Filipino Champions in Athletics, Golf, Chess, Tennis, Martial Arts, and Other Philippine Sports
Other Sports Champions
Filipino athletes are known for being quick and sturdy. What they lack in height, they make up for in speed and tenacity. They move swiftly and with grace and strive for focus and precision in movement.
They are born tacticians, who carefully calculate speed, motion, force and space to determine the target. Although not as disciplined or as scientific as western athletes, they have agility to compensate.
When lacking in experience and training, they have their loved ones to inspire them. They fight like they dance, to the tune of their avid and ever loyal Filipino fans who shout like a harmonic orchestra. Hooray! What a sight to behold a Filipino being crowned as a champion!
Athletics has produced a number of gold medals for the Philippines in the Far Eastern Games before the war. It also gave the country two bronze medals in the Olympics and 11 gold medals in the Asian Games.
In the 1920s, two Filipinos were among the world's fastest men. In the 1930s, a Filipino was considered Asia's best athlete. From the 1950s to the 1980s, Filipino women were among the fastest in Asia.
Simeon Toribio, the pride of Zamboanga, was considered the "Filipino Field Athlete of the Half Century" and "Asia's Best Athlete" for winning gold medals in the high jump event in the Far Eastern Olympics in 1921, 1923, 1927, 1930 and 1934 and a bronze medal in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics.
According to author Jorge Afable, Toribio could have won the gold medal, if not only for the "call of nature." It was a grueling four-hour competition to jump over the bar raised at 6 feet and six inches high. Toribio, who once made the jump, failed to overcome it the second time because he was distressed by call of nature. Before this, Toribio narrowly missed the bronze in the 1928 Amsterdam Games.
In 1930, Toribio was awarded the Helms World Trophy for being Asia's greatest athlete. He became a lawyer and a congressman representing Bohol province where he later settled.
Miguel White, a former army officer with an American father, represented the Philippines in the 1936 Berlin Olympics where he must have met American track and field legend Jesse Owens. White brought home a bronze medal in 400-meter hurdles event.
Nepomuceno and Catalon
Two Filipinos – David Nepomuceno and Fortunato Catalon – were considered world-class sprinters in the 1920s. The two, rivals in the local scene, have hauled gold medals from the Far Eastern Games.
In 1924, Nepomuceno represented the Philippines in the Paris Olympiad where he ran the 100 meters in 10.8 seconds and was clocked 22.5 seconds in the 200-meter dash. In 1925, Nepomuceno ran the 100 meters in only two-tenths of a second short of the world record then.
Meanwhile, Charles Paddock, the fastest man in the 1920s, in a visit to the Philippines, described Fortunato Catalon as your "champion of champions".
Andres Franco won a gold medal in the high jump event at the 1951 New Delhi Asiad and a bronze medal in the same event at the 1954 Manila Asiad.
Other Male Sprinters
Genaro Cabrera, who finished the 100-meter race in 10.7 seconds, won the silver medal at the 1954 Manila Asiad. Isaac Gomez won a bronze in the same event at the 1958 Tokyo Asiad while Rogelio Onofre added another bronze at the 1962 Jakarta Asiad. Enrique Bautista also clinched the bronze in the 200-meter dash at the 1958 Tokyo Asiad. In the 400-meter race, Pablo Somblingo won the silver at the 1958 Tokyo Asiad and Isidro del Prado also got the silver at the 1986 Seoul Asiad.
Lydia De Vega
Lydia de Vega-Mercado was considered Asia's fastest woman in the 1980s. As Asia's sprint queen, she ran away with the gold medal in the 100-meter dash in the 1982 New Delhi Asiad and duplicated the feat in the 1986 Seoul Asiad where she was clocked 11.53 seconds. She also brought home a silver medal in the 200-meter race from the 1986 Seoul Asiad. De Vega now serves as a councilor of her native Meycauayan town in Bulacan province.
Before Lydia de Vega entered the scene, there was Mona Sulaiman, a Mindanao-born sprinter who was declared Asia's fastest woman when she won two gold medals in the 100-meter and 200-meter dash events at the 1962 Jakarta Asiad. She finished the 100-meter race in 11.93 seconds ahead of two Japanese runners and the 200-meter sprint in 24.63 seconds ahead of a Japanese and a Sri Lankan. She also won a bronze in shot put event at the 1962 Jakarta Asiad.
