Remembering Moe

THE GAME OF MY LIFE - Bill Velasco (The Philippine Star) - February 27, 2021 - 12:00am

It’s been more than 40 days since the amiable Moe Chulani passed away. In more than a quarter of a century that he was visible in Philippine sports, he remained unchanged and never aged. He was always accomplished, efficient, available. More than that, he was a true, generous and loyal friend who went out of his way to serve others.

I first met Jaideep Moe Chulani via the Metropolitan Basketball Association. He was part of the management team of the Pasig-Rizal Pirates. He always walked up to people directly, a hand extended, a figurative bridge that was his trademark. He always had time for a meal, a beer, a conversation, or just to hear people daydream or vent. Even when cheering for his favorite teams, he was always positive, never excessive, never loud. And when there were problems, organizational or relational, Moe was a balm to whatever pained people, in a life filled with affection for sports.

“We loved sports very early, maybe three or four years old,” recalls Moe’s brother Ravi, who was himself a competitive basketball player. “He was probably two years old when he first held a tennis racket. He was a varsity tennis player and consistent club champion. Moe was fun-loving, the most caring brother and a very hands-on uncle to my kids.”

Years after the MBA folded, Moe would take his organizational skills to LBC Express, where he was an indispensable founding partner and chairman of Ronda Pilipinas. An organizational nightmare like a nationwide bicycle race that involved moving tons of equipment and transporting, feeding and housing dozens of riders and an equal number of media daily, all worked seamlessly. His people skills and genius in logistics made the multimillion peso event look easy, even if a million things could go wrong at any time. On the 40th day after his passing, Ravi and the Ronda Pilipinas team gathered in Tarlac for a 37-kilometer memorial ride for Moe. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the event ran smoothly, in true Moe style.

“It was attended by Dino Araneta, co-founder of Ronda Pilipinas, and by Ronda teams such as Navy, Go For Gold and 7-11,” Ravi elaborates. “Before the ride, the Ronda Pilipinas family paid their respects as the urn of Moe was presented to them. It was a short event sanctioned by the IATF, local government units and all concerned departments.”

A few years ago, Moe had sought a change of scenery, and a change of pace. And what better place would there be for a man who enjoys a good time other than Boracay? Chulani set up Masala Moe’s Indian and Mediterranean restaurant, another place where he could celebrate friendship and entertain. The relaxed, breezy island atmosphere was a perfect match for his trademark equanimity. 

A lot of the words we toss around lightly nowadays were embodied by Moe Chulani. Unconditional friendship. No judgment. Being with you in the moment. What is often lip service from others, Moe lived. And for that alone, his loss makes the world a slightly dimmer place.

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