Out of job and often penniless, Nani Demegillo has one piece of advice for today's PBA players
Former PBA player Nani Demegillo was at ringside at the Big Dome on Wednesday night, just another nameless face in the crowd that turned up for Game Four of the Philippine Cup Finals. Snow Badua

WHEN Hernani 'Nani' Demegillo tells players to stop wasting their money and start preparing for the future, today's PBA stars better sit up and listen.

The former PBA player has learned that the hard way - not once but twice.

More than a decade after his PBA career ended, Demegillo, 51, admitted he finds it hard to make both ends meet these days and has no steady means of livelihood - something that he doesn't want to happen to today's players.

“Sa mga player ngayon, dapat mag-ipon. Mag-isip ng business. 'Wag gastos nang gastos," he said when Spin.ph chanced upon him at the Araneta Coliseum, just another nameless face in the big crowd that came to watch Game Four of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals on Wednesday night.

“Dapat ipon ang priority nila. Para oras na may kailangan o may magkasakit, may mahuhugot sa bangko.”

Demegillo said he can’t help but feel worried about how he, most of the time, sees some players live extravagantly, throwing money left and right on late-night gimmicks and expensive clothes and belongings.

“Nakikita ko nga sa kanila, minsan masyado magastos. Hindi naman sa nakikialam pero sana huwag dumating ang time na pagsisihan nila ang lahat. Sabi nga, nasa huli ang pagsisisi,” he added.

Demegillo was a member of the successful San Sebastian teams in the eighties and played several seasons in the pro league with the Presto-Great Taste franchise, Purefoods, Alaska and Sta. Lucia in a journeyman career.

The 6-5 center said he never really got to save up during his career because he had to send his sibilings to school while standing as the breadwinner of the family.

“Hindi naman ako nagbibisyo nun, magastos lang talaga. Saka ako rin kasi bumalikat sa pag-aaral ng mga kapatid ko noon,” he said. “Dati kasi ako rin ang inasahan ng mga kapatid ko sa pag-aaral nila. Ako lahat ang sumagot nun, maaga kasi kami naulila. Ako ang nanay at tatay nun,” he recalled.

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“Nakatapos rin mga kapatid ko sa awa ng Diyos.”

Demegillo also busted the long-standing story that he was dropped by Presto back in 1991 because he had asked for a huge pay increase, proportionate to the salaries the league's superstars were receiving then.

“Hindi ako humihingi ng malaking sweldo 'non, sila gumawa ng deal, bigla nga akong nawala sa liga nun,” Demegillo told Spin.ph. “Nahirapan na akong rumekober nun sa career ko. Buti nga nakabalik ako nun sa Purefoods. Pero yung totoo, hindi ako humihingi ng increase nun.”

Watch video of interview with Demegillo:

When his PBA career ended, Demegillo said he found himself without much to fall back on.

“Nawala rin ipon ko, noong araw kasi hindi ko naisip 'yun. Magastos rin kasi ako nun, hindi mo masabi ang takbo ng buhay,” said Demegillo, whose sad story was once featured in the GMA show, 'Wish Ko Lang.'

The Pasig City resident said he got a new lease on life when he found work as a security guard in a mall in Cainta, Rizal, earning well enough to be able to invest in a small livestock business in Pila, Laguna.

But whatever he raised was lost when typhoon Undoy hit the country, Demegillo said.

“Maganda na buhay ko nun sa Laguna, bigla akong na-Ondoy. Ang dami ko manok at baboy. Siguro kung hindi ako na-Ondoy, maunlad na siguro ako kahit kaunti,” he said.

“Mula nun hindi na ako naka-recover, sabi ko na lang sa sarili ko, magsisimula ako sa number one. Kaso ang mahirap, bahain sa lugar namin,” Demegillo added.

These days, Demegillo said he tries to make ends meet by working as a fruit vendor in Pasig and driver to some of his politician friends. Demegillo said his sisters, especially Luisa who is now based in the US, are generous enough to send him remittances regularly.

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“Sa awa naman ng Diyos, nakakapagpadala ang kapatid ko. Pero minsan na wala, pasensya,” he said.

Demegillo said there are times when he finds himself penniless.

“Madalas talagang inaabot pa ako nang walang wala, hindi ko alam kung saan ko huhugutin ang pera,” said Demegillo, who is father to five young kids namely Nani Jr. (13), Gigi (11), Ading (6), Bati (4) and two-month-old Jayson.

Still, Demegillo said he can't bring himself to approach friends or other PBA teams for assistance.

“Minsan, wala akong income. Pero kahit ganun, ayaw ko mangutang kasi alam ko wala naman ako ibabayad. Mahirap mangutang ng wala kang pambayad,” he said.

“Hindi ako nag-a-apply. Nahihiya ako. Kung alukin ako, dun lang. Ipinapasa-Diyos ko na lang. Siya na bahala sa akin.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @snowbadua