Art Macapagal

Two days ago, fighting for the presidency of the Philippine Olympic Committee, Jose “Peping” Cojuangco bested his rival, Art Macapagal. What a thriller of a contest!

At first, the four initial ballots cast went for Cojuangco. Next, Macapagal, the half-brother of President GMA, snatched 11 of the next 15 votes to lead, 11-8. But after that, Cojuangco won 12 of the next 17 votes to virtually clinch it at 20-16. But, four more ballots were left unopened. The first vote went to Macapagal. Same with the second. And the third. All of a sudden, the score stood at 20-19 with one vote remaining. At this point, Cojuangco said, “I have to admit that my heart beat a little bit faster than normal.” Finally, when the last vote was said, it read: “Cojuangco.”

By a score of 21-19, Peping was given another four-year POC mandate.

But this, to me, is not where the story ends. It’s what happens next that’s fascinating. For, the loser, Art Macapagal, could have complained. Their contest lasted months and, as late as the day before the elections, there was talk that it wouldn’t push through because of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). And so, when Mr. Macapagal lost—he could have walked out, grumbled, criticized the proceedings, growled that the elections were rigged. Imagine losing by one vote!

He did not. Instead, moments after the victor was declared, he shook hands with Mr. Cojuangco. Quoting The Phil. Star, he said: “The POC has made its decision, so I accept it. It’s everybody’s responsibility to unite behind the new set of leaders. And I mean it.”

That’s remarkable. Given the infusion of politics in RP sports, what a magnanimous and honorable act. Not only is Art Macapagal a “good sport” but, as Christmas nears, what a perfect Christ-like lesson he preaches.

John Pages

By John Pages

I've been a sports columnist since 1994. First, in The Freeman newspaper under "Tennis Is My Game." Then, starting in 2003, with Sun.Star Cebu under the name "Match Point." Happy reading!

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