AA – the return of the comeback

CTALK - Cito Beltran - The Philippine Star

During the recently concluded Pet Expo and International Game Fowl Festival, I caught a glimpse of Mr. Atong Ang and his posse on stage discussing upcoming sabong events as well as related topics. As a result of his short talk and participation, sabungeros were abuzz over the possibility of the return of e-sabong.

Even after the event, I kept getting asked by enthusiasts if it’s really true and when would it be. Some say that it is only Atong Ang talking about it, others claim there are already tournaments or derbies scheduled for late March this year. The last caller asked me what I knew or thought about it.

Well, word or rumor is that the aggrieved parties or families of missing sabungeros have already been “taken cared of,” meaning they were provided cash gifts by online sabong investors or members. The case is not expected to carry on since a handful of suspects and accused are cops. But that in itself won’t make the problem go away.

Public sentiment regarding the missing individuals, the social damage of e-sabong on minors and the characterization or demonization of Atong Ang are serious PR nightmares even for pros. It’s a lot of work and will require a lot of time, stretching all the way to the mid-term elections and that will surely make it expensive.

I explained to the caller that over and above everything, AA has to focus on reputation management, if not an overhaul. Back in my ABS-CBN days they used the term “greening” the product, where you get an old product and refresh it with a new look, new image or message and make it look like “a nice person.” It’s a little more complicated and serious than dressing up an old politician and requires more time.

If and when the “greening process” has been accomplished, AA and associates have to address the serious issues regarding the violence, the social issues and impacts of e-sabong. Most important of all is that they listen to the opposition and come up with a menu of solutions and proposals that will go above and beyond mere online sabong or profit. This would be the evolution of sabong beyond the national past time and a mere form of gambling to the level of being an actual “sport.”

Imagine sabong being much like basketball in the Philippines. Make it a sport with levels of competition, corporate sponsors, training and mentoring programs for animal husbandry, farm management and benefit to government in terms of revenues, employment, tourism and international competition hosted and promoted locally. If you think I’m crazy, do your research on how Philippine sabong has made its mark in Indonesia, Malaysia. Americans, Hawaiians and Mexicans often come here for sabong and R&R.

Although the President has said that he is opposed to online sabong, I will not bet the farm on it. Just in case things change, I would rather influence the outcome rather than howl in pointless protest. They say: “If you can’t beat them – join them.” I would rather teach them how to have their cake and share it with the nation.

*      *      *

While Secretary Benhur Abalos has done so much to try and clean up corruption within the PNP, it is only fair for the secretary to clean his magnifying glasses and exert the same effort at cleaning up corruption at the local government level, particularly in such obvious areas.

For the benefit of those who have missed the obvious, let me point out the “proof of corruption” the DILG ignores: the biggest jeepney terminal in the Philippines is called Epifanio delos Santos highway a.k.a EDSA. From the Bonifacio monument all the way down to the intersection of Roxas Boulevard, EDSA has one consistent feature, city after city –jeepneys freely load, unload, park and at times even double park where they wish.

They are free to take their time, they are fearless and unmindful about traffic rules and signs, and except for the obligatory whistle from “traffic enforcers,” nothing is done to hold these Kings of the Road accountable. Clearly, they are exempted from the wrath of MMDA enforcers who just sit on their motorcycles or at the intersection as if blind to the daily obstruction created by jeepney drivers. Even local LGU enforcers won’t touch them.

The reason EDSA is the biggest jeepney terminal in the Philippines is simply because jeepney drivers have paid their dues. No, I am not talking about some patriotic duty or contribution to the public good. What I mean is that jeepney drivers pay DUES or tong or bribe on a daily basis in order to drive certain routes, especially EDSA.

In some places such as Shaw Boulevard, they pay dues and they get a cheap towel in return just in case media cameras or CCTVs catch them. Last Sunday when I turned from EDSA to Roxas Boulevard, I actually saw a guy receiving money, writing or putting a check mark on a list on a clipboard. It was so professional. Some smarty pants will probably say that’s not tong or bribe, it’s payment for membership dues for the cooperative.  If you have three to four rounds daily, any jeepney cooperative would be so rich they can modernize without mortgages.

The worst and most obvious places are EDSA north and south bound at the intersection with Taft Avenue. The major cause of congestion in the area are the jeepneys that use one of three lanes to load and unload passengers at will. No one gives them count downs or regulate their volume and every time I pass through, it is evident that the MMDA enforcers and Pasay enforcers are too busy watching out for other traffic violators.

*      *      *

E-mail: [email protected]

vuukle comment


  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with