‘Bote’ and his gangBy Percy D. Della
Philippine Daily Inquirer
SACRAMENTO, California—He preferred an Olivetti over an Underwood when PCs and notebooks were mere glints in their makers’ eyes.
He ripped and read news and sports stories straight from the AP teletype, a necessary evil in the high-pressure world of broadcast news.
When time allowed him to write his own scripts, he tapped on the typewriter keys with one finger of each hand.
Before carving out his own legend in television while a GMA News reporter, Augurio Camu Jr. aka. Jun “Bote” Bautista was a mainstay of dzMM, the “music and news radio” station of the rival ABS-CBN Network when it was still on Bohol Avenue in Quezon City.
Bote and the news-a-minute personalities in those days—Raffy Marcelo, Donan Sazon, Ramon Duarte and Frankie Batacan Jr. were the voices of the network’s flagship station for radio news in English in the late ’60s and beyond. They reported the day’s events in between the music queued by silky-voiced announcers, the likes of Helen Vela and Divine Pascual.
Memories of the good old days at the network came rushing back Tuesday with news of Bote’s death. My iconoclast of a friend who went on to become the dean of Senate reporters was 74 when he returned to his Creator.
We started at ABS-CBN News about the same time in late 1969 or thereabouts. He was 12 years my senior but the Bicolano and the Ilocano “balong” (younger friend) clicked together instantly. His desk was close to my station as a news writer and occasional reporter for the prime time newscast “Newsbreak.”
Our kinship did not end at the newsroom, when cell phones were still imaginary gizmos, where two-way radios crackled and code names like “red wing” and “sparrow” linked the news desk with reporters out in the field.
I partook of Jun’s joie de vivre and his humanity. With a band of night owls, we lifted a glass or two on occasion in an empty stall at the Cubao Market. His game plan for a second wind was a refreshing bath in the wee hours, courtesy of a gripo (faucet) near his place in Makati.
I tagged along with a guy who worked hard for his money. Cocktails had to wait while he voiced over product commercials in English and in the Bicolano dialect on the side.
A deadpan joker, my fellow southpaw exempted no one from his pranks.
He pulled off a classic kuryente (false alarm) at my expense one time, telling the Newsbreak staff that “balong” had decided to quit.
A production assistant recounted later that Bote deadpanned that I had joined a new outfit, with the call letters SKSK, before everyone realized he was pulling their legs.
He wasn’t only referring to the “saka-saka,” the barefooted armed men who terrorized Ilocos Sur at that time; he was joking about his friend’s bias for wearing rubber shoes without socks.
After Bote’s caper, the term “saka-saka” stuck with me, a nickname still uttered by some ABS-CBN News alumni even today.
Network news graduates on our watch went on to bigger and brighter careers.
They include my mentor, broadcast news giant Tony Seva; former senator and defense secretary Orly Mercado; former Inquirer executive vice president Sammy Señoren; presidential public relations man Ed Malay; Philippine Star business columnist Boo Chanco; the late Inquirer cartoonist and Bacolod Masskara festival pioneer Ely Santiago; retired UN project officer Rory Crucillo; Unesco spokesperson Choy Arnaldo; and ex-Channel 4 president Rolly Reyes.
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