Goodbye Pangasinan cycling legend, Cesar Catambay

By April 8, 2024Sports Eye

By Jesus A. Garcia Jr.


I WAS not stunned but felt so sad when I learned from somebody last March 3 that my former cycling teammate, my town mate and most of all my cumpadre, the well-known Pangasinan cycling legend Cesar Catambay just passed away. I was not so surprised because the last time I visited him at his residence, his health obviously deteriorated from bad to worse. He lost a lot of weight and the worst thing that I noticed, he could hardly move his body unlike my previous visits to him. I reached for his hand and we shook hands. He tried to speak which I believe to thank me again for the visit but his words were not audible anymore. I can’t help but cry in the presence of his beloved wife, cumadre Pacing and their grandchildren. After giving some financial support, I left with a heavy heart and thinking that maybe soon he will leave this planet for good. And it happened, the killer disease called “stroke” victimized another athlete.

It was in the early part of March 1973, when the late Pangasinan Team race director Bernardo Rivo of San Fabian talked to me to form the official line up of our provincial eight-man squad for the 1973 Tour of Luzon slated on May 10-19. Being a four-year veteran (1964, 1965, 1966, 1967) of the fabled race, twice bagging the first runner-up plum (1965, 1967) and  won the team championships three times with him as our team race director,  Rivo assigned me to pick the complete lineup of the Pangasinan Team. I picked Catambay to be one of them whom he perennially trained and our other Mangaldan town mate Eduardo Pariño, Tranquilino de Vera of Tayug, Teofilo Aquino of Binmaley, Wincelmo Baguio of Urdaneta and Mangaldan’s two adopted sons Franklin Navarro and Manuel Pucan.

The seven were all neophytes in multi-stage racing. We never missed to train together intensively and objectively to learn the capability with each other in mountain climbing, on flat roads and the sprint finishes. Surprisingly, the humble 19-year-old Catambay emerged as the strongest among the seven recruited rookies. We maintained these capabilities that enabled me to win the first stage and wear the coveted yellow jersey, the symbolic of overall individual leadership and for achieving the team overall leadership.

Our team accomplishment was fantastic. I won five out of the ten stages of the 1973 Tour with Catambay always the second stringer of our team Pangasinan. Luckily with the help of Almighty God, we never relinquished the team overall leadership and my individual leadership from day one to day ten. That became the Philippine national cycling record and still not broken until now. We defeated the Ilocandia Team which was also composed of  our co-Pangasinan cyclists. Frankly, what I admire most of my cumpadre Catambay was his loyalty to me and especially to our Pangasinan squad. While I was leading by just nine seconds after the third stage, I never saw nor hear him wanting to dislodge my overall leadership but instead helped me increase our Pangasinan squad lead from the Ilocandia Team.  It’s also the first time in Philippine cycling history to achieve a 1-2-3 finish by bona fide Pangasinenses headed by me, Catambay and Benito Obedoza of the Ilocandia team who hails from Villasis, Pangasinan.

Goodbye my cumpadre, the legend. I know you’re now in the good hands of our Almighty God. Your name will never be erased in cycling history. Rest now in Peace.

*          *          *          *

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Then He said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be great earthquakes in various places and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven. LUKE 21: 10-11

Share your Comments or Reactions


Powered by Facebook Comments