‘Yoyong,’ Olympian and PBA great, dies at 77

Yoyong Martires PBA

Yoyong Martires.–Photo from E.A.T Facebook

Rosalio “Yoyong” Martires, one of the pioneer stars of the PBA and a member of the last Philippine basketball team to play in the Olympics has died at the age of 77.

His family announced his passing on Wednesday, reportedly due to complications from pneumonia. Martires had been attending gatherings with fellow legends and was on hand for the East Asia Super League Final Four in Cebu in recent months.

A product of Southwestern University, Martires burst into the big-time basketball scene in the defunct MICAA playing for San Miguel Beer, teaming up with Ramon Fernandez to lead the Braves to the 1973 National Seniors title.

He also ventured into showbiz as a comedian and later on in politics.

Regarded for his cat-quick skills, particularly on the defensive end, Martires was named to the national team that competed in the 1972 Munich Olympics where the Philippines placed 13th out of 16 participants.

He also played for the Philippines in the title-winning 1973 ABC Championship team at Rizal Memorial Coliseum under coach Tito Eduque and the 1974 World Championship squad in Puerto Rico.

Martires made the jump to the PBA in 1975 for San Miguel’s team, Royal Tru-Orange, eventually becoming a part of the franchise’s first title in 1979 when the Orangemen defeated the fabled Toyota Tamaraws in the Invitational Championship.

A second title followed in the same conference in 1982 under the San Miguel Beer banner. Martires played the final two seasons of his career with Winston and Country Fair.

His colorful personality also opened the door for a role on the silver screen, prominently in a sidekick role in comedy movies involving the trio of Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto and Joey de Leon.

It was in the movies where Martires became known for uttering the words “Hindi, nagpapaliwanag lang,” a catchphrase he uses whenever one of the main characters asks if he’s in a foul mood, the delivery becoming mellow after voicing his displeasure in an angry manner.

Both industries paved the way for his political career in Pasig, first becoming a councilor for the second district of that city from 1995 to 2004 before being elected as vice mayor that same year, serving three terms until 2013. He returned to his role as city councilor from 2013 to 2022.