Limpag: PAL Interclub: All about relationships

It dawned to me how unique the PAL Interclub is when during the awarding ceremony for the media division, my former boss Nimrod Quiñones took time from his busy schedule to drop by along with his son Nico, a physical therapist. Apparently, veteran writer Al Mendoza, Nico’s godfather, failed to finish the tournament due to a tennis elbow and Nimrod brought his son along not only to meet his godfather for the first time in years, but to fix his elbow.

After showing him some exercises, which I duly copied, Sir Al flexed his tennis-elbow stricken left arm and said, “Aba, OK na.”

He also remarked how his godson was very much taller than the last time he saw him. Nico, like my son Mico, is also the godchild of Sir Al, something that was made possible because of the PAL Interclub. If this was any other tournament, I don’t think I’d get closer than 10 feet with veteran writers like Al Mendoza, whose columns I read as a kid. But because it’s the PAL Interclub, I get to rub elbows with him.

I’ve been to many national events and there is always a divide between local and national media, driven usually by the preferential treatment the national media gets from organizers. In the PAL Interclub, we are all treated the same and there are even times the community-based press enjoy perks our national brethren don’t enjoy.

That’s thanks to guys like Charlie Davao and Lito Tangkad. Charlie, from Davao, and Lito, fondly called Jabbar by guys like Al, have different responsibilities for the interclub and work mainly behind the scenes. But when the work is done, they are often with the working media, unwinding with Charlie belting his Rod Stewart pieces and Lito Tangkad—who is nowhere near Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s height—making sure the media covering the event are taken care of.

To be honest, I never expected to be invited for this year’s PAL Interclub given that the financial situation of the airline industry has forced PAL to tighten its belt.

But I was, so I made the three-hour drive from Moalboal just in time for Monday’s media awarding ceremony. Though Jonathan Gesmundo was no longer there as he is with the DOTr already, Cielo Villaluna was her usual elegant self, while Charlie, after some prodding, brought out his Rod Stewart hat. The Davao Boys—led by Jon Develos and Leo Palo were there, albeit sporting new media outfits next to their names. Boy Lim, a regular presence, wasn’t as he’s gone to the great beyond, while another regular fixture Charles Maxey, formerly of SunStar Davao missed this one as he’s just returned to private life after six years in the Philippine Sports Commission.

After the awarding, me, Lito, Charlie and the rest of the boys spent the whole night and most of the early morning reminiscing about past PAL Interclub tourneys.

Because for me, that’s what the Interclub is all about: Memories and relationships.