In Defense of Mon Tulfo

It must be a cold day in hell because, for the first time ever, this website sympathizes with Inquirer columnist Mon Tulfo.

Not because of anything he said but because of what happened to him: Held down and beaten by two celebrities and their man-tourage at an airport.

Also, too much pink

The fight apparently began when Tulfo, being both curious and at one time in his life vaguely a journalist, took out his mobile phone to take pictures of actress Claudine Barretto complaining about misplaced luggage.

According to the Inquirer, where Tulfo works:

Tulfo pulled out his mobile phone and took photos of the scene, which he said would form part of a column he intended to write, when a man from the actress’ group approached him.

The man, whom he later recognized as Barretto’s husband, “demanded to get my phone which I used in taking shots.” Tulfo said he refused to surrender his phone.

Santiago continued to force Tulfo to give up his phone when several men joined the actor, according to the columnist. Tulfo said he could not recall who threw the first punch because he was being ganged up [on].

Tulfo says he was blind-sided but Barrett and her husband Raymart Santiago say Tulfo started the fight:

In an interview with Inquirer Entertainment and posted on after the incident, Santiago said that when he approached Tulfo to ask him about his cellphone video, the columnist suddenly punched and kicked him and his wife.

“Why would I hit an older man in front of my children? I wasn’t brought up by my parents that way,” he explained.

As we have no way of knowing how the Santiagos brought Raymart up, we will have to take that at face value. We will also have to note, however, that “not being brought up that way” has as much weight as a legal defense as saying “It wasn’t me.”

Tulfo’s reputation as a hot-headed potty mouth works against him in this case, as was seen on the first reactions on Twitter: They were pretty much about how Tulfo is “less of a man” for getting into a fight with a girl (and her man-tourage). But this was before a video of the incident began circulating on the Internet:

Barretto insists, on,  that Tulfo kicked her and kicked her first:

Barretto said Tulfo also kicked her twice when she confronted him about why he punched her husband.

“Lumapit ako sabi ko ‘Anong problema mo? Bakit ka nanununtok?’ Tapos bigla na lang humarap siya sa akin, tinadyakan niya ako ng dalawang beses sa hita tapos tinulak ako sa may counter ng sobrang lakas,” she said.

Tulfo admits he may have kicked Barretto:

While trying to fight his way out, Tulfo said Barretto, who was nearby, repeatedly cursed at him. He said he might have hit the actress with a kick as he tried to fight back.

In that video, someone, presumably Santiago keeps saying “Hindi pa ako tapos! (I’m not yet done!).” And that, more than anything, makes whatever defense that Tulfo allegedly started the fight invalid.

Let’s say Tulfo did start the fight. Santiago and his man-tourage would have been justified in hitting back, but only to a certain extent. Knock him out, maybe. Or push him away and then form a protective circle around Barretto until security arrived. Engaging in a brawl does not count as self defense.

According to the Revised Penal Code, Santiago and his man-tourage can claim self defense in the face of unlawful aggression, but that hinges on the reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel it and the lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person defending himself.*

A choke hold while loudly proclaiming you are not yet done does not count as reasonable necessity in any case except in the Octagon. Tulfo was on the ground and, although he was fighting back, was no longer a threat to anything except his tough-guy image.** Security was also on the way by the time the video was taken, so Santiago, his pal in pink, and Barretto could have–should have–backed off already.

Also, Barretto is seen taking part in the brawl herself, which means she’s as much a part of it as their bad-ass friend in pink whom Tulfo actually hits with a kick. Despite being held in a choke hold. And being an old man. Good job, Turtle.

More important than a celebrity couple beating up someone who is vaguely a journalist is a celebrity subjecting ordinary citizens to verbal abuse:

Barretto allegedly started cursing at Cebu Pacific ground staff Cid Charisse Bocboc and Kristina Anne Ilagan after she found out that their luggage had been left behind.

Aside from not having their luggage, Barretto also got mad because their flight was delayed, Bocboc told airport authorities.

Bocboc said she asked Barretto for the baggage claim stub and description of their luggages for proper tracing, but Barretto reportedly continued her tongue-lashing of the ground crew in front of other arriving passengers.

Ilagan, on the other hand, told authorities she explained to Barretto that due to weight limitations and for safety reason, their luggages had to be flown to Kalibo Airport, Aklan and that these would soon be brought to Manila.

Despite their explanations, Ilagan and Bocboc, in their handwritten statements to airport authorities, said Barretto continued to verbally abuse them.

We get that flying on Cebu Pacific can be a headache sometimes, but that is no reason to take it out on the ground crew in Manila for luggage left behind in Aklan. In the first place, they had nothing to do with it, being in Manila. And also, they are just wage slaves like the rest of us who aren’t celebrities and do not deserve that sort of treatment at all. Especially not for a problem that was already being addressed: the luggage was already being brought over to Manila.

