Freeman Cebu Sports

Hasta La Vista: ‘Sports Eye’ Raffy Uytiepo runs final marathon

Emmanuel B. Villaruel - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — A pall of gloom descended on the Cebu sports community with the death of running patron Rafael “Raffy” T. Uytiepo. He would have turned 76 on Thursday, May 23.

Uytiepo was born in Bacolod City and raised in Iloilo but it was here in Cebu where he accomplished many of his exemplary works and lived a full life with love for running beyond measure.

A dedicated sportsman, he was among the forerunners of the Cebu Executive Runners Club (CERC), which blossomed into a well established running organization that it is now today.

Himself a marathoner and a sought-after race organizer, Uytiepo has nurtured the careers of countless runners across the country.

Among his most shining moments, Uytiepo was sent to Baguio City by then Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Cecil Hechanova to supervise the fitness training of the national chess team preparatory for the Manila World Chess Olympiad way back in 1992.

Bannered by Asia’s first Grandmaster Eugene Torre, Team Phl also included Joey Antonio, Rico Mascarinas, Banjo Barcenilla, Eric Gloria, Econg Sevillano, Rolando Nolte, Ricky De Guzman, the late Ruben Rodriguez, Chito Garma, Manny Senador, and Rodrigo Atutubo.

That gave Uytiepo the opportunity to rub elbows with a slew of world champions such as Garry Kasparov, Viswanathan Anand, Vladimir Kramnik, Viktor Korchnoi,  and Vassily Ivanchuk.

Even until his passing, Uytiepo was an indefatigable workhorse in the running scene, never missing a single event and constantly providing encouragement especially to the young aspiring athletes.

A respected journalist, Uytiepo served as the longest sports columnist of The Freeman. He inspired countless readers with his very insightful and highly informative articles he penned through his “Sports Eye” column that spanned for over three decades.

Uytiepo was a walking encyclopedia who can talk endlessly on anything about running from the past to present.

The members of the Sportswriters Association of Cebu (SAC) have expressed their grief of losing their esteemed colleague.

“Sadness envelopes my being upon learning that a dear friend has gone to the great beyond. Sir Raffy has left a special place in my heart for his generosity. More than being a sportsman, I will never forget his act of kindness,” said The Freeman Sports Editor Manny Villaruel. “Thank you so much for everything sir Raffy. Keep on running and writing - and rock and roll with your all time idol Elvis Presley - in heaven. May your soul rest in God’s eternal love and grace. Until we meet again!”

“Raffy Uytiepo will be missed. A kind man on and off the field who always had time for friends. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of Philippine running, and I’d regularly refer to him when I have questions,” Sunstar Sports Editor Mike Limpag added. “Rest well Raffy, we will all miss you.”

Uytiepo was also passionate about his all time idol Elvis Presley, earning himself the name “Elvisaya”. He would always draw a large crowd, making everyone happy with his Elvis-like swagger and masterful impersonation of the music legend in mall shows and special gatherings.

A lively spirit both in sports and music, Uytiepo has truly left an indelible mark in the hearts of many especially those lives he touched. His legacy is worth remembering and will shine for a period of time that is perhaps longer than forever.

“Sir Raffy was one of the nicest persons I knew in the sports community. Cebu sports lost another pillar with his passing. He impacted the sport of running immensely and he’s contribution to the sport will live on,” said Calvin Cordova of the Manila Bulletin. — (FREEMAN)

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