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.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Menudo, hi-jinks with Cris Bolado

Menudo, hi-jinks with Cris Bolado
by rick olivares pic from philstar

Former National University and PBA player Cris Bolado passed away yesterday, Sunday morning, after being involved in a vehicular accidental in Pnom Penh, Cambodia where he had a business.

When I heard the news, I was saddened not because he passed away too young -- -the reports are conflicting and they place him at either 47 or 48 – but because I personally knew him.

People describe him as “fun” and “fun-loving”. And I’ll attest to that. He had this gift for gab despite playing for some woeful teams in college.

At the time, Cris suited up for NU in the late 1980s, the Bulldogs would before or after a game at the Araneta Coliseum or the Ateneo gym would hang out at a nearby eatery along 8th Avenue corner Main Avenue in Cubao. That eatery was owned by their head coach the late Sonny Paguia.

I used to live literally a stone’s throw away and Tito Sonny would call me when his team was there. He knew I loved college ball and followed the fortunes not only of my alma mater, Ateneo, but that of other schools.

Truth to tell, those NU teams weren’t very good. Back then, they were the league’s whipping boys. Yet somehow, they have had chances to pull the rug from under schools especially La Salle. Let me reiterate, chances.

One time, the Bulldogs held a four-point lead and had ball possession with less than a minute left. True to their luck, they lost it to Dindo Pumaren and the Green Archers.

Before another game, Tito Sonny once told the team inside the dugout of the old Loyola Center in Ateneo that if they can beat Ateneo (the Blue Eagles had a number of injuries heading into the encounter), they could eat all the menudo they want.

You see, one of the specialties of Tito Sonny’s eatery was menudo. It was absolutely delicious that when I wasn’t happy with the food at home, I’d walk over to the eatery and gorge on the menudo.

Now Cris wasn’t called “Jumbo Bolado” for nothing. He was the original “extra rice” and he loved Tito Sonny’s menudo. I will never forget what to the old followers of the game call, “the menudo game” when during the match, Bolado pushed Jet Nieto, father of current Blue Eagles Matt and Mike to grab the defensive board and put it back into Ateneo’s basket! Gasp! Yes, horror of horrors. Cris scored two points for Ateneo. The crowd went nuts. Tito Sonny put his hand on his head not sure whether to laugh or cry. Maybe he wanted to do both.

After the game – NU lost – Tito Sonny glared at his players and Bolado and yelled, “No menudo!”

Then a year later, he was playing for Yeng Guiao’s Swift Hotdogs in the old PABL. That was a star-studded team that played Philips Sardines in the finals. They had Alvin Patrimonio, Peter Aguilar, Zaldy Realubit, Ric Ric Marata, Elmer Cabahug, and Ato Agustin to name a few. Bolado didn’t see much playing time but he was already that lucky charm. And that incidentally, was the first sports event that I covered as a budding sports writer while still in college.

During the victory party held at the Swift offices along Pioneer Street, we were served pizza among many others, Cris asked Mr. Joey Concepcion if he could bring home a box of pizza. Sure, Mr. Concepcion said. Now after the party, Cris went to Tito Sonny’s eatery and sought out his college coach. “Coach, para sa inyo,” he said.

Tito Sonny grinned. After all lamang na si Jumbo sa kanya sa championships. Then Jumbo threw a curveball, “Coach, trade ko yung pizza para sa menudo.”

Tito Sonny almost fell off the chair in laughter. And that is why whenever I see menudo, I think of Cris.

When he was winning all these titles in the PBA as a back-up center, he one time said, he’d trade his championship rings for a NU title. Totoo, asked Tito Sonny aloud.

Siguro one or two rings lang, he took back. We had a hearty laugh.

RIP, Cris. Thanks for being a friend.


  1. I'm thinking that Chris had the most number of championship titles in the PBA? Am I correct?

  2. Perhaps lol. He won a title in every team he played for hehe. That's serendipity for you! At the right place (team) at the right time.