Paeng, Bata among most trusted Filipinos
AT A TIME when trust in many government institutions and officials are being continually eroded by reports of rampant graft and corruption and a widening gap between those who have so much and the millions who have so very little, any recognition of trustworthiness comes as a refreshing break in our daily lives.
Indeed it somehow allows us a chance to pause and re-evaluate the situation in national society and the manner in which we actually look at one another.
We have always maintained that our athletes in various disciplines are often the saving grace of our nation. They are examples of individuals who commit themselves to the search for excellence and who live by the values and virtues of hard work, discipline, fairness and love for our country.
It is against this background that we feel a deep sense of satisfaction that two fine athletes from opposite sides of economic and social backgrounds have made the top 10 in a nationwide poll conducted some time ago by Reader’s Digest.
In the poll where the names of 80 Filipinos from different walks of life were submitted to individuals across the country in a survey to determine levels of trustworthiness, four-time world bowling champion Rafael “Paeng” Nepomuceno finished No. 6 and “The Magician” Efren “Bata” Reyes, the greatest pool player of all time landed in the No. 10 spot.
To us the trustworthiness was ennobled by the fact that Rosa Rosal, who has given her life to the cause of the Red Cross and who has demonstrated over the past few decades her remarkable sense of caring for the less fortunate, was No. 1. Consummate singer-actress and shining example of Filipino talent, Lea Salonga, was second. Two other outstanding women, TV public affairs host Jessica Soho and TV anchorwoman Mel Tiangco, a lady of the finest order, were No. 3 and No. 9, respectively.
Men of distinction also made the top ten with Gawad Kalinga’s Tony Meloto at No. 4 followed by President Noynoy Aquino, documentary film maker Howie Severino at No. 7 and Inquirer columnist Randy David at No. 8.
Nepomuceno, who has always shown unmistakable pride in being a Filipino, always competed internationally with the Philippine flag emblazoned across his shirt and has been a perfect example of a sportsman and a gentleman of remarkable talent and essential class. He represented our country with distinction and his family with the quiet style inherent in men who are worthy of his countrymen’s esteem.
The toothless grin of Reyes, his tendency to scratch his head and smile when making a shot his competitors would never have even thought of, and his simple, down-to-earth manner have endeared him to both opponents and fans around the pool halls of the world.
To be considered among the most trustworthy in a sport that is perceived to be one marred by gambling and game-fixing is not merely a tribute to the unsullied reputation of Reyes but a tribute to the men who molded the man’s character and supported him with pride through the years—the brothers Aristeo “Putch” Puyat and former congressman Jose “Poppit” Puyat. In a sense the picture is completed by the reality that Nepomuceno is the son in law of the congressman.
In the language of horse owners and breeders, it’s the bloodline that counts. When we realize that Paeng and Efren come from vastly different spectrums of Philippine society, it proves, beyond reasonable doubt, that men from both the ranks of the poor and from the shelter of the well-to-do have the essential character of trustworthiness which we as Filipinos must learn to emulate and build on.