LONG before Andy Jao, the late Pinggoy Pengson and Joe Cantada, Quinito Henson, Sev Sarmenta, Noli Eala, and of late, Magoo Marjon and Charlie Cuna, there was the vibrant, friendly voice of Emy Arcilla doing the television broadcast of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
The man who did the color commentary during the early years of Asia’s first ever play-for-pay league signed off last Sunday due to heart failure. He was 70.
It was his partnership with another broadcasting great Dick Ildefonso which brought color and life to the television coverage of the then fledgling league from the time it was launched on April 9, 1975.
The PBA was then aired at the Kanlaon Broadcasting System (now Radio Philippines Network) and was produced by the production outfit of former congressman Romy Jalosjos.
“It’s really sad to hear about his passing,” said Jao of the veteran broadcaster. “He’s part of our sporting history that many people knew especially during the early years of Crispa-Toyota (rivalry).”
Jao never got to work with Arcilla in the PBA TV panel, but knew him during that time as the ‘voice of the PBA’ as part of the U-text ballclub, and for a while, with San Miguel.
But he remembered the tandem of Arcilla and Ildefonso clicking with the televiewers, bringing the players, ballclubs, and the entire league closer to the hearts of the basketball-loving Filipinos through their colorful live coverage of the league games.
“The partnership with Dick (Ildefonso) was very OK. Bagay talaga sila,” the veteran PBA analyst recalled.
“To be perfectly honest, he (Arcilla) knew basketball, but he wasn’t a basketball analyst, he was more likely to make people enjoy the game,” he added. "Dick was the more analytical and the one who knew a lot about the game, while Emy decided to play a lower tone.”
Henson paid tribute to Arcilla by calling him a ‘revered pioneer in basketball broadcasting.’
‘He introduced a lively and entertaining approach to the coverage, a welcome development in reaching out to a wider audience,” said the popular broadcaster and newspaper columnist. “He made basketball fun and interesting to watch on TV. I learned a lot from watching and listening to Emy.”
Arcilla worked with the league until 1981 before Vintage took over in 1982 and brought in a new and fresh batch of color analysts, including Jao, Henson and Sarmenta.
Despite being left out, Jao said he never heard the sportscaster say anything bad about the league’s new production outfit.
“He never regretted na may iba ng gumagawa (ng PBA broadcast). Siyempre, bagong standard ang gusto ng bagong outfit and Emy just moved on,” he added.
Arcilla would later on get involved in golf, particularly with the Manila Southwoods organization, and was the PR director of CATS Motors at the time of his death.
Henson said Arcilla will definitely be missed.
“The game owes much to Emy, particularly the PBA which benefited from his positive influence in its early years,” said the veteran broadcaster.
Arcilla was survived by wife Gail, and children Marnie, Michael, and Matthew. His remains were cremated on Tuesday at the Heritage Memorial Park in Taguig.