Living a life as a sportsman… and as a recording artist
By Jesus A. Garcia Jr.
FOR a long while, I was nationally known for being a professional cyclist by winning three national multi-stage cycling races and also finishing four times as a first runner-up. Aside from that, our Pangasinan squad which I skippered four times won the national team title three times and the Cosmos team that I organized as an all-Pangasinenses team, won the crown also three times consecutively. I believe it’s still a record unsurpassed, until now.
At about the same period, I also became known to be a recording artist. My first championship in the 1973 Tour of Luzon catapulted me to the entertainment industry – to become a recording artist for Vicor Music Corporation, owned by cousins Vic del Rosario and Orly Ilacad. (Vicor stands for Vic and Orly). I recorded 24 songs and 12 of these were my original compositions labeled in my long playing (LP) album, topped by the cycling ditty titled “Buhay Siklista” that became popular. My singing contemporaries then at VICOR were Victor Wood, Vilma Santos, Tirso Cruz, lll, Edgar Mortiz, Pilita Corales, Anthony Castelo, Neddie Decena, Julius Obregon, Boy Mondragon, Florence Aguilar and the latest was my co-yodeler Fred Panopio, to name some. When VICOR formed a group called “Hitmakers” and staged different concerts nationwide during the mid- 70s and I was listed as a member of the team. However, I only joined the Luzon concerts in the cities of Lucena, Cabanatuan, Olongapo, Angeles and Dagupan due to my hectic cycling training.
Also, unknown to many, my first chosen sport was pingpong or table tennis. I became addicted to this British invented sport in 1957 during my first year in Mangaldan National High School under the mentorship of school teacher the late Nicolas Rodriguez. Well, I was not the best in the school but I was known to be among the top ten players. We had a group called “Tatamahis” (Table Tennis Association of Mangaldan High School) and our top player was my classmate Joselito Orap, now an Australian citizen. I still play this sport but as one of my exercises in life, admittedly being an aging hombre.
My third favorite sport is boxing. Maybe it’s in my blood because my father Jesus Rivera Garcia, Sr. was a Mexican and Mexicans’ second preferred sport after football is boxing, according to my Mexican relatives who now live in Texas. In fact, the perennial opponents of our Filipino boxers, headed by former eight-division world champion Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao, were Mexicans like Juan Manuel Marquez, Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera, Brandon Rios, Miguel Margarito, David Diaz, to name some.
My fourth loved sport is basketball. I started to play this James Naismith-invented game summer of 1969. Despite being a competitive cyclist, I mastered how to play a point-guard position. I formed a Barangay Buenlag team called “Dagitab” and joined the annual Mangaldan Inter-Barangay Tournament in 1972 and we bagged the second runner-up plum beating the heavily favored Poblacion squad. After quitting competitive tournaments, I was invited to be the head-coach of Team Buenlag. Our team bagged the first runner-up honor during the 2009 Mangaldan Inter-Barangay Basketball Tournament that was won by Barangay Anolid skippered by Lyceum Northwestern University (LNU) Dukes varsity standout William Manaois.
I tried to learn lawn tennis, too, and even joined a ten-kilometer marathon event but since I did not have the same passion to play the two unlike my other sports, I eventually dropped these.
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ERRATUM: My heartfelt and sincere apology to my cumpadre and cumadre Mr. and Mrs. Cesar Catambay for printing here the alleged demise of my cumpadre and my former teammate Cesar last August 5. I was carried away by the fake social media reports. Sorry about this.
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” JOHN 3: 36
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