By REY C. LACHICA
It was one tiring afternoon during last summer when I luckily saw an empty cab fast approaching while standing near the gate of PLM (Pamantasang ng Lungsod ng Manila) inside the historic Intramuros.
So I waved frenziedly.
I was then heading home on the old Padre Faura street which is practically a five-minute trip from where I normally wait for a cab to pass by.
Hungry and all – I immediately hopped in when the cab screeched to a halt – knowing full well that a native chicken ‘adobo’ that was brought in by a brother who had just arrived from a long-delayed vacation to Koronadal City in South Cotabato be the main dish for my early dinner.
Suddenly, the jolly driver asked me if I am a seaman, then I said, “nope,” and told him that I am journalist working at Tempo – the tabloid of one of the country’s respected broadsheets – the Manila Bulletin.
For those who are not yet familiar to its current status, Intramuros is not only home to Spanish-era landmarks like Fort Santiago. There are also a number of vintage houses inside the Walled City that cater to hundreds of seafarers – most of them waiting for a call for another tour of duty.
After introducing myself, saying I am now the one handling the sports pages of the paper, the driver, without trying to pull my leg, said he was a loyal Tempo fan long before digital news came into fore.
Perhaps in his mid-50s, the driver said he fell in love with the paper because of the tennis stories it usually featured be it foreign or local.
He even enumerated the tennis stars he eagerly and dearly read during the years he made Tempo as his ‘bible’, namely Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and the current ‘Big 3’ in Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.
While the trip was stretched to more than five minutes due to a slight traffic on the corner of Kalaw and Bocobo streets, there was no reason for me to complain. The encounter was fun and engaging.
Obviously, I was swelling with pride from that short trip because no less than the man of the streets confirmed Tempo’s popularity, which the current staff, led by Emily Bugarin, is trying to preserve.
That story also confirmed what my former Dawn (then the weekly paper of University of the East) editor Dennis Eroa told me during my early days as a reporter that I have to read and read Tempo so I will learn more from the paper’s respected reporters and editors.
Even Spin.PH dashing associate editor Gerry Ramos said he was once a Tempo follower because the paper covered almost everything under the sun, especially the PBA and horse racing.
“Aside from having seasoned columnists like the late Beth Celis and Ronnie Nathanielz, may side bar pa sa PBA ang Tempo non,” said Ramos, who heads the PBA Press Corps, in a text message.
Having put to print wide array of heartwarming stories before, Tempo, especially its sports section has remained a force to reckon among the masses despite the limited space.
A mother of a rising gymnast can attest to it after choosing Tempo to publish the triumphs of her daughter in various tournaments since last year.
Funny, but one time, I sent her a personal message, advising that I have already uploaded her daughter’s story in our online edition.
Though her reply was short, you can deeply felt her appeal: “Puere rin po sa print sir?”
I happily obliged to her request – just the way the paper’s former sports editors did to those in need of help – one good reason why our followers have stuck with us through thick and thin.
For that, I have to thank Tempo sports greats – Recah Trinidad, Ding Marcelo, Al Mendoza, the late Rudy Navarro, Rey Bancod and Tito S. Talao. Their endearing feats are tough acts to follow, but I am trying…very, very hard.