FILIPINO sports legends were feted one more time in a special rite Thursday night for their immense contributions to Philippine sports.
And heroes like bowler Arianne Cerdena admitted never imagining they will be honored again even with their athletic careers long over.
Cerdena, who a gold medal in the 1988 Seoul Olympics when bowling was a demonstration sport, was one of 19 athletes honored in the ‘Pagpupugay sa 100 Taon ng Philippine Sports’ at the Newport Theater in Pasay City.
“Napaiyak ako dahil nag-retire na ako, I’ve moved on, akala ko nakalimutan na ako,” said the Cerdena, now based in Los Angeles, who hurriedly went back home upon learning about the awards affair just last Tuesday.”
Aside from Cerdena, also feted during the ceremony that was the brainchild of sports broadcaster Chino Trinidad were Paulino Alcantara, Teofilo Yldefonzo, Miguel White, Felicisimo Ampon, Ben Arda, Lita Dela Rosa, Bong Coo, Efren ‘Bata’ Reyes, Caloy Loyzaga, Anthony Villanueva, Mansueto ‘Onyok’ Velasco, Pancho Villa, Ceferino Garcia, Gabriel ‘Flash’ Elorde, and Manny Pacquiao.
Coo shared the same sentiment of her former teammate with the national bowling team.
“Just when I thought na lahat ng hardwok namin ay nakalimutan na, eto at binibigyan kami ng parangal,” said Coo.
The ‘Pagpupugay’ gala night served as a special affair dedicated at paying tribute to heroes of Philippine sports in an effort to create awareness about their respective accomplishments on today’s young generation.
“Hindi pa siya nag-da-dawn on me,” said Trinidad, who personally spearheaded the event. “To see the smile in their faces, it shows you na it just takes a matter of gratitude na na-rerecognize ‘yung ginawa nila.”
Tears flowed in the event when the wife of Villanueva, the first Filipino silver medalist in the Olympics, received the special award from Trinidad.
Villanueva, who settled for a runner-up finish following a controversial match for the gold during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, recently passed away.
“Aanhin pa ang damo kung patay na ang kabayo,” a teary-eyed Trinidad said after he hugged Josephine Villanueva. “Ito ang dahilan kung bakit may `Pagpupugay’”.
Relatives of deceased athletes who were present, also felt the honor bestowed on their loved-ones.
“I’m sure, he is looking down on us tonight,” said Nati Toribio, daughter of trackster Simeon Toribio who was a bronze medalist in the high jump event in the 1932 LA Olympics.