Mendoza: Danding, ECJ & BOSS

Al Mendoza
·2 min read

I’m glad that Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr. will be one of the honorees in today’s sports awards of the Philippine Sportswriters Association headed by Tito S. Talao.

He should have been feted when he was alive. Why don’t we honor our greats while they are still around?

Frailties abound in this truly unfair world.

But then again, late is never late for as long as the action being done befits the occasion—as in paying tribute to someone’s contribution for the uplift of humanity.

Born rich, Cojuangco, called ECJ by his peers and BOSS by his legion of fans and allies, used much of his wealth to help Philippine sports.

Mainly enamored with basketball to become, aptly, the country’s first basketball godfather, Cojuangco also spent a good chunk of his money to support other sports, school athletics programs and even the personal needs of athletes unknown to him.

To him, there was no distinction. Rich or poor, he was willing to help. Young or even those considered over-the-hill, he’d treat each one with equal attention.

At De La Salle, he bankrolled the basketball team for decades. He even built an apartment type building inside the campus to house players recruited from the provinces—either for school or national use.

“That’s my dear alma mater, Al,” he would tell me during dinner with him in his bungalow at plush Santa Monica, Los Angeles, CA.

That occasion was arranged by Chit Pineda, his bosom friend—a momentous one as it was the first interview granted by ECJ after his self-exile following the 1986 Edsa Revolt.

I called up Chit, then based in San Francisco, to request for the interview.

“Sure,” Chit said. “The BOSS will only be too glad to see you.”

In 1985, I joined ECJ to the Hong Kong ABC cagefest and the World Interclub in Girona, Spain.

Our dinner group included the Journal’s Roger Flores (bless his soul) and, yes, Jake P. Ayson, my beloved neighbor.

Over roasted chicken and salads, I had the most memorable moments with BOSS Danding—BOSS meaning “Basta Okey Sama Sama.”

And to top it all, our butler and waiter that night was the late Ron Jacobs, one of the greatest coaches that Philippine basketball has ever had. But that’s another story.