SAN Miguel Corp. boss Ramon S. Ang rarely speaks in public and usually keeps a low profile.
But just to show his gratitude to Arwind Santos, Ang climbed onstage during the Beermen's party for fans at the SMC complex in Ortigas and interrupted the program to pay tribute to the Game Seven hero in the last PBA Philippine Cup Finals.
Addressing Santos in front of hundreds of fans as well as top officials and employees of San Miguel, Ang said: “Never did it cross our mind to trade (you). We believe in you. And you will be one of the pillars of this team."
The crowd broke into cheers as Santos acknowledged his boss.
Not stopping there, Ang even raised the hand of Santos, as if he was endorsing the high-flying Lubao, Pampanga forward in an election sortie.
The man known to many as RSA recalled how the company kept faith in Santos amid a strong clamor from fans to trade him, at a time when the Beermen were going through one heartbreaking conference after another.
“Hindi namin inisip na i-trade si Arwind dahil alam namin na siya ang future ng team, siya ang isa sa mga franchise players nito,” said Ang. “At pinatunayan nga nya.”
The team owner said they would not be standing on this stage celebrating San Miguel's first PBA championship in nearly four years had Santos not buried that cold-blooded three-pointer late in the 80-78 win over Alaska in Game Seven.
“Mga players natin, lahat sila nag-contribute. Pero special mention natin si Arwind Santos, kung hindi dahil sa three-point shot mong 'yun, eh patay na,” Ang said.
Meanwhile, San Miguel alternate governor Robert Non bared it was Ang who suggested naming Santos as the team’s new team captain.
“Si Boss talaga ang nagsabi na gawin siyang team captain. And I think, it was a good decision. Kasi Arwind is doing his job well as the leader,” said Non, stressing how Santos brought together the once divided San Miguel team.
The PBA vice chairman even bared that prior to Game Seven, Santos gathered all the San Miguel players to a meeting.
“Kinausap ni Arwind lahat at sinabi, ‘Anuman ang mangyari, sama-sama tayo. Walang sisihan. Walang samaan ng loob.' Ang laking bagay nun kasi nag-respond lahat,” he added.
Santos’ wife, Ivette, expressed gratitude over how San Miguel management is rewarding her husband’s perseverance and sacrifices.
“Thankful ako kasi 'yung trust ng company kay Arwind, ganun kalaki,” Mrs. Santos said. “Mas malaki ang role niya ngayon kasi team leader siya, nadagdagan ang responsibility niya. Kaya mas effort. Mas maraming sacrifices na ginagawa and it was all worth it naman."
Ivette also shared how Santos is eager to bring more success to San Miguel.
“I think for Awrind, he wants to improve more at mas maganda ang motivation niya kasi mas maganda ang ending ng conference,” she said. “Mas pursigido siya ngayon to do something better. And I don’t think, matatapos yan dyan. He will strive for more.”