A REMARKABLE man stepping up under the most extraordinary circumstances.
Ramon S. Ang, a luminary in big business who also controls some of the most successful franchises in Philippine sports, loomed larger than life in mankind's most trying hour as he committed billions of San Miguel Corp.'s resources to the multi-sector efforts to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the nation.
By responding decisively and unselfishly to the government's plea for help in the early hours of the health crisis, the 66-year old president and CEO of SMC inspired an unprecedented response by the private sector that proved a game-changer in the country's relief efforts amid the pandemic.
A car-loving, hard-bargaining billionaire businessman who became an unlikely symbol of selflessness and a beacon of hope for the nation, Ang was voted the 2020 Sportsman of the Year by SPIN.ph's team of editors, writers, columnists, and contributors.
Ang is SPIN.ph's first awardee who is neither an athlete nor a coach, joining former Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes (2013), Jimmy Alapag (2014), Calvin Abueva (2015), Hidilyn Diaz (2016 and 2018), June Mar Fajardo (2017) and Team Philippines (2019) from the last Southeast Asian Games in the honor roll.
The team owner of San Miguel Beer, Magnolia, and Barangay Ginebra in the PBA and Petron in the Super Liga is joined in our Top 10 Sports Heroes of the Year list by PBA commissioner Willie Marcial (Executive of the Year), who defied the odds by presiding over the league's successful bubble season at Clark, and the Gin Kings [Athletes Who Won as One], whose two PBA championships were the cherry on top of Ang's year.
Two awards were given collectively to the Athletes in the Frontlines and Athletes Who Care. This year's other honorees were Joy Calimlim Habana (Athlete Who Defied the Odds), esports standout Karl 'Karltzy' Nepomuceno (Rising Star), golfers Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan, and tennis prodigy Alex Eala (all Top Achievers).
From the 10 honorees, Ang was the unanimous choice for the SOTY honor; a most deserving winner at a most unique time, we must add.
To date, San Miguel, under Ang, has rolled out P13.234 billion worth of projects for the COVID-19 response efforts, from infrastructure projects like the newly opened Stage 3 of the Skyway to donations to the health and agricultural sectors, according to data provided by the conglomerate.
As word of SMC's exploits spread, Ang also became some sort of a cult hero on social media, especially after he explained, in plain words, his decision to commit the company's full backing to the relief efforts.
“At this point, what is more important are lives, not money," Ang said. "We can make money again but life, once you lose it, it's gone forever.
"So between life and money, I’d choose life.”
[Editor's Note: Starting with this piece, we will be rolling out our personal profiles on this year's awardees]