One must also note that the luggage was supposedly left behind due to “weight limitations and for safety reason (sic)” so Barretto and Santiago may have had something to do with that. Maybe they packed too much stuff? Even if they didn’t, it bears thinking about that had Cebu Pacific loaded the luggage on the plane, the argument would not have happened. Possibly because the plane crashed into the sea.

*An Act Revising the Penal Code and Other Penal Laws [REVISED PENAL CODE], Act No.3815, art.11 (1932)

** I mean, he’s in pink even.


  1. This is a one-sided article. I would understand if this article dealt only with the couple’s behaviour, however to touched on thier luggage whether they brought much stuff is not an issue here, after all they paid for the extra charge.

    Who will not get iritated? the couple should have informed that their luggage was not loaded and needed to be left behind due to safety reason. Baretto by all means has the right to demand and get mad.

    Be fair. See both sides first.

    • Sure. The couple has every right to get mad. That right does not translate to the right to verbally abuse anyone, though. Are you saying the supposed verbal abuse was justified?

      Why is that? There are proper channels, proper ways, to register a complaint.

      Failon said that too on DZMM this morning: that the incisdent would not have happened had Cebu Pacific not madea mistake. That, I feel, is dishonest because Santiago, Barretto, pink guy, and Tulfo are all adults and should be accountable for their actions.

  2. Dear way,

    Your comment seems to willfully ignore what’s really being discussed: who did the sapaking in this sapakan. But in the spirit of being a good sport, I’ll address your issues.

    I guess Barretto & Santiago paid the extra charge for their baggage, but that just means they were also aware their baggage was overweight. From that logic, it’s easy to deduce that overweight baggage will overload a plane, and that overloading a plane is never a good idea. It is, therefore, within reason that their luggage was not on the same plane. Hell, it was already on its way to Manila even as Barretto was cussing out the ground crew.

    Barretto’s “right to demand and get mad” can be likened to the right to take a wet shit in a Rustan’s grocery aisle. You can do it, yeah, but people are going to take notice. They might even take a picture or two. You can’t begrudge them that, can you?

  3. Get mad at Cebu Pacific, yes. At the CebPac people in Caticlan who made the decision to not load their baggage but did not inform them of this, yes. But to the two poor ladies in Manila, definitely NO. Bocboc and Ilagan did absolutely nothing wrong here. They simply relayed what took place in Caticlan. Claudine Baretto is very wrong in berating them. She has the right to be upset with the news, but she shouldn’t have poured out her anger to the two ladies. What did she expect them to do, snap their fingers and make her luggage appear instantly? There was nothing else to do but wait for the luggage to arrive, as CebPac has said that it was being transported to Manila and will be delivered to their home. And for goodness sake, millions of trips around the world get delayed every now and then. Clearly, you ought to work on your patience, Claudine. I too have been a victim of hundreds of delayed flights, bus trips and train trips. I got upset, but never did I ever berated the staff, because I know they are not to be blamed. Bakit, si Bocboc at Ilagan ba ang ngmaneho ng plane from Caticlan to Manila at nagpadelay ng flight? Duh!

    Why would he hit an older man in front of his children, Raymart said? Well, for the very same reason that Claudine berated the CebPac staff in front of their kids. They were both upset and lost their tempers, that’s why they did that. Many parents in the world, even the best ones, have, at some point of their lives, done regrettable things in front of their kids after losing their tempers. Therefore, it is not impossible at all, Raymart, that you would do such a thing.

  4. Dear Lady Dada, for the sake of a meaningful discussion and for academic purposes, let’s prove our point:
    First of all, to quote” It is, therefore, within reason that their luggage was not on the same plane.” i havent encounter the same thing, while i also have my luggage excess several times , i still have my luggage in the same flight. (oh well maybe, for some reason, if the airplane really could not accommodate it, the airline maybe has the responsibility to inform their affected passenger that their baggage has to be carried by another aircraft), that’s what we call COURTESY. Second, while the couple has by all means the right to get mad, let me further say that yes, one tamad is correct that to verbally abuse the ground attendant is not right. (but who knows what happened?)

  5. In addition Lady Dada, i guess to better point out what is being discussed here, prior to discussing the “who did the sapaking in the sapakan”, it’s good to address first the cause before the effect. “he who is the cause of the cuase is the cause of the evil cause”.

  6. Way, you’re saying it’s CebuPac’s fault (the cause of the cause being CebuPac’s supposed failure to inform B&S about their luggage’s whereabouts) that Claudine Barretto got mad and made a scene?

