Alfarero dies in poverty
- Joaquin M. Henson () - May 7, 2004 - 12:00am
"Bumigay na si Teddy." The words struck player agent Danny Espiritu like a dagger pierced his heart.

For years, Espiritu quietly helped out former national cager Teddy Alfarero. A few pesos here, a few pesos there. Every little bit went a long way because since Alfarero lost his job as the municipal sports coordinator in Dasmarinas, Cavite, in 1997, the gangling 6-4 native of Baroy, Lanao del Norte, had no means of livelihood.

It was Alfarero’s wife of 23 years Emilie Ruamero who broke the news of her husband’s death to Espiritu. Alfarero, 44, died of complications from a liver ailment at the Rizal Memorial Hospital in Dasmarinas at 4 a.m. last Wednesday.

Alfarero was hospitalized for three days before succumbing. The end came when his pancreas burst. Alfarero also had kidney failure and water in his lungs.

If not for his P10,000 share from the sale of a six-hectare family farmland in Baroy, Emilie wouldn’t have been able to pay for the hospital bills. The land was sold in July last year by Alfarero’s oldest brother. Alfarero didn’t find out about the sale until last December and his share finally arrived last Sunday—a day before he was confined.

Alfarero died a poor man and left behind five children and a grandson, only a month old. His oldest child Aaron, 22, is now married and works for a paint company but his casual contract expires in two weeks. Aaron, his wife and their son live in Alfarero’s modest two-bedroom, semi-bungalow home the once basketball star built out of his cage earnings in 1986.

Alfarero’s daughter Ayesa, 19, stopped going to college because there was no money for her tuition. Aaram, 15, and Aive Gayle, 13, are in high school. The youngest Alyzelle, 10, is in grade school.

When Alfarero left the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) in 1987, he continued playing in the Philippine Amateur Basketball League (PABL). But eventually, bigger and stronger players made Alfarero expendable. He went on to become a life insurance agent, drove a passenger jeepney and pocketed some extra cash as a star in barangay tournaments.

As life grew harder, Alfarero turned to his friends for assistance. Former teammate Naning Valenciano, who lived in Carmona, shared what he had. When Valenciano migrated to the US a few years ago, Alfarero lost contact. Alfarero sought the help of players turned politicians to pay for the education of his children but couldn’t squeeze blood from stone.

When he lost his job as municipal sports coordinator, Alfarero drove passengers around in a tricycle. But he gave it up after two accidents. With no regular income, Alfarero became depressed and desperate. He often turned to the bottle as an escape. His wife tried to make both ends meet by washing clothes and selling whatever she could. The family relied on doleouts from friends and relatives to survive.

Emilie said Alfarero was down to less than 100 pounds when he died. Because of his long frame, a casket had to be specially made. He lay lifeless on a table under a blanket for a day until the coffin was finished.

Funeral arrangements are still being finalized. Alfarero’s sister arrives from Palawan on Sunday and a brother is coming from Cebu. Alfarero is the youngest of six children. His parents Gregorio and Gregoria Maghinay are both deceased.

Friends from the PBA are raising money for Alfarero’s family. San Miguel Corp. and Alaska were the first to pledge support. San Miguel coach Joseph Uichico promised to contribute.

Alfarero didn’t play organized basketball until his senior year at Lanao del Norte National Comprehensive High School. As a boy, he was tuned into music and played cymbals in his grandfather Enrique’s 30-man orchestra that performed in town fiestas and weddings. His father was a saxophonist. Alfarero learned to play the sax and trumpet.

Alfarero grew to 6-1 1/2 as a high school senior and was encouraged by brother Cipriano to take up basketball. In 1978, he took a 12-hour boat ride from Lanao to Cebu and reported to University of Visayas coach Jake Rojas for a tryout. Alfarero played a year for the Lancers then was recruited to play for La Salle in 1980.

Alfarero played four years for the Green Archers. He was an alternate on the Philippine youth team under coach Turo Valenzona in 1980 and a reliever on the national squad that saw action at the Asian Basketball Confederation (ABC) championships in Calcutta in 1981. He joined Elmer Reyes, Ed Cordero and Franz Pumaren on the Philippine team that won the gold medal at the Southeast Asian Games in 1981. Alfarero also took trips to Kuwait, Singapore and China to play hoops.

Alfarero’s most memorable experience was playing on the Philippine team that captured the Asian Youth crown in Manila in 1982. Alfarero was coach Ron Jacobs’ starting center. In the title game, Alfarero compiled 10 points and six rebounds in 24 minutes as the Philippines downed China, 74-63.

In 1986, Alfarero turned pro and wore the Great Taste colors after a brief stint with Northern Cement as a PBA guest club the year before. He went on to play for Alaska and Hills Brothers in a three-year pro career.

Alfarero, whose highest PBA salary was P12,000 a month, blew his savings on an investment that turned sour. He started a poultry of 50 chickens and in six months, the business was wiped out. Alfarero sold the Toyota Corona he bought early in his pro career and lived a poor life until his death. He found refuge in the Bible in his final years and left his fate to the Lord.

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