MANILA, Philippines – Speaking in an exclusive interview with “The Buzz” on July 24 about her association with some of the members of the Philippine football team, the Azkals, model Amanda Coling said as much: “Si Simon [Greatwich] and Neil [Etheridge], nakilala ko na po, 2009.
Si Simon, matagal na po akong niyayayang umuwi sa kanya sa Magallanes pero hindi ako sumasama.”
She also added, “Mag close friends ata sila eh, so parang si Neil, nag give way na lang to Simon… parang nagdidiska-diskarte, parang ganun. Pero si Simon ang mas nangulit sa akin. In-add niya ako sa Facebook, nagme-message siya sa akin sa text, niyayaya niya ako pagka he’s out clubbing. Mini-meet ko naman siya, nagu-usap usap kami. Pero 'pag niyayaya na niya ako papunta ng Magallanes, hIndi naman ako sumasama…”
When host Boy Abunda asked if he was courting her, she replied, “He didn’t buy me flowers… hindi ko alam ang definition ng ligaw eh…”
Prodded to discuss if she knew other players from the team, she revealed, “Si Ton [Anton Del Rosario] nakikita ko na sa gimikan dati, pero hindi ko alam na Azkals siya. Nalaman ko lang on June 2. Nalaman ko lang din na Ton pala ‘yung name niya on June 2 rin. Si Sabio [Jason Sabio], on June 2 ko lang din na-meet…”
While Coling freely gave this information, her legal counsel, Atty. Apollo Sangalang—who sat with her and would sometimes reply on her behalf during the interview—noted, “But we have to put Amanda’s answer in the proper context. Kasi these four athletes were mentioned by Paul Weiler, were identified by Paul Weiler.” Apparently, Coling is only talking about these four because their names have already been implicated in the issue surrounding her.
So when prodded about what really happened on June 2, the lawyer replied, “I hope you would respect that we cannot answer…”
When asked if Coling was intimate with them, specifically Greatwich, Sangalang also replied for her, “Baka iba ‘yung isipin ng mga tao eh,” effectively stopping his client from responding.
Coling’s name had come into the public radar when rumors surfaced that several members of the Azkals had raped a woman, with Coling being alleged as the victim mostly over the Internet and various exchanges over SMS from people “in the know.”
The rape issue surfaced first as a blind item and, later, the name Paul Weiler also surfaced as the one who supposedly divulged the incident and even named the four Azkals member supposedly involved—Greatwich, Etheridge, del Rosario and Sabio.
Weiler claimed to still be a consultant for the Philippine Football Federation, and likewise claimed to have exchanged Facebook messages with Etheridge that “he used sex violence vs a woman and I recorded the message…,” as Weiler himself purportedly wrote to thehotdogstand.net’s editor, Eric Dimzon.
By July 19, Coling’s lawyer issued a statement neither confirming nor denying the incident, but noted the date June 2—the day the supposed incident happened.
When asked by Abunda point blank if she had been raped on June 2, the lawyer said they will not answer it. But as Abunda paraphrased the question to only ask if something happened on that day, without going into specifics, “May nangyari,” the legal counsel replied.
Abunda, of course, pointed out the grey areas and contradictions of the issue. Abunda said, “No one knows the crime, no one knows the real story… ‘Pag sinasabing may diumano’y nang-abuso, sino ba ang nang-abuso at sino ba ang inabuso. Sino ba ang ating pinag-uusapan?”
The lawyer replied, “May legal na aspeto itong kwento ni Amanda, kasi sabi niya, kailangan pa niya ng panahon na mag-decide. Ang advise ko po sa kanya, huwag muna nating ilantand kung ano ‘yung nangyari sapagka’t kung hindi ka desidido kung ano ang gusto mong gawin, ay baka may mga taong masagasaan…”
“Kasi po ‘yung mga alleged na suspects have parents. And ako, I have a kid. So I feel for the parents, ‘di ba? Kung masasampahan sila ng kaso, it’s gonna hurt the parents,” Coling said in explanation to why it’s taking her this long to make a decision.
“I grew up without a dad… Hindi mayaman 'yung family ko. I take care of my family, ako ‘yung pinaka-matapang don, ako ‘yung pinaka-madiskarte. ‘Yun, friendly lang ako sa lahat… Minamahal ko lang ang pamilya ko,” she stated in the beginning of the interview.
“Meron po akong three-and-a-half-year-old na anak. Ako po ang sole bread winner, ako lang po ang bumubuhay sa kanya… hindi po nagsusustento ‘yung tatay niya,” she continued, giving a backgrounder on her own state of affairs.
And to further reiterate how much family means to her, she admitted, “Until now, my family knows that I’m involved. But still, kahit sila, hindi ko sinasabi kung ano man ‘yung nangyari… I can’t.” And despite already giving interviews and essentially coming out in public, she said, “Ayokong hawaan pa sila nitong burden na ‘to.”
The lawyer also noted, “Dun naman po sa mga na-apektuhang tao rin, dito sa storya na ‘to, pati sila po naapektuhan din, hindi lang po si Amanda. Pati po ‘yung mga tao na mga miyembro ng Azkals ay nadadamay. Wala naman pong hinanakit si Amanda doon sa football team.”
“At saka hindi ko po sila kilala,” she interjected, referring to the rest of the team.
Apparently, people feel still question Coling's motives throughout all this. To some, she doesn’t seem to be too affected by the issue, that she doesn’t seem angry about it. “At some point, galit na galit na galit na galit po talaga ako,” Coling replied. “Pero hindi ako ang lumabas, kahit galit na galit ako, anong laban ko, ‘di ba, sinong maniniwala sa akin?”
She continued, “More than one month, nananahimik ako po. Wala akong inakusahan, wala akong sinabihan ng masama, hindi ako ang nagpasimula nito…”
And the lawyer concurred, “Hindi pa niya gustong magsalita, na-pwersa lang siyang magsalita dahil sa mga pressure ng media at dun sa pagkawala ng kanyang trabaho. At pinapangalanan siya nang walang pahintulot, so kailangan niyang magsalita na.”
To her detractors—who call her names, describe her as looking like a 50-year-old or a drug addict, and even refer to her as “mukhang pera”—Coling said, directing her comments to the audience, “I just wanna say I don’t understand you right now, but I forgive you.
"I would understand kung gustong isipin ng mga tao 'yan, pero sinong gustong sumikat na sira naman 'yung reputasyon niya? Na nai-imagine ng mga tao na finootball daw ako ng mga lalake… ganon…”
In the absence of any clear goals or what she wants to pursue, Coling just said, “Right now talaga hindi ko talaga kailangan ng extrang kailangan kong gawin, extra responsibility. So right now, I just wanna live my life… let me,” she pleaded.
“Pabayaan natin si Amanda mag-isip, at kung ano po ang kanyang magiging desisyon sa bandang huli, respetuhin na lang po natin,” the lawyer enjoined.
During the whole interview, Coling looked composed, but it wasn’t until after she was asked about her son that she became emotional. “Palalakihin ko siya na puno ng pagmamahal.” “And I hope na if I do tell him, I hope he’ll be open minded enough to understand why things had to be this way…”
Abunda encouraged her to address her son, and Coling then said, “Baby," she began, telling Abunda that the topic was making her cry. Without tears but with her voice breaking, she continued, "Um, Darwin I love you so much. Kung hindi dahil sa’yo, I’d be a totally different person ngayon. Mahal na mahal kita, lahat ng ginagawa ko, um, hopefully para sa ikabubuti mo…”