I MUST admit it was tough to hold back the tears when I was asked to relate the story of the late Anthony Villanueva at the 'Gabi ng Pagpupugay' last June 12 at Resorts World Manila.
It was not so much sorrow but more of frustration after I lost my race against time to save the life of 1964 Olympic silver medalist.
Not having much finances at my disposal, I tried desperately to find help for the forgotten hero who was barely holding on to dear life.
In early April, I sent a distress call to a "moneyed" sports patron who immediately pledged his personal support for our Olympic hero.
As every hour and every day mattered in the race to save Villanueva's life, I swallowed my pride and followed up my request with the sports patron's personal assistant.
But my messages were either labelled a spam or were totally ignored.
On May 13, Anthony Villanueva succumbed to multiple organ failure in his sleep. And with it went my dream of giving him his long-overdue recognition alongside the 18 other greats in Pagpupugay's Hanay ng Kagitingan.
Early the next day, I as on the line with the top lieutenant of one of our sports patrons. The help I had asked for a month ago, the assistant said, was now being made available.
I was dumbfounded. How I wished the help came much earlier when Villanueva was still around.
This episode has strengthened my resolve to try and find genuinely kind-hearted souls who would be more than willing to provide much-needed support so we can put up the Anthony Villanueva Assistance Fund for our downtrodden former national athletes.