Chito's inspiration
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson () - October 10, 2010 - 12:00am

PSC commissioner and former PBA cager Chito Loyzaga didn’t look too far to find the inspiration for his advocacy to promote sports science as a tool to enhance the performance of the country’s elite athletes.

“My father (Caloy) was known as the Big Difference during his playing years,” said Chito. “I really think sports science is the Big Difference in bringing out the best in our athletes. In the PSC, I’m going all out to promote it, particularly among our athletes competing in the coming Asian Games. This involves nutrition, sports psychology and conditioning. I often wonder how much further my father would’ve gone with sports science. He could’ve played in more than two Olympics or led the country to more than four Asian Games championships or taken us to higher than third place at the world basketball championships in 1954.”

Chito, 52, never tasted an Asian Games championship like his father. The closest he got was playing on coach Robert Jaworski’s silver medal squad at the 1990 Asiad in Beijing. But Chito made a name for himself in the PBA where he saw action for 12 seasons with Tanduay, Toyota, Great Taste and Ginebra up to 1993. Younger brother Joey, 49, also played in the PBA, suiting up for Magnolia, Swift, Shell, Ginebra and Alaska in a 14-year career up to 2000.

Chito said he will always cherish the memory of visiting his father, now living in the Gold Coast, Australia, with wife Vicky, for three months early this year.

“I took a sabbatical to be with my dad from March to May,” said Chito. “I’m grateful to San Miguel for allowing me to take a leave. It allowed my mom to visit her mother in Manila and a sister in the US, both of whom are ill. I cooked for my dad. He loves my abodo and sinigang. We played golf three days a week. We watched movies at home. We walked around the malls. As we approached the cold season, we always took hot soup with our meals. It was a special time for me. I saw his daily routine. In the morning, he would tinker around the garden, watering the plants, keeping the grass neat.”

* * * *

King Caloy, as he was also called, is now retired and completely out of basketball. He and his wife live in the Gold Coast home of their daughter Bing and husband Janno Gibbs. Joey and another daughter Carmen live in Sydney while daughter Teresa, a flight attendant, is based in Perth. Joey works for Cole’s department store while Carmen is with a bakery chain. Chito is the oldest of five children. King Caloy has eight grandchildren.

“Bing and her husband have a lot of commitments in Manila with their career so the house in the Gold Coast is usually empty,” said Chito. “Bing convinced my parents to stay in the house which is like a typical Filipino home with the Filipino channel and all sorts of Filipino stuff in the pantry.”

Last August, King Caloy turned 80.

“I was back in Manila,” said Chito. “It was my siblings’ turn to visit my dad and they spent a happy birthday weekend with him. But I surprised my dad by sending over my two kids, Joaquin and Celina, to celebrate with him.” Joaquin Jr., 19, studies in Melbourne and Celina, 21, is taking up geography in Scotland. Another daughter Cecilia, 14, is in first year of high school.

“My three kids love to study – they take after my wife Toni,” said Chito. “We’re very proud of our children. Our youngest is now 5-3 so she’s tall for her age. She does recreational sports like softball but also takes after her mother because she’s a good student.”

* * * *

Chito said in February, he hopes to invite his parents to visit Manila.

“My dad wasn’t in town when he was inducted into the Philippine Sports Hall of Fame last year and neither was I because we were together in Australia,” said Chito. “My sister Bing represented my dad at the ceremonies. We’re planning to bring my parents over early next year. Maybe, my dad can make it to the San Beda homecoming which is around the third week of February. The PBA will still be playing games at the time so he can watch in the coliseum and enjoy the action. So many of his friends and teammates ask about him, like Tito Tony (Genato). Now that he’s 80, my dad would enjoy spending time with his old friends.”

Somehow, King Caloy is still making a Big Difference in Philippines sports – through his son Chito in the PSC.

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