WITH my far-sighted vision, I instantly recognized the familiar guy pounding on the glass window of the radio booth one Tuesday. Except for one or two features on his face that appeared strangely new, the surprise visitor was definitely Arnell Ignacio, calling attention to himself as he swooped down on the last 30 minutes of Cristy Ferminute on Radyo 5.
That same day, Arnell was blocked by talent manager and showbiz radio host Jobert Sucaldito on Facebook. It was the latter’s way of salvaging what might be left of their long years of friendship now on the brink of destruction. Jobert’s reason: Arnell’s tawdry, unbearably tacky fanaticism towards President-elect Rody Duterte.
Cristy Fermin had to dispense with her extro spiels to give way to the unannounced radio guesting of Arnell who initially admitted to have had his nose and eyes done.
“’Di ba, ang laki ng ilong ko? Kaya pinabawasan ko, tapos, ipinaayos ko na rin ‘tong mata ko ko. Kalandian ko!” Arnell laughed.
Alas, that explained the reason why it took him two weeks before he visited his showbiz reporter-friend Richard Pinlac at the hospital due to a hemorrhagic stroke.
“Sariwa pa kasi ‘yung sugat dahil sa tahi. Eh, pag dumalaw ako, magkakalat lang ako ng mikrobyo, maselan pa naman ang condition ni Richard. Pero dinalaw ko na siya kahapon.”
Arnell also felt urge to say his piece about Jobert blocking him on FB. His latest “too-good-to-be-true” post—defending Duterte whom he had vigorously supported during the presidential campaign, even offering himself as the willing victim of anti-Duterte assaults—had drawn public outrage.
A consistent Duterte non-believer, Jobert found Arnell’s post way above one’s fascination, brazenly branding it as “ka-OA-n na.”
On her part, Cristy in her tabloid columns had similarly been too critical of Arnell who spent more time videotaping testimonials on Duterte and posting these on FB than seeing the still-unconscious Richard Pinlac in hospital.
“Tita Cristy, kung ibang tao ang magagalit sa akin, okey lang. Pero huwag lang kayo ni Jobert. Intindihin n’yo na lang ang mga kagagahan ko,” Arnell pleaded with a smile.
After the radio program, Arnell insisted that he bring us to a nearby food stop. Over coffee and burgers, he then raved about a number of discoveries about Duterte whom he had accompanied in most of the latter’s campaign sorties in Davao City.
Once at a downtown resto where Arnell found himself surrounded by Duterte’s supporters, he politely excused himself as he had to make sure if his daughter Sophia—whom he tagged along—had eaten dinner.
“Huwag daw akong umalis. Sabi niya (Duterte), tawagan ko raw ang anak ko at papuntahin ko naD lang dito para maghintay sa akin,” Arnell narrated, “And I did just that.”
Moments later, Sophia arrived at the resto, headed towards her father then whispered, “Watch me, dad, I’ll approach the President and tell him something.” Clueless about his daughter’s caper, Arnell felt even more anxious when told, “Dad, ibubulong ko na lang sa ‘yo kung ano’ng gagawin ko. Basta steady ka lang diyan.”
When she had finally come face to face with Duterte, Sophia—much to Arnell’s surprise—laid her hand on the old man, “Ipagpe-pray ko po kayo.” Arnell could just heave a sigh of relief.
In yet another resto scene, an incredulous Arnell couldn’t help but be both amazed and amused—this time—by Duterte’s much publicized, self-confessed frugality as he had witnessed it himself. “Saan ka naman nakakita ng presidential candidate na siya mismo ang nagkukuwenta kung magkano ‘yung bill? As in iniisa-isa niya ‘yung resibo samantalang may mga tauhan naman siya? Nakakatawa siya!”
But if there was one encounter with Duterte which Arnell couldn’t simply keep his mind off. “’Yun ‘yong may dala-dala siyang supot ng tinapay kahit saan kami magpunta. Kapag nagutom siya, solved na siya du’n. O, di ba, walang karate-arte sa katawan?”