Ateneo president Fr. Jett Villarin receives the UAAP golden championship trophy donated by San Miguel Corp. chairman Danding Cojuangco from Narciso (Chit) Pineda at Loyola the other day.
MANILA, Philippines — It was a shining moment for Ateneo as the P2.7 Million, 14-karat golden trophy donated by San Miguel Corp. chairman Eduardo (Danding) Cojuangco, Jr. was turned over to university president Fr. Jett Villarin, SJ, at the Xavier Hall of the Loyola campus the other day.
A replica trophy was awarded to Ateneo right after the Blue Eagles beat La Salle, 88-86, in Game 3 to clinch the best-of-three UAAP men’s basketball title series at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last Dec. 3. It took Suarez and Sons of Cebu a few more weeks to finish the golden trophy with Ateneo inscribed as the champion. Fr. Villarin set the turnover on the first day of classes for the new year last Wednesday.
As Cojuangco is abroad, he sent his personal representative Narciso (Chit) Pineda, a business associate and close friend of over 40 years, to turn over the trophy. Pineda earned a bachelor’s degree at Ateneo in 1955 before finishing with a Master’s in business at Fordham, a Jesuit university in New York.
The turnover was witnessed by Fr. Kit Bautista of the Office of Alumni Relations, Ateneo athletic director Emmanuel Fernandez, Ateneo assistant athletic director for operations Erika Dy, Ateneo team officials Debbie Tan and Epok Quimpo, Ateneo Sports Hall of Famers Tito Panlilio, Ricky Palou and Jimmy Alabanza, Eagles assistant coach Gabby Severino and players Isaac Go, Matt and Mike Nieto, Aaron Black, Anton Asistio, Gian Mamuyac, Thirdy Ravena, Tyler Tio and Raffy Verano.
Cojuangco offered to donate a golden championship trophy for men’s basketball over six years in a proposal to the UAAP Board headed by this season’s president Anton Montinola of FEU. The Board accepted Cojuangco’s proposal which included the donation of another prize, a P5.8 Million golden trophy for the school that wins three consecutive titles.
Pineda said the golden trophy symbolizes three things – first, that there are golden opportunities for sports and academic excellence to be developed hand-in-hand; second, the trophy’s value was made intentionally to reflect the “golden” standard which is the hard work and sacrifice that students must do to attain their goals and achieve success and third, that the rivalry between two schools can be transformed into a positive and fruitful friendship as an example for the next generation.
“We can show that this passionate and decades-long rivalry between Ateneo and La Salle can result into a valuable and creative relationship outside the basketball court,” said Pineda. “An example would be my relationship with Mr. Cojuangco. Working together, an Atenean and Lasallian can develop positive achievements beneficial to all. Through this golden trophy, we can prove that bitter rivals can also become best friends.”
Fr. Villarin cited Cojuangco’s exemplary gesture of sportsmanship and said the rivalry between the schools brings out the best in both Ateneans and Lasallians. Panlilio mentioned that Cojuangco, who was an Ateneo student before graduating high school at La Salle, is a model example of an Atenean and Lasallian gentleman. Black said the trophy is a “great reward” and a motivation for the Eagles to continue their winning ways.