Manny V. Pangilinan dedicated his life to helping Philippine basketball. For this, his hometown of Barangay San Juan in Apalit, Pampanga made sure to give him a perfect birthday present, Friday.
For Pangilinan’s 73rd birthday, Smart Sports and the local community of Barangay San Juan refurbished the Plaza San Juan Basketball court in honor of their favorite son.
The community court is located just one block away from Pangilinan’s ancestral home and is just in front of Apalit Church.
“Well of course, we want to honor the great man who dedicated his life to sports by giving him a mural in the place where he was born,” said Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas Board of Trustees member and Region III Director Gil Cortez. “Taga-rito siya talaga at kaibigan niya lahat ng officials here.
“Lagi siyang tumutulong dito. Since 2006, dito ginagawa yung birthday niya.”
“Hindi lang sa town namin importante si MVP, sa buong bansa siya importante e,” said Barangay San Juan kagawad Diosdado Cudia. “Kaya kung makaka-produce pa ng isang MVP yung bansa, yung sports uunlad lalo.”
On one end of the court, the words “HAPPY BIRTHDAY MVP” was painted on it together with the logos of Smart, Gilas Pilipinas, TNT Katropa, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, Ateneo Blue Eagles, and San Beda Red Lions.
Pangilinan is the President and CEO of Smart, the team owner of the Katropa, the chairman emeritus of the SBP, and the program booster of the Blue Eagles and the Red Lions.
On the other end, murals of Gilas’ Jayson Castro, TNT’s Roger Pogoy, Ateneo’s Thirdy Ravena, and San Beda’s James Canlas were sketched on a sky blue canvas.
Spearheading the re-decoration of the court was none other than Mike Swift, the man who gave life to the hardcourt of Tenement Taguig. And this project holds something special for him.
“I’m always excited to paint some courts. Being that it is for MVP, it required a little bit of research going back to his origins,” said Swift, who also had volunteers from Apalit help him out. “It added a lot of excitement on my end since I wanted to learn a lot about one of the movers and shakers of the basketball game in the country.”
To inaugurate the court, Smart held a basketball clinic for 50 kids from the area. The session was facilitated by SBP-accredited coaches Kerwin McCoy, Denden Bautista, Draymond Borromeo, and Jeff Patawaran.
Even with a full year to go, Smart and Barangay San Juan are already planning something bigger for next year.