Mr. Bright-Side: The Amazing Ace Bright
J.Anne Gonzales and Miji Gonzales 2012-05-08 12:32:49
Time to turn the spotlight on Patrick Ace Bright, Azkals Team Coordinator and protector of the sporting realm. While he dons not a jersey but his gadgets 24/7, he has mastered two Pinoy-loved sports, earned the title of producer at least once in his life, assigns Boracay as his second home and has enlisted in the so-called Evil Gang—whether he is the president, he does not admit. The Azkals love him, the fans cheer on him, and if there’s anyone who fears him—well, that can only be the Azkal stalker. Find out the reasons why we’ve decided to irrevocably call him Amazing Ace, and don’t be surprised if you find yourself doing the same.
All About Ace
If you’re a self-confessed, full-fledged Azkals fan, but has never seen or heard of the name Ace Bright before, well you ought to reconsider your loyalty and membership status. And if you think that Ace Bright is just a screen name, minus points as well! Ace doesn’t need to hide behind a pretentious name and pizzazz just to do his job bright. Time to get the facts straight as we talk about Ace this time.
Half-Australian and born in Romblon, Ace is very much a Filipino in all aspects—except for that dreaded Filipino time, which we were guilty of. Expect not a “G’day mate!” from this purebred Pinoy but the usual affability of a Tagalog greeting that exudes pleasantries from his pleasant demeanor. Tagalog speaking and quite a chatty fellow—we could tell that this was Ace’s biography in the making. Looks like someone wants to have a biography but that’s too MMK for this website, so might as well stick to the usual “feature.”
Ace was raised in Romblon by his adopted family, growing up as the foster “bunso” with 5 older stepsiblings. Up until high school, Ace was very much the Romblon resident until he found himself enrolled in Film at University of the Philippines, Diliman where he spent his University years as a resident dormer.
Rewinding the reel a bit as most curious readers might ask, “Why film?” the answer looms from Ace’s Hollywood-inspired childhood, and by no means does it involve the code name of a certain Azkal/Global FC player.
“I like to watch movies,” admits Ace—plain and simple.
Inspired by his adopted father who ran a video shop and managed film showing sessions for the urban poor, Ace already found himself increasingly fond of film and following the path to movie making.
Before HBO and DVD, operating a video shop seemed to be the dream of yesterday’s cinemaholic—it’s like owning an endless collection and getting first dibs on new releases. If Ace could perhaps dive on a sea of tapes, he could, though he probably never did because that would ruin his chances of being Employee of the Month. He wouldn’t want to miss having his photo pasted on the wall. I did say “tapes,” right? By that I meant VHS tapes. If you even considered betamax, well, look who’s old now.
On the Bright Track
Spending his college days in UP FilmSchoolset the right path to directorship, his ultimate ambition. Being a self-supported and independent student—that’s right, very characteristic of the isko (short for Scholar ng Bayan, a term reserved particularly for UP students) that he is—he needed a job to help finance his studies.
Even before its Kapamilya days, ABS-CBN opened its doors to Ace in the form of a part-time job as segment producer. With no hint of experience for the job except for being brainy enough to be Jeopardy Movie edition expert, so impressed was the Associate Producer with Aces’s natural born skills and attitude that he immediately took him in thus waiving the qualification for that dreaded production assistant role. One of the brains working behind Wazzup Wazzup, Ace was on his way to starting his very own series—of fortunate events mostly characterized by being “first,” aka Mr. Pioneer, sans the sneer.
Juggling school, work and dorm life did not seem to be quite a burden for Ace; he may not have admitted it fully but it seems that he rather enjoyed the hectic lifestyle, perhaps a bit of a contrast to his idyllic life in Romblon.
From Wazzup Wazzup, he moved as an intern to the creatives section of Star Records, became an OJT at Star Cinema, and then hopped the fence to join ABC Sports. All these were accomplished while still in school, but if you already found this eventful, continue reading and holding your breath, as Ace was also an active member (I believe officer was the word he used) in 3 different UP Film organizations and volunteered for the 1st Cinemanila—that’s Mr. Pioneer at work alongside his fellow UP students. Ace makes “busy as a bee” sound like a tagline made just for him and can certainly put the real Ace Handyman to shame with his knack for management and troubleshooting all of life’s problems.
