Of Golds, Goals and Good Sports Governance

Donning a gray suit jacket and a casual shirt, businessman, sports patron, and chairman of PLDT Inc. and the MVP Sports Foundation (MVPSF) Manuel V. Pangilinan came into the small studio at Cignal TV to have an almost no-holds-barred conversation on “Thought Leaders” about his views on how sports, particularly basketball, can play a huge part in nation-building.

The multi-awarded executive has been recognized not only for his business acumen, but also for his contribution to nation-building through his advocacies, particularly in sports development. He serves as a leader in various sports organizations and as the chairman of the MVSPF, which backs 17 national sports agencies and hundreds of Filipino athletes – including those who represented the country in the last Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia.

“I think sports evoke very deep and emotional sentiments on my part, whether it’s collegiate basketball or Gilas Pilipinas. It’s an entirely different feeling when you see the Philippine flag unfurling on the world stage,” Pangilinan said.

He also expressed his delight in the successful stint of the men’s national basketball team in retaking the gold medal in the SEA Games.

“It was a tremendous feeling of relief. And of course, I’m very happy for Gilas and the country. It was a huge job that Gilas did, a magnificent one, especially after the defeat from Cambodia in the first game,” he said, recalling that he was in the middle of work when the game happened. “I was able to catch the first half of the game and had a board meeting after that. But we were monitoring the scores. Everybody cheered when they won,” he shared.

Aside from supporting Gilas and other national teams, the MVP group also supports three basketball teams and two volleyball organizations in professional leagues. In fact, the teams under the TNT Tropang Giga banner won three championships this year: 2023 3×3 Grand Slam Champion, 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup Champion, and the inaugural PBA Esports Bakbakan Champion.

When asked what the other teams can learn from them, he answered, “At the end, it’s your passion, your determination, and will to win. Of course, you must have the basic talent pool and the level of skills to power you through to the championship.”

Basketball as a unifying factor

Getting the hosting rights for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 was not an easy task for the Philippines, according to Pangilinan. After losing the bid against China in 2015, Pangilinan, who was then chair of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, started to form a multi-country consortium to win against competitor countries. And the rest was history… or history in-the-making.

“The FIBA World Cup is an apex event in basketball, and it’s good for Filipinos to see how Gilas can compete with the rest of the world. Sports is a unifying factor. When Manny [Pacquiao] used to fight, the whole world would stop. And I recall in one of the victories that Pacquiao had, the banner of the papers the following day was, ‘A nation united.’ And that is very true,” he said.

MVP also recognized the important role that the private sector plays in sports development. “For a developing country like us, my impression is that it is private sector-led, but obviously, government support is needed. It could be a model for a public-private partnership,” he said.

At present, the chairman believes that there is no need to create a Department of Sports. “I think we should improve the federations we have, instead. I think the Philippine Olympic Committee is well-managed by Bambol Tolentino. The Philippine Sports Committee is chaired competently by Mr. [Richard] Bachmann. And I think the Marcos government is very supportive, they gave the World Cup some financial support.”

Coming from a family of sports enthusiasts – with his mother, a keen fan of San Beda, and his dad and brother who played hoops – MVP has nurtured the love for sports all his life. When asked what he thinks his mom and dad would say if they could witness his contribution to the industry, MVP candidly quipped, “They would have probably scolded me every time Gilas would lose. I would take the brunt of anger from my mother. She’s quite partisan about these things.”

Catch the exclusive interview with Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan on Thought Leaders with Cathy Yang, on Tuesday, May 23, at 9:30 PM on One News on Cignal TV. 

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