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Thoughts on the Tulfo Brawl at the NAIA

I must admit, although I do not condone violence, that I was totally fascinated watching on Youtube the unscheduled Tulfo-v-Santiago (and company) fight card at the NAIA. Pinoys that we are, somebody quickly made a post-event graphic, called it the ‘Thrilla at the NAIA’ and happily shared it on Facebook for everyone to enjoy.

Whoever took the video should either congratulate himself for having the presence of mind to take it or grovel in shame for not lifting a finger to help stop the brawl. Albeit, there were enough security personnel trying; and not that there would have been a point in trying to stop people hell-bent on injuring each other, anyway.

At any rate, the video in its various incarnations as posted and reposted by those who would die for a few hits on Youtube has gone absolutely viral. Not that it will be of any help to the Court of First Instance, since the video did not capture the cause and start of the brawl.

The whodunit, of course, is always the most difficult question for us curious gawkers to figure. Tulfo says Santiago started it; and Santiago says Tulfo started it.

Claudine says Cebu Pacific started it.

Indeed, the airline has been the subject of recent operational screw-ups; and this one as much as the others also has C L U M S Y stamped all over it. Somebody speaking on behalf of the airline said that weight considerations for safety purposes was the reason for not loading some of the luggage; but that these were to be flown to Manila in a separate flight.

Fair enough! But how hard can it be to tell the owners before the flight, pray tell, so that they do not go ballistic upon arrival? Even a general announcement over the plane’s public address system could at least have warned all passengers of the possibility of their luggage being left behind and probably prevented the fracas.

Not that Claudine’s behaviour, if indeed she was raising hell at the expense of the ground stewardess, is to be condoned. The latter was probably as clueless as she was. Does this not seem like a perfect example of the dog barking up the wrong tree?

What could the ground stewardess do except to apologize? It was never as though she had a portal through which the missing baggage could be suddenly and conveniently teleported.

On the other hand, that is why there are ground crews: to handle muck-ups like this. Handling irate customers is just part and parcel of the service business. Go ask the call center peeps. If unable to diffuse, elevate.

That is why Tulfo’s to-the-rescue approach was probably uncalled for. We all know that he is a journalist; and so therefore sniffed a story. This, he subsequently admitted to news reporters. In hindsight, he probably would have been better served to have minded his own business.

The ground stewardess, after all, had all the way to top management to elevate the matter to; or, at the very least, their shoulders to cry on.

I cannot claim to know an awful lot about Tulfo or his brothers. The few times that I tried watching their show, I could not bear its fight-fire-with-fire abrasive nature. Truth be told, the show is a little overboard for my taste.

Still, I am not just a little perplexed by the relative lack of sympathy for Tulfo and some very scathing heckling on my Facebook NewsFeed.

The Youtube video showed him abjectly losing the fight; and several versus one is never a fair fight. Reports hinted at him being something of a karate expert; but there was no sign of this in the video. All there was in it was a man being badly mauled. Small wonder his face looked like botchâ pork afterwards.

The Youtube video probably portrayed Tulfo as victim. On the other hand, it also probably took a few seconds for the owner of the cell phone to get his video app rolling. That he missed the start of the fracas was apparent.

When this thing ends up in court, the first question that has to be answered is still who started the punching. This is where, in true Pinoy tele-serye fashion, the plot gets muddled because both camps point at the other.

Why is it that in this country, whenever a fight breaks out, both parties always started it? How the devil is that even possible?

Of course, in true Pinoy tele-serye fashion, the CCTV camera that could have shed light on how the rumble started was not functioning. How else could things be? If it was functioning, we would not be seeing Internet polls asking people who they think started it.

From emerging news reports, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the fight was a consequence of Tulfo taking pictures of Claudine raising hell at the ground stewardess’ counter. If we were a country like Japan, the very act of taking the picture would have been illegal, since the subject’s permission has to be sought.

It goes without saying that we are not; so Tulfo was technically not doing anything wrong. For a country that is so fond of gadgets, it is amazing that we have not legislated privacy issues involving these.

On the other hand, Claudine trying to get his cell phone – or at least, according to reports – which naturally is not her property, now that is technically wrong. Go find me a country on God’s earth where taking what is not yours is legal, if you get my drift.

There was no way for Claudine to know what Tulfo had taken, but now that the latter has released the photo, I am impelled to quote from Shakespeare in saying much ado about nothing. The photo is quite innocuous. Now a video, that would have been a different thing altogether.

How seemingly logical grownups could not have talked this over, you tell me! I don’t really know any of the personalities involved; so I am not about to take sides. What amuses me is how, in this country, real life can be so much more fascinating than the dross we are often served by local television.

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