My name is Tulfo (as told to Patricia Evangelista)
A Tulfo male is an alpha male. In my family we are 10 children, I am the eldest, and seven of us are boys. In a big family like that, there’s one that’s supposed to be homo. I’ve seen that in big families, at least one or two are gay. There’s no gay here. Everybody’s macho.
A typical Tulfo is hot-headed, but he has a very soft spot for the underdog. What I do is action journalism—journalism that’s in the thick of things. Remember, I was in the police beat for many years. I saw the plight of small people. For me it’s an adrenaline rush, I like the excitement that I derive from helping others and fighting for them. Yes, danger excites me very much. My image? All of the above, vigilante, hero, the Honasan-type, savior, knight in shining armor, and that word which escapes me now. Messianic. The typical Tulfo male has a messianic complex. I think it’s in our genes.
I want to be a philanthropist who does his thing in secret. I have a foundation, the Ramon Tulfo Good Samaritan Foundation, and I do medical missions. I wouldn’t want to cite the accomplishments of my foundation, but here it is. I send a pool of deserving students to college. When the people come for medical help, I ask my staff to buy medicines.
I believe in reincarnation. Most of my previous lives were those of soldiers. A cowboy who died in a gunfight. A ship captain who went down with the ship. A samurai warrior. A soldier who committed suicide. He got hit in the knee and became a cripple, people were laughing at him and he committed suicide. All those things, they have connections. My right knee hurt because it was the right knee that was hit. And I committed suicide by hanging myself in that life, so there was always pain in my neck until I had my tonsils removed. I had tonsillitis four times a year, maybe three times a year before that.
That Monday, when it happened, I came from Davao on the 10 o’clock flight. When I came to the arrival area, I noticed a commotion. A woman whom I thought was matronly and fat but with a pretty face was shouting at the counter girl. When I asked around, I learned that the woman’s luggage was left behind in the airport where they came from.
She was shouting that the counter girl was stupid, that she would have her dismissed. At first I was very sympathetic, but when she got personal and started humiliating the poor woman, I said, this is unacceptable.
So I took photos of her berating the poor woman in public. She was shouting at the top of her voice. I was about to take some more pictures from a different angle when a man whom I later came to know was the husband Raymart Santiago approached me.
“What’s this? What are you doing? Why are you doing that?”
I was looking at him, he was mad. Why are you taking video of us, he was asking. I placed my cell phone in my left hip pocket and I just didn’t answer. I shrugged. I didn’t feel like giving him an answer. He said, “Give me that!” I said, “You can’t do that.”
And when he reached for my pockets, I pushed him away. That was when they ganged up on me. At first, you know, I was running around doing my aikido moves. I thought, This is play! That was not shown on the video. I think I was able to down two or three of them.
When I saw uniformed men coming, I let down my guard and I submitted myself to the authority. I made a mistake. That was when someone was able to go behind me and choke me. That was it, end of the story. I was down on the floor. That was probably the time when I hit her. I was choking and kicking at everybody that came at me. The video would show that she was on top of me. Probably I was able to hit her when I was down on the floor.
It’s not in my nature to hit a woman. The Tulfos, even if they’re alpha male, they don’t hit women.
I thought of getting my gun, I am glad I didn’t. You know I learned one lesson there, I should have run away. When I faced a mob, I should have run away. When I was arrogant, I thought I was invincible, that my years of aikido, my years of karate, my years of self-defense would serve me in good stead.
I saw what my brothers did on television. They said they would actually seek revenge on people who beat me up, and they were very candid about it. One of them, I hope we don’t cross paths outside because if we do, hell will break loose. I said, oh my God, oh my God, what are those guys doing, oh my God. Those stupid guys. They shouldn’t be saying those things on television.
If they didn’t go on television perhaps probably we could exact revenge. Now we’re stopped dead on our tracks from whatever plans of revenge we have. Because if we don’t do anything we will become natural suspects. That’s what I’m scared of. We have many sympathizers. People my brothers have helped, people I’ve helped. They want to exact revenge for me.
My brothers are capable of violence. If they say I’ll help you they will. If they say I’m gonna exact revenge on you they will do it. Now they cannot. They will never. They didn’t think about that. That’s another typical Tulfo quality, act before you think. It should be think before you act. I try to avoid it, so I think before I’ll act.
If many people love me, an equal number hates me for my guts. For being upfront, for being frank and talking straight. You know we have a crab mentality. When people become successful they are pulled down. It’s envy.
Journalists should not delude themselves with the thought that people come to them because they are who they are. Power attracts people and journalists have power. I don’t delude myself that they like me. It’s not that. It’s your job, it’s the power you have in you as a journalist. The power to mold public opinion. This brand of journalism I do has consequences, and I’m honestly prepared for whatever dangers that lurk behind corners. It’s part of the territory. I am afraid of nobody but myself. I am afraid of the violence I am capable of.
I haven’t reached the summit of success yet. The summit is when I’m able to mold public opinion to my desire, when I write about something and people in high places do what I write or at least, consult me on my column. I turned down all the offers to become a politician down. I just want to be a columnist. A very influential columnist. I also want to remain a radio commentator or TV personality. Wielding influence.
I think that incident has even made my career better. My image in the public eye, I’ve become seven feet tall to my fans and as well to my critics. Because the fight was not about me and Raymart, I rescued a poor soul, a little poor woman from further humiliation. My ego has been bruised, very humiliated. But then that thing had to happen. Probably I had a date with destiny. I’m sure there are big things waiting for me in the near future.
* * *
This column was written from personal interviews during coverage by Rappler.com.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.