REIGNING World Boxing Organization (WBO) super-bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire Jr. called on local athletes to help inspire each other and show the world what kind of people the Filipino race is.
“To all the athletes, let us all be inspired and inspire each other. Not to try but to be the best with all that we are as one for the whole world to see that we, as Philippines and everyone, are a force to be reckoned with,” said Donaire in his acceptance speech as co-winners of the Athlete of the Year award during the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Annual Awards Night held at the One Esplanade.
“Let us all be great, let us all be inspirational to one another, and let us all be one. Thank you for inspiring me to be the best that I am,” added the 33-year-old boxing champion.
Donaire shared the spotlight with fellow world champion Donnie Nietes and rising golf star Miguel Tabuena in receiving the highest accolade bestowed by the country’s oldest media organization under president Riera Mallari of The Standard.
The three winners of the Athlete of the Year trophy led the total of 111 awardees recognized for their feat and doing the country proud in the year just past during the formal affair.
Mallari 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.