I lost my Thursday twinBy Sev Sarmenta
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Sportscasters are not the usual chummy, let’s-hang-out guys among themselves. I guess because we are more of the in-the-moment kind. The game’s the thing and when the coverage is over, so ends a two- or three-hour stretch gabbing with a partner.
But this wasn’t the case for Butch Maniego, who passed away last weekend when his kidney and his heart gave up on him. Butch knew how to blend with anybody long after the games and the sports talk ended.
A man of many interests, Butch played Magic card games, scrabble and anything that challenged his restless mind that was teeming with both useful and useless facts. He knew his music, rock in particular, having been the editor of “Jingle” magazine at one time. And when his diet was still unrestricted, he knew where to find the best bargains for eating out.
With Butch, we were the Thursday Twins. Joe Cantada gave us the name when he saw these two well-rounded figures closing the first game of a PBA Thursday twin bill and setting the stage for his primetime coverage.
On the air, we finished each other’s sentences and we covered a lot of basketball leagues, golf tournaments and softball duels. He had no problem making the left or right side of his brain hum. He could flesh out the meaning of the stats and correct my hopeless subtraction of the lead in a basketball game.
Butch was profound with the simplest phrases. “Sev, when this game is over, the losing team need not look very far to find out why they lost. They only have to look 15 feet away from the basket,” Butch explained, astutely citing the atrocious free throw shooting of a distraught team.
Butch was my regular roommate in the MBA years later and we bunked in the most posh as well as the puwede na or average provincial hotel rooms. We mastered which side of the room each one wanted. Butch liked to keep the TV on for long hours watching anything that was on.
He was also my nearby neighbor in Santolan in Quezon City but we never visited each other’s homes. I was godfather to his daughter Krianne, who is about to take the Bar exam this weekend even after a week of meeting her father’s friends and relatives during the wake at the Sanctuarium. I would bring Krianne small Christmas gifts long after she had been baptized because she was the daughter of my “twin.”
When Butch first found out that he needed the costly dialysis treatments about six years ago, I asked our sportscasting buddies to come play basketball and chip in to help a friend. Almost everybody who has worn a headset along the sidelines came and helped. Even those who could no longer play dropped by and tossed something into the hat.
In his last text to me, Butch felt that it was time for him to wrap up. I asked him not to give up and to fight on like all those brave athletes we had covered. But as always, the analyst in him knew what was ahead and that was his way of saying goodbye.
This time my roommate was not coming back. Paalam, my Thursday twin.
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