This OUTSIDER had just completed running a series of articles on the heroics Filipino athletes in the Far Eastern Games, a three-nation multi-event sporting meet among the finest and the best athletes from China, Japan and the Philippines. The Games were acknowledged as precursor of the now Asian Games held every two year from 1913 to 1934 hosted alternately by those three countries.
Sooner or later before the term of this administration expires, the Philippine Sport Commission and he Philippine Olympic Committee will be coming up with the third batch of nominees to be enshrined to the Philippine Sports Hall of Fame and join the 27 others earlier elevated.
Besides paying tribute to the Filipino athletes’ heroics in those Games, the just concluded Manila Times series might as well served, too, as guide go those who will be chosen to compose the panel that will decide who should be enshrined.
2018 being an Asian Games year, that series should also serve as guide for the selection of members of the delegation that will carry the national tri-colors in the 18th edition of the every four-year conclave set in Jakarta this coming August
For lack of foresight or simply ignorance of those entrusted to do the selection to the first of batches of inductees, no one among our Far Eastern Games heroes were even nominated. Like, for instance Regino Ylanan, who for winning the multi-event pentathlon, discus throw and shot put in the first edition 1913,was accorded the honor as Asia’s “First Man of Steel, ” and sprinter Pio Robillos, who for sweeping the 100-yard and 100-yard dashes earned the “Asia’s First Fastest Man” title.
Following the dismantling of the Games, no other Filipino athletes were awarded the distinction as the region’s “Man of Steel“ nor the fastest, except for Inocencia Solis, Mona Sulaiman and Lydia de Vega who, a one time or another, were crowned “Asian Sprint Queens.
Many more followed in Ylanan’s and Robillos’ footsteps, among them, Fortunato Catalon, Robillos’ heir apparent who dominated he sprints from 1917, 1919, 1921 and 1923, cager Jovito Gonzales, a member of the national basketball team six times, winning the gold medal five times, Mariano Filomeno, Augusto Bautista (5 times), Vicente Avena and Jose Bengzon, who, besides shining as an athlete also became secretary of justice.
And how can one miss Luis Salvador basketball player-turned entertainer who shot a record 116 points, which up to the present time is recognized as the highest made in international competition.
What about the 1930 and 1934 basketball teams, headed by then senator-to-be Ambrosio Padilla, which also represented the country in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games where it ended up fifth instead of second despite losing only one game to eventual champion he United States.
Members of the 1930 and 1934 FEG teams who, likewise, donned the nation’s flag in the 1936 Olympics, besides Padilla were Jacinto Ciria Cruz, Bibiano Ouano Franco Marquicias and Primitivo Martinez.
Several other athletes, like Sec. Bengzon turned successful politicians – ex-Manila Mayor Arsenio Lacson and former Senator Lorenzo Tanada, both member of PH football teams one time or another. High jumper Simeon Toribio, already a Hall of Famer, also earned his spur in the FEG before bagging a bronze medal in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. Ex-Caloocan Mayor Macasio Asistio Sr. was also a veteran FEG campaigner in volleyball.
Others who must be considered for nomination in the Hall are, among others Genaro Saavedra, Constantino Rabaya, Alejo Alvarez, Francisco Danao, Valentin Malinao and Nicholas Machan,
Also add Lino, and Escamos, Simon Santos, Juan Taduran, Emilio Bucoy, Rufini Bertulfo, Generoso Rabaya, Anselmo Gonzaga, Felizardo Casia, Pedro Yatar, Rafael de Leon, Fermin Gandara, all in track and field.
Jose “Cely” Villanueva, father of 1964 silver medal winner Anthony Villanueva was also a veteran FEG campaigner before winning a bronze medal in the 1932 L.A. Olympic Games, where, incidentally, the Philippines fashioned out it best performance in the quadrennial conclave with here bronze medals, including Teofilo Yldefonso’s in swimming.
Yldefonso, like Toribio had also been inducted in the Hall earlier Far Eastern Games veteran, also won a bronze in 1928, making him the only Filipino two-time Olympic medallist.