Manila, Philippines – BY now, many people have seen and have had their say on the brawl involving celebrity couple Raymart Santiago and Claudine Barreto and my fellow broadcast journalist Mon Tulfo.
With nearly half a million views of the YouTube video and over 4,000 comments as of Monday night, the issue is clearly a hot topic. I spoke to Mon over my radio program in DWIZ 882 AM a day after the incident to find out the story straight from the source. According to Mon, he disembarked from a plane from Davao at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 when he saw a woman loudly berating a ground crew. On finding out that the woman was complaining because some of their luggage had been off-loaded from the plane, he sympathized with her and made up his mind that he would write about the inefficiency of the airline in his column in a national broadsheet.
However, the woman became abusive and threatened to have the ground crew fired. Seeing that there was no need for such treatment of the ground crew, Mon decided to snap a few photos of the woman with his mobile phone. The woman’s companion who Mon recognized as Raymart asked Mon why he was taking a video of the incident and tried to take his phone from him. Mon said that when he refused to give his phone and tried to walk away, he accidentally shoved Raymart away and was subsequently attacked. The YouTube video showed the brawl already in progress with Raymart having a stranglehold on Mon while the woman who turned out to be Claudine and their other companions punched and kicked him. It also showed how powerless the airport guards were in preventing Mon’s face from becoming a punching bag.
The video really speaks for itself and despite the celebrity couple’s allegations that Mon started the fight, the couple and their companions clearly had the upper hand. Mon is trained in martial arts, but during our interview, he said that even his expert training is no match for several people.
I have known Mon for decades; he is a respected colleague and a dear friend. Despite his macho reputation in the media, I have never known him to be a violent man and he has always been a gentleman and would never have hurt a woman. In spite of Mon’s projection as a tough mediaman and Claudine’s wholesome image onscreen, that less than a minute video was able to reveal their true nature.