JUST a year and two months into the job as Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president, Ricky Vargas learned the hard way it’s a lonely thing being on top.
In as much as he wants to cultivate changes right away within the country’s Olympic governing body, Vargas admitted it will take some more time before transformation can be effected within the POC.
And for the moment, he said he’s trying to fit into the system currently ingrained within the organization while at the same time, also attempting to nurture the changes he wants to establish.
“Where I am not comfortable in the PCO is the culture, and how my own personality or leadership is being forced to a situation that I don’t like in terms of running the organization,” disclosed Vargas, gracing the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday at the Amelie Hotel-Manila for the very first time since being elected as POC president February of last year.
“I’m not too happy about that and we’d like to move forward to seeing to it that the culture changes into a more transparent, more honest, and less political organization.”
Vargas and Congressman Bambol Tolentino, who accompanied him at the Forum, were voted president and chairman, respectively, in 2018 after defeating Jose ‘Peping’ Cojuangco and Ting Ledesma in a court-ordered poll held at the Wack Wack Golf and Country Club.
But getting the post of president is just one half of the job done as Vargas had to work and deal next with a POC board that is a hold-over from the previous administration.
And it’s not that easy.
“So we had to live to the culture of the board that we are trying to work with,” said Vargas, who was also with POC communications director Ed Picson in the session presented by San Miguel Corporation, Tapa King, Amelie Hotel-Manila, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
“So they have many rights, procedures, tradition, and all that we’re trying to work with,” added Vargas, who’s first year in the office was met by the continued unsettled leadership disputes within various National Sports Associations (NSAs), POC membership issues, changes within the POC By-Laws and Constitution, among others.
He’s also among the lead persons currently working on the country’s hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games later this year.
But Vargas, grandson of former Philippine Amateur Athletic Federation (forerunner of POC) chairman Jorge Vargas, said he’s also looking at himself and try to work with the current norms within the Olympic body.
He added understanding the reason behind the advice of board member Butch Pichay that getting the POC leadership is a ‘political job’ in itself.
“I am trying to change as well If I can. If I can change, if I can live in that kind of en environment. I’m also looking at myself,” added Vargas, who has been rumored of being ousted several times as head of the POC.
“Araw-araw merong coup,” he said, noting that he finds it hard to know who’s with him and who are plotting his downfall.
“At this point in my experience with the POC, parang ayaw ko na. Ang hirap,” Vargas said.
The good thing, Vargas said he has Tolentino by his side, who he referred to as his ‘angel.’
“He is a politician and he knows how to handle the board. That’s why I don’t want to have a board meeting without ‘Tol.’”
If there’s two things he’s been proud of in his short stint as POC chief, Vargas said it has to do with the athletes and the proper governance of the organization.
“For the athletes and the proper governance of the association which is now fully recognized as saw by the IOC, by the Olympics Solidarity and by the many other associations internationally that has already congratulated us and started working with the Philippines again,” he said.