IT WAS in February of this year when I had my last conversation with longtime Negros’ basketball patron Sir Oscar "Dodong" Bascon. It was during the National Basketball Training Center-Bacolod leg finals. He was full of energy and enthusiasm.
But, late Wednesday afternoon, my good friend and Provincial Sports Coordinator Anthony Carlo Agustin sent me a message that Sir Dodong has passed away. He was 85 and supposed to celebrate his 86th birthday next week.
A few hours later, Sir Vic Tan and Mitch Lipa did confirm that Sir Dodong already joined our Creator.
I would recall Sir Dodong as a good friend, a mentor, a compadre, a father-figure and an inspiration. And, all I can say thank you very much for the legacy and the memories.
It was in 2002 when I first met Sir Dodong in one of the "Kapehan sa Dodong’s Fastbreak” in his Bascon Hotel. He was introduced to me by SRA Deputy Administrator for Regulations Atty. Guillermo Tejida III, then SunStar Bacolod (SSB) desk editor.
He was my first assignment as SSB Sports Correspondent -- to interview him. As a neophyte and stranger in this industry, I really didn’t know how to begin my line of questioning. I was a bit nervous since the person sitting in front of me was a known icon in Negros sports. And, it took almost two to three minutes before Sir Dodong broke the silence and started the conversation. He told me, “let’s talk as ordinary friends.” So, he started talking about basketball, how the sports evolved in Negros province and then there my career as a sportswriter began.
Since his hotel was just a walking distance from the SunStar Bacolod office, I often hanged around at Dondong’s Fastbreak with fellow sportswriters to have some coffee chats. Sometimes we also work there since it's open for us -- sports scribes. He was always very generous to us -- offering us something to eat while at work at his place.
During those years as a sportswriter, Sir Dodong had become one of the main sources of sports stories -- basketball, boxing, football and athletics. Sometimes politics and entertainment. He was the kind of person you will love to chat with.
Moreover, Sir Dodong’s had that distinct love of sports. His presence in sports undertakings told it all. He had overwhelmingly been supportive not only to the sports but most of all the athletes. I had been a witness on how he motivated athletes when they were done and encouraged them to go further when they became winners.
Moving forward in 2011, when my wife delivered our one and only daughter, Sir Dodong was among those who visited us in the hospital and brought his best presence -- all sweets. Never expected that at all. Much more than he would often call or text me and check how's my wife and daughter. When my daughter was christened, Sir Dodong was among my daughter’s godfathers.
Meanwhile, for those who don’t know why Sir Dodong had been tagged as Mr. NBA (or Negros Basketball Association). He was the NBA’s president for life -- having been the president since the organization was established in 1985 -- a year earlier of the EDSA Revolution. And, I was still in my pre-school during that year.
The NBA which Sir Dodong headed alongside Vic Tan, Monju Guanzon, Alex Espino, Atty. Hans Chua and the rest of the NBA officers seemed to be one of the longest and successful amateur/semi-commercial basketball associations in the country which has been in existence for 35 years. Well, of course, there are several ups and downs but, the group remained connected.
And, since NBA for the past years has been the seedbed of great basketball talents who made names in the Philippine Basketball Association, and the defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association and the Philippine Amateur Basketball League as well as for Bacolod-based colleges and universities--including those schools in Cebu and Manila with numerous talents from the grassroots--the 2018 NBA President’s Cup was launched. That was through the efforts of Tony Agustin, Bobby Tee, and the late SunStar Bacolod sportswriter Henry Doble together with NBA officers led by Sir Dodong. It was indeed successful however, it was sad as it was the last NBA tournament of Sir Dodong.
He also served as the team manager of the Negros Slashers in the MBA which took center stage from 1998-2002.
Aside from basketball, Sir Dodong was also the vice-president of the Negros Amateur Boxing Association, which is headed by former GAB Chairman Monju Guanzon. Historically, NABA has also produced lots of world boxing talents like four-time world champion Donnie "Ahas" Nietes and continues to support many world-class boxers -- many to mention.
Indeed, the life of Sir Dodong was full of energy -- being a former athlete himself. But, above all, his father-figure to everyone who had acquaintance with him.
For the Bascon family--Ma’am "Menchit" and children, thank you for sharing Sir Dodong to us. We will dearly miss him.
Bless his soul.