It’s time to honor Pangasinan’s sports heroes

By Jesus A. Garcia Jr.

IT’S been my long desire and high time now to fete our numerous sports heroes that gave honor and pride to our beloved province, then and now, by our local lawmakers, with the nod of our hardworking and sports-minded father of the province Gov. Amado I. Espino, III.

Other provinces like Cebu, Davao, Pampanga, to name some, have been doing it.  And I see no reason why Pangasinan cannot do it as well. Perhaps a listing of the illustrious sports men and women will convince our lawmakers that honoring them is long overdue.

Here is a partial list of names, birthplaces and their sports that made them famous nationally.
Let me start with names of our heroes in BASKETBALL, CYCLING, TRACK & FIELD, CHESS and BOXING whose names perhaps wont ring a bell especially to Gen x and Millennial generations:

BASKETBALL:  Ambrosio Padilla (†) and Ronnie Magsanoc of Lingayen, Jun Marzan, Lordy Tugade, Clifford Arao of Alaminos, Marlou Aquino, Christian Calaguio, Marlon Magat of Sta. Barbara, Marc Pingris, father and son Floreindo and Renren Ritualo and the Faundo brothers (I forgot their first names) of Pozorrubio, Romulo Mamaril and Jason Ballesteros of Malasiqui, Danny Ildefonso of Urdaneta City, Romualdo Cabading of Villasis, Magnum Membrere of Umingan, Jimmy Javier (†) of Binmaley, Nelson Mendoza of Dasol, Patrick Fran of Agno, Rolly Buhay of Bolinao (Buhay became a close friend of mine when he migrated to Guam), and the latest is CJ Perez of Bautista, the town mate of Gov. Espino. (Ato Agustin confirmed it to me that although born in Sta. Rita, Pampanga, his father was from Barangay San Juan in Alcala. Yes, many say that Alvin Patrimonio’s father was from Umingan. I have to confirm that yet. But is having parents from Pangasinan qualify them for the province’ honors? That’s for our Board Members to decide).

CYCLING: Twenty-one champions made their mark for Pangasinan in major tours from 1957 to 2018.  Rufino Gabot of Manaoag in 1957, Mamerto Eden in 1958 (†) of Mapandan, Edmundo de Guzman of Lingayen in 1962, Gonzalo Recodos of Manaoag in 1963; this writer Jesus Garcia, Jr. of Mangaldan in 1973 and twice in 1977, Teodorico Rimarim of Basista in 1974 (†), Samson Cariño of Mangaldan and Samson Etrata of Binalonan both in 1975, Modesto Bonzo of Sual in 1976, Jacinto Sicam of San Manuel in 1981 and 1982 (†), Romeo Bonzo of Sual in 1983 (†), Ruben Cariño of Mangaldan in 1984, Pepito Calip of Binalonan in 1985 (†), Bernardo Llentada of San Nicolas in 1991, Reynaldo Navarro of San Jacinto in 2000, Wilfredo Calosa of San Jacinto in 2001, Santy Barnachea of Umingan in 2002, 2006, 2011, 2015, Arnel Quirimit of Pozorrubio in 2003, Baler Ravina of Asingan in 2012, El Joshua Cariño of Mangaldan in 2018 and the last, so far, Ronald Oranza of Villasis, also in 2018. On the distaff side, Marites Bitbit of Malasiqui won silver and gold medals in 2005 Southeast Asia (SEA) Games held in Philippines and 2007 SEA Games held in Thailand, respectively; and, Marella Salamat of Bugallon won gold in 2015 SEA Games in Singapore. (Yes, I was there and personally watched Marella how she conquered the road race.)

TRACK AND FIELD: We had Rogelio Onofre of Dagupan City and Agrippina dela Cruz of Aguilar who won gold medals in Asian and SEA Games.

CHESS: Rodolfo Tan Cardoso of Anda was the first Asian fellow to earn the international master norm.

BOXING: The late Roberto Cruz of Bugallon was our lone Pangasinense to win a world crown, the World Boxing Association (WBA) junior welterweight tiara in 1965 by knocking out Mexican Raymund “Battling’ Torres held in Los Angeles, California.

That’s all that I know for now.  Hopefully our provincial government will support my suggestion. Perhaps Fourth District Board Member and table tennis player Liberato ‘Riby” Villega can carry on.

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Though the Lord is on high, yet He regards the lowly; but the proud He knows from afar.  PSLAMS 138: 6

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