FORMER PBA superstar Kenneth Duremdes' visit to Puerto Princesa recently turned into a trip down memory lane.
Duremdes was approached by Jovie Uy, a longtime fan from Palawan who used to send letters to 'Captain Marbel' via the old-fashioned snail mail, way back during his rookie year in the pro league with Sunkist in 1995.
Duremdes was even more surprised to know that Uy was still in possession of the picture the player sent to her biggest fan long before social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram became part of everyday life.
"Grabe, twenty years ago, naitago mo pa 'yan," was Duremdes' remark after seeing the old, graying picture of him wearing the Sunkist No. 19 jersey which Uy had kept all these years.
The former PBA MVP recalled how he used to reply to fans through letters sent via P.O. (Post Office) box.
"Dati kasi nanghihingi ako sa mga photographers ng negative, tapos ipapa-develop ko ng maramihan tapos pipirmahan ko yun sa likod, lalagyan ng kaunting greetings, tapos 'yun ang ipapadala ko isa-isa sa mga fans," said Duremdes.
Duremdes is now also active on Facebook and Instagram but insisted he preferred interaction with fans during their time which, he said, is more personal.
"Alam mo noong araw hindi pa uso ang social media gaya ng Facebook, kaya iba ang relasyon ng players at fans. Sa tingin ko mas intimate kasi nagsusulatan kayo eh. Iba yung nasusulatan mos ila eh," he said.
"Mas nakaka-solidify kasi ng relasyon yun sa kanila eh. Unlike ngayon na screen grab or download na lang nila picture mo. Iba pa rin yung may hard copy, ika nga. Kasi may parang bond eh," he said.
"Masyado na kasing mabilis ang technology ngayon, sabi nga digital era na tayo. Pero tignan natin yung past, kami dati may ganun rin (relasyon sa fans), pero mas close kami dati sa kanila, kasi nagsusulatan kami eh.
"Personal interaction at mas marami ang meet and greet namin noon. Ngayon kasi makikita mo na lang players through fan pages," he added.
Duremdes' longtime fan agreed.
Uy, now a teacher at Manuel Austria Memorial school in Palawan, said there was no bigger thrill for her than receiving an envelope from her idol with a letter and picture inside.
"Ang sarap ng feeling. Pinadala niya itong picture na ito kasama 'yung profile niya at info sa kanya tungkol sa iba't ibang bagay, gaya ng kung ilan silang magkakapatid," said Uy, .
Asked if she has a new idol now that Duremdes has been retired for seven years, Uy shook her head.
"Wala na akong ibang idol, wala akong ibang naging idol. Siya lang. Yung pagiging fan nya ako, solid na solid talaga," she said while revealing how she got the address of Duremdes through a basketball television show in the 90s.
Uy said she momentarily left her class to run to her house and get the pictures and other memorabilia upon learning that Duremdes was in their school to take part in a groundbreaking ceremony fora school donated by the Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation and Coral Bay Nickel Corporation, where he is one of the basketball ambassadors.
"Sulit naman po pagtakbo ko pabalik sa bahay kasi napapirmahan ko ulit yung picture. Saka nakapagpa selfie pa ko ulit sa kanya," she said.