Avid collectors of sports memorabilia find a home with launch of Hall of Fame Authentics
HOFA managing partners Ron Uy, Stephen Songco, and Elvis Gutierrez display their impressive collection at the NOVA Gallery in Makati. Photos by Marlo Cueto

FILIPINO sports fans now have a place to purchase signed memorabilia of their favorite players and teams with the launch of the newest online store Hall of Fame Authentics (HOFA).

HOFA managing partners Ron Uy, Stephen Songco, and Elvis Gutierrez said the site hofa.ph offers Pinoy sports fans a wide range of collectibles signed by their favorite athletes and authenticated by major companies in the sports memorabilia trade.

“We had distributorship with companies in the US,” said Uy. ”There are big companies like Upper Deck and Steiner Sports where they have contracts with athletes. Kung hindi naman, they pay athletes a certain amount para mag-sign sila ng merchandise, and then they sell it.”

HOFA held its official launch on Wednesday night at the NOVA Gallery in Makati where the three managing partners showcased their collections ranging from signed jerseys and shoes of Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, and Russell Westbrook to a signed Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Cleto Reyes boxing glove.

Uy said they were inspired to open HOFA to address the lack of a place where avid collectors like them can purchase signed memorabilia.

“There are a lot of hardcore fans, wala silang way na mabilhan. We’ve been collecting since 2000, maraming friends and acquaintances kapag nakita ‘yung collection namin, tinatanong kami saan nabili ‘yan, we hook them up. So we decided na why not talk to these companies in the US. Nakuha namin ‘yung distributorship that is why we were able to open a shop,” said Uy.

In an effort to keep the price as low as possible, Uy said HOFA will only purchase memorabilia once an order has been placed.

“We don’t keep inventory. Gusto namin pre-order para as close to SRP (suggested retail price) as possible. In fact, SRP talaga. Walang patong, walang kahit ano,” said Uy.

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Uy said he started collecting because he was a big Los Angeles Lakers fan. He later took his hobby to the next level - after one frustrating experience during one of Kobe Bryant's early visits to the country.

“Dami ko na nagastos hindi ko naman mapapirma. Nung pumunta si Kobe nung 2007 sa ULTRA, pagdating naman dito, ang layo naman,” said Uy.

Soon after, he decided to purchase his first memorabilia, a signed Kobe Bryant ball. Later on though, he learned that the signature of Bryant was fake. Since then, he became an informed collector.

Like Uy a big hoops fan, Songco said he started out his collection with a Jordan Concourse 11.

”Naisip ko na okay din ‘yung may pirma para personally, mas malapit ka sa kanya. Nag-contact ako sa Amerika kasi doon lang meron. So I ordered ‘yung may pirma at doon na ako nagsimula maging collector,” said Songco.

Gutierrez is the newbie among the three partners.

Since the launch of the website and their social media accounts this year, Gutierrez, who is the newbie among the three, was surprised to know the huge number of collectors in the country.

“Recently, we just found out na nagsusulputan ‘yung mga collectors, biglang nagme-message sa Facebook na long-time collectors sila,” said Gutierrez.

Gutierrez said some collectors look at the hobby as an investment.

“‘Yung iba naman, negosyante. Bibili ng mga Ben Simmons, Donovan Mitchell, ‘yung mga bata, ‘yung mga rookie,” said Gutierrez. “Usually their value accelerates kapag naging Rookie of the Year or nagkaroon ng accomplishments.”

The HOFA managing partners said it’s never too early or too late to become a collector. The most important thing, however, is to be a fan.

“Focus on one item or one athlete na gusto mo talaga para guided ka,” said Uy. “At least, mabubuo mo talaga ‘yung collection mo. Kailangan fan ka talaga. Kung naiisip mo si (Ben) Simmons, baka tumaas, pero malay mo maging Derrick Rose na ma-injured, malulungkot ka na, hindi ka na mag-eenjoy.”

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Songco's advice is to start small.

“Puwede ka rin mag-start ng mga poster muna basta may pirma. Puwede rin naman start small na poster or start small na player na mas mura,” said Songco.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @reubensports