When the plan to induct the first batch of the Philippine Sports Hall of Famers in 2010, the first names that came to mind who I wanted enshrined were Regino Ylanan, an athlete par excellence and outstanding sports leader, tennis ace Felicisimo Ampon, Pan American singles champion and Wimbledon Plate winner, First Filipino and Asian Chess Grandmaster Eugene Torre and baseball/softball great Filomeno “Boy” Codiñera.
That’s apart from whom I considered cinch to make it to the list, like world boxing champions Manny Pacquiao, Pancho Villa, Flash Elorde and Ceferino Garia and Olympic medal winners Anthony Villanueva and Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco, among others.
My first impression when I was invited to participate in the process was as a member or the selection committee. So I started dusting off my files from as far back as the Far Eastern Games, acknowledged as precursor of the now Asian Games and came out with my recommendees from 1913 to 1934w.
Mali! My role and a few of other sportswriters was only to confirm the selection of a panel made up of representatives from the Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Olympic Committee and those coming from the government and private sectors. Moreover, a time frame had been set that disqualified outright Pacquiao and Onyok.
In the case of Ylanan, Ampon, Torre and Codiñera, the project director, who was a high-ranking official of the PSC, said there were no records that the three took part and won medals in the Olympic Games and Asian Games. Ang sabi ko besides winning, too, the Pan American singles event, which was higher category than the Asian Games, Ampon was also an Asian Games doubles champion. Consult Google, I advised him.
As for Torre and Codiñera, well, their sports are not in the Olympics nor Asian Games calendar.
To cut the story short, all four failed to make the first batch, next time na daw. Ampon and Torre made it to the second batch, while Ylalan and Codiñera were again left out.
Why am I insisting that the to should be in he Hall of Fame?
Let’s start with Ylanan. This physician by profession, you see, represented the country in the First Far Eastern Games, a triangular meet among the best and the finest athletes from the Philippines, Japan and China, held in Manila in 1913 where he was adjudged Asia’s first “Man of Steel” for winning the multi-event pentathlon, shot put and discus throw.
Ylanan won the discus again in 1915, losing pentathlon and shot put, but was the starting pitcher in the Philippines’ victory in baseball, a feat he continued until 1917.
After his playing career, Ylanan, who finished medicine at the University of the Philippines, was a Springfield College fellow in the United
States where he took a Bachelor of Physical Education degree. In his return to the country, he was appointed physical director at UP and moved for the creation of a Department of Physical Education and took steps to make P.E a requirement for graduation.
Besides his duties at UP, Ylanan trained and coached Filipino athletes who participated in the fifth, sixth and seventh Far Eastern Games in both athletics and baseball while serving medical adviser of the national delegations in those meets.
He was a signatory to the constitution of the Asian Games Federation, which he helped established, representing the Philippines in the organizational meeting held in New Delhi.
In 1927, Ylanan resigned from UP to serve as National Physical Director holding the post until 1951. As secretary-treasurer of the Philippine Amateur Athletic Federation, he had a hand in preparing the layout of, and supervised the construction of four stadiums within the now Rizal Memorial Sport Complex.
His program to provide playgrounds for children and facilities for the training of athletes and holding of athletics competitions evolved into the PAAF’s “10-year Plan.”
Ylanan edited the Filipino Athlete, a publication of the PAAF. And h contributed o the training of physical education teachers by opening the PAAF Summer School of Coaching, teaching PE during summers at UP.
Codiñera, on the other and, was member of the Philippine baseball team that finished third in the 1966 World Championship in Hawaii and the national softball squad that wound up fourth in the 1968 World Championship in Oklahoma.
Codiñera was a member too, of four Asian softball champion national teams. He was actually the first Filipino to make it to the Guinness Book of World Records when he belted out even doubles in a single game in the Oklahoma world tourney.