i disagree with senior journalist luis teodoro that the naia brawl deserved only “passing mention” in the news, the scuffle was a mere “incident of no public consequence,” and “most of us don’t really care” who threw the first punch.
it’s not as if such a public brawl, involving a celebrity couple and a media personality, were an everyday event around here; in fact it was the first of its kind, and what a sapakan show it was, with a spectacular touch of irony, to boot.
imagine — claudine baretto and raymart santiago* confronted mon tulfo because he was taking photos of her ranting at a cebu pacific rep about missing luggage, photos that would add documentary spice to the story tulfo must have been planning to write which would surely hurt her image, reputation, whatever. in the end, it was a one-minute video (taken surreptitiously and uploaded on the internet by unknown parties) that was made public and it was a hundred times more maanghang, showing the couple and friends ganging up on tulfo the senior citizen. unfortunately for claudine and raymart, the video was incomplete and doesn’t show who threw the first punch.
that’s of no public consequence? we all have lessons to learn from the naia thrilla and the lack of working CCTVs, as well as from all the talk it has generated especially about media, mainstream and new, and appropriate public behavior in a world where everyone has a celfone with camera and can publish on the worldwideweb in a flash.
and, hey, if teodoro is correct that most of us don’t really care who threw the first punch, then media’s job is to make people CARE to know: we should WANT to know who’s telling the truth and who’s lying.
already, media people have passed judgment on claudine based only on tulfo’s story, and tulfo’s after-thoughts, and the viral youtube video. basta, tulfo, their media colleague, is the aggrieved party, and the basagulero moviestar couple and friends are guilty of assaulting, ganging up, on a lone senior citizen who was only doing his job. even inquirer columnist rina jimenez-david was quick to defend him: tulfo daw has a soft spot for the underdog, whereas claudine… and she dredged up past chismis about the actress as though to say, well, what can we expect. the unspoken is, next to tulfo the gutsy reporter, claudine is just a movie actress with a spoiled-brat iskandalosa reputation.
naturally, tulfo is milking the media sympathy for all it’s worth, more confidently and vehemently insisting now that he did NOT throw the first punch, he had no reason to want to hurt the couple: wala akong dahilan na sipain o sumipa dahil, unang-una, hindi ko sila kakilala. i suppose he has been advised: deny and deny until you die, ‘wag aamin — the conventional macho advice to pinoys caught with their pants down.
but there’s this anonymous account from an alleged eyewitness who, it would seem, was closely watching the sequence of events from start to finish. thanks to interaksyon.com:
A woman who claims to have witnessed the Sunday airport brawl involving columnist Ramon ‘Mon’ Tulfo and celebrity-couple Raymart Santiago and Claudine Barretto is corroborating the claims of the actors that Tulfo had kicked Barretto in the moments just prior to the melee.
The woman, who had also arrived at the airport’s Terminal 3 within the same hour as Tulfo and Santiago and Barretto, said she was within 20 meters and “hearing distance” of the three personalities last Sunday when the fight – captured and made infamous by a video posted on YouTube – erupted. By the woman’s estimate, up to 100 other people – airport workers as well as mostly passengers from various flights standing around baggage carousels – also witnessed the incident.
“We saw this woman ranting at these personnel over what I presumed was lost baggage,” the alleged witness going by the pseudonym “Anna” told InterAksyon.com over a phone interview. “But what really made me turn and take notice was when she started addressing this man in a photographer’s jacket.”
Anna says she did not recognize Barretto, her husband, Raymart, nor Tulfo, and did not realize who they were until she got home and some hours later saw news reports and the YouTube video of what transpired next.
“The woman started shouting, ‘Abusado yan!’ and ‘Are you taking photographs of us?'”
She said she saw “the man in the gray shirt” – apparently referring to Santiago – approach “the man in the photographer’s jacket” – Tulfo – asking, “Ano ‘yan? Ano ‘yan?”
Tulfo, she said, started making “fast” movements, “not really punches the way a boxer would do, but more like kung fu moves.” He jabbed and “pushed with a kick” – a hand and a foot moving forward simultaneously – apparently trying to create space and ward off the approaching Santiago.
Tulfo has acknowledged shoving Santiago, saying the actor was trying to confiscate his cellphone.
“Sinapak niya,” Anna said, though she could not say exactly where Santiago was hit.
Claudine then started approaching as well, Anna said. Tulfo again moved with his arms and legs, while Claudine was shouting, “What are you doing?” the witness said.
“Tumili si Claudine, and at this point, security was rushing,” Anna said. She then noticed how Tulfo hid his phone in a breast pocket, and, with empty hands waving the air, “mocked” Claudine.
“Wala, wala akong cellphone,” Anna quoted Tulfo. [emphasis mine]
At this point, Anna said, “we had thought that the whole thing was about this dirty old tourist who was taking pictures of this lady. And so we were actually trying to support her.” She admits she wasn’t aware of Tulfo’s own claimed context behind Sunday’s confrontation. The Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist, radio commentator and TV5 talent says he was taking pictures to document Barretto’s behaviour towards the Cebu Pacific ground crew, which he suggested had gone from being rude to being abusive.
In any case, Anna said, they could only make out how Tulfo had hidden his phone and was denying he even had one on his person.
“Nasa bulsa ang cellphone! Nasa bulsa ang cellphone!” Anna said.
Santiago and Barretto supposedly asked aloud if there were any policemen or security personnel who could compel Tulfo to give up his cellphone.