“I did not even like sports until I got this job (with the PBA as producer), narrates Ace Bright.
All work and no play was a mantra best left on the sidelines, when Ace was recruited by the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) to produce its first ever lifestyle show. Helping establish a show that focused on the off court life of famed PBA celebrities, it was Ace’s first brush with the sporting industry. This also signaled his first “real” job, having graduated while in the employ of PBA.
With so many firsts surrounding his life, it’s just proper that his parents named him Ace and not Segundo or Demetrio. That would’ve been just fatal. Finding synonyms for “pioneer” can be quite the verbal chore, but then again, I refuse to be charged with a lackluster vocabulary and end up writing that word 10 times in a single write-up.
Despite being a newbie in the world of basketball, referee whistles and see through jerseys, Ace eventually became a pro in this business because he was able to demonstrate his proficiency and discipline in film. With his easygoing demeanor and likeable persona, the natural offshoot was to become close friends with the PBA superstars. On top of that, the enjoyable nature of his job, coupled with the out-of-town-trip brought his career to the “fun” track.
“I enjoyed what I was doing very much and because of that, I found it rather easy to do my job.” recalls Ace. If only all jobs were like this, then shrinks would find themselves useless and jobless.
Asking Alvin Patrimonio to act as a jeepney driver in one episode, while getting Danny Seigle to show off his cooking skills at home—these were just some of Ace’s fondest memories with the basketball heroes. When asked which players he cherished his new friendship with him, up came his top 6: Alvin Patrimonio, Mark Cardona, Arwind Santos, Willie Miller, Ren-Ren Ritualo and Gary David.
Come Bright with Me
Unknown to some, travel is Ace’s middle name, and he can easily take the place of Dora and Diego and do an even smacking better job in the exploration business, complete with trivia and photos, instead of song numbers.
It doesn’t help that he spent a year off, after PBA, country-hopping. That was roughly 365 days exploringDubai,Iran,Singapore,Thailand, and other places I was too slow to write down. Some might call it the calm before the storm that would be his next job at the Philippine Football Federation (PFF), but judging from the way narrated his year-long holiday, it sounded more like The Bright Escape. And next time, we hope to join him, or the other way around, he’d take us along.
Bright Kind of Job
In October 2009, Ace applied as editor-in-chief for the newly launched PFF newsletter. One assignment was to feature Coach Desmond Donaldson "Des" Bulpin, former head coach of the Philippine National Football Team. A friendly interview led to a bloody comprehensive discussion, and next thing Ace knew, Coach Des asked, “Do you want to work for the national team?”
A blatant “No” was simply unacceptable, and in December that same year, Ace found himself in what would be his present job and life as the famed Azkals Team Coordinator.
At the initial stage of the developing the national team, everything started at Stage zero, nil and a clean blank slate. It was Coach Des’ management style and Ace’s fortitude that established the system and finally got the wheels of the dog pound churning. From the coach, British practices were put into play—the bus, player allowances, training meals, regular camps and training sessions, and an office—we wouldn’t want to nickname them the Nomads now as that name’s taken. From Ace, all these came into reality with his hard work, perseverance and go-getter attitude we could expect from a former isko, not to mention having a British coach who wanted everything bloody right away.
The Coach’s preference for local players was an inspiring trait as futboleros like Chieffy and Yanti were given the opportunity to shine even way back. With Azkals Manager Dan Palami and Coach Des behind the scenes, the Azkals have officially begun, as heralded by Ace himself.
Ace and Coach Des spent so much time together that Ace may have found himself another inspirational paternal figure, this time in the arena of sports. However influential the coach has been to Ace’s life though, too bad he didn’t pick up that brill accent. Now that would’ve ace, Ace!
When it was time for Coach Des to part from Philippine football, it was a lamenting phase in Ace’s life. The coach was, after all, the accidental feature turned model, mentor, and trusted confidante. However, despite the few months of their partnership, strong bonds were formed and can never just bugger off once the Coach returned home. A lifetime friendship necessitates not a “Cheerio!” but more of a, “See you next time, mate!” Now that’s a hunky-dory ending for this Brit-ful chapter.
Other coaches have succeeded Coach Des, and while they have and continue to exhibit the same level of leadership and skill, Ace will always have a soft spot for that pioneering Brit bloke.
