A man for all seasons

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - June 10, 2020 - 12:00am

Today marks the 85th birthday of San Miguel Corp. chairman Eduardo (Danding) Cojuangco Jr.  In the history of the Philippines, there is one man whom Tarlac will forever be indebted to for being an inspiration, mentor and leader to not only thousands of Tarlacqueños whose lives he has touched but to millions of Filipinos to whom he has dedicated his life to provide for a better future.

He’s called Boss Danding by those who admire and respect him for what he stands for, what he lives by and what he believes to be his philosophy in life – to give of himself so that others may benefit in the task of nation-building.  As an acronym, BOSS stands for Bawa’t Oras Sama Sama, his motto in declaring the importance of teamwork, unity and solidarity.  Throughout his storied career as a politician and businessman, Boss Danding was guided by two main objectives – to uplift the lives of Filipinos and to contribute to a stronger national development.

The eldest of six children, Boss Danding grew up in his hometown of Paniqui, exposed by his father Tarlac Gov. Eduardo Cojuangco Sr. to a life where his eyes were opened to the challenges of ordinary people, regardless of social standing, at an early age.  His boyhood playmates were children of farmer-tenants and he embraced the fellowship of classmates in elementary public school.

Boss Danding was only 16 when his father passed away and shortened his learning curve to become padre de familia earlier than usual.  He finished high school at La Salle, took up agriculture at UP Los Baños and attended California Poly at San Luis Obispo.  From a wide-eyed province boy, Boss Danding turned into a forward-thinker whose works, accomplishments and contributions to nation-building placed the province of Tarlac in the world map as the home of captains of industry, government leaders and outstanding professionals.

In sports, Boss Danding’s achievements are legendary.  He’s the only Asian to be inducted into the Australian Horseracing Hall of Fame.  As a breeder, his thoroughbred Manila topped the 1 1/2 mile Breeders Cup Turf at Santa Anita, California, in 1986 and won nine major US races before suffering an injury and retiring to stud duty at a syndicated price of $20 million in 1987.  Another of his horses Kapalaran won four races in Australia in 1987.  Manila and Kapalaran were two of several horses to boast of Boss Danding’s Filipino heritage.  Other horse winners with a Filipino ring to their name included Barkada, Pasikatera, Palaban and Tarlac.

In basketball, he took the Philippines to several international championships as the sport’s godfather.  The list of honors includes the 1982 Asian Youth title, the Jones Cup titles in 1981 and 1985, the Southeast Asian Games gold medal in 1981 and 1983 and the FIBA Asia championship in 1985-86.  In the PBA, the San Miguel Group maintains three pro teams. Boss Danding was enshrined in the PBA Hall of Fame in 2007.  In the UAAP, he pays personal attention to the senior varsity of his alma mater. Boss Danding received the Distinguished Lasallian Award in 1977, became a La Salle Sports Hall of Famer in 2002 and was recognized with the La Salle Order of Madame de Maillefer Award in 2011.  Other sports that have benefited from his support include equestrian, bowling, golf, volleyball and boxing.

Boss Danding has chaired, managed and spearheaded the success of at least 50 major companies that significantly contributed to the nation’s economic growth and provided employment to thousands of Filipinos.  His success story echoes not only in the halls of San Miguel Corp. but also beyond the Philippines, the world over.  Boss Danding has repeatedly shown that success is not only measured by one’s wealth and triumphs but by how it is shared with others and how it impacts on the country.  Happy birthday to a man for all seasons.

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