Obituary - Honorary President Campomanes Print
Monday, 03 May 2010 09:10


It is with very great sadness that we have learned that FIDE Honorary President, Florencio Campomanes has passed away.

A detailed news will be published here soon...


Please read Casto Abundo's news below...

Florencio Campomanes, FIDE President from 1982 to 1995, passed away 1:30 pm today, 3rd May in Baguio City, Philippines after a bout with cancer. He was 83. FIDE joins together in sending condolences to his family and to the National Chess Federation of the Philippines. FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov said by phone "I thank him many many many times for all he has done for chess. Please send my condolence to his family."


Campo's family is in Baguio City for the cremation services as he willed and they said "Whatever memorials federations around the world will do in Campo's memory will be much appreciated. After his February

2007 accident in Turkey, his recovery was a miracle, and the additional years he had with us was a gift from God."


I wrote an article about Campo's life in chess which can be downloaded from the FIDE site:


After his recovery from his 2007 car accident, he continued to be active in FIDE, Asian and Philippine chess until his bout with cancer reached terminal stage four last year. He was still strong and hearty on his 83rd birthday last February 22nd but his health quickly deteriorated. I was at his bedside at the Notre Dame Hospital in Baguio City on 1st May. As I thanked him for all our chess years together, he smiled and said "We had fun."





by Casto Abundo

If I had to describe Campo in a word, I’d say he was a driven man.

He showed his independence early on when as a boy he ran away from home at the age of 6, taking a tram that, thankfully, took him back where it started. In his college years, he mixed more with his professors than with his classmates. His cum laude earned him a Fulbright scholarship to the U.S where he pursued his Masters degree in Political Science. His high grades also got him a PR job at the Philippine consulate. He regaled me with stories of himself as a young man in New York in the 50’s with money to spare and living life to the hilt. It was there also at the chess clubs that he learned of what would be his other love, FIDE.

When he wanted to go to the 1956 Chess Olympiad in Moscow at the time of the cold war when the Philippines had no diplomatic relations with the USSR, he was warned that he would lose his monthly check and his teaching job at the State University of the Philippines. He left his check, left his job and left for Moscow.

He never looked back and never again became an employee, instead gaining an entreé into the corridors of political power as a chess sparring partner of Philippine Vice President Carlos Garcia who later became President. Campo was a trusted aide and he told stories of how he would clean out the Philippine National Bank to distribute political largess during national elections.

He recounted how he was able to take his wife to Tokyo on a holiday from the excess of slush funds he was given. Campo was loved by his families despite their separation. In 1993, his first wife even flew from the U.S. to Athens to be with him on his birthday.

He could hobnob with high society as well as hoi polloi. He would spend many nights at the chess clubs in Manila taking on all comers, be they common chess hustlers.

He played hard and he worked hard. In a visit to Iran, a friend asked Campo if he could work in FIDE. Campo said anyone who works for him has to be ready to work 25 hours a day for 8 days a week. One of his favorite expressions was "Everyday is a Monday" referring to the start of the working week. "Let’s move!" he would bark.

And he could inspire people. When he asked me to organize the 1983 FIDE Congress in Manila, I told him it was difficult. He cajoled "The difficult you handle. The impossible I do." He was a fighter. He has lectured many Philippine chess players to fight and not settle for second best.

During his term, Campo tried to visit as many FIDE member federations as possible. He kept close personal relationships with his friends around the world and tried to motivate them.

He was an accomplished orator. First he would write out his speech, then put headings into index cards, then throw away his notes before walking up to the podium. And his delivery was impeccable.

He showed the way in Philippine sports and became the first Filipino to be elected President of an international sports body. And he was a man of principle. When offered to dismiss his lawsuit by paying a small fine of a hundred euros, he refused to take the easy way out and accept the verdict. He stuck it out until he was cleared.

I have seen him struggle, bamboozle high priced lawyers and make tough decisions. He was not a rich man but managed to move in high circles. His wife once told me how when they were starting out Campo would leave the house in the morning with only bus fare but come back at night with a wad of bills and lipstick on his collar.

He was a proud man. Campo was used to playing singles tennis everyday and being physically fit. After his 2007 car accident in Turkey, on his return to the Philippines he left Manila for his recovery, hibernated in Baguio City for three months and refused visitors. He did not like people to see him weak and take pity on him. And similarly in his last weeks, he tried to keep his condition secret.

When I told him that his friend, former IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch had passed away, Campo had no reaction, seeming to accept that the time has come. They became very close friends, being of the same generation and mentality. IOC people told me that Samaranch did not even know how to operate a fax machine but could weave through the most intricate political webs. The same could be said of Campo. Both took over their respective office Secretariats from absentee presidents and away from strong General Secretaries. And they both made their sports bodies richer, bigger and stronger.

Campo will be best remembered as a lover of chess, sitting across a board and inviting all comers to play blitz. I remember in Argentina how his hosts were amazed that after a long 15 hour flight, Campo did not rest on arrival but came down immediately from his room and asked for a chess set and clock.

I had the good fortune of being with Campo since the 70’s. At his bedside, I thanked him for everything he has done and said my whole life was lived around him. His last words to me showed that he had lived a full life. He looked up, smiled and said "We had fun."

Casto Abundo
Al Ain, 3 May 2010