The influence of the country’s most influential sportsman just became stronger. His name is Manny V. Pangilinan. He bankrolls Gilas Pilipinas. He owns three teams in the PBA (Meralco Bolts, NLEX Road Warriors and TNT KaTropa). The 2023 hosting of the FIBA World Cup, when we’ll see Giannis and Kyrie and Porzingis in Manila? This was made a reality because of MVP.
Now, thanks to the all-out backing of the PLDT boss, the mogul at the Phil. Olympic Committee (POC) named Peping Cojuangco was finally booted out last Friday. Mr. Pangilinan visited Wack Wack Golf Club minutes before the POC elections started. And, when victory was claimed, he promised P20 million as seed money for the new POC.
Victorico P. Vargas is the 10th chieftain of the country’s Olympic committee. Nicknamed Ricky, he has succeeded top personalities that included Ambrosio Padilla, Jose Sering and Cristy Ramos. And, if you look further into the POC history, there’s one named “Jorge Vargas” and he was the POC head from 1935 to 1955.
Vargas and Vargas are relatives. Ricky is the grandson of Jorge, a sports icon who became the first Pinoy member of the IOC.
Fast forward six decades later, Ricky P. Vargas assumed the POC presidency when he won the POC election of the NSAs with a tally of 24-15. It appears that “24” is his lucky number. Yesterday, the 24th of February, was the birthday of Mr. Vargas.
In Philippine sports, he now holds the most powerful of positions. In the PBA, he was the recently-installed chairman for the 2017-2018 season. In boxing, he’s the president of the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines, the NSA for the sport of Manny Pacquiao.
PBA. Boxing. POC.
How powerful can a sportsman get?
My personal take on Mr. Vargas? He is non-traditional, non-political and has proven himself in the business world — which will be helpful in running the POC. He will do well.
He also has the backing of MVP. From 2000 to 2010, he was the Senior VP of PLDT. For five years starting in 2010, he was CEO of Maynilad Water Services, a Pangilinan-run company. Of his dozens of key associates, Ricky Vargas is MVP’s most trusted man.
The task confronting Mr. Vargas is herculean. After a 13-year long reign, Peping Cojuangco still has his men and cohorts in the POC. And you know who sits as the Philippine representative to the IOC? She’s Peping’s daughter, Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski. Vargas will have to collaborate with her. What’s sad to know is that politics will forever be infused in sports.
Frank Elizalde, who presided over the POC elections, was asked if healing in sports is possible. He laughed.
“Knowing my fellow POC members, no. Sorry,” he said. “In reality, there’s a lot of not friendly relations among a lot of people.”
Losing hurts. And Peping might file a protest with the IOC. If he does, what a shame. Had he willingly given up his selfish throne last year, he would have been granted an honorable exit.
It’s a bright, new morning for sports.
Good luck, MVP and RPV.