Sports Eye

Unsurpassed Pangasinan cycling records

By Jesus A. Garcia Jr.

WHENEVER a Pangasinense wins a national cycling tour, our national sports scribes always say that our province is the hotbed, breeding ground or the cradle of Philippine cycling.

Yes, they’re absolutely right. But unknown to many (except my age and cycling contemporaries), especially the young ones, our province already produced a number of records still unsurpassed in cycling since it was born in 1955.

Admittedly, we were in humbled 1955 and 1956 by a newspaper rider, the legendary Antonio Arzala of Sta. Rosa, Laguna, who won the first two years of the fabled Tour of Luzon. The best that our locals accomplished then were decent runner-up finishes spearheaded by Rufino Gabot of Manaoag and Mamerto Eden of Mapandan.

It was in 1957 when we finally too is over and never looked back since. We have since produced 20 national winners in multi-stage racings (Tour), countless runners-up and numerous national team members who won medals in international competitions (men and women) like the Asia and SEA Games. Metro Manila was a far second to us registering only six titlists: the legendary three-time winner Manuel Reynante, Reynaldo Dequito, Warren Davadilla, Victor Espiritu, Mark Galedo and the latest, Jan Paul Morales.

Allow me to recall the names of our Tour champions from Pangasinan:

Rufino Gabot and Gonzalo Recodos of Manaoag; Mamerto Eden of Mapandan; Edmundo de Guzman of Lingayen; the Cariño brothers Samson and Ruben and this writer of Mangaldan; Teodorico Rimarim of Basista; the Bonzo siblings Modesto and Romeo of Sual; Samson Etrata and Pepito Calip of Binalonan; Jacinto Sicam of San Manuel; Bernardo Llentada of San Nicolas; Reynaldo Navarro and Wilfredo Calosa of San Jacinto; Arnel Quirimit of Pozorrubio; Santy Barnachea of Umingan; Baler Ravina of Asingan and the latest Ronald Oranza of Villasis.

Five of our ex-champs are now deceased namely; Eden, Rimarim, Sicam, Romeo Bonzo and Calip.

Besides our 20 winners, our province also carries the distinction of having won the most number of Tour team championships in Barnachea the only four-time Tour champion in the country today, breaking Arzala, Reynante and this writer’s record of 3 championships each.

We also have the most number of runners-up before they became champions like Gabot, Eden, de Guzman, this writer, Modesto Bonzo, Ruben Cariño, Sicam, Quirimit, Barnachea, Ravina, Llentada and Oranza. The only  first runners-up who failed to bag a championship were Teofilo Cuison of Dagupan City, Virgilio Delin of Manaoag, Cesar Catambay of Mangaldan, Tranquilino de Vera of Tayug, Gonzalo Espiritu of San Manuel and Fermin Zabala of Bautista.

Pangasinan is also the only province in the country that produced two brothers who won Tour championships, namely, the Bonzo and the Cariño siblings.

In international racing circuit, Edgardo Pagarigan of Bugallon and Quirimit were silver medalists in 1983 Manila and 2001 Taiwan Asian Cycling Championships, respectively, while Alex Lopez of Mangaldan and Zabala were gold medalists in 1987 SEA Games. In the distaff side, Marites Bitbit of Malasiqui and Marella Salamat of Bugallon were gold medalists in 2005 Manila and 2015 Singapore SEA Games, respectively.

These are our cycling unsurpassed records, and I believe more accolades have yet to harvested for our province especially now that our sports-minded Gov. Amado “Pogi” Espino III is himself a cycling buff. Yes, this is our sport, after basketball.

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie   against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. JAMES 3: 14-15.

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