By NIMROD NL QUINONES
It has been a very long time since I posted anything here, but a very sad event that took place Tuesday afternoon, October 28, 2020, got me back into writing. A very good friend of mine passed on.
This is for you, Enrico David Santos Navarro or Rico for short.
I rarely take naps when I get home from work, but it was different last Tuesday as severe lower back pain forced me to forego biking and I instead stretched out on my bed for a few winks.
While I was heading to our dining room for dinner, I checked my phone to see a post on the Andres Soriano Memorial School (ASMA) de la Salle Alumni page that Rico died. I had to reread what I saw a few times before it sunk.
I contacted Rico’s sister-in-law, Dr. Pinky C. Navarro, elder sister of my batchmate Anthony Chupungco, to confirm the news.
Pinky called me via Messenger and relayed to me the incident.
Rico was found on the road in Liloan, Cebu and was rushed to a hospital in the next town where efforts to revive him went for naught (I would have written failed, but Rico would have wanted this phrase being a sportswriter).
A pall of gloom came to our household as Rico has been a good friend, not only of me, but of our whole family for over two decades.
I have known Rico since our grade school days in ASMS in Toledo City where he was a couple of batches ahead of me. It was only in the early 1990s that we got to reconnect while he was with an advertising agency in Cebu.
In 1994, SkyCable did a live coverage of the games of the Cebu Amateur Athletic Association (CAAA), which is now the CESAFI, and I was tapped to be the anchor. I asked a colleague from The Freeman to be my partner as analyst, but then there were many times that he could not make it, so I asked Rico, who then was the barker (game announcer) at the stadium if he could join me.
It was an instant great team up as he was able to give very insightful analysis of the games and eventually he would even go solo on the Sundays that I would not be able to be there.
It was also through that I invited him to write a column for The Freeman, since that time I was the sports editor of the paper. He accepted my offer and the rest in history as his column ran every Sunday until his demise.
Aside from the CAAA, we also teamed up for other TV coverages like that of the Cebu Eastern College Alumni Basketball Association (CECABA) of our good friend Chester Cokaliong. We also did the games of the Cebu Basketball Federation, the Executives Cup and a few more.
In 2002, we started the Sacred Heart School-Jesuit (now Ateneo de Cebu) Football Club. This was a time when his elder son Popoy (Josemaria) and my son (Nico) just finished pre-school and were about to enter Grade-1. Then, only those in Grade-4 and higher were formally engaged in sports at the school.
Along with other parents, we formed the club and hired coaches to train our sons in football. I believe that it was through this effort that the school’s football program developed into what it is now today. More than that, the early days of our club also formed a very strong bond of friendship among us parents.
As colleagues in the newspaper, we played for The Freeman’s team in the Newsmen’s Basketball Association of Cebu (NBAC) and also in the SHS-J Dads Football team.
In 2010, Rico joined SHS-Ateneo de Cebu as athletic director. Aside from the fact that I was happy somebody was there to guide the school’s sports program, it was also very good news for me as there was somebody now in school, who could help keep an eye on my children as we live very far from SHS-AdC.
In 2012, Rico and I were elected into the board of the Cebu Football Association where he served as vice president and handled the committees on media and marketing while I headed the committees on security and discipline.
It was in the CFA were we worked more closely as we hosted two international friendlies for the Philippine Azkals against Singapore and Malaysia aside from one of the group stages of the President’s Cup of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
We were also actively involved in the games of the Philippine Football League as the local association hosted the Global Cebu Football Club.
When the CFA was dissolved and the Central Visayas Football Association (CVFA) was formed, Rico begged off from being considered for the board, but promised to continue supporting the new FA.
That did not however mean we stopped getting in touch as we continue to have a very active chat group of the old CFA board and Rico always comes up with talking points that would get us typing our replies.
When word of Rico’s passing started spreading, sympathies and tributes poured in.
He was indeed a man, who did not just write and talk sports – he lived it.
Farewell my friend and I hope that your family – Ising, Popoy and Thirdy, will find the strength to overcome this very sad moment of their lives.
You have done well as a son, brother, husband, father, friend, mentor and more. You truly espoused what a man for others should be.
Rest easy now, Rico.