Anna quotes Barretto as saying, “Hanapin niyo ang cellphone. Pakita niyo sa akin.” Within arm’s length, supposedly, of Tulfo, she was egging on security personnel to get Tulfo’s phone, ostensibly to verify whether or not he had taken pictures of Barretto.
Then, Anna said, “We saw him assault Claudine.” She said Tulfo “pushed and kicked” again.
“Natamaan si Claudine. I can’t say where exactly, but sa may thigh area,” she said.
That, Anna said, is what caused Santiago and his companions to pounce on Tulfo. “The video that we saw and that everybody has seen, that was the end of the whole thing na.”
She insists that Tulfo’s account of the incident, as she’s seen in the news, “is not correct.”
sounds credible to me, because unbiased. and it’s consistent with claudine’s and raymart’s stories. if true, it would seem that tulfo was not quite innocent, he was ready to rumble — why else that “kung-fu” stance and those “fast” moves with his hands and feet — and start the rumble he did. he was so palaban, for a senior citizen, which would have been quite in keeping with his brusque belligerent macho persona. all to defend his right to take photos of claudine, sabay deny daw that he even had a celfone? how honest was that.
that tulfo, according to his own account, started out siding with claudine vs cebu pacific, and then ended up siding with the cebu pacific rep, naawa na daw kasi siya, only tells me that by then he knew it was claudine, and nagkick-in na ang paparazzi mode, at biglang si claudine na ang villain. how opportunistic was that.
claudine had every right to be angry and to express her anger at cebu pacific — 9 out 11 bags offloaded without notice! and cebu pacific representatives, as frontline for the company, should have known how to handle irate customers like her, and should know better than to take any of it personally. suing claudine now for abusive language, whatever, is just another distraction, it seems to me, and i wonder if cebu pacific is behind it. hala, bawal nang mag-complain, what a twist.
what if tulfo had been big enough to join forces with claudine vs the real villain, cebu pacific. wouldn’t that have made a bigger better story? claudine and tulfo taking on cebu pacific for its dismal service that has long been a public issue? what a scoop that would have been. instead, tulfo ended up being complicit with cebu pacific.
Are spin-doctors or public relations specialists working double overtime, or are Filipino consumers easily distracted that we can no longer focus on the REAL problems?
Up until this week, the big consumer issue was about how budget airlines have failed to deliver on their promises to customers and the growing discontent or anger of consumers because of government’s inability to do anything about the problem.
All that have taken a back seat as members of media and opinion leaders are “suddenly” focused on the “Thrilla in NAIA” or the brawl involving columnist Mon Tulfo and the tag team of Raymart and Claudine Santiago. It is sickening how government officials are now redirecting media and public attention to the brawl at NAIA and the non-existent CCTV because at the end of the day the aviation authorities along with DOTC officials should be held responsible for the whole mess.
I can understand the momentary attraction of watching the protagonists in this made for TV celebrity brawl. Unfortunately there was no actual or good video on the brief scuffle so you have to wonder who has been stoking the interest on air, in print or on the web for the “Thrilla in NAIA” instead of abuses in the airline industry?
It’s ironic that Tulfo and the Santiagos, who are both unhappy with the business practice of a budget airline actually ended up slugging each other, presumably because of their frustration, providing the airline timely and awesome distraction that effectively takes away the bad publicity from the airline. In the US, lawyers would have looked at the big picture and initiated a combined civil suit against the airline instead of each other.
read “Claudine’s ‘taray’ is refreshing,” which drew this retort addressed to readers vehemently disagreeing with katrina in the comment thread:
Roy Quintoa: If you wanted Claudine or Raymart to act like children respecting their elders, then TULFO should have acted like a father respecting his children and talked to them with proper manners as well… I would rather see a MEDIA MAN who would show some concern in such situations like approaching them properly and offering some help and suggestions and doing efforts in resolving problems like that. 11 may 1:23 pm
meanwhile, luis teodoro has kind of changed his tune. read “Hyping it” where he takes media to task for its “tayo-tayo” culture:
… although it’s been said before, it still bears repeating: some if not most press people dish out criticism with such enthusiasm you’d think they were perfect. But when the other shoe drops, they can’t take criticism, especially when it’s other members of the media and press community who’re doing it. In one more demonstration of the “tayo-tayo” culture, they demand that everyone should look out for everyone else in the community, and should hype what’s basically an encounter between people who’re simply too quick with their fists (and feet) into an issue of principle. And they use not only Twitter and Facebook, but also the pages of their newspapers and their networks’ airtime to do so — acts that, while ethically dubious, they apparently think they can commit with impunity.
and what about the lady broadcaster who said on her radio-TV show that what happened to claudine happens to everyone, why get so angry, accept it na lang. made me wonder if cebu pacific and/or tulfo has been passing out envelopes or calling in favors. then, again, maybe she sincerely thinks she’s right. i don’t know na which is worse.
and the whole spin that it was so wa-class and ill-bred of claudine to lose her temper and then to throw in some punches, too, no matter how provoked? — the lady columnist has even brought up claudine’s pink halter top and shorts, as if that were indecent, too, hello — is just so telling of how messed up we are.
anger is good, people, and the situation called for it. let’s not lose our capacity for anger because there is much to be angry about. and never mind “class” or “breeding” if “class” or “breeding” means doing nothing, or not fighting back, in the face of oppression.
*no, we’re not related to raymart