PHILIPPINE sports not only came to a halt on this pandemic year, it also lost a number of heroes and icons.
Not in recent memories had there been these many sportsmen and personalities who passed away in a single year, more so in one of the most trying times in history.
From January all the way to December, there was at least one to join the list, which only underscored how awful and challenging 2020 was.
Olympians, coaches, highly-respected officials, and even a lovable pet dog owned by the country's preeminent athlete were among those who bid us adieu.
SPIN.ph remembers some of them in the list below.
INAKI VICENTE – played for the Philippine football team from 1973 to 1989 in a stint that saw him see action in the Asian qualifiers for the 1972 and 1976 Olympics, 1974 Asian Games, and in the AFC Youth Championship in 1971, 1972, and 1974. A product of both the La Salle junior and senior football teams, he played for San Miguel Corp. Pepsi Cola, PTGWO, Tancho, Tigers, and the Manila Jockey Club at club level. He once served as general manager of the Kaya Football Academy. He was 65.
FERNANDO SUAREZ – although known as the healing priest, he was also a huge supporter of Philippine tennis who sponsored tournaments across the country in different divisions and age-groups. Southeast Asian Games doubles gold medalist Francis Casey Alcantara and Jeson Patrombon – who both used to play tennis with the late priest – were among those who paid tribute to this proud son of Taal, Batangas. A tournament named after him, the PPS-PEEP Fr. Fernando Suarez Cup has been ongoing for three years at the time of his death. He was 52.
JANUARIO ‘ARIC’ DEL ROSARIO – the well-loved former coach of University of Santo Tomas, who piloted the school to four straight UAAP men’s basketball titles from 1993 to 1996. An alumni of the Pontifical school where he also won a UAAP championship as a player in 1964, he was also part of Tim Cone’s coaching staff at Alaska which dominated the PBA in the 90s before taking his act to the defunct MBA where he steered the Pampanga Dragons to the inaugural title. In 2003, he guided the Philippine men’s team to the basketball gold of the Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam. After a brief hiatus from coaching in which he served as NCAA commissioner (2009-2011), he would eventually return to his first love by calling the shots for the Perpetual Help Altas, and later with the Paranaque Patriots in the MPBL in what would be his final stint as a coach. He was 80.
ARIANNE CAOILI – The Filipina-Australian chess player who represented the country in the Women’s Chess Olympiad in 1998 and 2000. The Women’s International Master was married to Grandmaster Levon Aronian of Armenia where she was based since 2013. She was 33.
ALFONSO ‘BOY’ MARQUEZ – two-time Olympian (1960 Rome and 1968 Mexico) and Hall of Famer, he was a member of the 1962 Philippine team that won the country’s last basketball gold in the Asian Games and the first-ever national squad that triumphed in the FIBA Asia Championship in 1960. The 6-foot-1 shooting guard also starred for the Ysmael team that established a dynasty in the MICAA, and later suited up for Mariwasa and Meralco, where he likewise won a championship each in the same league. The native of Zamboanga also played in the PBA for Mariwasa until retiring in 1977. He was 82.
COL. SALVADOR ‘BUDDY’ ANDRADA – considered one of the pillars of Philippine tennis, he was president of the Philippine Lawn Tennis Association from 1986 to 2005. Likewise, he was the first Filipino to serve as president of the Asian Tennis Federation (ATF), where he was later honored as Honorary Life President. Under his term, the Philippine Davis Cup team led by Felix Barrientos reached the World Group qualifying round in 1991. Two years before his death, the long-standing tennis tournament named after him – Andrada Cup age-group meet – played its final staging after 30 long years. He was also a former commissioner of the Philippine Sports Commission. He was 83.
MAUI HUELAR – the spitfire guard from Bacolod made a name for himself as part of the Negros Slashers in the MBA, where he had for his teammates the likes of John Ferriols, Reynel Hugnatan, Jack Tanuan, and Johnedel Cardel. The University San Jose Recolletos alum was selected by FedEx in the 2004 PBA draft but never got to play in Asia’s first ever play-for-pay league.
JOMAR ANG – Filipino karter and older brother of Asian Karting champion Jacob Ang. A member of the Ateneo de Manila judo team, he also served as Chief Financial Officer of RSA Motors, owned by his father, business tycoon and San Miguel Corp. President and Chief Executive Officer Ramon S. Ang. He was 26.