Inocencia Solis was declared the fastest women in All of Asia in 1958 when she finished the 100-meter sprint in 12.5 seconds ahead of two Japanese runners in the Tokyo Asian Games. Before this, she won the bronze medal in the 200-meter dash event at the 1954 Manila Asiad. She was from Iloilo City.
Amelita Alanes won the silver medal in the 200-meter dash at the 1970 Bangkok Asiad.
Rogelia Ferrer, a hurdler, was an Asian Games medallist in the 1950s. Ferrer was born in Negros Occidental province.
Lolita Lagrosas had collected a total of five Asiad medals. She won the silver medals in women's high jump event at the 1958 Tokyo Asiad and 1966 Bangkok Asiad and the bronze in the same event at the 1970 Bangkok Asiad. She clinched the bronze medals in pentathlon at the 1966 and 1970 Bangkok Asiads.
Visitacion Badana brought home the gold medal in the long jump event from the 1958 Tokyo Asiad.
Josephine dela Vina
Josephine dela Vina clinched the gold medal in the discuss throw event at the 1966 Bangkok Asiad. Before this, she won the bronze in the same event at the 1962 Jakarta Asiad.
Elma Muros-Posadas, a sprinter, hurdler and long jumper, has collected a total of 13 gold medals from her numerous stints at the Southeast Asian Games. She also brought home a bronze medal in 400-meter hurdles from the 1990 Beijing Asiad and another bronze in long jump from the 1994 Hiroshima Asiad.
The Philippine men's team won the gold medals in the 4 x 100 meter relay at the 1958 Tokyo Asiad and 1962 Jakarta Asiad and the bronze medals in 1951, 1954 and 1966. In the 4 x 400 meter relay, the Philippine men's team won bronze in 1951, 1954, 1958 and 1986.
Meanwhile, the Philippine women's team won the gold medal in the 4 X 100 meter relay at the 1962 Jakarta Asiad and the silver at the 1958 Tokyo Asiad. It won the bronze medals at the 1954 Manila Asiad and at the 1978 Bangkok Asiad.
Other Track and Field Stars
Among other athletes who have rewarded the country with honor by their sterling performance in track and field are Aurelio Amante, Leopoldo Anillo, Marcelina Alonzo, Roberta Anore, Jovencio Ardina, Erasma Arellano, Gaspar Azares, Visitacion Badana, Lerma Balauitan Ciriaco Baronda, Hector Begeo, Tomas Bennet, Eduardo Buenavista, Manolita Cinco, Artemio Cortez, and Isabel Cruz;
Eusebio Ensong, Susano Erang, Romero Gido, Arsenio Jasmin, Lolita Lagrosas, Honesto Larce, Erlinda Lavandia, Bievenido Llaneda, Tokal Mokalam, Cristabel Martes;
Cipriano Niera, Irene Penuela, Jaime Pimentel, Nilo Ramirez, Visitacion Ribagorda, Ernesto Rodriguez, Amelita Saberon, Fracisca Sanopal, Vivencia Subido, Lydia Sylvanetto, Lucila Tolentino and Roy Vence.
Golf produced a golf medal for the Philippines in the 1986 Asian Games, courtesy of Ramon Brobio, a former world junior champion. Aside from Brobio, other young golfers who have given the country honor include Dorothy Delasin, Jennifer and Gerald Rosales, Gerard Cantada, Carlito Villaroman, Tom Concon, Ruby Chico, Philip Ang, Dottie Ardina and Mary Grace Estuesta.
Since 1978, young Filipino golfers have won several world titles like the Junior World Championships in San Diego, California; the Asia Pacific Junior Golf Confederation; and the Toppolino trophy in Italy.
The country has also produced world-class golfers in the persons of Ben Arda, Celestino Tugot, Caloy Nival and Frankie Minoza, who have joined international tours in Asia, Europe and the United States.
Dorothy Delasin, a daughter of a Filipino couple living in Daly City, is a two-time Filipino Athlete of the Year awardee, for winning three world championships (as this was being written). Delasin won the LPGA Giant Eagle Classic for two consecutive years, first in 2000 when she was only 19 and then in 2001, becoming the youngest LPGA winner in 25 years. She was the Rookie of the Year in 2000.
In October 2001, she clinched her third international title by beating the world's top 20 women players in the Samsung World Championship in Vallejo, California.
