An era has ended as Joey Romasanta is now heading for retirement, putting an end to more than three decades of service to Philippine sports.
In a conversation with Daily Tribune, the 76-year-old Romasanta said he would no longer contest the outcome of the elections of the new volleyball federation that would replace the Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas Inc. (LVPI), the body that he has been leading for the past five years.
Romasanta said he is happy that the volleyball stakeholders are now coming together for a common cause so he would be now stepping aside for the sake of unity and peace in volleyball.
“Nobody should be standing in the way of something better. If the majority said it is better, as espoused by the FIVB, then we’ll go with it,” said Romasanta, one of the few remaining old hands in Philippine sports.
“It’s not about the associations; it’s all about the sport. We should choose whichever is the better approach.”
Romasanta used to be one of the most powerful men in sports.
Shortly after the EDSA Revolution, Romasanta assumed the leadership of Project: Gintong Alay, which served as the government’s funding arm for amateur and grassroots sports before the Philippine Sports Commission was created in 1990.
When his principal, President Corazon Aquino stepped down in 1992, he went back to the Cojuangco Group of Companies while serving as team manager of the Luisita Golf Club.
He resurfaced again in 2004 when Jose “Peping” Cojuangco was elected by acclamation as president of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC).
Romasanta played a key role in the country’s hosting of the 23rd Southeast Asian Games in 2005 and served as spokesperson of the local Olympic movement before becoming president of karatedo and being elected as POC first vice president shortly after the 2012 London Olympics.
He was elected as president of the LVPI in 2015 in which he was credited for fielding the men’s and women’s team in the 28th SEA Games in 2015 for the first time after a decade of absence.
More than that, he became the chief of mission of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016 in which weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz claimed the country’s first Olympic silver medal since 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta.
When boxing president Ricky Vargas stepped down as POC chief in 2018 after being questioned about his involvement in the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee Foundation Inc., it was Romasanta who replaced him before calling for an election that paved the way for the leadership of incumbent POC boss Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino.
Now, he vowed to decline nomination in the new volleyball body and leave Philippine sports — for good.
“I will not be running for any position. But then again, if there’s still a need for advice or whatsoever, I’m still willing to help,” Romasanta said.
“My mandate before when I was still part of the POC was to fix volleyball. Now that there’s an effort from the POC in conjunction with the FIVB (International Volleyball Federation), I might as well join and cooperate.”
Romasanta said he is leaving volleyball — and Philippine sports — in good hands.
“We’re already here. It’s about time for the real stakeholders of volleyball to step up and, hopefully, agree on what’s best for volleyball,” he said, adding that he is glad to be stepping down in his own terms.
“I’ve done everything I could. I’ve already made my mark in Philippine sports, and that’s already enough for me.”