By Nick Giongco
The day after losing his grip on the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) leadership, Jose ‘Peping’ Cojuangco found himself surrounded by the very same people who witnessed his fall from grace.
But Cojuangco was in a jovial mood and was actually sharing laughs with the scribes in between exchanges of anecdotes taken from years when he presided over the POC affairs for 14 years.
The setting was Cojuangco’s Muslim-inspired home on Acacia Street in Dasmarinas Village in Makati, where the 83-year-old Tarlac lawmaker held court many times, plotting moves that shaped the nation’s turbulent history.
On a sunny Saturday afternoon, Cojuangco appeared fresh and calm, the transformation so sudden from what he looked like 24 hours earlier: grim and gaunt.
Perhaps, it was because Cojuangco has finally reverted back to his normal life, that of an ordinary citizen, away from the maddening crowd, many of them problematic NSA leaders, But on this very same day, Cojuangco could only see two familiar faces from the POC: Julian Camacho of wushu and Robert Mananquil of billiards.
“Everyone I called asking that they drop by the house of Cong. Peping to visit him were all busy and tied up,” said one of the two guys, shaking his head.
Instead, Cojuangco wound up hosting a tasty merienda with members of the media who covered the election and his days at the POC.
There were times when he looked sullen but overall, Cojuangco was delighted to share stories and tour some of his visitors around his crib, showing off pictures taken from way, way back while he was studying in the US East Coast.
Still, Cojuangco gave everyone a glimpse of what to look for in the coming months.
Informed about his secured place in the POC, being a former NOC head and chief of equestrian, Cojuangco refused to be lured into saying something nasty about his predecessor considering that he was handed a devastating defeat 24 hours earlier.
“I want to know what my part will be in the POC,” said Cojuangco when told that Vargas’ group has plans for him.
However, there’s one thing Cojuangco wants straightened out with the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
“I want to know how far the courts can go,” said Cojuangco, referring to the Pasig court order that prompted him to give in to stage an election.
“If they have that power, I don’t know how do we operate (in the future). If the courts have that power, we are finished,” he said, stressing that a court order can influence the course of Philippine sports.
Cojuangco added: “What if there’s a team that is going to compete abroad and a court order rules that one guy is not deserving and that another guy should take his or her place?”
In the meantime, Cojuangco doesn’t see the recent setback as the end of the world.
As they say, life should go on and that’s the route Cojuangco is taking.