The brawl at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) Terminal 3 on Sunday, which became a sensation, happened to teach its participants a few lessons.
On the part of the couple, actors Raymart Santiago and Claudine Barretto, it was to point out their arrogance and cavalier attitude towards small people.
On my part, that I’m no longer the spring chicken that I used to be; a vulnerable fighter.
On the part of Cebu Pacific Airlines, that it must provide efficient service to its passengers even if they pay budget fares.
On the part of Naia management, it was to point out their ineptitude to the public.
Worse things could have happened: A planted bomb in a suitcase, for example, and no closed circuit television (CCTV) camera to catch the unattended luggage in a strategic part of the airport.
It was the Universe at work: That incident had to happen in order to prevent a bigger, nastier incident from taking place in the future.
* * *
I had no reason to pick a fight that fateful day, a Sunday, at that particular hour—a little past 12 noon—as I was very hungry and my driver was waiting for me outside the terminal. I had a very light breakfast when I left Davao City at 10:10 a.m. aboard a Cebu Pacific flight.
If I were another guy, I wouldn’t have taken notice of the arrogance of a matronly-looking woman with a pretty face towards a Cebu Pacific clerk behind the complaints counter whom she was loudly berating.
I would have walked away, if I were another guy, since I was not involved. Most Filipinos would not lift a finger to help another person in distress, either because he is not a relative or they would consider it a waste of time.
But I did what I did because I always root for the underdog: The Cebu Pacific counter girl was on the verge of tears as she was being shouted at by a plane passenger.
I wouldn’t have slept that day if I didn’t come to the aid of that distressed woman.
* * *
All my years as a martial arts practitioner and self-defense expert (I’d like to think I am: 29 years in aikido; two years in judo; 10 years in kickboxing; an equal number of years in arnis, the Filipino art of stickfighting) didn’t prepare me for that fight on Sunday.
I blame myself for my excessive self-confidence bordering on arrogance.
I could have run away when I saw there were too many opponents.
But still I stood my ground since I knew I was right: I refused to hand over my cellular phone with a camera that one of them was trying to confiscate from me.
I paid dearly for that arrogance: A bruised ego.
* * *
If I were to be placed again in a similar situation, I would do what I did that Sunday.
But if I see that I am faced with overwhelming odds, I would run like hell even if people would call me a coward.
* * *
Naia General Manager Jose Angel Honrado could not explain why there was no CCTV camera at the spot where the commotion happened. All he could say was “we are still working on it.”
Since when have you been working on the installation of CCTV cameras, Mr. GM?
Years ago, two passengers about to board their planes at Naia lost their belongings— among them a Rolex watch and a bag containing close to the equivalent of a million pesos— which were never recovered.
The two passengers sought my help in my program “Isumbong Mo Kay Tulfo” on different occasions. In both incidents, I accompanied the passengers to Naia and we went to the spots where they lost their belongings: The areas were not covered by CCTV cameras.
* * *
I am forever indebted to the person who took the video of me being ganged upon and had it posted on YouTube.
Please show up so I can thank you profusely.
Without that video, my credibility as a columnist and defender of the oppressed would be in tatters since Claudine said I kicked her and Raymart claimed that I started the fight.
Thank you very much, my friend, whoever you are.