BOWLING was supposed to be just a therapeutic activity for Bong Coo. She ended up becoming one of the best in the game. Ever,
Coo brought countless honors to the country through, including winning the World Championship four times and the World Cup once as she became one of the most revered figures in Philippine sports.
Her success in bowling, however, came after one of the toughest moments of her life. Following separation from her husband, the sport became a recreational activity that was supposed to help her move on from the life-changing event.
“Accidental hero kumbaga,” said Coo during a recent interview on SPIN Sidelines. “Naging therapy ko lang ‘yun. At that time, that was 1970s. Dinala ako ng family ko sa bowling center, sabi nila, huwag ka na umiyak, mag-aliw aliw ka.”
Coo was athletically gifted as she was a varsity player in volleyball and softball at St. Scholastica College in high school, but she never played bowling at that time.
With the help of his brother, Coo played bowling everyday. Soon bowling was no longer just therapy, but a way of life.
“Talagang everyday nagbo-bowling ako. Kala nga ng mga tao, sa akin ‘yung bowling center. Hanggang hating gabi ata ako nasa bowling center kasi dati, five pesos lang per game,” Coo said.
In just a year, Coo became a member of the national team. She became an Asian champion in 1971, and in 1972 became Asia’s bowling queen with her numerous achievements here and abroad.
To this day, Coo said she doesn’t know how she was able to do it.
“Wala akong local tournaments at that time. Nag-try out lang ako sa team, pumasok ako tapos nag-champion agad ako sa Asian Invitational Masters champion. Parang nakatatlong gold ata agad ako,” Coo said.
“Siguro ‘yung determination ko, ‘yung puso, laban at ‘yung desire,” Coo said.
Coo became one of the faces of Philippine bowling during the 1970s and 1980s. One of her best years was 1979 when she won the Bowling World Cup and the FIQ World Championship trios with Lita Dela Rosa and Nellie Castillo, both held in Manila.
The year 1981 was also a landmark year for Coo as she won gold medals in the Southeast Asian Games.
“Gintong Alay pa kami noon. Wala nga kaming mga allowances. Kanya-kanya kaming hanap ng sponsors tapos ‘yung federation, tinutulungan nila kami. Kapag nag-champion ka, madali kang makahanap ng sponsors. Na-sponsoran ako ng Philippine National Bank, Toyota, kung sino-sino. Nakapag-travel ako. I even had a sponsor overseas from Malaysia na inisponsoran lahat ng trips ko. Ganun ang nangyari sa amin,” said Coo.
In all, Coo won 79 medals throughout her decorated career that ended in 2000, most of which she still keeps all these years.
Of all her accomplishments, however, she considers the lifetime achievement award from the Philippine Sportswriters Association as her most cherished award.
“Maraming nagho-Hall of Fame but Lifetime Achievement Award, konti lang. Mas may value lalo na dito sa Pilipinas. I was very humbled actually. I was very thankful na at this time, ang tagal na eh, pero nabigyan pa ako ng recognition dahil sa mga nagawa kong achivements para sa country and the Philippine sportswriters gave recognition to all of that. Napaka-emotional ko nun. Tuwang-tuwa ako,” said Coo.
When one door closes, another door opens indeed for Coo.
Watch the SPIN Sidelines episode with Bong Coo below: