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Danding of the People
“How’s The Boss?” is one question I am asked often enough, and this time, considering the man hardly comes to visit, it rings with genuine concern and honest affection. The possibility that the question is asked to fawn is remote, given his absence.
But Eduardo M. Cojuangco, Jr. needs no measure at all. He is one of the extraordinarily few whose life informs history, and not the other way around. Men run along history; Cojuangco helps shape history.
Having been in his orbit long enough, I think I have seen the secret why the man has such impact on the country and history: he has a deep and genuine love for people.
From his boyhood chums in Tarlac who remember how he shared things with them, to market vendors there who’ve shared meals with him to the workers in his farms whom he now calls partners; from politicians high and mighty to politicians on the ground; from business partners to the shop floor people -– they all have something warm to say about how Danding has touched their lives.
And whether it was a sweeping program he had envisioned like the Project FREE which sent teachers, or Project COPS which sent policemen, to post-graduate school or a simple personal problem like a runaway hospital bill he had taken care of, Danding has done them with little or no fanfare at all.
In fact, he oftentimes forgets these things. Many a time people would come up to him and introduce themselves thus: “I’m the one you sent to the Heart Center…” Or: “I ‘m an ECJ scholar…”
The man, basically, is a silent worker, a doer who loves to help people for little else but the satisfaction that he has helped. But the scale with which he helps is such that oftentimes, because he is so quiet about them, they lead to controversy. Remember how in the late 80s and 90s, people here in Negros had woven stories about how he had wanted to “control” the province, as if there was something to control here? You hardly hear people talk in that vein anymore and if they talk of ECJ they say they miss him.
On his birthday on June 10, one woman in Tarlac whom he had helped in the past will celebrate it in her own way. She will have a mass celebrated and streamers hung, perhaps, as she had done several times, festoon the town’s trycicles with ribbons and pay them to give free rides to people.
In Negros Occidental, masses for his well-being and in thanksgiving will be offered, oftentimes not even without his knowledge, all from people whose lives he has touched and continues to touch. To many people, this has become an annual tradition, their way of thanking him as well as Him who gave them Danding.