Ace and Means
A mainstay in all the Azkals games, training, camps, events and if need be, trips to the ER, we can probably say that Ace is the supporting star in this real life show of the Philippine National Football Team. He’s never been injured or required getting his nose fixed so it is safe to say that he’s there 100% of the time, or more of 200%, if you know what I mean.
Of course, Ace will not admit to this elating comparison to a primetime show, as he is there to do his job and not involve himself with the madness of show business, spotlight, chismis and all that media fest. He does, after all, wallow in the splendor of partaking in the “behind-the-scenes” portion of this job—which provides just enough entertainment and adventure.
There’s a slice of adventure and suspense, having gone through 2 consecutive earthquakes in two separate Asian countries, interspersed with falling-down-the-escalator incidents.
“Sumakay kami ng bus then nag train, buhat-buhat yung boxes papunta sa airport,” describes Ace of their encounter inJapanduring the earthquake. Not content with just shaking up the team, while at the airport, the boys fell down the escalator with their boxes—the escalator domino effect sounded like something that came off a 3D movie or a clip that Ace himself directed.
Then they went toMongoliaand finallyMyanmarwhere another earthquake welcomed them, but at least the drama was less intensified.
“Naglabasan kaming lahat ng hotel,” says Ace about this anti-climacticMyanmarepisode.
As for action, they get enough of that whenever the fans are around. From giving all sorts of food to riding the cars or getting home addresses, we do admit that these fans can be very resourceful and patient.
“Sanay na ako sa fans na yan because it was like that during my days at PBA,” explains Ace. That’s Ace for you: expert at fan management, and perhaps even more effective than an army of bodyguards. I bet if we placed Ace at MMDA, he could get rid of the traffic situation in no time.
A bit on the R-18 scene goes to the Indonesian fans during the Suzuki Cup. From giving them the dirty finger to spitting at the bus on the way to the game, our SEA neighbor’s violence and crazy devotion to their team is rather grotesque yet admirable at the same time. We are just glad that they didn’t throw chicken satay on the Azkals or Ace might have gone out of his way to give the country its very first red card.
With all that stress, excitement and turmoil that is Philippine Football, Ace does find time to relax and chill. We did name his as Dora and Diego’s greatest competition, so that makes travel the main component of his R&R time.
Whenever the Azkals visited other countries, they seemed to have this collective pastime, to go shopping and visit the malls. Not for Ace, though.
When they stayed at Nepal, Ace visited the museums. In Dubai, it was sightseeing of the temples and the tallest hotel. In Germany, he plotted to take a train to Paris (Oui!) but due to scheduling conflicts, ended up riding the train to Amsterdam (Goedemorgen!) which was just as spectacular. At least Ace can make references to “going Dutch” or the “Dutch treat” with credibility now.
Misagh Bahadoran was a frequent co-traveler in these unofficial expeditions, but other than these sneaky situations, Ace always found the time to have fun and travel with his Evil Gang.
Spotted mostly in Facebook photos, the members of the Evil Gang are mainly Azkals players, and it seems that their number has grown through the years. Whoever the mastermind of this gang was refuses to be named, but thanks to this ganglord, the group has thrived and continues to be one of Ace’s favorite cohorts.
Chieffy Caligdong and Ian Araneta were the first to be hailed as dark knights, being the one of the first Azkals recruits. Of course, Ace has always been present, and then there’s Misagh Bahadoran who would rather go sightseeing with the evil lords than go shopping like the rest of the Azkals, and finally what might seem like a new recruit is Paolo Pascual. Perhaps being Cebu-born Paolo has qualified on the basis of his knowledge on the Philippine archipelago or more specifically, his proximity to the beach. Of course, it could be that these evil boys get along as friends.
Boracay is a common hang-out, Ace practically spending a huge portion of his childhood enjoying the white beaches while they were still pristine.
“Romblon is very close to Boracay,” explains Ace. If we lived that close to Boracay to, we’d never go back home.
Having spent nearly a lifetime in Boracay, Ace simply enjoys the place for its sunsets and reminiscent atmosphere.
“Whenever we’d go there Misagh would be so angry because he would like to swim and play beach soccer, while we’d prefer to just stay in the room,” he narrates with amusement.
Travel and fun time are not the only components of the mission statement of the Evil Gang. Ace seems to be well bonded with the family of Chieffy, while he has helped Ian in setting up a football cup. It seems that the Evil Gang is the new fraternity for Ace. No blood compact needed, just 100% friendship and fun. Now that’s wicked.
