Farewell to Mr. Twinkletoes
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson () - July 10, 2003 - 12:00am
There are many ways to describe Manuel (Manolet) Araneta. A 1948 London Olympian, a star on the La Salle senior varsity basketball team, first cousin of Jorge (Nene) Araneta, father-in-law of Ilocos Gov. Bongbong Marcos, faithful husband of Mila Cacho (they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary three years ago), father of eight, grandfather of 14.

But to sports fans, he’ll always be Mr. Twinkletoes.

Araneta passed away last July 4. He was 76. His contemporary Col. Julian Malonso said Mr. Twinkletoes was a master of the running shot. They were adversaries in the Universities Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP).

Malonso said Araneta was also known for his incredible hang time. The spindly guard suspended himself in midair for a few seconds before releasing his shot–something Samboy Lim developed into an art form when the Skywalker defied gravity in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).

Araneta was reed-thin, almost like teammate Tito Eduque. Together, they were called needle and thread–"karayum" and "sinulid" because of how they wove their fine fabric of teamwork on the floor. Araneta, Eduque, Eddie Decena, Eddie Sharuf, Jun Inigo, Jess Pimentel, and Alfred Ysrael played on the La Salle team that won the 1948 National Open title.

Born in Iloilo, Araneta grew up in Bago City, Negros Occidental, where he started playing hoops. Then, he moved to Manila and enrolled at Mapua, Far Eastern University (FEU), and finally, La Salle.

During the Japanese occupation, Araneta played in the Knights of Columbus league at the Sta. Rita Hall (now Sta. Isabel College) on Taft Avenue. The league organizers were Fr. George Willmann, S.J., and Dr. Ramon Campos.

Malonso remembered playing against Araneta when he suited up for FEU after the war. "Too bad FEU could never beat us in those days," mused Malonso who played for the University of Santo Tomas (UST). "Manolet’s teammates included Louie Tabuena and Baby Dalupan. Our team was made up of Francisco Vestil, Quitong Nepomuceno, the Fajardo brothers, Ramoncito Campos, and Dr. Pepet Genato, among others."

Malonso recalled that in 1946, the UST gym was the site of a UAAP twinbill featuring National University (NU) versus the University of the Philippines (UP) in the first game and UST versus FEU in the main event.

"We were in the dugout waiting for the first game to finish when our athletic director Fr. Garcia announced that nahulog ang yero," recounted Malonso. "What happened was the bleacher railing fell to the floor because of the overflow crowd. It was a terrible accident. A UP cheerleader named Siochi from Malabon died. Several spectators were injured. Dr. Cesar Millar had just scored to win the game for UP when the railing collapsed. We went on to play Manolet and FEU and of course, UST won."

In 1948, Araneta was picked to play on the national squad at the London Olympics. His teammates included Lauro Mumar, the Fajardos, Campos, Vestil, Andy de la Cruz, Edgardo Fulgencio, Decena and Pocholo Martinez.

Araneta earned a commerce degree at La Salle and took up an agricultural course at UP Los Baños. Sports was always a priority in Araneta’s life. When Araneta worked at a sugar central in Murcia, he found time to coach a team of teenagers and took the players all over the province to face all comers. He promoted inter-department sports competitions. His daughter Christine said her father "always reminded the players that (the important thing is) not the winning but competing and playing fair, showing your sportsmanship during and after the game."

ALFRED YSRAEL ARANETA BAGO CITY BONGBONG MARCOS DECENA AND POCHOLO MARTINEZ DR. CESAR MILLAR LA SALLE MALONSO MANOLET MR. TWINKLETOES
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