Eduardo Cojuangco Jr.
To read this article in Filipino, see Eduardo Cojuangco Jr.
Eduardo Murphy "Danding" Cojuangco, Jr. (b. June 10, 1935 - June 16, 2020 ) was an influential Filipino tycoon and powerbroker. He was the chief executive of San Miguel Corporation (PSE: SMC), the Philippines' largest food and beverage conglomerate. He has tried his hands in politics, running for president once but eventually losing to Fidel V. Ramos. He almost entered the presidential race again a few years after his loss but later withdrew. Cojuangco has since played only supporting roles in government, successfully fielding candidates for national and local elections and endorsing political appointees. He was often called as The Man of the Earth.
He was dubbed as one of the country's most influential people as mentioned in the Philippine Tatler's list of Who's Who of the Philippines.
Cojuanco’s roots can be traced back to 18th century when his great grandfather, Co Yu Huan settled in the Philippines and married Antera Estrella after he was baptized as Jose Co Giok Huang. He would later on drop the ‘Giok’ and added the suffix ‘Co’, which means elder brother in Chinese. His name was written in Spanish as Cojuangco. The two had two girls and one boy namely: Yisidra, Melecio and Chanita.
Melecio Cojuangco married Chinese mestiza Tiakla Chichioco and they had three children: Jose Cojuangco, Sr., Eduardo Cojuanco, Sr. and Antonio Cojuangco.
Jose Cojuangco was the father of former president Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino, which was the mother of President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III. Eduardo “Edeng” Cojuangco, Sr. married Josephine Murphy. Josephine’s father was an Army Volunteer in Mountain Province and vehemently rejected their union. Despite this, Endeng and Josephine eloped and got married in Tarlac. The two gave birth to Mercedes Cojuangco-Teodoro, Isabel Cojuangco-Suntay, Aurora Cojuangco Lagdameo, Enrique Cojuangco, Manuel Cojuangco, and Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, Jr. Danding and Cory are first cousins and fourth generation Cojuangcos.
By the time Danding was born, the Cojuangcos were already one of the richest and most powerful families in the Philippines. Such was their prominence that former President Manuel L. Quezon personally asked one of the Cojuangcos to join the politics. Eldest son Jose ran and elected assemblyman while Endeng ran as governor.
Other than owning the largest food and beverage corporation in the country and several other companies, Cojuangco and his family also have economic influence particularly in the province of Negros. When he and his close friend Ferdinand Marcos left the country in 1986, Cojuangco was estimated to have acquired over of 5,300 hectares of agricultural lands in the towns of Himamaylan, Isabela, La Castellana, La Carlota, Pontevedra and San Enrique. He was also engaged in sugar farms, orchards, cattle ranches, fighting cocks breeding farms business before he left. Upon his return in the Philippines in 1991, he made the province as a base for his recovery, busying himself in various expansion projects there yet again.
In 1998, Cojuangco returned to San Miguel Corporation and elected himself as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. He brought with him Ramon Ang, his friend and a former auto-mechanic whom he entrusted his businesses while he was on exile.
In 2005, he lost 27% of San Miguel Corporation's stock following a court decision, and faced civil suit over some more stocks the government holds "ill-gotten" from the Martial Law era. Recent estimates however hold that today, the Cojuangcos own more than 20,000 hectares of productive agricultural lands in Negros alone.
In 2010, however, the courts ruled in favor of Cojuangco and have declared him as the rightful owner of the San Miguel shares. The government, who filed the lawsuit against him, claimed that the shares were acquired illegally from coconut farmers during Marcos’ rule.
Also in the same year, Cojuangco entered into an agreement with Top Frontier, with the Cojuangco selling his 493 million shares for P75 each for P37 billion. Top Frontier is composed of businessmen Roberto Ongpin, Inigo Zobel, and Jose Campos. The acquisition of Cojuangco’s share can be exercised until November 2012.
Aside from being the Chairman and CEO of the San Miguel Corporation, a position he held since July 1998, Cojuangco was also the Chairman and CEO of Ginebra San Miguel, Inc., and Chairman of the San Miguel Pure Foods Company, Inc., ECJ & Sons Agricultural Eneterprises, Inc., and Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr. Foundation, Inc. He was also a Director Cainaman Farms, Inc. and Petron Corporation and was a Director of Manila Electric Company (Meralco) from February 2009 to May 2009.
In the 70s, Cojuangco was a known member of Rolex 12, a group of wealthy and powerful right hand men of the president during the Martial Law period. He was identified as a close friend and adviser to President Ferdinand E. Marcos, a tie which would cause him an estranged relationship with Corazon Aquino, after the assassination of the latter's husband, Benigno Aquino Jr..
In 1992, Cojuangco set up the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC), a vehicle he would use to further his presidential ambitions. He ran for the Philippine presidency in the same year, but ultimately lost to Fidel V. Ramos.
Ironically, when Danding Cojuangco ran for President against Ramos, Cory and her supporters rallied behind Ramos, who was Ferdinand Marcos’ cousin. On the other hand, Marcos’ supporters supported Danding, who was Cory’s cousin. Joseph Estrada, whom he asked to run under the NPC banner as his running mate, won the vice presidency. In the 1998 Presidential election, he became the chief supporter of Estrada, his running-mate in the 1992 election. Cojuangco tested the waters again more than a decade later in 2003, but before campaigning even started, he withdrew from the race.
Cojuangco also served as the chairman emeritus of the NPC's United Negros Alliance (UNA-NPC).
The businessman has a lot of business acquisitions even outside the country. He owned Gooree Stud at Mudgee, New South Wales, a thoroughbred racing and breeding farm in Australia. Horses from his stud farm compete in races in Australia and New Zealand.
He was also an advocate of sports in the country, using his company as sponsors for various functions and events. Known for supporting local basketball since the 1980's, his San Miguel Corporation owns three teams in the Philippine Basketball Association: the San Miguel Beermen, Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings, and B-Meg Derby Ace Llamados (formerly Purefoods Tender Juicy Giants).
Who's Who of the Philippines. Philippine Tatler. 2009.
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