Game changers: Tulfo, Butch and Baham; Abueva, Jarencio make PBA exciting

by Dennis U. Eroa

President-elect BBM just hit a booming triple when he appointed PTV 4 broadcaster-journalist Erwin Tulfo, former chairman of the Party list top notcher Anti-Crime and Terrorism Community Involvement and Support, as secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development which will play a huge role in protecting and uplifting the lives of the marginalized sector of the society.

It is not a joke that the coming years will be punctuated with hardships due to external events, which will test the determination of the BBM administration to find the right mix of people to keep the country in the game of progress and stability.

Erwin Tulfo
Erwin Tulfo

Tulfo’s ability to help those in need is already proven by his years in public service. He’s a college buddy and always willing to lend a helping hand to those in need. As secretary of DSWD, expect wonderful things to happen. The poor are in safe hands.

We have memorable, sometimes naughty years, writing for The Dawn, the student newspaper of the University of the East. The Dawn, of course, was the first home of present top-notch journalists now working in various media outlets. Erwin and I used to while our free time on the ground floor of the College of Arts and Sciences. We talked about a lot of things but Erwin always has the time to talk about helping the poor.

He is now in a position to continue his crusade and I wish him the best of luck.

Erwin has a soft heart for the poor and I’m sure he’ll always treasure the advice of his brother Senator Raffy Tulfo to further protect the interest of the poor.

Unknown to many, Secretary Tulfo is helping dialysis patients (I’m of them) here in Olongapo. Not all, but Tulfo’s generous enough to help some of the patients. This happens when he isn’t still appointed as a cabinet member. His only requests? There is no need to magnify his help.

If BBM sank a triple, then he will score a slam dunk if he will re-appoint Butch Ramirez, a true-blooded Davaoeno, as chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission and Palawan-pride Baham Mitra as head of the Games and Amusements Board.

Let me be clear. Unlike other presidential appointees, Ramirez and Mitra aren’t kapit-tuko to their respective positions, They are giving BBM the free hands to choose their successors.

There is no need to say that the heart of Philippine sports is breathing to the cadence of excellence under the stewardship of Ramirez. Philippine sports, once forgotten even at the Southeast Asian game level, have gained the respect and admiration of the world.

Butch, who was conferred with the Presidential Medal of Merit by President Duterte, actually achieved the seemingly impossible dream as he went all the way to support Hidilyn Diaz for the Olympic gold. That gold, however, was just the icing on the cake as other Filipino sportsmen and women, sizzled on the world stage. Butch was responsible for instilling in the athletes sense of control, discipline, and perseverance which will result in excellence.

Diaz, Caloy Yulo and EJ Obiena must be thankful for the PSC’s all-out support.

Once a sleepy department under the office of the President, GAB blossomed into a proactive organization with Mitra at the helm. It has gained the respect of professional sports and admiration by world governing bodies for putting the health and safety of pro boxers on top of the list.

Baham Mitra
Baham Mitra

Mitra, who tends to credit others for GAB’s newly-found fame, gained the respect of his peers when he was able to navigate the stormy seas during the pandemic. Pro sports gained a lot of followers during the pandemic. Despite a not-so-big budget, Mitra was able to juggle the funds to serve pro athletes.

IN fairness, PBA action is getting interesting and Calvin “Japan Japan” Abueva just added to the spicy mix. I can’t blame Abueva for acting like a beast and I remember my high school teacher telling us during our first day of classes that “first impression is lasting.’’

Maybe, the Pampagueno firebrand fell victim to his reputation of creating trouble. Before that, there was the bump made by Pido Jarencio of Northport to an unsuspecting Ariel Vanguardia of improving Blackwater. It’s very clear that Jarencio, who once upon a time was Allan Caidic’s main rival for cage supremacy, was offended by the timeout when the outcome is already decided.

I, however, believe that Jarencio’s action must not be tolerated because it very unsportsmanlike. I’ve been talking to a lot of experts, who said that what’s the problem in calling a timeout. Simply put, that’s Vanguardia’s prerogative. Pikon talo, folks. It’s pretty tough to swallow the truth that during that encounter Blackwater was the better team.

The Abueva, Jarencio telenovelas, however, are welcome developments to the PBA which has been rattled by the switch of allegiance by top players in Japan and Taiwan. Money talks, remember? But I have a piece of advice to the two—Don’t fly too close to the sun or you’ll get burned and toasted.

By the way, it’s worth mentioning that Magnolia frustrated Bgy. Ginebra in the Manila Clasico. The victory was fashioned even with Abueva in the dugout and Paul Lee in street clothes. Lee’s absence forced some observers to quip that Lee played a big role in the win because the former UE Red Warrior tends to lose focus in the end game. It’s normal for Lee to finish in double figures but when the goings get rough, the angas is missing from Lee.

This is what happened to the Klay Thompson look-alike, who have the gall to grant interviews to unsuspecting members of the media and even went unhampered to the practice venue. I found Thompson’s wannabe a different breed of animal, not ferocious but rather a likable one. And the ban on him by the gods of the NBA is just a sign of a power trip. Fact is, Klay’s wannabe must be given a trophy for the interesting sidelight in the enthralling NBA finals won by the Golden State Warriors.

Abueva’s case must not fall victim to a power trip and I know that Commissioner Willie Marcial, he with a chill demeanor, acted fairly when he suspended Abueva for one game plus a P10,000 fine.

Let’s face it, Abueva in Japan is PBA’s loss. Without him, the league is less thrilling. Imagine a league without Rudy Distrito, Jay Ramirez, Sonny Cabatu, Onchie de la Cruz, and Sonny Jaworski combined.

Looking back, the PBA woes started when NLEX allowed Kiefer Ravena to play in Japan despite having a live contract. Ravena, obviously smitten by the green bucks, is not in the official lineup of the Road Warriors in the Philippine Cup despite being healthy and fit to play. We don’t have to be a genius to know the real reason for his absence. Ravena, despite a prior agreement with NLEX and the PBA, wanted to sign another contract with the Lakestars in the B –League.

That means throwing away principles and sportsmanship in the garbage bin. To borrow Madonna’s hit song, we’re living in a material world. “Cold, hard cash is always Mr, Right”

Now, I ask: where is the mutual respect between athletes and the policymakers. In the case of Kiefer, it’s pretty tough to swallow that it is missing.

Dennis Eroa

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