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Sunday Super Brawl: Santiago vs Tulfo (The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly)

While our eyes were glued to the TV for the Mayweather-Cotto fight, we learned that another melee was happening at NAIA Terminal 3 involving Inquirer columnist and radio host Mon Tulfo and local celebrity couple Raymart Santiago and Claudine Barretto.

According to initial reports, Tulfo, who just landed from Davao City, caught a glimpse of Barretto berating a Cebu pacific stewardess for an off-loaded luggage. Tulfo, who must have given in to his reporter’s instinct, took out his phone and started taking photos of the scene. By then, Santiago approached Tulfo and apparently demanded that he give him his phone, which Tulfo refused. Santiago’s pals then entered the scene and a brawl ensued.

A video of the incident has since gone viral, showing how Santiago and his pals have ganged up on Tulfo, and how Barretto have joined in the fray. While it wasn’t clear who started the fight, the couple’s camp has claimed that the video, which was uploaded to YouTube by a certain glamchiq00 has only captured the latter part of the incident, where, they apparently just retaliated after the elderly Tulfo has already hit Santiago and kicked Barretto.

Both camps have issued statements, disputing each other’s claims. The media has been carrying this item for days now and the public has already taken sides. But who knows who’s telling the truth?

The Good

Yes, something good has actually come off this incident. It brought to the fore issues on airport security and inefficient airline services.

Frequent travelers may have been aware that encountering “off-loaded luggage” is commonplace but for those who rarely fly, it might come as a surprise. In the spirit of fairness, I understand that such an unfortunate incident could easily make one lose his temper and Barretto may have had a reason to feel slighted, especially if it’s true that Cebu Pacific has not informed them ahead of time that their luggage had been off-loaded.

Off-loading luggage, we learned, is a practice airlines employ to meet airports’ weight limit requirements for safety reasons.  In this case, Cebu Pacific apparently had to off-load some luggage from Flight No. 5J 896, the flight Barretto’s group took from Caticlan going to Manila, because  the plane could only carry a certain weight due to the short runway and prevailing wind conditions at the Caticlan airport.

Cebu Pacific said that all 11 off-loaded bags, 9 of which belong to Barretto’s camp, were loaded on the next available Kalibo-Manila flight on the same day and have been delivered to the owners, including the luggage of Barretto and Santiago.

Barretto’s camp said the reason the actress was so aghast was because the medicine of one of their child companions was in their luggage. Sorry, but I couldn’t help but ask—why wasn’t it hand-carried?

But that’s beside the point. Cebu Pacific should anticipate customer complaints stemming from this matter. I can’t stress enough how badly they need to have efficient and competent customer service representatives who can address such concerns. We’ve heard too many stories of delayed flights, missing luggage, lousy services and they seem not to do anything about it.

Sure, Cebu Pacific is a budget airline—but does it follow that when you fly cheap, you get cheap services? I don’t think so.

Now on to another issue, airport security. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes when I read about DOTC Secretary Mar Roxas’ reaction on how the NAIA security behaved during Sunday’s skirmish. ““Terminal three is secure against terrorism, against drugs. ‘Yung bad behavior ay hindi kami nakatutuk diyan.”

What? Does that mean that when a fight breaks out involving tourists or even locals at the airport, the security can just turn a blind eye because well, ‘addressing bad behavior is not their priority?” PNoy’s administration intends to welcome additional 5 million tourists this year. Good luck on that.

Again, in the spirit of fairness, we did see in the YouTube video that security personnel broke off the fight—but only after Tulfo got himself a black-eye, Baretto got herself kicked, and the children have already witnessed enough violence they can chew on.

We whimpered when a poll hailed NAIA as the world’s worst airport. But what did we find out? We have defective CCTV cameras! Anything can happen inside our airport and nothing will ever be recorded. But you know how it is—knee-jerk reaction, MIAA spokesperson Connie Bungag immediately went on-cam saying, “The CCTV system is actually the top priority”, as she claims that it’s part of NAIA-3 upgrade.

So, see, there’s something good that came off this scuffle. We learned about irregularities in airline services and how they are being addressed.  The vulnerabilities of airport security were also exposed and from here on, we hope the government would do something about it.

The Bad

Mon Tulfo is an old stager in the field of journalism. Say what you will, but he is a seasoned reporter. He knows news when he sees it. It’s not every day that you come across an actress dressing down a stewardess, so if you’re in Tulfo’s shoes, wouldn’t you have done the same? But then, press freedom entails responsibility. If it wasn’t Tulfo’s intention to pull one over Barretto, he should have explained decently why he took the pictures and everything could have been settled diplomatically.

On Barretto’s part, yes it’s true that she and her family are entitled to the right to privacy. But she apparently created a scene. She shoved herself to the spotlight by publicly berating an airline staff, which, if she had better sense, she wouldn’t have done, knowing the public’s eyes are on her all the time.  Barretto, based on reports, has had previous encounters with the Cebu Pacific staff. Some even claim that she has the habit of throwing her weight around to get what she wanted.

My point is, these celebrities chose to blow everything out of proportion. They brought this whole brouhaha upon themselves and look at them now, swapping charges, issuing opposing statements, subjecting themselves to ridicule.

And all for what? It seems to me that they are all enjoying the attention now. It pains me that even the Santiago kids were being dragged into this, by their own parents, no less. And this, right here, falls under…

The Ugly

In an interview, Santiago said he couldn’t take the physical abuse that his wife received from the journalist nor the trauma suffered by his children due to the incident sitting down, so he filed charges against Tulfo.

I understand where he’s coming from and any husband and father would have done the same. But I only have one beef about this—his children experienced trauma because they apparently saw their mother being kicked by Tulfo—I get it. But what about the trauma they themselves inflicted on their own children? Imagine the horror of seeing your mom and dad getting involved in a melee. So, it isn’t okay for mommy to get hurt but mommy can join in the fray and hit an older man who’s already down on the floor? And it’s okay for daddy, who’s an action star, to pummel the enemy?

I don’t care who started the fight. What I’m concerned about is, why didn’t Santiago have qualms getting involved in a skirmish in sight of his children?

Unless they’re used to that kind of violence at home…?

Again, the children would have been spared from seeing this horrible incident had cooler heads prevailed.

I’m in no way siding with Tulfo here. In fact, I have another beef. This time, with his brothers. What the hell were they thinking spewing threats on national TV? I get it, they’re tough. They’re hard-hitting. But come on, did Erwin, Raffy and Ben really think they could get away with threatening the lives of Raymart and Claudine on television?

Their emotions may have been at play during the broadcast but they are seasoned broadcasters and journalists. They shouldn’t have let their emotions get the better of them.

In the days to come, more spins would be added to this tale. And the public, I bet, would continue talking, dishing out opinions, taking sides.

But other than closely monitoring whether things are being done to beef up airport security and improve airline services, I seriously want to stop hearing anything about this anymore. It’s getting tiring, don’t you think?




2 responses to “Sunday Super Brawl: Santiago vs Tulfo (The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly)”

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