That’s why he’s the Dean

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By Jingo Quijano

Last Round

Sunday, March 30, 2014


WE had one of the best SAC-SMB Awards ever last Wednesday- for me at least--and I can only blame one person for it, our guest speaker who was none other than the Dean of sportswriters himself, Quinito Henson.

What never ceases to amaze me is that after all he’s done in the field of sports journalism, every time he speaks about sports, that passion still resonates and flows naturally.

His encyclopedic knowledge of the subject matter is legendary, but his paroxysm when it comes to sports is second to none.

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You just know he loves what he’s doing, and that’s why he’s the best at what he does.

MACAU. I actually met Quinito for the first time during Manny Pacquiao’s fight against Brandon Rios last November. He shared a table with the Cebu media over breakfast, and I was star struck, to say the least. In truth, more so than some of the popular fighters I often write about.

During his speech last Wednesday, Quinito waxed poetic about what he termed were the pillars of success in sports. He encouraged the athletes, extolled their exploits, drilled into them the importance of discipline and hard work, respect for the rules and your opponents, and even beseeched them to deify the man above. Wow!

Not only that, he also shared tips and sagely advice to the sportswriters present, and those nuggets of wisdom will surely prove to be invaluable as we strive to better hone our crafts.

That’s why he’s the “Dean” guys. Now if only they could open up that Assistant to the Dean position…..

SABILLO. Seated quietly among those to be awarded that day, was a world
champion who had just lost his title. We were feting Merlito Sabilio for his triumphant performance the previous year, 2013, but I knew that he sat there with a heavy heart despite being thankful for the recognition.

As sportswriters, a challenge we are constantly faced with is avoiding too much empathy with your subject, lest it clouds your judgment.

But I have always fancied myself as a boxing fan first before a sportswriter and this column will always be a boxing fan’s column for the boxing fan.

And that fan in me became very despondent when I decided to sit beside the former WBO minimum-weight champion prior to the start of the program and we both watched the replay of his fight against Francisco Rodriguez on my I-phone.

Merlito walked me through the rounds, painful as they were and shared how he never expected Rodriguez to come out charging in the very first round and take the fight to him.

Apparently, he saw a different fighter on video when they scouted him and expected a more prosaic version than the one on fight night.

Merlito also shared how drained Rodriguez looked at the weigh-in and appeared almost skeletal. He never thought the Mexican would recover enough come fight time.

I could only shake my head sadly as I stole glances at his weepy eyes and the purplish welts on his face. I muttered words of encouragement and told him he fought hard like his fierce ring epithet, “The Tiger” and that he should hold his head up high and come back strong.

But I felt my words were going nowhere and I was running out of things to say. At that moment, who else would come along but Quinito of course, who
came over to where we were seated. He was welcomed warmly by the ALA boxers and he shook Merlito’s hand and gave him kind, comforting cheer.

And just like that, Merlito extruded a silly, impish grin. Perfect timing for the prolific Dean.

LAST ROUNDS. Are on Bobby Bautista and Joy Anne Denoga, who are tying
the knot today. It’s been a long and winding road you guys, but you made it happen. Congratulations and Cheers! (jingo_quijano@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 30, 2014.

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