Ace of Hope
While he has been assigned the coordinator of the team, Ace does more than “coordinate.” He organizes, solves problems, helps manage, plans, takes care of the team, considers their welfare, family and allowances and continues to solve more problems. The go-to guy for every Azkal, there isn’t a problem that Ace hasn’t resolved or a wrinkle that Ace cannot smooth out.
While there may be demands outside his written job description—well nothing fancy like scrubbing the floors or cooking haggis—he endeavors to help everyone as much as he can. So long as it would better the team, then he’s all out help and assistance.
He does these not out of mere obligation but rather because, “I love the team,” he admits with all sincerity. Nothing evil here, just genuine devotion.
Ace has worked with all the players and has been a witness to their patience, dedication to their work.
“Grabe yung determination nila,” exclaims Ace of the Azkals. Seeing the team work this way, anyone would be just as committed to join their cause and be a world class team.
Ace does his part by being a real-life ace in his job, and no one is complaining. It seems that he deserves more than a pat on the back but rather a series of pats.
Or a self-directed TV series, why not?
Finding it obligatory to inquire about the Azkals’ next activities and schedule, here’s quire a mouthful from Ace.
“The boys will be very busy. There’s the Suzuki Cup and the Long Teng Cup to prepare for,” he says.
“We’re also going to hold camps in Europe of the Middle East, basta overseas. But there will be in Bacolod or Davao as well.” Cool, better get the train schedules as early as now, Ace.
With the dedication you have shown the team, fans and new supporters are sure to unite in the same cause, or rather, bark.
As for Ace, his expeditions are not quite over as he’s mentioned the places he has yet to visit:Greece,Italy,Prague,Spain,ParisandNew York. We are confident that he would find his way in these countries, whether accidentally or on official business in no time. It’s just a matter of which Evil Friend to bring along. Perhaps Chieffy should start acquainting himself with gyro and phyllo? Or Ian ought to start addressing others as Monsieur and Mademoiselle?
In Your Ace
Ace imparts with us no sappy proverbs on how to prepare for the future or clichés that tell us the recipe for that sweet success. Despite his charismatic persona, no, we do not have a preacher in the making here.
Instead we’ve got a grounded guy who’d rather be the beach bum than an on-screen personality. A man who’d do his job well rather than demand esteem every time he performs a good deed. A true character and an evil friend.
If there’s anything that would best encapsulate Ace Bright’s life, it would be: “Live for the moment.”
With the way he’s enjoying life, I’d take that advice anytime.
And before we forget, here are his last words of wisdom: “Like sports, life has taught me to take it easy. If you fail and get hurt, there’s always the next game for you to stand up and prove yourself again. Possibilities in life are limitless. You just have to know which one is worth your time and effort. As what I learned from one of my favorite films (Y Tu Mamá También), ‘Life is like the ocean, so give yourself away like the sea.’”
Come Ace to Ace
The idioms and sayings that revolve around Ace Bright’s name are endless and fun to chant. Ace in the Hole. Ace of Base. Bright and Shiny. You Bright up my life. However fun though, this is not the way to catch Ace’s attention, much less the best method to apply for the Evil Gang. Be informed and be an ace in the life of Mr. Bright. Read on.
Patrick Ace Baldera Bright
Azkals Team Coordinator (2009 to present)
July 10, 1984
His adopted father, Manuel
Film, University of thePhilippinesDiliman
Into the Wild, The Departed, City of God, Y Tu Mamá También and A Walk to Remember
Favorite Foreign Directors
Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg
Favorite Local Director
Jose Javier Reyes
Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Wahlberg
Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep
Tuesdays with Morrie
Dinuguan, Ginataang Tulingan and anything with coconut milk
Favorite Football Team
Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham
Favorite UFL Teams
Global FC and Air Force
Favorite Local Players
Chieffy Caligdong, Phil Younghusband, James Younghusband, Stephan Schröck, Dennis Cagara, Jerry Lucena, Ian Araneta and Misagh Bahadoran
Life is a series of losing and finding one’s self.
Follow Ace Bright on Twitter: @acebright
Follow J.Anne Gonzales on Twitter: @LazyBlack_Cat
Follow Miji Gonzales on Twitter: @mijigonzales