DOMINGO ‘COACH WARAY’ VILLANUEVA – two-time Olympian and member of the national cycling team coaching staff. He represented the country in the 1988 Seoul and 1992 Atlanta Games, and won gold medals in the team trial event of the 1991 Manila Southeast Asian Games and in the individual 140km road race in the 1993 edition of the biennial meet in Singapore. He was also part of the men’s national team that competed in the 1996 Marlboro Tour. He was 55.
GENE POLIARCO – the most senior International Arbiter of the country. The lanky native of Pangasinan was a chess arbiter for more than 40 years and served in the same capacity for all the big international events organized by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines. He was 77.
ALEXANDER LIM – treasurer and trustee of the Philippine Bowling Federation. He was also a member of the Asian Bowling Federation Executive Committee and chairman of the PBF Youth Committee. He was 62.
LAURA ELORDE – the grand matriarch of Philippine boxing and better half of the late great Gabriel ‘Flash’ Elorde. Together with sons Gabriel Jr. (Bebot), Marty, and Johnny, she took over the family business of promoting boxing matches, mostly held at the family-owned Elorde Sports Center in Paranaque shortly after the death of her legendary husband. The Elorde business later branched out into boxing and fitness centers with several branches nationwide. In 2000, she and her family established the Gabriel ‘Flash’ Elorde Memorial Boxing Awards and Banquet to honor former and current Filipino boxers for their victories and past achievements. She is the daughter of the grand old man of Philippine boxing, the late Lope ‘Papa’ Sarreal. She was 92.
BEA LUNA – a member of the Philippine girls’ football under-15 team. The native of Baguio City was part of the team that competed in the 2019 AFF U-15 Girls’ Championship in Chonburi, Thailand. She was 16.
AMBASSADOR EDUARDO ‘DANDING’ COJUANGCO – the billionaire chairman of San Miguel Corp. and longtime supporter of Philippine basketball. Although known more as a businessman and political figure, he is best remembered for being designated as godfather of Philippine basketball during the time of the late President Marcos. He put together a team of top amateur players and naturalized cagers under the late Ron Jacobs. The blueprint saw a resurgence of Philippine basketball in international campaigns starting with the 1982 Asian Youth Championship which the country won before Filipino fans at the Araneta Coliseum. The team later evolved into Northern Consolidated Corp. which went on to rule the Asian Interclub Championship (1984), the Jones Cup, a PBA championship as a guest squad, and the Southeast Asian Games in 1985. It later copped the 1985 FIBA- Asia Championship (played early in 1986), but never got to play in the World Cup following its disbandment in the aftermath of the EDSA Revolution. But his golden touch extended to the PBA where San Miguel clinched a grand slam in 1989 and run away with several championships in later years when Ginebra and Purefoods became part of what has been known as the SMC conglomerate. When finally through with pro basketball, he turned to backing the La Salle basketball program which netted the school a pair of UAAP championship in 2013 and 2016, respectively. He was 85.
NIC JORGE – former national coach and founder of the MILO BEST (Basketball Efficiency and Scientific Training). He started his coaching career for the University of the Philippines in the UAAP at age 21, before reaching its pinnacle in 1978 when he called the shots for the Philippine team in the FIBA World Cup. He also mentored in the PBA with the CDCP and Manhattan ballclubs. But he found his niche in local basketball when he founded BEST Center, the pioneering sports clinic in the country which launched the careers of several basketball stars. He was 78.
JUNEL MENDIOLA – former PBA player who won a championship with Purefoods in 2002. A third-round pick by the Hotdogs, he was a three-time MVP and three-time champion with PSBA in the NCRAA. He once handled the M Builders in the PBA D-League. He was 45.
OLLIE ONGTAWCO – Filipino bowler who ruled the men’s singles of the 1979 FIQ World Championships which the country hosted. The Philippines actually completed a sweep of the event as the late Lita Dela Rosa won the distaff side. He was also a part of the silver medal-winning trio of Paeng Nepomuceno and Rauel Reformado in the 1983 FIQ in Caracas, Venezuela. He was the country’s representative in the 1975 World Cup held in Makati City. He was 78.
PACMAN – the Jack Russel Terrier and beloved pet dog of boxing great Manny Pacquiao named after him. The dog was a familiar sight in Pacquiao fights and training camps since 2006 when it was first brought to the US during the Filipino champion’s third and final bout with Mexican Eric Morales. The dog was 14.
YANA BAUTISTA – football player from Miriam College who’s been recruited by Ateneo. She is the sister of Philippine women’s football team member Martie Bautista. She was 17.
