Ex-Ateneo Blue Eagle great Jimmy Pestaño passes away

Rick Olivares - Philstar.com
Ex-Ateneo Blue Eagle great Jimmy Pestaño passes away
Former Ateneo Blue Eagle Jimmy Pestaño

MANILA, Philippines – Former Ateneo Blue Eagle Jimmy Pestaño, who played alongside the great Ed Ocampo in a pair of NCAA title teams in the 1950s, passed away last June 13.

The 84-year-old Pestaño died in a hospital in Vancouver, Canada, where he has lived since 1989.

Pestaño played alongside Ocampo (whose son Alvin starred for La Salle’s football team), Poch Gayoso (the father of later Blue Eagles and PBA player Jayvee Gayoso, who in turn is the father of football star, Jarvey), Frankie Rabat, Ando Hernaez, Cris Arroyo (whose sons Bong and Bing played for both Ateneo and UP), Dodo Martelino and Boogie Pamintuan among others. 

Their coach then was Jing Roco, the father of actor Bembol Roco, who is also an Atenean. 

The team won back-to-back NCAA seniors titles in 1957 and 1958, beating Mapua and then La Salle; the latter as co-captain to Ed Ocampo. During the 1959 season, Pestaño’s last, he was named the best player of the team.

Jimmy Pestaño encircled in red.

Pestaño hailed from Cebu where he was then spotted by Ateneo’s Fr. Jim Reuter, S.J., who brought him to Manila. 

“It was a life-changing moment for my father,” said his son Mike Pestaño, who later played for the Ateneo baseball team. “He was also recruited by UST but his father, my grandfather, advised him to go to Ateneo.” 

The six-foot Pestaño played forward, center, and even guard, depending on where the coach assigned him.

When he graduated from college, he immediately went to work for Caltex. During his first few months, like all newcomers to the petroleum giant, he was assigned to one of the stations to pump gas. 

One time, a car filled with former NCAA foes spotted him and asked him to not only fill up the gas tank, but also to wipe the windshield. 

“I held back my anger as they thought this was a way to get back at me for all the hardship I caused them on the basketball court,” Pestaño told this writer years ago during a lengthy interview. 

Unbeknownst to Pestaño, a senior Caltex manager watched the scene unfold. The professionalism in which he conducted himself impressed the executive. The “initiation” was over after that, and he went to serve the company for 30 years as its general manager for retail marketing before he migrated.

“My father advised me to learn from everything that happened to me,” recalled the elder Pestaño during that same interview. 

“I was there when a Mapua player named Meneses punched Ed Ocampo in the face during a game and instead of retaliating, Ed shook the player’s hand. And that fired up the team the proper way. I was proud of Ed because it was what we stood for and I learned my lesson later on especially during the gas pumping incident.”

“They say there are lessons to be learned on the basketball court. And I, we, sure did. From losing and not going to the finals in my first year and then winning it all for two years.”

“We also had disciplinarians in Fr. Jim (Reuter) and Coach Roco where we behaved and did what was asked of us in sports and in the classroom.”

Pestaño is survived by his wife, Tessie, and children Michael, Gabriel, Maritess and Maria Jamia.



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