RAIN or Shine coach Yeng Guiao was behind the wheels as he travelled from Pampanga to Congress in Quezon City when Spin.ph caught up with him on Monday afternoon.
Asked why he was the one driving, the fiery coach, also a first-term congressman representing the first district of Pampanga, said, "Sa dami ng fines na binabayad ko sa PBA, wala na 'kong pambayad ng driver."
That line was meant as a joke, of course. But the amount of penalties Guiao has stacked up in a long, colorful coaching career in the PBA is no longer a laughing matter.
A check with the PBA office showed Guiao has accumulated fines totalling P1.25 million in a 24-year career that started with RFM Swift back in 1990 and has since produced six league championships.
The former national coach breached the P1M mark in the just-concluded PBA Philippine Cup, where he incurred fines totalling P426,000 no thanks to a P100,000 penalty for flashing a dirty finger at league officials in the semifinal series against Petron and P200,000 for four technicals he got in excess of the 'league limit' of nine.
As eye-popping as the bill was, Guiao hardly sounded bitter, or much less remorseful, over the sum.
"It's simply a price you have to pay for standing up for your principles," said the colorful coach. "And for fighting for fairness and the proper running of this league, I have to pay the price - literally."
Under league rules, a coach, player, or official who got more than nine technicals during the course of a conference will be fined P50,000 for each technical.
Guiao was slapped with 13 technicals in the season-opening tournament alone.
The figure is also on top of the P2 million penalty slapped on Rain or Shine for the walkout led by Guiao in Game Six of the Finals opposite San Mig - the largest fine paid by a team for a 'game-related' incident.
Still, Guiao appeared undeterred, saying, "I'm a voice in the wilderness. Everybody (in the league) thinks the officiating is bad, but very few will come out and voice out what they feel."
Has he seen any improvement in officiating and in the way the pro league is being run in all the years that he has accumulated the penalties, the Rain or Shine coach was asked.
"That I'm paying more fines (this season) should be a barometer that will show less satisfaction (on my part about the officiating)," Guiao answered.
And will we ever see him mellow down?
"They raise the fines obviously because they want you to stop (criticizing)," said Guiao. "But if you stop being vigilant about these things, then you're merely allowing these to haunt you again.
"So you have to stay vigilant."