Though an athlete’s purely athletic feats are well-documented, we often see things that made all the athletic heroics fade away.
A little over two decades after he retired, Robert Jaworski, the former Toyota spiritual leader during the Philippine Basketball Association’s infant years and later playing coach of crowd favorite Ginebra San Miguel, was asked to visit a bed-ridden ex-Comets fan suffering from diabetes and he many complications related to the sickness.
Through the intercession of sportswriters Gerry Ramos and Malou Aquino and a lady friend from San Miguel Corp. Yvette Katigbak, Renato Morales’ wish was granted.
On a bright Sunday afternoon of November 5 last year, Jaworski, “Jawo” or “Big J” or “Sonny”, was seen knocking at the door of the house of Mang Renato in Muntinlupa City to pay the sickman, who was then already afflicted with hypertension, heart problem and prostate cancer as a result of his diabetic condition.
Upon seeing his idol, Mang Renato, now 75, jumped off his sickbed and gleefully greeted his visitor. The Big J readily recognized Mang Renato’s face as an avid fan of his and his team he often saw in most of the Comets’ games in those times.
They both fell into each other’s arms in one emotional moment that brought tears from Mang Renato’s wife Paz and two of their children – Rowen, an employee in the operations department of the PBA, and Jojo– who witnessed the occasion, Rowen, the eldest of the brood of four, attested the family will never forget.
Two of Morales’ siblings—Raymond and Revilma—are currently working overseas.
Before falling ill with diabetes, the elder Morales, according to Rowen, worked as boiler operator at Pacwood Inc. from 1988 to 1995. He immediately fell in love with the PBA when he country’s first professional league was established in 1975.
Jawo, acknowledged as local basketball’s ”living legend,” gifted Mang Renato several giveaways like t-shirts including a replica of his old Toyota jersey and cash.
He told the old man: “Take care of yourself. Take care of Aleng Paz.
“Si Sir Jaworki, idol na ng Tatay ko noong amateur pa lang sa UE at nung lumipat siya sa Yco at Meralco noong panahon ng MICAA,” Rowen told this writer.
“Noong maratay na siya dahil sa sakit, laging request niya sa amin kung maari makausap nya at makita si Jaworski at gagaling siya,” Rowen recalled. “Kaya naghanap ako ng magiging padrino para ma-imbitasiya. At nakitako nga si Sir Gerry at Ma’am Malou at Ma’am Yvette.”
“At nagka-totoo naman ang sinabi ng tatay ko, mula nang dalawin sya ni Sir Jawo, unti-unti siyang lumakas hanggang makabangon at makalakad muli,” Rowen said. ”Ngayon nga nakapagma-maneho na ng tricycle kapag sinasamahan ang nanay kong mamalengke.”
“Napakalaking pasasalamat at utang na loob naming kay Sir Jawo dahil sa pagdalaw nya sa tatay ko, nabigyan nya ito ng pangalawang buhay,” he said. “Ganoon din kay Sir Gerry, Mam Malou at Mam Yvette. Kung hindi sa kanila, hindi makararating sa bahay naming si Sir Sonny.”
One other basketball man Rowen attested helped a lot is current PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial, who, he said, has always granted his requests for assistance, financial or otherwise, in regards to his dad’s medicinal requirements.
“Malaki rin ang naitulong ni Kume sa unti-unting paggaling ng tatay ko, kahit noong di pa siya commissioner,” Rowen asserted.
Mang Renato has been bed-ridden since suffering from a mild stroke in 2012 brought about by diabetes.