Reynel Hugnatan has recently been at the center of a social media storm.
Fingers have been pointing at him as the one who said “Ref, lutong-luto ‘to, ah!” during Meralco’s PBA Philippine Cup Game Three semifinals clash versus Ginebra.
But for the 42-year-old native of Bacolod, he could not blame the fans for believing it was him because of the clever camera work by the league’s TV presenter One Sports.
“Nagkataon lang na ako ‘yung nagrereklamo sa video. Narinig siguro nila ‘yung salita na ‘yun tapos timing na ‘yung camera nasa akin nun. Akala tuloy nila ako nagsabi nun,” the 22-year veteran told reporters inside the PBA Bubble.
“Okay lang naman ‘yun. Ganun talaga.”
With 10 minutes and 11 seconds left in the game and Meralco down, 66-56, the 42-year-old was called for a loose ball foul against Japeth Aguilar. Hugnatan looked visibly frustrated, as he felt that there should have been a three-second violation on Aguilar; instead, a foul was called. During the next possession, Aguilar finally received a three-second violation.
But when referee Rey Yante went to the scorer’s table to clarify something, someone from the Meralco bench was overheard saying, “Ref, lutong-luto ‘to ah!”
The panel of James Velasquez and Jolly Escobar acknowledged the remark and tried to downplay it. As they were doing so, the camera quickly panned to Hugnatan making a case against another referee.
For Hugnatan, what matters is that he knows the truth.
“Sa akin, okay lang naman ‘yun. Alam ko naman ‘yung totoo eh. Kumbaga sila, nakita nga nila sa TV ‘yung nangyari, so hindi ko rin sila masisisi — opinyon nila ‘yun eh. Wala naman ako magagawa kasi hindi ko naman hawak ‘yung nasa isip nila, nasa puso nila, o nasa salita nila. Sa akin, okay lang ‘yun,” he continued.
“Alam ko ‘yung totoo.”
The league is currently investigating the real speaker of those words.
Despite the memes and hate messages he has been receiving, Hugnatan insists that he does not wish ill on anyone.
“Hindi naman kasi hindi naman totoo, so bakit ako maiinis? Wala naman problema sa akin ‘yun. Tsaka sa nagsabi nun, alam naman nila ‘yung totoo eh. Alam na nila ‘yun.”