    You are telling me, way, that Cebu Pacific should have been courteous enough to inform Raymart Santiago and Claudine Barretto that CebuPac’s plane was incapable of carrying Santiago & Barretto’s overweight baggage? Okay. I guess I’d consider that a responsibility, not courtesy. You know what courtesy is, though? Not yelling at ground crew who have no power over the location of your baggage.

    What exactly is our issue here?

  7. The issue? the issue here in not about their excess luggage, and what aircraft will carry it. i guess focus on the airlines fault (flight of origin) by not informing the couple that their luggage will be delayed. you see, what happenend next was the result of that fault, and the rest is history. everyone else has thier own fault after that first fault, and the rest were victims of circumstance. i hope you see that. 🙂

  8. WAY here in not siding anyone, baretto couple? tulfo? Nadah! just to point out, and not to ignore the real cause. Airlines responsibility? YES, that’s the issue here. 🙂

  9. I do see that. I do see how easy it is to shake the collective Internet fist at CebuPac — big faceless company fucking up! — rather than hold Claudine Barretto, Raymart Santiago, and — for that matter — Mon Tulfo accountable for their actions.

    It is too easy to scowl at a system that fails, e.g. CebuPac’s baggage capacities. It’s much harder to remind readers how lovely it is when human beings act like human beings, i.e. not yelling at other people, not throwing punches at old men, not throwing punches at young men.

  10. If they dont want delays, if they want to be treated like prince and princess and if they wish not to be seen they should have hired a private jet and crews thats gonna be at their beck and call…

  11. i have said that the couple has by all means the right to get mad, but that emotion should’nt be a passport as well to humiliate and berate anyone. Who wants that? what’s the point? for whatever feeling you have rightnow Lady Dada, i totally get your point that you really is totaly against the way couple handled the situation (and that’s personal).

    alone? humans are inherently evil that’s why they are guided with ethical and moral standards to do what is right and wrong. that is why laws and punishment were crafted overtime to punish the evil doers and to protect the innocent.

    To conclude, whatever THIER actions were, they should be accountable for it esp to thier victims. Way here deals only with the Legal consequence of one’s act after the other. 🙂

  12. Just want to add my two cents worth in this discussion as I used to work for an airline. Airlines know very well the loading capacity of their aircrafts. When there is a heavy load of cargo (w/c incidentally is also paid), the number of passengers in the cabin should be less than full capacity in order to maintain a safe load for an aircraft to fly. What some GREEDY businessmen/airline do is overbook their flights and accept all cargoes and passengers and get paid for it without thinking that situations like this can happen just because they don’t think of anything except PROFIT. When passengers complain, it shouldn’t be taken personally because it is not. When we were in training school with the airline i used to work for, we were always reminded that when a passenger complains, it is not about us, but about the issue on hand. The complainant only sees the uniform of the company we represent and for that person we are all ONE and the SAME. This is why answering the queries and complaints in a well informed manner in order to pacify the complainant should always be a priority in training Airline personnels. As one of our instructors used to say, “LOOKING WITHOUT SEEING AND LISTENING WITHOUT HEARING” should never be forgotten.

  13. I don’t know why all the comments here are saying it’s okay to verbally abused the 2 Cebu Pacific employees. That’s not appropriate for a public figures such as Claudine & Raymart. They put themselves in the mass therefore they should act professional, they can get mad/upset but immaturity actions and being uneducated to handle the left behind luggage to the extend aggressively verbally attacked 2 employees is no logic. Attacking Ramon Tulfo, was also unnecessary, he has the right to say no to Raymart for asking his phone captures, it was a public place, he’s a journalist, it’s his story. Raymart also have the right to ask why Ramon was taking captures, but not aggressively attacking him for not giving it away and ganging up on him. I do not like the idea Claudine & Raymart act as a victim on all their interviews and the reasons are all in-congruent.

  14. Aw, Little Flower, we don’t think it’s right to verbally abuse anybody! You and I see eye to eye on this.

  15. I think the couple are overtaken by their status. Even though they are celebrities, verbally abusing anyone should not be part of their script and even beating up a journalist who just wanted to share an incident which he has been writing for some time in his news column. It’s a good thing that someone captured the video because even though it’s not the whole story, it still captured the most important part of the story- Mon was ganged up unreasonably. He is a journalist what do you expect from him? Just to sit and watch a celebrity abuse a worker. And anyone with a brain will not put important things such as medicines in their check-in baggage.

  16. ” vaguely a journalist” – love it

    But… It’s “luggage”, dear, never “luggages”

  17. I don’t get why you folks are focusing on the luggage issue here. You can’t blame the airline for all this madness just because it was supposedly the root of Barretto’s outburst. The issue here is that they all acted like savages. And Raymart’s claim of “not hitting an older man in front of his children coz he wasn’t brought up by his parents that way” is obviously bullshit coz he obviously did just that, with the special participation of his wife of course. He may or may not have thrown the first punch but he still threw a punch. Judging from the video, this is not a case of self defense, it’s an overkill.

