IN this beautiful but troubled world, only one man I know uses eyeglasses without the lens. Yet, he became a President of the Republic of the Philippines and turned out to be a damn good one. For one thing, he didn't end up in jail, like some of the others.
And I must confess to you Guys. He was partly responsible for all the success, if any, of my sports and political life. It started in 1994 when he appointed me as Commissioner of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), where I spent more than 6 years of my youthful life.
President Erap reappointed me again in 1998 for the same post but resigned in 2000. The next year, 2001, I won for the very first time as congressman of the lone district of Bacolod City. And spent the rest of my nine years undefeated for three consecutive terms till 2010.
During those years in PSC, he turned out to be the most sports-minded president ever. Sports were part of his life, He would brag about pushing up every morning almost 50 times a day. Even when he was already out of office.
Swam as often as he could inside Malacanang's pool. One of the reasons he appointed me was his love for football which his daughter Cristy played then. If you've ever been to Panaad Stadium in Bacolod, where most of the SEA Games 2005 were played, including the famous Ceres and Azkals games, Fidel Valdez Ramos built that when he was president for the centennial year of the Palarong Pambansa in 1998.
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He was also a golfer like no other, even inviting Greg Norman one night, to hit a few balls across the Pasig river from one side to the other. And if ever you see one of my revered pictures in Facebook where I'm standing next to the greatest golfer today, Tiger Woods, that was in Mimosa Country Club, where he was able to play with "Tabako" as most of his close friends called him.
That's not all, every two years of his leadership, he organized the very first Sports Summit, where every provincial and national sports leaders convened to lay out a national sports master plan for every local government unit to follow.
We held this in Ultra, in Malacanang and also once in Baguio. I think Pres BBM may continue this development program and improve on it. Aside from other new and modern systems done all over the world. Batang Pinoy, which I conceptualized when I was in PSC, is essential to our sports success.
Proof of this is all my lifters now who qualified and seeking to qualify for Paris 2024, all came from this program.
We would visit him every year during his birthday with the exception of the pandemic years. I still remember visiting him two years ago in his Metro Bank building office, where he taught me to drink coffee after adding two teaspoons of coconut oil.
That was my last visit. Last year, I called to visit him in Alabang and Manang Ming (his wife) told me they never went out again and would not be receiving guests anymore till this malaise is over. I'm just hoping now that all this earlier talk about Covid taking his last few days on earth is not true.
But then, after spending more than ninety years of his life on this planet, I am happy knowing he would get his needed rest now. Well done, Mr. President. We shall never forget what you did here and we love you. May your soul rest in peace now.