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The NPC--Our ‘Once Upon a Club’ is forsaken



By Willie Jose
May 30, 2017

 
 


Let’s bring back its glorious days

But what shocked me was seeing the Club’s restaurant and bar: rows upon rows of empty chairs and tables, not a single soul was there and the lone grand piano idly sitting in a corner. This scene will surely break one’s heart—and that very moment I felt sad, its eerie silence was a bit unbearable.

And I could not help but ask myself, where are the Club’s regular habitués—journalists, PRs, government officials, and other media people’s loyal friends? Why has caused them to stop patronizing the club? Why have the old-timers strayed away from their second home?

Well, it’s OK even if the Manansala Mural is not there anymore to enhance the ambiance of the place but the Club is people.

For a journalist like me, our Press Club is more than a watering hole where we could unwind after a grueling day’s work—it’s our second home. And that no matter how hard the day goes on, no matter how grueling the day’s gathering of the news is, the Club is our refuge, it’s there ready to give us some respite: good food and drinks and of course, the camaraderie of close friends and colleagues.

That is also the place where we’ve forged a lifetime friendship with some colleagues in the profession.

“Since journalism is one of the most stressful jobs in the world, journalists tend to release these stress and anxiety by frequenting the Club to unwind--drinking, dining and spending the hours either playing mahjong, pekwa, tonghits or just plainly watching TV. For my part, I recalled Bong Lim, our Club’s musician, playing the piano with some soft good old -time music; and he was so talented that he could play the piano and at the same time sing; anyone could freely ask him for an accompaniment specially when a newsman was too drunk enough to belt a song or two. It’s the unwritten rule at the Club that whoever makes the order, pays the bill, so more often we would hear one saying” sa akin ang round a ito” (literally means I’ll foot the bill for these drinks) Of course, there are some cases, when all of us sitting around a table would give our shares in footing the bill. In some cases, when we were really broke, we still could enjoy the night at the Club-- drinking and dining with our friends --but before we could make any order on the menu, we had to talk first with Roger, our favorite waiter, telling him beforehand that we didn’t have money to pay the bill and since we were regular habitués of the Club, a little favor like that was easily extended to us by the Club’s waiters.  Before ordering our last round of beers and pulutan, we would ask Mang Ben, the Club’s head waiter, to let us sign the receipt, promising to pay it the following day or next week. Even going home broke was not even a problem, we could ask Mang Prado, the taxi driver whose car was usually parked in front of the NPC building, to take us home free of charge but we had to assure him that we’d pay him the next day. As a social club, the NPC is the right place to de-stress from work’s pressures, set aside life’s cares and reinvigorate one’s soul for the next day’s rigorous news gathering and beat’s coverage. Before I forget it, could I possibly discuss the much- talked -about media corruption? Well, the column inches for this little article of mine are not enough   to dwell on that topic; maybe thousands of paper reams are needed to write about it-- for the meantime: Mang Ben or Roger, “Isa pa ngang Beer” 
It’s a wake -up call for all of us journalists that we need to do something to save our club and restore its members’ vaunted camaraderie.

I’ve seen the recent exchanges of some veteran journalists back home at Facebook—Joven Custodio, Mike Genovea, Doming Panganiban, Felix Mediavillo and Junex Doronio—and they were exchanging notes on the importance of patronizing and visiting our Club and remembering all “those were the days” precious memories we had back then.

Joven poignantly said  “nababago ang lahat pero di naman ibig sabihin niyan ay di na puede tayong bumisita just to see kung ano ano  meron pang matitinong alaala ng kahapon”.

Felix said:”Siguro dapat pumunta tayo sa NPC paminsan minsan, ha Junex?

Joven’s reply:”Ka Felix, bakit hindi? Kahit papaano, naging bahagi ‘yan ng buhay at propesyon natin bilang mamahayag.”
Mike said “Hindi lang yon. Di na natin kilala sila at hindi na rin nila kilala tayo. Ibang generation na sila.”

Veteran Journalist, Jojo Taduran, and I had a tete-a-tete recently, and he said that it’s time that “ the NPC members, whether regular or lifetime, to give their whole-hearted support to the club and we have to revive the strength of the club as the link to other communities.”

If I remember right, every election time at the Club, candidates would always promise everyone that they would do all in their power to improve the club’s facilities and strengthen the camaraderie of the club members.

With the influence of the practicing media men to society’s movers and shakers, possibly they could still ask for these leaders’ help in sprucing up the NPC facilities.

Let’s bring back glorious and prestigious image of Our Club because the “restaurant” we have at present looks like a” beer garden “in the 70s, or a street “canteen” where everyone is welcomed to come in.

 With the sad state of our Club, let’s all join hands together in improving the plight of our Club--our Second Home too.

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