  18. One more thing, Way, I think your argument is ridiculous. Specifically this:

    “what happenend (sic) next was the result of that fault, and the rest is history. everyone else has thier (sic) own fault after that first fault, and the rest were victims of circumstance.”

    Not everything can be lumped into such reasoning, otherwise, everyone will just be “victims of circumstance”, and culpability is just a myth. If we follow your argument, then why don’t we dig deeper into that cause and effect logic you’re trying to push? What if prior to the luggage incident, Claudine was bitten by a cat, which caused her to act all catty before heading to the counter? Can we say then that the cat is really the “cause of the evil cause?” God help us for blaming the cat. Victims of circumstance would be those people at the airport who had to suffer as a result of this brawl (like getting stepped on by the security trying to break the fight while you’re merely walking by), not those people who chose to directly engage in the fight. Yes, they chose it given that they’re humans who have the ability to choose their actions. It’s a shame they made a bad one.

    Your line, “he who is the cause of the cuase (sic) is the cause of the evil cause” is pretty similar to Raymart’s “why would I hit an older man in front of my children? I wasn’t brought up by my parents that way.” It might have sounded smart and nice in your heads but when you let it out without a proper spine to back it up, it’s just empty and stupid. Sorry, but that can only fool a fool.

    One last thing, “Way here deals only with the Legal consequence of one’s act after the other” -How so?! And did you just refer to yourself as a third person? You are killing The Cat.. I mean me. Please don’t answer. I just had to.

    (Sorry onetamad, I couldn’t help it. I’ll shut up now.)

  19. The Cat, definitley, i wont argue with your point, people’s opinion vary. some deals it personally, that’s why judgment becomes clouded. Though funny, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion, nevertheless, opinions are never accepted in the court of law. Peace 🙂

  20. i’m irritated when raymart et al say that tulfo started the fight and tries to prove it by saying the guy has already admitted the same previously but denies it now. what tulfo has said is that when raymart and pals started demanding his phone, he shoved him, turned his back to leave but alas was ganged upon at that point. that’s when the brawl started, wherein he admittedly managed some defensive shoving or ‘parrying’. He did say that at the start of the brawl he was able to make ‘maniobra’ (maneuvers) in order to defend himself but dropped his guard when he saw that security personnel were coming. Even raymart recalls it was an open fist that hit him. that’s a parry, or a defensive shove my friend. I don’t think tulfo would be so reckless as to start a brawl when he knows he is outnumbered, but who wouldnt be put on the extreme defensive when you realize that you are seconds from a kuyugan? i must admit my sympathies fell on tulfo. the guy reminds me of my late dad, a real tigasin but a compassionate crusader for the underdog. yeah, and my dad in life was a big tulfo fan too.

  21. i know its also in bad taste for me to add this right here but, you know when tulfo mused that all this mess is the universe’s way of exposing stuff we need to know and correct? well, i thought of the word “karma” because i could still recall one day back in 2004-2005 being at a caterers meeting at abs-cbn where all attending reps of various caterers to the set of the teleserye “marina” were all complaining about young but then already foul-mouthed and ill-tempered claudine barretto. there was even a lola entrepreneur present who recounted how she almost fainted from the curses thrown at her by the actress just because she didnt like the food!

  22. lovely post. the only thing i don’t like about it is the fact that it’s written in a language not native to filipinos (you can argue it is, i can’t care less — but you probably won’t if you turn on the tv and tune in to early morning kid shows — english programs are getting translated to tagalog now, thus is the story of the death of it as a native language of this country). the reason i feel bad that your blog is in english? simple. only a few people would understand the things you wrote. that’s why i choose to use tagalog when commenting on anything that has to do with this fight.

    nevertheless, one hell of a writeup. props for seeing things the way they’re supposed to be seen.

  23. My 2 cents. The “open hand punch” allegedly thrown by Tulfo is called Atemi, a striking technique in Aikido (of which i heard old Mon has a black belt in). It is used to create an opening for a throw or to create distance between the aikidoka and the attacker/s. In less gentle Aikido schools(like the one I’m in), it is taught that if it’s absolutely necessary to make the first move then one ought to give a money shot to the eyes or throat to, again, create an opening or distance. Mr. Tulfo was sensible enough to not blind a man-bitch in self-defense, apparently.

    Though I often find his opinions disagreeable, the guy sure can bust some ass. I can’t imagine myself fighting 3 (or more?) assailants and not getting knocked out cold. Makes me wonder what would have happened if he was 10 younger.

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