OSCAR ‘DODONG’ BASCON – pillar of Negros basketball who paved the way for players such as Rudy Distrito, Yves Dignadice, Noli Locsin, Donking Sasuman, Boyet Fernandez, and Reynel Hugnatan, among others, to be discovered through the Negros Basketball Association. Through the NBA, tournaments were also held from the senior, college, and high school levels. The sportsman who owns the famous Bascon Hotel, also became part of the management of the Negros Slashers in the defunct MBA. He was 86.
RAPHAEL ‘MANG JUN’ VICERA – the fun-loving, long-time masseur and utility of Barangay Ginebra. He was with the franchise for 37 years dating back from the time when the team was still under La Tondena Inc. He was 67
ALBERT ALMENDRALEJO – a longtime football supporter and booster of the San Beda basketball team. He was president of SPEARS which was behind the Football for a Better Life (FABL) program that promotes the sport nationwide by conducting football clinics with top coaches and national players. The outfit was behind the documentary film entitled ‘Journeyman Finds Home’ that chronicled the story of Filipino-Italian football player Simone Rota, including his stint with the Philippine Azkals. He was 60.
RONALD DULAY - veteran volleyball coach and player, who suited up for three UAAP champion teams with Far Eastern University in the 90s. He called the shots for La Salle’s men’s volleyball team and won UAAP championships in 2001 and 2003 before bringing his coaching foray in the women’s side with UP and Letran. He served as deputy of the Philippine women’s team that won the bronze in the 2005 Southeast Asian Games under Ramil De Jesus and in the same capacity with Francis Vicente in the 2017 edition of the biennial meet. He was coach of Smart in the 2018 PSL Grand Prix and with Marinerang Pilipina later on. He was 48.
ORLANDO ‘ORLY’ BAUZON – Olympian and PBA pioneer. He played for the Philippine men’s team that saw action in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico and with the national squad in the 1970 Asian Games in Bangkok. The native of Calasiao, Pangasinan was a part of the championship unit that regained the 1967 FIBA-Asia Men’s Championship in Seoul, South Korea. He also won championships with Meralco and Komatsu/Toyota in the defunct MICAA, before turning pro in 1975 as part of the original Toyota quintet when the PBA was born. A former UST stalwart, he moved into coaching with the Espansa-based squad, University of the Philippines, and Adamson, which he steered to a runner-up finish in the 1992 UAAP men’s basketball finals. His wife, the late Josie Bauzon, was the first ever female commissioner of the PSC. He was 75.
RANDY VILLANUEVA – former Philippine Lawn Tennis Association vice president and long-time Davis Cup administrator who once oversaw the Philippine team’s rise to the elite Group 1 in the Asia-Oceanian Zone. He was 45.
RUDY DEL ROSARIO – team captain of the Philippine football team from 1994 to 1997 and member of the squad that finished fourth in the 16th Southeast Asian Games in Manila. He also represented the country in the AFF Futsal Championship in 2001 and was among the founders of the Kaya Futbol Club in 1996. He was 51.
VANGIE DE JESUS – acknowledged as one of the great setters of her time, the former Philippine women’s volleyball team captain steered the national squad to the gold medal in the 1977 Southeast Asian Games as well as the 1979 and 1981 editions of the meet. The former University of the East star also saw action in the 1982 Asian Games in New Delhi, India. She later turned into coaching and handled the Lady Red Warriors from 2007 to 2011. A physical education instructor, she worked as Spectator Development Manager in the Philippine Superliga together with another legend in Dulce Pante. She was 68.
SUDAN DANIEL – the former NCAA MVP who steered San Beda to a perfect season in the NCAA in 2010. The 6-foot-7 center was the 2009 Rookie of the Year, before leading the Red Lions to the championship via immaculate 18-0 record the following season in which he was named Season and Finals MVP. Nicknamed ‘SU-perman,’ he stayed in the country upon graduation at Mendiola and served as executive for Titan. He was the voice of the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 tournaments at the time of his death. He was 33.
TEDDYVIC MELENDRES – a veteran newsman who was former sports editor and senior desk editor of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. A native of Lipa, Batangas, he started out as editor of the defunct Champ Magazine before he joined the Daily Express under the late Tony Siddayao in the mid-1980s. He later worked as assistant sports editor for the People’s Journal and later, went overseas for a stint with the Hong Kong Standard. When he returned to the country, he joined the Inquirer as Libre editor in chief until he assumed the position as sports editor of the newspaper in 2003. He also served two terms as president of the Philippine Sportswriters Association from 2009 to 2011. He was 60.