THREE very important persons considered among the pillars of Philippine sports are going to be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award during the SMC-PSA (Philippine Sportswriters Association) virtual Awards Night.
The late Ambassador and former San Miguel Corp. Chairman and CEO Eduardo ‘Danding’ Cojuangco, one-time Gintong Alay Project Director Jose A. Romasanta, and former PBA Commissioner Renauld ‘Sonny’ Barrios are the three new recipients of the special award to be handed out by the country’s oldest media organization in the March 27 event at the TV5 Media Center.
The three respected personalities join unanimous Athlete of the Year choice Yuka Saso in the short but compact list of awardees which will be recognized in the first ever PSA virtual awards rite co-presented by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and Cignal TV, with 1-Pacman Partylist and Rain or Shine as major backers.
A year ago, pool legend Efren ‘Bata’ Reyes was bestowed the Lifetime Achievement Award, joining a long and storied list of previous honorees that included the likes of Caloy Loyzaga, Virgilio ‘Baby’ Dalupan, Florencio Campomanes, Mauricio Martelino, Francisco Elizalde, Carlos Padilla, Filomeno ‘Boy Codinera, the 1973 Philippine men’s basketball team, among others.
Although known more as a businessman and political figure, Cojuangco was best remembered as a long-time supporter of Philippine basketball and designated as godfather of the Philippine men’s team during the time of the late President Marcos.
Under his watch, he put together the blueprint that gave rise to the Northern Consolidated Corp (NCC) basketball program under the late great coach Ron Jacobs, and bannered by the country’s top amateur players and three naturalized cagers.
The program saw the resurgence of Philippine basketball in international campaigns which saw the country win the 1982 Asian Youth Championship at the Araneta Coliseum, the 1984 Asian Interclub Championship, 1985 Jones Cup and Southeast Asian Games, before culminating with a triumphant campaign in the 1985 FIBA-Asia Championship, marking the last time the country topped the biennial cagefest.
Cojuangco was also the man behind the success of the San Miguel Corp. in the PBA which won the first league grand slam outside of the fabled Crispa Redmanizers in 1989. More championships were won later when both Ginebra and Purefoods became part of the giant conglomerate.
The former Tarlac governor and congressman who run for the highest position in the country during the 1992 presidential elections as founder of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), later turned his attention in backing the De La Salle basketball program, which netted the school a pair of UAAP championship in 2013 and 2016, respectively.
He died due to lingering illness June of last year. He was 85.
Romasanta meanwhile, has been a lifetime sportsman, a throwback to the days of the Gintong Alay Project where he was executive director shortly after the EDSA Revolution.
A long-time associate of former Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President and House of Representative member Jose ‘Peping’ Cojuangco, the 76-year-old Romasanta also once held the position as POC vice-president and became head of various National Sports Associations (NSA) such as softball, karatedo, and volleyball.
He was Chef De Mission of the Philippine delegation to the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics that saw the country end a 20-year medal drought after weighlifter Hidilyn Diaz bagged the silver in the women’s 53-kg weight division.
Barrios served in various capacities in his long tenure with Asia’s pioneering pro league, initially as assistant to the executive director, executive assistant and finance officer, deputy commissioner, acting commissioner, and finally as commissioner in 2008, becoming the seventh PBA chief in history.
He is currently the Executive Director of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP).