MANILA, March 23, 2004  (STAR) SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin M. Henson - Last week, HBO (Home Box Office) Sports sent a TV crew here to shoot footage of world featherweight boxing champion Manny Pacquiao. The idea was to show how Pacquiao is loved in his home country.

The footage will be aired to promote Pacquiao’s fight against International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Association featherweight titlist Juan Manuel Marquez of Mexico on May 8 in Las Vegas.

HBO Sports TV producer Brook Silva-Braga flew in from New York City. He contracted a crew from Virgin Earth Inc., a production outfit based in Tokyo, to execute the filming. Shinichi Yasuda was the cameraman and Hans Jensen, the sound man.

I can attest to the crew’s professionalism. I was filmed replying to questions on Pacquiao fired by Silva-Braga at the Araneta Coliseum last Wednesday. I’m sure only a few seconds of the interview will be shown on TV but the entire shoot took about 45 minutes. Silva Braga didn’t run out of questions. He agreed to shoot at the Big Dome only after I told him it was where the "Thrilla In Manila" was held in 1975 so there was historical significance in the venue.

To catch the atmosphere of home, Silva-Braga planned to shoot footage of the beautiful Manila sunset.

Unfortunately, Silva-Braga never got to shoot the sunset, thanks to an overzealous security guard from the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). The guard said Silva-Braga needed to get a permit from the CCP security office to shoot. Zeny Silva, who took the crew around town, begged for consideration. After all, Silva-Braga had no intention of shooting the CCP or the Folk Arts Theater. His plan was to shoot the sunset off the seawall.

The security guard refused to budge, insisting he was under strict orders to prohibit unauthorized shooting. Zeny was referred to Silva-Braga by her daughter Celine Rosario, bureau chief of Associated Press TV. She said the crew would miss the sunset completely if she had to go to the security office and wait for the permit.

Exasperated, Silva-Braga packed up. An opportunity for HBO Sports to show a beautiful side of Manila on global TV went down the drain because of a security guard who probably wanted merienda money from the crew. There was absolutely no justification for the guard’s steadfast refusal. He wasn’t only stupid but also heartless.

Incidentally, Silva-Braga convinced Pacquiao to go all the way to Tagaytay for a shoot last Thursday.

In another disturbing incident, an airport security guard harassed a TV cameraman who was assigned to shoot the arrival of former world junior lightweight champion Harold Gomes last Sunday.

The cameraman had an airport pass but the security guard said it wasn’t enough. After 15 minutes of arguing, the guard finally agreed to let him enter. It was 11 p.m. and there was nobody who could issue a special pass for the cameraman. Flash Elorde’s widow Laura, his son Johnny, daughter-in-law Arlene, former champion Rene Barrientos and journalist Ronnie Nathanielsz were at the airport with the cameraman. Surely, the guard must have realized the welcoming party was at the airport for a VIP and not for some terrorist activity.

The Elordes, who invited Gomes to attend the annual Boxing Awards Night in Makati this Thursday, booked the VIP airport lounge for the visitors. The fee was P3,960 for the use of the lounge where they stayed for about 30 minutes. Nathanielsz said the lounge had absolutely nothing to offer the visitors—-not even a glass of water.

"Stories of Gomes’ arrival were all over the newspapers," said Nathanielsz. "You would expect someone from the Department of Tourism reads the papers. Somebody from the tourism office should’ve been there to welcome Gomes, not just the Elorde family. The Elordes had leis and showed the Gomes family to the lounge. Why do people have to pay for the lounge? We should be happy there are American VIPs still coming to our country despite the travel advisory."

Gomes nearly backed out of coming here because of a travel advisory discouraging American tourists from taking a trip to the Philippines. Nathanielsz convinced Gomes to reconsider after talking to his daughter Karen.

Gomes arrived with his wife Arlene, Karen, son Scott and grandson Scott James. They will watch the Philippine Basketball Association games at the Big Dome on Wednesday as the league’s special guests. The Big Dome was where Gomes fought and lost to Elorde in a world junior lightweight title fight in 1960.

One thing’s for sure, Gomes and his family will not be harassed by Araneta security guards who know better than those goons claiming to protect the CCP’s sacred grounds and the international airport.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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