MANILA, Philippines - Filipino sporting heroes whose exploits and feats have made the nation proud will be given tribute in a special two-week celebration at the Resorts World Hotel.
Dubbed “Pagpupugay sa 100 Taon ng Phl Sports,” the June 1-15 event will honor 19 heroes of Philippine sports who left their mark in the world stage for the past 100 years.
Two of those to be honored, bowling great Rafael “Paeng” Nepomuceno and Asia’s first Grandmaster Eugene Torre, were at the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at Shakey’s Malate yesterday accompanied by sports broadcaster Chino Trinidad, the man behind the project.
“We’ll celebrate their greatness. Our DNA hasn’t changed and we could be great again,” said Trinidad, seated beside two of the greatest Filipino athletes of all-time during the session presented by Accel, Shakey’s, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.
Aside from Nepomuceno and Torre, others to be feted are booter Paulino Alcantara, Olympic heroes Teofilo Yldefonso, Simeon Toribio, and Miguel White, tennis great Felicisimo Ampon, golfer Ben Arda, bowlers Lita Dela Rosa, Arianne Cerdena, and Bong Coo, pool legend Efren “Bata” Reyes, basketball star Caloy Loyzaga, and boxers Anthony Villanueva, Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco, Pancho Villa, Ceferino Garcia, Gabriel “Flash” Elorde and Manny Pacquiao.
A special trophy made and designed by renowned Filipino sculptor Joe Datuin, who was also present in the same forum, will be given away to all the honorees.
“Why 19 when in fact we have more than 200 deserving of the recognition. Let’s quantify it, only those who made the mark on world level were the first we included in the list. If you noticed bowling and boxing have multiple entries,” said Trinidad, the former commissioner of the defunct Philippine Basketball League.
Starting June 1, photos and memorabilia of Filipino heroes will be displayed at the lobby of the Resorts World Hotel, while a gala night celebrating the deeds of all 19 awardees will cap the celebration on June 12 Independence Day.
“Gabi ng Pagpupugay is set June 12 because we want a different take on how we will celebrate Independence Day,” said Trinidad.
Both Nepomuceno, the only player to win the World Cup four times in three different decades, and Torre lauded Trinidad for taking the cue in remembering the accomplishments of Filipino athletes both past and present.
“This is important to educate the Filipino people and to inspire the youth,” said the 57-year-old Nepomuceno, hailed as the Greatest International Bowler of All-Time by the Bowlers International Journal and whose seven-foot image can be found at the entrance of the International Bowling Hall of Fame and Museum in Arlington, Texas.