An autopsy revealed that an enlarged heart caused the untimely death of Blackwater Elite player Gilbert Bulawan. The 29-year old Bulawan died of heart attack on Sunday during team practice at the SGS Gym in Del Monte, Quezon City. He was rushed to the Capitol Medical Center but was declared dead on arrival.
“I can’t say anything for now but that was the result of the autopsy,” Bulawan’s wife Louisa, a dentist by profession, told The Manila Times on Monday at the Manila Memorial in Parañaque City. “I’m still speechless on what happened. I’m sorry, I’m not ready to be interviewed.”
Louisa said that she used to monitor her husband’s diet religiously.
Physician Louie Metran, a certified neurosurgeon from Davao City, said that caffeine or an underlying illness could trigger a case like that of Bulawan’s.
“It could be possible that an athlete at very young age had an underlying or pre-existing heart illness which was triggered by high dosage of caffeine coming from an energy drinks that caused his sudden cardiac arrest,” Metran told The Manila Times in a phone interview. “This is just only my opinion and it has nothing to do with Bulawan’s death.”
Bulawan’s wife and Blackwater team owner Dioceldo Sy, however, said that Bulawan did not take any energy drinks during practice. “We already banned energy drinks in our practice a long time ago,” said Sy.
Blackwater team members also undergo a monthly physical check up as required by the Games and Amusement Board.
“Gilbert’s death shocked us all because I was there in the court watching the team’s practice. He was fit and played in good condition that’s why we didn’t expect this to happen. He was a good soldier, a good player and most of all a good man; Said Sy.”
Tribute to Bulawan
Meanwhile, the Blackwater Elite will retire Bulawan’s jersey in the opening of the Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Governors’ Cup on July 15.
“We are requesting the PBA to pay tribute to Bulawan this coming Governors’ Cup. We will retire his jersey and the league will ask for a moment of silence. I’m confident they will allow that. We will dedicate all our games to Bulawan this third conference,” Sy said.
Prior to Bulawan’s death, his wife suffered a miscarriage while his ailing mother was confined to a hospital in Manila. “That’s why it is very, very painful to them,” one relative who requested anonymity, said.
Chris Ross, Bulawan’s former Pharex teammate in the defunct Philippine Basketball League and three years ago in Meralco, said Bulawan is represents a true professional player,
“I was surprised and sad. He was a good teammate and he didn’t complain even if he was on the reserve list. Knowing Gilbert, he was the hardest worker in the team,” said Ross, who plays for San Miguel Beer. “It was tough but it’s a part of life.”
Bulawan’s former San Sebastian teammates Pamboy Raymundo and Jason Ballesteros also expressed grief of his passing.
“I’m devastated because of what happened to Gilbert because we didn’t have enough time to talk when I was traded to Mahindra,” said Ballesteros. “I thought somebody was just joking but I got nervous when I read a lot of stuff about him on the Internet.”
“I will miss him and it is hard to accept that he is gone now,” Raymundo, a reserve player for Northern Luzon Expressway, said.
“We played together in San Sebastian in 2006. We had a lot of unforgettable experiences. Somebody called me when I was driving home from Pangasinan and relayed me the news. I did not believe it; I thought it was only a joke. I’m very sad,” added Raymundo.
Bulawan was drafted 17th overall by Meralco in the 2011 PBA Rookie Draft.
The 6’4 power forward from Albay also played for the defunct Barako Bull franchise before becoming a member of the Blackwater Elite.
Josef T. Ramos