Salute to a hero, an all-time great
The national sports hero Filomeno “Boy” Codiñera loved to say that Lauro Mumar, his fellow Cebuano, was the finest basketball player the Philippines has produced. Of course, they can’t dispute that Carlos Loyzaga was our greatest basketball hero. But Boy Codiñera would swear that, counting on total worth, Mumar had the sharper cunning, prowess, and better command on the court.
Loyzaga was named to the Mythical Team in the 1954 World Basketball Championship in Brazil, where the Philippines captured the bronze medal.
Mumar was the skipper of that national squad, which he had rescued many times from sure defeat with his fabled foxiness and incredible foul-baiting gifts.
Loyzaga had the solid sparkling credentials.
Mumar, as attested to by Codiñera, stood out with sly pinch-and-nudge intangibles that had distracted and diverted many tall and burly opponents in foreign fields.
Codiñera, 77, passed away on Tuesday. There is a picture of him, frail but handsome in a crisp barong tagalog. It was taken last February during the Philippine Sportswriters Awards Night where he was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
His remains lie in state at the Holy Trinity Memorial in Parañaque City.
Codiñera in that photo appeared delighted, fulfilled, dignified. Too bad that many younger sports fans have not been fortunate enough to savor his greatness. Codiñera was not known to very many Filipino sports enthusiasts, who can’t be blamed because he happened to be a baseball great, not a basketball star. He was also a national softball team standout.
Codiñera’s most popular feat came during the 1972 World Men’s Softball Championship at the Rodriguez Sports Center in Marikina. In the final inning of the game against powerhouse Mexico, Codiñera, with two outs, drove a game-winning grand slam home-run that sent the big home crowd erupting in delight.
An athletic scholar at the University of Santo Tomas, where he served in both in the baseball and basketball teams, the tall, doe-eyed, heavy-set Cebuano star went on to join the Manila Police Department, and at the same time play for the Canlubang Sugar Barons in the Manila Bay Baseball League.
His international achievements included a starring role for the national team that won the bronze medal in the 1960 World Amateur Baseball Championship in Hawaii. He was a vital cog in the national team that finished a strong fourth in the 1968 Men’s World Softball Championship. He made it to the Guinness Book of World Records after he scored seven consecutive doubles in that Oklahoma tournament.
Codiñera was a main pillar of the world-famous RP Blu Boys.
He fathered three sons, Harmon, former national cager Jerry, and Pat, who all made it to the PBA.
He suffered a stroke in 2004, but it took no time for him to again make a regular after-office round of his regular haunts around the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex, off P. Ocampo, formerly Vito Cruz St. Codiñera was also known to raise his own funds in order to accompany national baseball and softball teams to major international tournaments.
Anyway, of these beer nooks, the old Memorial Cafe, opposite the main entrance to the old basketball stadium, was Boy C’s favorite. He was regularly seen there, often with Raul Sta. Rosa and Rey Manzanares, his teammates in the national team; also with trusted national cage team trainer Skip Agcaoli, the poet Erwin Castillo, congressional executive Pepito Aguila, Turo Valenzona, barangay leader Ocay Espiritu, Fr. Edgar Martin and many other friends. To all of us, Boy Codiñera remained a loyal doting ally in that glorious gaming period when national sports was run and managed with competence, compassion, fairness, professionalism, even with humor—a whole glorious world apart from today’s tyrannic, irresponsible stranglehold by Peping Cojuangco, an impotent figure who appeared bent on perpetuating his anomalous leadership, by hook or by crook.
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