Well somneone was there….
At about forty minutes after midnight last night a "Diplomat" frantically called me to seek clarification on a column he saw in the Philippine daily inquirer online of Neil Cruz, with the banner Grino Honasan at Kapiahan tomorrow.”
The event at the Manila Hotel is a regular get together for Journalists and Columnists one many media forums that run throughout the week where "The elite meet for meat" ok maybe not meat but coffee and something filled with meat.
I look at the column; a jpeg copy of it. I then informed my desk in New York – "I might have breaking news" but not sure…sent then a copy of the column, I also did the standard be ready for anything drill. I told the news directors of three of local TV stations that cover the event regularly "Hey, if this is true and there is video…"
I was satisfied and had covered my bases…
If indeed he would resurface. I was ready for it and would have a fair chance versus the competition. But at the back of mind- I wondered- So I went out and down to the Port Area – where the newspapers are often ready by 12mn – I looked at the masthead- there was an "Ear" on "Gringo" in surrender feelers.
Same paper – so I called my local part-time cameraman, got him ready. I called to check for availability of the three "optional feed" uplink service providers. Checked the status of points for video "I could go live if needed…" the alert was issued. Sat coordinates set.
I even checked if our regional correspondent in Bangkok was back from Nepal; sent him a text -he texted back. "Well… if he shows its a story! lucky break mate- "
But all along with a veiled feeling I and the readers had been had – I knew the bunch at the Kapihan had done something before like this and a impersonator had showed up.
Yet; it seemed something was amiss as the one line was at the bottom of the column almost mater-of-factly inserted.
But then there was the ear; So I had a friend who is columnist also call up Neil- his cell phone was off- but of course- "The man wants the scoop all for himself." offered the other columnist- in a few minutes (he drove fast considering he lives in Alabang!)
He was there with me and about a dozen other reporters – by sunrise- all of us had bloodshot eyes- we noticed another group.
It was the Intelligence people… and those guys from the embassies near-by… AH… it true Virginia – this must confirm it! by 6am… our motley crew thought perhaps he had checked in?
A quick run into the lobby a few very tips to waiters- nothing – that proves it they tipped the waiters more to say he's not here! My fellow foreign correspondent mussed.
It was around 830… when we saw the first glimpses of the doom of ur collective scoop.
Radio reporters from all the stations in manila where there- so were so many others… A few fans of gringo where there as well.
Bomb sniffing dogs… mulled about- ok they're always there anyway… but still I have to ad to the drama of this tale! finally laughter and it was obvious- Comedian Willy Nepumaceno was the impersonator.
Later in the day – Honasans Attorney issued a statement –
on ABS-CBN television –
"The talks reported in today’s PDI (Philippine Daily Inquirer) are not entirely accurate. In fact I just talked to Senator Honasan an hour ago and he disclaimed any initiative on his part over such talks," said attorney Daniel Gutierrez. – Gutierrez added that considering the actions of the prosecutorial bodies of the government, his client would prefer to remain "inaccessible."
Well at least other "Gringo" was more forthcoming his jokes fun filled all for a new show he's set to launch – Pinoy's Big Brother – ah; it was all in good fun… time to go home and get some sleep.
Till the next rumor of a apparition; see even us “hacks” get hoodwinked every now and then; hmmmmm…. Did I tell my cameraman he could go home and climb down from that tree…. Better check.
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