ED Ducut wasn't among the best players of his time, yet is etched in the minds of a generation of PBA fans - thanks to an admirable attitude and a blue-collar work ethic.
Ducut, 60, emerged from the quiet barangay of San Pedro in Lubao, Pampanga to become one of the first basketball players from the province to make it to the PBA, endearing himself to fans of the Sonny Jaworski-era Ginebra team.
The 6-foot-4 center played in the shadows of the premier big men of his era like Mon Fernandez and Abet Guidaben as well as his own teammates at Ginebra like Romulo Mamaril and Rey Cuenco.
Yet he managed to have a 10-year career in the pro league - eight seasons in all with Ginebra and two with Shell - while becoming a favorite of the Ginebra faithful who never fail to erupt into chants the moment he is pulled from the bench by Jaworski.
To this day, he considers the chance to play under Jaworski as the most fortunate turn of his career, saying the Big J became his mentor - both on the court and in life.
“Si Coach Sonny ang nagturo sa akin na magkaroon ng pangarap at paninindigan,” Ducut said in an interview at his home in Barangay San Roque, Floridablanca, Pampanga.
“Tuwing magkakausap kami, lagi niyang sinasabi sa akin na dapat magkaroon ako ng pangarap, kahit maliit lang pero tutuparin mo. Simple lamang naman akong tao kaya simple din lang ang pangarap ko. Yan ang kaisipang namana ko sa parents ko,” he added.
Ducut, who won an NCAA championship in his rookie year with Letran in 1979, said he could've easily lost his way early in his career if not for the guidance of his legendary playing-coach.
“Binata ako, siyempre di maiwasan gastos dito, gastos dun. Sinabihan din ako ni coach, mag-ipon ako. He told me my playing days are limited kaya huwag ko daw sayangin ito,” he recalled.
“Kilala ko naman ang sarili ko. True, I was able to play in the PBA, alam ko na hindi naman ako magiging superstar na susuweldo ng milyon-milyon tulad ng iba. Kaya payak lang ang dream ko.”
That's why he already set his mind on preparing for the future very early in his career.
“I was still single nung simulang magkasama kami ni Coach Sonny, pero natanim na sa isipan ko ang mga pangaral niya. When my wife (Carmencita) and I got married in 1985, handang-handa na ako,” he related.
“One year palang kaming mag-asawa, nakabili na akong 400-square meter na lupa dito sa San Roque na pinagpatayuan ko ng bahay.”
He was a member of two Ginebra champion teams, counting brothers Chito and Joey Loyzaga, Dante Gonzalgo, Joey Marquez, Rolando Buhay, Leo Isaac, and Mike Advani among his former teammates.
Yet he considers his investments for his family and the education of his children as his biggest investments.
By the time he called it a career in 1991, Ducut was able to buy a tricycle and a passenger jeepney and well as farm land which he rented out to farmers.
“Nakabili din ako ng two-hectare farm land na pinapaupahan ko at umaani ng palay,” said Ducut, who takes greater pride in having sent his four children through college with the help of the PBA trust fund.
“Malaki talaga ang naitulong sa akin ng basketball, particularly ng PBA. Ang apat na anak nakapag-aral at nakatapos lahat as scholars ng PBA trust fund,” said Ed, referring to sons Eric (a nursing graduate), Chris, Eduardo Jr. (who earned an aircraft maintenance degree) and Ron (a hotel and restaurant management graduate).
Ed’s family is still mourning death of Chris, who died last July 30 at the age of 29 after figuring in a vehicular accident. Yet even in times of tragedy and great sorrow, the Ducut family remains firm, strong, and grateful for all the blessings.
Simple life, simple joys for Ed.
“Masaya naman kaming mag-anak. Hindi kinukulang, hindi din naman sumusobra. Sapat lang at nakakatulong pa sa kamag-anak at nangangailangan,” said Ed.
“Lahat ng ito ay utang ko sa basketball at sa simpleng pangarap na ipununla sa isipan ko ng Nanay ko at ni coach Sonny.”