The tradition of having the host country emerging winner of the general championship held true in the third edition of the Far Eastern Games (FEG) held in Tokyo May 8 to 12, 1917 when Japan, fielding full complement in all eight sports contested took the top honors.
The Japanese contingent upstaged the Philippines, the overall champion in the first edition in 1913 in Manila, and China, the 1915 winner in Shanghai, by claiming their first overall title in swimming at the expense of defending titlists Chinese while remaining kingpins in tennis.
The Japanese, likewise, recaptured supremacy in baseball avenging their 1915 defeat to the Filipinos besides encroaching, also on the Filipinos domain in multi-events pentathlon and decathlon in athletics.
The Filipinos though kept their supremacy in track and field with the surfacing of new sprint king Fortunato Catalon. The Pinoy dribblers, protected, too, their unblemished record in basketball where mainstays Tirso Garcia and Jovito Gonzales took their third gold medal each.
The dethroned overall winner Chinese defended their volleyball and football crowns but dropped to third and last place in the triangular medal standing behind Japan and the Philippine.
Catalon crowned himself “Asia’s Fastest Man” with his sweep of the 100-yard and 220-yard dashes in taking over from 1913 and 1915 winners Pio Robillos and Genaro Saavedra.
His time of 10 seconds flat in the century run was the new fastest erasing from the books the old mark 10.6, set by Saavedra two years prior in Shanghai. Catalon’s 23.6 efforts in the 220-yard came two-tenths of a second slower than Robillos’ 28.6 standard in 1913 though.
Constantino Rabaya, who besides figuring out in the Philippines’ medal production also formed the core of the national team’s campaign in basketball, clocked 17 seconds to win the 120-yard hurdles, in the process establishing a new record in the event.
Rounding out the Philippines’ seven individual gold-medal harvest athletics in that Tokyo 1917 FEG were Isabelo Astraquillo in the220-yard hurdles, C. Cardenas in long jump, Alejo Alvarez in shot put and Rafael Montes in discus throw.
Astraquillo successfully hurdled the obstacles in his winning run, submitting a fast 28.6 seconds clocking, while Cardenas leaped to 6.63 meters, barely two-tenths of a meter shy of Game record 6.65 meters.
Alvarez threw the sphere to 10.69 meter and Montes the disc to 31.96 meters in their triumphant march to gold medal victories in shot put and discus throws respectively.
Catalon, teaming up with Pedro Ablan, Saavedra and Nicolas Llaneta capped another victorious day for the Philippines in track and field by frustrating all comers in the 880-yard relay.
Future justice secretary Jose P. Bengzon added luster to the already star-studded Philippine basketball team, which again, reconfirmed its supremacy over China and Japan.
Besides Bengzon, Garcia, Gonzales and trickster Rabaya, the Filipino basketeers boasted of such certified stars as Arelio Buenconsejo, Fructouso Luzuriaga, Bernardo Silverio and Catalino Ylanan.
1913 Manila FEG “Man of Steel” concentrated on baseball in1917, but his presence along with future superstar Julio Tingzon didn’t, help the team of losing the title to perennial rivals Japanese IX. Other members of the team were Celedonio Agsawa, Francisco Albert, Filomeno Arteche, Hipolito Baclay, Ramon Banez, Manuel Canseco, Juan Carretero, Filomeno Espina, Pedro Manique, Hidalgo, Ismael Perez, Hugo Ramas, Leandro Suarez, and Catalino Ylanan.
The same goes to the football squad, which despite the presence of three-time member Joaquin Loyzaga, father of basketball great Carlos Loyzaga, bowed to China, represented by Hong Kong-based South China AA, 0-4 in the finals. The Philippine earlier, downed Japan, 15-2.