‘Pagpupugay’ honors Pinoy sports legends
MANILA, Philippines—Bowler Arianne Cerdeña thought she had already been forgotten.
Cerdeña, a gold medalist in the 1988 Seoul Olympics in the demonstration sport of bowling, has been based in Los Angeles, California, away from both the sport and the country she brought honor to.
“I retired in 2002 and moved on. I thought I was already forgotten,” said Cerdeña as tears rolled on her cheeks.
Last Thursday evening, her heroics were relived, along with those of 18 other sports heroes in the “Pagpupugay: A Tribute to 100 years of Philippine Sports” at Newport Performing Arts Theater.
Cerdeña learned about the awards only last Tuesday and immediately booked a ticket home.
“I’m thankful for this citation,” she said.
The rest of the honorees were overcome with the same appreciative emotion as they took a trip down memory lane in the ceremony almost singlehandedly put together by sports broadcaster Chino Trinidad.
Living Filipino sports icons Paeng Nepomuceno (bowling), Efren “Bata” Reyes (billiards), Caloy Loyzaga (basketball), Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco (boxing), Eugene Torre (chess) and Bong Coo (bowling) were also feted in the gala night hosted by Resorts World Manila.
“Pagpupugay” also paid tribute to deceased heroes Pancho Villa (boxing), Paulino Alcantara (football), Teofilo Yldefonso (swimming), Simeon Toribio and Miguel White (athletics), Felicisimo Ampon (tennis), Ben Arda (golf), Lita Dela Rosa (bowling) and boxers Anthony Villanueva, Gabriel “Flash” Elorde and Ceferino Garcia.
“Let us celebrate their greatness not only as sports heroes but as humans who achieved extraordinary accomplishments as well,” said Trinidad.
Basketball, the country’s favorite sport, has its share of Filipino dribbling greats in Ramoncito Campos, Tony Genato, Loreto Carbonell, Yoyong Martirez, Mon Fernandez, Danny Florencio, Alvin Patrimonio and Samboy Lim, who all attended the celebration.
“They are our national treasure. We should take care of them and they shouldn’t be neglected,” said Trinidad, the prime mover behind Taas Noo Inc.
The night’s most touching scene was when Villanueva’s wife received the posthumous distinction for the first Filipino silver medalist in the Olympics.
Villanueva, who settled for the silver medal in a controversial finale during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, passed away last month in poverty after losing his long-running bout against various illnesses.