our fivepeat, but I guess this is a time for genuine hope. There will be people who will and can shell out for us, we can only pray that they support the basketball program. The Ateneo community, as shown by the games we play, is a community centered on hope, and the challenge is for us to keep the faith and remain hoping that we see the light in the midst of these events.

    5.Despite the separation, perhaps it would be right if MVP would be professional about all his pending decisions concerning Ateneo. He has to at least settle all existing commitments and put a good close to it. Hindi yung "tampong kulangot" na hahatakin niya lahat kasi hindi sinuportahan ang kaniyang business move.

    1. Yup. Thanks for all of this. I agree. I have a rejoinder on this and will write it after the season. Right now, we have a lot of planning to do.

  5. Why did Norman Black reveal that he offered his resignation before the Final Four?

    Of course I understand that he has to stand by his employer, but didn't he realize the impact of making it public. He should have considered what the players may feel when they hear such news; their mentor is willing to leave them at this crucial time.

    I wouldn't even want to think of the consequences. This sucks big time. I WANT A FIVE-PEAT!!

  6. Are the Jesuits ready to part ways with the fruits of the mining industry that destroys the environment?

  7. Are the Jesuits also preparing "talking points" on how to engage the big corporations and their lust for profit and power? Will the Jesuits tell their students not to joint Multinational Corporations whose values are diametrically opposite church teachings?

    Is "criminal" Coca-Cola still being sold inside Ateneo?

    INDIA:Everything Gets Worse With Coca-Cola

    by D. Rajeev, Inter Press Service
    August 21st, 2005

    PLACHIMADA, Kerala - In the end it was the 'generosity' of Coca-Cola in distributing cadmium-laden waste sludge as 'free fertilizer' to the tribal aborigines who live near the beverage giant's bottling plant in this remote Kerala village that proved to be its undoing.

    On Friday, the Kerala State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) ordered the plant shut down to the jubilation of tribal leaders and green activists who had focused more on the 'water mining' activities of the plant rather than its production of toxic cadmium sludge.

    ''One way or another, this plant should be shut down and the management made to pay compensation for destroying our paddy fields, fooling us with fake fertilizer and drying out our wells,'' Paru Amma, an aboriginal woman who lives in this once lush, water-abundant area, told IPS.

    Chairman of the KSPCB, G. Rajmohan, said the closure was ordered because the plant ''does not have adequate waste treatment systems and toxic products from the plant were affecting drinking water in nearby villages'' and that the plant ''has also not provided drinking water in a satisfying manner to local residents''.

    Apparently, the generosity of the Coca-Cola plant was limited to distributing sludge and waste water free and did not extend to providing drinking water to people seriously affected by its operations.

    I suggest the Jesuits should reflect on their relationships with all business entities and not just the mining industry. Check every company/industry that donates or sponsor anything Jesuit. Fair enough?

    To the Jesuit priests, use the link and let's start making more "talking points".

    Please delete this sample solicitation letter to Coke. Coke's value is diametrically opposed to the values of Jesuits.