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.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The coffee table book on the Ateneo Five-peat is out

In the past few weeks, I largely skimmed through the email exchanges among the people (you know who you are) who put together the coffee table book, Five: A Tribute to Excellence, that is a story on Ateneo’s five-peat. As soon as I was done, I dived back into my other jobs.

It really is difficult trying to juggle five jobs; hence, I have no life.

Last night we had dinner at the Pacific Plaza home of Arben Santos to discuss the book launch this Friday at the Ayala Museum. I had a lot on my mind yesterday – the report that Ton Gatmaitan and I are preparing for our client at Gatorade/Pepsi, the numerous shoots I have to oversee for some video work, the pieces I have to finish for FHM Philippines and, and well my son (who is dealing with the trauma of watching his grandfather literally pass away in his arms). Then I was thinking of my longtime boss who recently passed away, Meckoy Quiogue (at Studio 23 and GroupM). I mean, how do you process all of that?

I walked into Tito Arben’s home and immediately put everything in the back of my mind. It was then when I first saw the hard cover coffee table book of Five. I slowly went through all the pages after which I gave him a huge hug. I felt the tears well in my eyes (and to think I held back during the Mass my company sponsored for Boss Meckoy).

To be very honest, I wish I wrote the book better. It is not as detailed as The 18th Banner that I penned about the Blue Eagles’ Season 71 championship season. That one was written as the season went by and contained many anecdotes about that year. This one was written seven months after it happened and memories tend to wane. There were things I wanted to write about but couldn’t due to time or other reasons.

Caught between work and the book, I struggled. There were days when I felt it and days when I didn’t. I have mentioned that to Tito Arben and the rest of the crew working on the book. Well, it’s like playing a basketball game where things do not go according to plan. You just have to catch up and do your best.

There were problems regarding time constraints and the availability of people to interview. Not to mention my juggling all my work. I also had to gloss over some stuff.

But seeing the book last night. I felt really happy and was beaming all the way from BGC going home. I couldn’t sleep right away as I leafed through the pages.

Imagine this. Back in my school days I would listen to my dad, my uncles, and older cousins talk about the Blue Eagles, NCAA basketball, and a little later, UAAP basketball (in between politics and family matters).

I would watch the games held at the old Loyola Center (now the Blue Eagle Gym) while waiting for the driver to pick me up. I couldn’t afford to get inside so I would peek through the grated gates where I didn’t see much. The biggest thrill back then for me was having Steve Watson give me a high five after a win. Steve was and still is one of my favorite Blue Eagles.

I am a child of both the First Dark Age (the second came in the 1990s) and the first title years in the UAAP (they are my batchmates). I would watch and never miss a game (including the juniors). I would ready everything that was written about them back then and there wasn’t much.

Now, it’s really amazing that I work with people I only watched, read, and saw from afar. To be working with a legendary coach like Ato Badolato in the National Basketball Training Center (with two other people who I immensely admire in Eric Altamirano and Alex Compton) is one. I love listening to his stories and can do so all day. Sometimes, I can’t believe I am in the same press room as guys like the Philippine Star’s Nelson Beltran, Tempo’s Tito Talao, columnists Eddie Alinea, Tessa Jazmines, Quinito Henson, and Bill Velasco to name but a few. I can’t believe that I’m covering MMA abroad with Anthony Suntay who has become a very good friend and confidant. To be given access to athletes and teams from not only Ateneo but to NU, UE, Alaska, San Sebastian, Letran, Perpetual Help, JRU, Adamson, Gilas, the Azkals and a whole lot more… there isn’t a day when I do not thank the Man Above for all of this.

Even after doing this professionally since 2006, I still have to pinch myself and rub my eyes to see if all this is really happening.

My eldest son was recently named in Ateneo as one of its most promising writers and that is something I am extremely proud of. It looks like he is following my route – advertising, writing, and teaching (he won’t be going through the marketing route that I also love to do). Oh, teaching. I wish I was this semester but I am not. It really is heartwarming to hear students ask what day and time I am teaching only I am not this sem. I hope that maybe in the second sem.

I have deviated… the book. So I gave a copy to my eldest son and my dad. I wrote a dedication for my parents and thanked them for sending me to Ateneo. To be able to send my kids there as well is probably one of my best achievements. That’s an offshoot of my only goal in life – to provide for my children by helping them get a good education and to nurture them for the next stage in life. If I make money or receive something else on my way then I am grateful. But my children are my life. That’s why I work five jobs to provide for them.

To see the book Five on my son’s book shelf as well as on my dad’s bedside table (he has not put the book down yet) is good enough for me.

When my batch (Jun Reyes, Jay Gayoso, Joseph Canlas, Alex Araneta, Jet Nieto, and Robbie Tanjuatco) moved up to the seniors division along with Len Mumar (from LSGH), I knew we were going to win a championship or two (or even three). That became a reality when Eric Reyes, Danny Francisco, and Olsen Racela moved up as well.

When Joe Lipa became head coach, for me, it was like winning a championship. We came close but the seeds he along with others sowed would bear fruit.

When Norman Black became head coach, I got that feeling again. More so when Greg Slaughter (who I had become very good friends with during our time in Smart Gilas) transferred from Cebu.

Then there was Kiefer. I have been friends with the Ravenas even before Bong and Mozzy got married. Imagine that. I was friends with Bong back when he was with UE (we even became neighbors).

Tomorrow, Thursday, we record and upload the very first episode of Blue Eagle 40. It’s a weekly video show on that will also be posted on YouTube, Vimeo and wherever on all things Ateneo sports.

Bo Perasol will be the very first guest on the show that is patterned after those late night US talk shows. Then we’ll have the Ateneo Women’s Volleyball Team.

I’ll also show the book Five.

If you told me 25 years ago that I’d be doing this I would have never believed you. But reality, imperfections aside, is good. And I am and will always be grateful.

Good to see some press releases in the major dailies: Inquirer and Star

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