Nonito Donaire challenges fellow Filipino athletes to be inspiration to one another during PSA rites
World boxing champion Nonito Donaire Jr. receiving his Athlete of the Year award from PSA president Riera Mallari. Jaime Campos

NONITO Donaire called on fellow athletes to become an inspiration to one another after receiving the co-Athlete of the Year in the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Awards Night on Saturday at the One Esplanade in Pasay City.

Speaking in front of fellow awardees in the annual event, the reigning World Boxing Organization (WBO) super bantamweight champion, said he has learned to remain grateful to have a boxing career despite its ups and downs.

“I’ve learned throughout my defeats to be grateful for every moment given by God to inspire those around me. I know each and every one of us have the capability to break through the limiting beliefs that we have,” said Donaire.

It was a great 2015 for Donaire, who won three bouts last year including a victory over Cesar Juarez to win the world crown in Puerto Rico last December.

“We can be great. To all the athletes, let us all be inspired and inspire each other to be the best for the whole world to see that the Philippines is a force to be reckoned with. Let’s all be great and inspirational to one another,” Donaire said.

Donaire shared the Athlete of the Award with fellow boxer Donnie ‘Ahas’ Nietes and golfer Miguel Tabuena.

PSA president Riera Mallari of The Standard personally handed out the President’s Award to Gilas Pilipinas and received by national team manager Butch Antonio, deputy coach Alex Compton, and players Dondon Hontiveros, Sonny Thoss, and JC Intal.

Alaska team owner Wilfred Uytengsu Jr. meanwhile, made a heartfelt speech in addressing the local sports community as recipient of the Executive of the Year award.

Uytengsu stressed how sports – first, as member of the national swimming team before becoming the man behind one of the most successful franchises in PBA history – allowed him to learn about the ‘importance of great work ethics, commitment, dedication, and sacrifice.’

“All of these would turn out to be great life lessons as I began my work and career,” he added.

Part of the program, hosted by Quinito Henson and Patricia Bermudez-Hizon, which easily warmed the hearts was honoring sports great Filomeno ‘Boy’ Codinera with the Lifetime Achievement Award. The baseball and softball legend was accompanied on stage by children and former PBA players Pat and Jerry Codinera, who made the acceptance speech in behalf of his 77-year-old father.

Another highlight of the affair was the bestowing of the Olympism Award to the late cage great Carlos ‘Caloy’ Loyzaga, handed out by Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose ‘Peping’ Cojuangco, vice president Joey Romasanta, and International Olympic Committee (POC) representative to the Philippines Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski.

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The entire Loyzaga family led by his wife Vicky and children Chito, Joey, Theresa, and Bing accepted the award in behalf of the man considered as the greatest Filipino basketball player ever who just died early this year.

Also remembered with a short tribute was the late Philippine men’s basketball coach Ron Jacobs, who was extolled on stage by former players Jong Uichico, Olsen Racela, Siot Tanquingcen, Pido Jarencio, and Allan Caidic.

Jacob’s wife Menen was on hand to receive his posthumous award.

“I want to thank coach Ron for all the lives he’d touch, both coaches and players. I miss him very much,” said Uichico, an understudy of Jacobs and now Tropang TNT coach, who tried to hold back tears as he said his piece on the late great mentor.

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