FOR most basketball players, the PBA is the fulfillment of a childhood dream.
But for somebody like PBA great Kerby Raymundo, basketball, as much as he loved the sport, was but a part of his career journey and a stepping stone in his bid to lay down a secure future for his family.
Having been one of the youngest players to ever play in the pro league at the age of 19, Raymundo found himself at the crossroads of his life 13 years later as he was left to choose between business and his PBA career.
“Nag-stop na 'yung mileage ko nung 2013. May itch pa rin (to play) pero busy na eh,” said Raymundo during the SPIN.ph POV (Point of View) livecast on Tuesday. "Kailangan ko tutukan yung family business namin, para sa future ng mga bata kasi."
Raymundo, whose signing rights went to Meralco after being traded by Barangay Ginebra for Jay-R Reyes, felt he had a few more years left in his career when he made the decision to retire from the PBA in May 2015.
A complicated knee injury and a business opportunity that opened up for him made the decision to walk away from the sport a little easier.
He chose well.
Nearly a decade after his last game in the pro ranks, Raymundo is now busy tending to his businesses in Orion, Bataan, one of which is his poultry venture as a contract grower for San Miguel Corp.’s Magnolia Food Products.
“'Yan 'yung tinulong ni Boss RSA (San Miguel big boss Ramon S. Ang)," the former Magnolia and Ginebra player said. "Noong nagpaalam ako, tinanong nya ko kung anong negosyo [gusto ko].
"'Pili ka lang dyan,' sabi nya,” Raymundo added. “Contract grower nga ang napili ko.”
Raymundo's farm grows 74,000 chicks which Magnolia harvests after 30 days and sells in supermarkets. His work force has grown to 18 personnel since his airconditioned poultry warehouses (chicken cells) were built in 2019.
The business is also due for an expansion soon.
“May dalawa kaming building ng kulungan ng manok. We’re now ready for expansion na, ginagawa na yung four buildings na capacity namin, hopefully ma-loadan siya by September ng mga 240,000 heads ng manok,” he said.
Apart from the 6.8-hectare farm, the 40-year-old 10-time PBA All Star also put up a sports tailoring business, God’s Will, in partnership with former Letran teammate and fellow PBA 40 Greatest Players inductee Willie Miller.
“Market namin sa mga sports jerseys, ibang bansa. Sa US, pero palag kami kasi sa quality, value for money, nakikita nila yun. Kaya malakas naman ang benta,” he said, taking pride in employing five regular staff which he said grows to 10 people when demand peaks.
He has made a lot of good decisions in life, but Kerby was also the first to admit that he had a lot of help along the way, specially from his wife and kids as well as his ever-supportive in-laws and his big family in Bataan.
Raymundo is also fortunate to get good advice from mentors and friends, beginning with SMC sports director and Barangay Ginebra governor Alfrancis Chua, Arthur See, Rikki Ramirez and Jerome Gutierez as well as spiritual advisers Luther Mancao, Joseph Carodan, Robert Gonzales, Sam Payumo, and Edwin Navarro.
Although it wasn't easy turning his back on basketball, Raymundo, a deeply religious man, has no regrets choosing to prioritize the future of his children.
“Malaki utang na loob ko sa basketball, pero [para] sa akin, part lang ng buhay 'yan na dadaanan. You have to prepare for the future, which is mas mahaba and mas maraming demands like [ang] pagpapalaki ng mga anak mo,” he said.
Unknown to many, Raymundo is also the life coach to some PBA players like Raymond Almazan and Jerrick Balanza, both former Letranites.
“Ayaw ko kasing mamali ng decision ang mga batang players. Kaya as early as now gina-guide ko sila kapag kailangan nila," he shared. "Si Jerrick nga lang kausap ko two nights ago, kasi gusto rin daw nya mag-business.”
As soon as his businesses become more stable, Raymundo said his goal is to return to his first love by way of coaching, which he said would be his way of giving back to the sport that had been so good to him.
“Kinausap ko na nga si Boss Al, sabi ko gusto ko bumalik as assistant coach, makatulong man lang ako sa pag-develop ng mga young players," he said.
"Gusto ko lang ibalik yung lahat ng binigay sa akin ng basketball. Wala ako sa kinalalagyan ko ngayon kung di dahil sa sport na mahal na mahal ko."