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, May 15, 2016

Today is the 10th Anniversary of Bleachers Brew

Today is the 10th Anniversary of Bleachers Brew
by rick olivares

Today, May 15, is the 10th anniversary of my column that comes out every Monday (although there are weeks when I write thrice a week) in Business Mirror and blog titled, Bleachers Brew.  I named it such from an amalgam of two things — the section of a sports arena where I once used to sit quite a lot during my younger days while watching hoops, and the late great jazz musician Miles Davis’ album, “Bitches Brew” that I absolutely love. 

However, I just want to clarify that May 15, 2006 isn’t my first stab at local journalism. While I was a college junior in 1988, I began writing for this overseas newspaper that was published by the owners of the Times Journal called, “News Today.” I was tasked to cover the Philippine Amateur Basketball League or PABL (that eventually became the Philippine Basketball League). It’s incredible because when I look at the boxscores of those first games that I covered, many of those players are now into coaching — Edgar Macaraya, Dindo Pumaren, Tony dela Cerna, Adonis Tierra, Jong Uichico, and Joey Guanio to name a few.

One of my very first sports stories circa 1988!
That was a time when as a newbie, I had to wait in line to use the phone at the old Ultra or Rizal Memorial Coliseum to dictate my story to my editor. If the story wasn’t time bound, I typed it on — what else -- a typewriter and physically brought it over to the office. That was how it was done. You pounded the beat and made phone calls.  Life is much easier with the internet and cellular technology isn’t it?

By the early 1990s, while working at an advertising agency, I was a frequent contributor for the Philippine Daily Inquirer where my aunts Belinda Olivares-Cunanan and Ninez Cacho-Olivares were columnists (I also had many other relatives also work in print, radio, and television media). I wrote about music, comic books, foreign ambassadors, the best flea markets in Manila, and more. By the mid-90s, my feature writing slowed greatly down due to heavy workload but once in a while, I'd ghost write columns and features as part of my doing extra work in my agency’s public relations group (this was hardcore PR). So it wasn’t until May 2006 that I made my eventual return especially after a sojourn abroad.

The column and blog have both been very very good for me these past 10 years. In that span of time, I have been able to travel the world covering a variety of sports; serve as media officer for a number of sports teams, brands, and organizations; work as a commentator and guest analyst on a number of television and web-based shows; write for various publications and websites both here and abroad; and pen quite a few books that I never thought I’d get to do in my life. I’ve been invited to numerous fora and seminars to give lectures and talks. I was even invited to give a seminar on media relations for an official FIFA coaching course! Imagine that! During the course of these past 10 years, I’ve fought with sports officials and sports bodies, denied access, and threatened with lawsuits and physical harm. They say that it is you earn your badge when you experience the latter one. Rest assured, it isn’t funny. However, I am not backing down.

Some of my articles from the Philippine Daily Inquirer back in the early 1990s.

Sportswriting has even opened more doors and that is incredible.

Over 560 columns for Business Mirror (not counting the many many reports and articles that I wrote on other days) later, here are in no particular order are 10 of the best stories, scoops, arcs, reporting, and exposes I have done in the past decade on Bleachers Brew.

Fighting the Residency Rules — In a series of articles, I debunked the UAAP’s so-called theory of rampant piracy while going to the senate three times to present proof, data, and testimony on why these rules are evil and unconstitutional. Much of the data and materials was used by Sen. Pia Cayetano in passing the Student-Athletes Protection Act.

Helping knock out a former Philippine Football Federation president - In my first go around with this, I got banned for reporting surrounding irregularities and misuse of monies by a former president. I was somewhat disillusioned as it was my first time to experience this until another cache of even bigger proof got me back in the fight. I wrote a series of even more damning articles while releasing audio recordings of meetings and admissions that helped in his eventual KO.

The cheating at PCU - This one was done with some NCAA officials. I was working at Solar Sports at that time and did a simultaneous release of the identity switching on Sports Desk and in Business Mirror. Some people wrote about the expose and said my story was untrue. Two days later, the story was proven correct. 

The UAAP Juniors Football Championship tie-breaker - In 2010, both the high school football teams of Ateneo and FEU were tied heading into the finals. However, because of its superior goals for  quotient, they — a quirk of the UAAP rules — earned a twice to beat advantage. FEU cried foul and said that regardless of a superior goals for quotient, the finals should be a best of three. I did my research and found out that two years earlier, it was the two teams in a similar situation although it was in the seniors division with FEU coming away with the advantage because of the goals for advantage. The league quickly reversed itself. Ateneo took the next game and the title.

Japeth Aguilar not signing with Burger King - I got this hot tip about Japeth Aguilar not wanting to play in the PBA but instead concentrate on the national team. My BM EIC called up Burger King’s PBA rep to confirm but he had zero idea about Aguilar’s decision. We went on ahead with the story then boom. All sorts of controversy exploded.

Writing strong commentary against the racist attacks on the Azkals — Having previously lived and worked abroad, I experienced racism in different ways. When some folks, friends too, both in media and sports took shots at the Azkals not being Filipino, I wrote some pretty strong commentary that debunked them. End of friendships. That’s fine.

