Arnold Clavio and Ali Sotto, up close and professional
Arnold Clavio vividly remembers the day he and Ali Sotto met with Mike Enriquez, the Kapuso network’s consultant for radio operations, to discuss the possibility of the two cohosting what would become “Dobol A Sa Dobol B,” telecast 10-11 a.m. weekdays on dzBB 594 kHz on the AM band. Using music and comedy to “soften” the blow of scathing social commentary, the radio show is famous for poking fun at people in the news.
Arnold recalls, “The meeting took place at a Chinese restaurant in Eastwood. We were just acquaintances then. I was minding my own business while Mike and Ali were chatting away when, suddenly, Ali turned to me and said, ‘Why are you looking at my feet?!’ Napahiya ako! I shot back, ‘Hindi ko tinitingnan ang paa mo!’ That broke the ice. Then, Mike said, ‘That’s exactly the kind of banter I want for your show!’”
That eventful get-together took place in 1998 and “unofficially” launched Arnold and Ali’s potent professional partnership, which has since developed a loyal following. Ali would “temporarily” relocate from time to time—like, when her husband, US diplomat Omar Bsaies, was posted to Mexico in 2000 and Madrid in 2008—but, upon her return, she ended up happily reuniting with her favorite Igan!
Don’t get us wrong: Ali and Arnold are bosom buddies, but their friendship isn’t the cloying or smothering kind—as this interview reveals. When we asked Arnold where his comfortable rapport and chemistry with Ali were coming from, he answered in jest, “May respeto kasi ako sa Nanay ko o nakatatandang kapatid”—to which Ali feistily responded, “Where’s the knife?”
Kidding aside, they’re always there for each other when the times get rough. Ali discloses, “Arnold isn’t the type who would host a party for 50 people. I went to his house on his birthday—and there were only five of us! That’s how private he is!”
Arnold has an even bigger revelation: “Ironically, the day before Ali’s son, Miko, passed away (he fell to his death 10 years ago), our topic was about eye donation. The following day, somebody called me on ‘Unang Hirit’ and said that something terrible had happened to Miko. Ali was still sleeping then, so I told her husband to go to Makati Med immediately. —How do you break terrible news like that to a friend?” (Miko’s eyes were donated to the blind daughter of the hospital’s ambulance driver.)
What has Ali learned from Miko’s passing? She discloses, “I came to the realization that, until my last breath, I will continue to mourn my child—but, at the same time, there’s some peace that comes with that—because I used to wait for the grieving to end.”
The terrible accident brought Ali closer to Angel Locsin, who was Miko’s girlfriend at the time of his death. Ali shares, “When I was about to leave for Madrid, Angel called me, because she wanted me to meet somebody—Luis Manzano. I’m never intrusive, but she knows I’m there for her when she needs me. Then, when I was in LA, I had to ‘fix’ her disagreement with Arnold when the controversy involving the Azkals broke.”
Doesn’t Ali worry about her career every time she leaves the country? The radiantly lovely hostess enthuses, “Yes, leaving always puts my career on the line—but, family is my priority. I can’t preach about how important it is and not practise it myself. I live by example.”
How different is news reporting now, compared to how it was when Arnold began his career in radio 26 years ago? He answers, “At the time, when you went onboard, it was only you and a technician. You knew there were people listening to you, but there was no social media then—so, your listeners’ reactions were the least of your worries. Now, they even correct you! If you have bashers, it’s best to just ignore them.”
For Ali, was it easy to shift from singing to acting to newscasting? Ali replies, “People realized that I could talk well. When Maru (Sotto) and I split up, I had to quit law school, because I had to work for my kids. Then, Vic del Rosario cast me in ‘Kung Aagawin Mo Ang Lahat Sa Akin,’ as Sharon Cuneta’s mahaderang best friend.
“Recently, I just finished shooting my scenes for the Cinemalaya entry, ‘Hari ng Tondo,’ where I portray Eric Quizon’s mataray wife—so, I just played myself, no acting required (laughs)!”
We see (and hear) Arnold from sunrise to sundown. How does he decompress? He shares, “Ako ang security guard ng GMA 7 (laughs). Seriously, I don’t think about the workload that much. When an offer comes, I work hard to show my appreciation for their trust in me. I take power naps—I don’t need pillows to sleep, anyway. Makasandal lang ako, tulog na! I love going on a cruise—recently I went to the Mediterranean, around Southeast Asia and the Holy Land.”
Ali learned a lot from her experience hosting another TV show, “Personalan.” She explains, “Infidelity is a hot topic, not only because so many people can relate to it, but also because it results in humorous situations. But, I quit that show after eight months, because I was emotionally exhausted—I was absorbing the negativity of the cases we were discussing!”
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