He claims to have lived a relatively more frugal life compared to some of his peers.
On Reynel Hugnatan’s left arm is a tattoo depicting a provincial scene: a simple house, a carabao carrying a load of sugarcane, and a truck loaded with the same crop. Ask him about it and he says: “Diyan ako nagsimula.”
The 43-year-old PBA veteran grew up in Bacolod, where his family ran a small farm. “Tumutulong ako,” Hugnatan says, miming the action of chopping sugarcane during harvest. Bacolod is known as “the sugar capital of the Philippines,” and like many families in the area, this has been their way of life.
“Ever since, mahilig magmaneho tatay ko,” he recalls. As his family’s financial situation improved thanks to their business and Hugnatan’s basketball career, one of the first investments they made was “upgrading” their carabao: buying a truck that could carry their harvest instead. His father himself would drive the truck.
Now entering his 20th year in a storied PBA career which includes multiple championships, Hugnatan has grown that initial investment of one truck into a whole fleet of vehicles. The trucking business is now managed by Hugnatan’s brother.
You sometimes hear about professional athletes who live large during their playing careers and burn out after retirement—a tragic reality for some PBA players that serves as a cautionary tale for athletes. Over his long career, Hugnatan himself has seen it happen to many players, and has been determined to avoid the same fate. In fact, Hugnatan always knew that smart financial decisions would be key to unlocking a more comfortable life for his family, not just in the short term, but for the long haul.
He invested in real estate for himself, as well as agricultural land in his hometown, and while he indulges himself by traveling to beaches whenever he can, he claims to have lived a relatively more frugal life compared to some of his peers. “Sabi ko sa sarili ko, habang nasa PBA ako, karamihan ng sweldo ko, diretso sa savings,” says the Meralco Bolts veteran.
“Hindi ako nangongolekta ng branded sa totoo lang,” he says. “Meron naman akong branded, bumibili ako minsan, pero hindi ko hinahanap na buwan-buwan may bago. Mas sa experiences ako nage-enjoy.” You’ll often see him in surf towns like La Union or Siargao, posting photos of his dogs on Instagram, or treating his daughter to hotel dinners whenever she’s in town.
His advice for younger players and aspiring athletes? “Ang basketball, 'di 'yan forever. Kailangan magplano ka para sa future mo, 'di lang para sayo kundi para sa pamilya mo.”