WHEN news of the passing of San Miguel Corp. chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr. broke out early Wednesday morning, June 17, tributes from the business and sports world quickly poured in.
Many tales were told of the late basketball patron’s immense generosity, and two Cebuano athletes generously shared theirs.
Cebuano basketball legend and now Cebu City Councilor Dondon Hontiveros recalled meeting Cojuangco not long after he was traded to the San Miguel Beermen after a brief stint with Tanduay. With San Miguel being his favorite team, Hontiveros said he was ecstatic and grateful to Cojuangco for bringing him over.
“If someone that influential and that busy would call you by your first name when he sees you, it speaks highly of ‘Boss Danding.’ And as a player, you appreciate it. The first time I met him was in 2002 or 2003, I really thanked him for making my dream come true. In 1999, I was already receiving feelers that San Miguel was interested in me, and I became excited even though I was still playing for the Cebu Gems. So, when they finally got me, I was really thankful,” said Hontiveros, who had three separate stints playing for the San Miguel franchise.
He played for the Beermen and the Magnolia Beverage Masters from 2002 to 2011 before he got traded to Air21 Express. He then made his way back to the Petron Blaze Boosters in 2011 and played for another year. He then played his final year of basketball with the San Miguel Alab Pilipinas in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Basketball League in 2017.
Another Cebuano basketball player, Leonard Santillan, remembers the late Cojuangco as very humble in spite of his stature. Santillan played for the De La Salle University Green Archers, the UAAP basketball squad that Cojuangco backed.
“I remember ‘Boss Danding’ as a very down-to-earth person in spite of being the CEO of San Miguel,” said Santillan, who hails from Lapu-Lapu City.
“Whenever he talked to me, he really understood the hardships that me and my family were going through and he was always willing to help.”
Santillan then narrated how Cojuangco brought his entire family to Manila to watch him play during his rookie year with the Green Archers.
“During my rookie season in La Salle, I wanted my family to watch me play even if it was just one game. Unfortunately, back then, I didn’t have the resources to do that. When ‘Boss Danding’ learned about this, he didn’t hesitate to bring them all here to Manila,” shared Santillan.
“And then there was also this time when he helped my father get a job with San Miguel, and that’s also something that we will always be thankful for,” Santillan added.