Pacquiao vs De La Hoya and Pacquiao vs Mayweather. Nailed the pre-fight predictions to the manner of how it was fought all the way to the outcome including what round it would end. 

Early coverage of Smart Gilas Pilipinas and the Azkals — This was truly one of the most enjoyable full-court coverages I’ve done. Wall-to-wall stories, reports, and anecdotes of those early years when very few of us in media were covering them.

The NU Bulldogs series - Even as a kid, the Bulldogs were my second fave team after my alma mater, Ateneo de Manila. My neighbour happened to be the late NU coach Sonny Paguia and he would oft bring his team to his nifty carinderia where he served the best adobo and menudo. This was where I got to meet the likes of Cris Bolado and Danny Ildefonso. Later, I began writing about them in a series of columns about their pre-Henry Sy days right up to their acquisition that changed college sports as we know it.

Here's the cover of that Miles Davis album!
I never thought I’d get to be a journo. When I was writing for the various Ateneo newspaper, The Eaglet (in grade school), Hi-Lites (in high school), and The Guidon (during college), I thought that was it. I used to buy Sports Flash, Atlast Sports Weekly, Sport and other local sports magazines every week. I would cut out columns from Al Mendoza, Recah Trinidad, Tessa Jazmines, Rhea Navarro, Jun Lomibao, Henry Liao, Ding Marcelo, Tito Talao, Manolo Iñigo, Quinito Henson, Ronnie Nathanielzs etc. and put them in a scrapbook. I loved listening to the late Pinggoy Pengson, Emy Arcilla, Joe Cantada do their colorful commentary. I still have all the original newspapers from those days in EDSA in 1986. 

As for my blog of the same name, since I began keep stats in 2007, it has garnered over 6.2 million hits and reads.

On this 10th anniversary of Bleachers Brew, I just want to thank a great many people who helped along the way. In no particular order: Mai Ventura, Jun Lomibao and Ricky Alegre, Henry Liao, Vlad Bunoan, Ken Ti and Mike Yu, Dino Maragay, Ryan Songalia, Tessa Jazmines and Rhea Navarro, Chito Salud, Vanni De Sequera, Nonong Araneta and the PFF, Dan Palami, Noli Eala, Roger Gorayeb, Ricky Palou, Aris Caslib, Tita Bel Cunanan, Randy Roxas and Vince Santos, Santi Araneta and the UFL, Fabilioh, PBA, Solar Sports, GroupM/Mindshare/Pepsico, Chot Reyes, Sid Ventura, Sonny Paguia, Eric Altamirano, Alex Compton, Cathy Nazareno, Bob Guerrero, Craig Burrows, Ateneo de Manila University, National University, University of the East, Noel Zarate, Jinno Rufino, Ariel Vanguardia, Rely San Agustin, Jude Turcuato, Joeu Guillermo, Raffy Villavicencio, Dave Dualan, Philip Sison, Al Panlilio and the Meralco Bolts, Alaska Aces, Tim Cone, Paolo and Luigi Trillo, Norman Black, Louie Alas, Letran, Bernie Atienza, Tonyboy Liao, Mozzy Ravena, Joey Romasanta and the POC, Jolly Gomez and the PSC, Liverpool Football Club, Standard Chartered, Ambassador Asif Ahmad, Fred Uytengsu, Manny Pangilinan, Victor Cui, Loren Mack and the One FC, and if I am forgetting anyone, am sorry. Am getting old. But to get to work with many of these people who I used to watch as a kid in the bleachers section — it is so unreal! And of course, to the folks who have taken the time to read me all these years. My colleagues in media -- you know who you are! And of course, to the folks who have taken the time to read me all these years.

Here’s to the next! 
Some stuff from the Ateneo newspapers: The Guidon, the Eaglet, and Hi-Lites.


Since I came back as a sportswriter, here's where I have written and contributed:

PBA Life 
Business Mirror
South China Morning Post
Philippines Free Press 
FHM Philippines
NBA Tower Sports
Men’s Health
Homestyle - interior design
Football Philippines


  1. Congratulations in the Divine Will!

    You should bring back interviews, video most especially, with various personalities in different schools participating in all sports, women and men.

    Another 10 years of blessings.

    Btw, respect all opinions. Dont imagine that all adversarial comments are green.

    1. Thanks for the message. No, I do not get too many adversarial comments from that side. I think even they have asked to reprint some of my articles for official school publications. Will try to bring back the video stuff! Thanks for the suggestion! Cheers!

  2. Was drawn to Bleacher's Brew because you had (and still have, when you write them) the best Azkals-related articles. Stayed because of your Blue Eagles article, and your articles that paint the human side of the country's athletes that we've come to know and love/hate. The occasional blind item articles also adds a bit more spice.

    1. Why thank you for that. Yeah, I do receive quite a lot of inquiries why I don't write about the Azkals anymore. I wish I did have the time. I'll give it a shot though. Thank you for your message and for reading all these years. Appreciate it.