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Ronnie’s last tweet

/ 12:03 AM November 16, 2016

A week before he left for the United States, my good friend and colleague Ronnie Nathanielsz called to inform me that he was covering the Manny Pacquiao-Jessie Vargas fight in Las Vegas.

I was a bit surprised because lately, Ronnie had not been too keen on taking long-distance trips since it took too much out of him.

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At 81, Ronnie may look physically fit and still have that youthful spring in his steps but he often complained of heaviness in his chest. He sensed there was something wrong.

Ronwaldo, as I called him, was sick. He had a malignancy in his prostate and had undergone two successive angioplasty operations some years ago.

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At the time Ronnie said goodbye—for the last time, it turned out—I also wanted to tell him about my trip to Seoul to cover the first PBA board planning session for the coming 42nd season. Instead, I decided to just bade him a safe voyage.

Last Thursday, Nov. 10, the first big shocking news I got when we returned from Seoul was far from pleasant.

“Ms. Beth, have you heard? Mr. Ronnie suffered a massive heart attack in San Francisco. He is in the ICU and never got to cover the Pacquiao-Vargas fight,” said TV5’s Peachy Guioguio.

The following day, boxing president Ricky Vargas suggested he will organize a fundraising campaign for Ronnie’s operation.

We were given the information that if he could undergo another angioplasty, he had a good chance of surviving.

It can be said that Ronnie was a chronicler when it comes to sports. He can tell you first hand the most historical event in Philippine sports—from boxing greats Pancho Villa, Muhammad Ali and Gabriel “Flash” Elorde up to Manny Pacquiao. Not to mention other sports like basketball and soccer.

Despite his stature, Ronnie was not embarrassed to admit that he was a big fan of Ginebra and the “Living Legend,” Sonny Jaworksi.

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Ronnie, who wrote columns for several newspapers, including the Inquirer, had a nose for news and would spare no expense making overseas phone calls to get a first hand story.

At the time of his death, Ronnie was finishing a book, basically a memoirs of his colorful life in the Philippines.

He loved the Philippines, that I’m sure off.

Vargas never got his fund raising campaign started.

At dusk the following day after our lunch, I got a text message from him informing that Ronnie was gone.

Later that day, Chelna Locaylocay of ALA International informed me that Ronnie, who was also active in social media, posted his last tweet on Nov. 1: “Peping says those vying for POC president need to know everything that’s happening. One thing they do know—he’s been a disaster!”

That’s Ronwaldo for you. Never was shy to call a spade a spade.

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TAGS: Boxing, Las Vegas, Manny Pacquiao, Ronnie Nathanielsz, Seoul, United States
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