HUMBLE and down-to-earth Nathaniel “Tac” Padilla belongs to a family of shooters. His past and present records will speak for themselves.
Over the weekend, the 48-year-old Padilla won three more shooting titles by topping the rapid fire, center fire and standard pistol events during the National Open shooting championships at the Marines range in Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City.
The general manager of the family-owned Spring Cooking Oil, Tac was barely 13 years old in 1978 when he broke into the national sporting scene by becoming world junior shooting champion in Mexico City.
From thereon, he has managed to keep his passion for marksmanship burning.
Tac’s father, Mariano “Tom” Ong, is a two-time Olympic shooter (1972 Munich and 1976 Montreal) while a daughter, Mica Padilla, is fast following his papa’s footsteps by stamping her class in her 20-year-old category. A brother, Donald, is also a shooting buff.
The young cooking oil executive, despite a busy schedule, regularly keeps in shape by finding time to exercise and hones up in his private shooting range in Malabon.
Now at the helm of the Philippine National Shooting Development program, Tac is keen on discovering and teaching the rudiments of the sport, in particular to the youth.
“Jayson (Valdez) and the other kids are the future of shooting,” said Padilla, adding that he hopes to tap upcoming shooting phenoms. He has gifted Jayson with a new gun.
“We have to take advantage of these talented products. They need exposure and they must get it.”
On Jayson, Tac said:, “A virtual neophyte in shooting, Jayson got his baptism of fire only two years ago. His first love was taekwondo, but his father, Julius Valdez, a three-time gold medalist in the 1987 SEA Games in Jakarta, encouraged his son to try shooting for a change. ”
The PNSA is now headed by well-known sports and arts patron Mikee Romero.
In winning his three titles recently, Padilla stressed: “I really prepared hard for this tournament.”
Tac tallied 550 points to beat Robert Donalvo (537) and Ronaldo Hejastro (533) in rapid fire; scored 546 to outclass Donalvo (536) and fellow Asian Gamer Carolino Gonzales (533) in center fire; and shot 541 to trim Hejastro (539) and Donalvo (537) in standard pistol.
He has also represented the country 17 times in the biennial Southeast Asian Games—the only athlete in the region to have achieved the feat.
Meanwhile, Valdez also stole the show by beating many-time SEA Games champion Emerito Concepcion in the air rifle event, scoring 588 to nip Concepcion (585) and Celdon Jude Arellano (583).
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Outspoken Go Teng Kok, a fierce critic of two-time Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr., texted us this message, explaining why “nothing happens in sports.”
“Cojuangco is spending the last four years not preparing for the Olympics, Asian Games, and SEA Games but preparing for reelection then transfer of power to his daughter Mikee. Pulitika talaga.”