In 1999, the California Golf Writers Association named her as the Amateur Golfer of the Year for her string of victories. As an amateur, she captured the US Women's Amateur Championship, California Women's Championship and US Girls Championship. In 1993, she won the Junior World Cup held in Japan.
In 1996, she won a gold medal for the Philippines in the 1996 Southeast Asian Games and a bronze in the 1998 Bangkok Asiad. She also represented the country in the 1996 World Amateurs.
Delasin was born in Lubbock, Texas and lives with her family in Daly City, otherwise known as the "Adobo City" because of its huge Filipino population.
Ramon Brobio gave the country a gold medal in golf at the Asian Games. He accomplished the feat in 1986 when he defeated other bets from Asian countries in men's individual golf title. Before this, Brobio became the first triple winner of the 18th junior world golf championship held in San Diego, California on July 18, 1985.
Carlito Villaroman holds the 15 under par record at the Boy's Class A Division of the Junior World Championship.
Jennifer Rosales won the US NCAA Individual Championship in 1999. She also won the US NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship held in Wisconsin on May 24, 1998. In 2002, Jennifer finished fourth at the British Open.
Gerald Rosales, a brother of Jennifer, is a many-time champion at the Asian junior golf circuit.
In July 1999, Philip Ang won the 1999 International Junior Championship (11-13 years old division title) at the Menifee Lakes Country Club in Temecula, California. He had to beat fellow Filipino Jenz Tecson and a Korean youngster to bag the title. Ang became the second Filipino to win the title after Gerard Cantada.
In July 2002, Dottie Ardina won the 2002 Callaway Junior World golf championships – Class E division in San Diego, California.
In July 2002, Jayvee Agojo, a student of OB Montessori won the Temecula International Jr. Championships and the Optimist International Golf Championships in Florida.
Frankie Minoza is a two-time Filipino Athlete of the Year awardee (1990, 1998) for his string of victories in the Asian Circuit, particularly in the lucrative Japanese PGA Tour. In May 2001, for example, he brought home some US$183,000 from the Fuji Sankei Classic in Japan. Before this, he won the Philippine Open and the Kirin Open in 1998.
In July 1998, Minoza finished 52nd at the British Open and outperformed defending champion Justin Leonard and Fred Couples. It was held at the Royal Birksdale course.
In August 1999, Minoza, ranked 56th in the world then, had the chance to play at the prestigious U.S. PGA Tour at the Sahalee Country Club in Redmond, Washington. Only the world's top 64 players were invited to the event. Minoza lost his first round match to former world number 1 Nick Price and settled for US$25,000.
Minoza was born in Bukidnon province in 1960.
Ben Arda was the first Filipino who qualified to play at Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia and at the British Open. He also participated in a number of World Cups in the 1960s. Arda won the Philippine Open three times during his professional career and clinched the Asia Golf Circuit overall championship in 1969. He was born in Cebu.
Angelo Que placed third at the World Amateur Championship held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2002.
Other Famous Golfers
Among other famous Filipino golfers who have participated in various international and local competitions include Gil and Cesar Ababa, Eddie Bagtas, Danilo Cabajar, Felix "Cassius" Casas, Rodrigo Cuello, Mary Grace Estueta, Antolin Fernando, Noli Kempis, Vince Lauron, Rogelio Leo, Bong Lopez, Rey Martin Luna, Mario Manubay, Caloy Nival, Robert Pactolerin, Juvic Pagunsan, Ria Denice Quiazon, Luis "Golem" Silverio, Norman Sto. Domingo, Celestino Tugot, Wilfredo Victoria, and Danny Zarate.
Chess has also contributed a lot to the country's winning tradition in sports. Filipinos take pride in having compatriots who became the first international master and grandmaster in Asia. In 1988, the country's top bets placed 7th in the 1988 World Chess Olympiad held in Thessaloniki, Greece. In the year 2000, the Philippine team finished 17th at the Istanbul Chess Olympiad. The Philippines has been participating in the Chess Olympiad since 1956.
Fernando Canon is considered the country's first chess champion. He won a chess tournament held in Barcelona, Spain in 1905.
Rodolfo Tan Cardoso
The first international master in Asia was Rodolfo Tan Cardoso, a Pangasinan born chess champion. Cardoso placed 5th in the world junior chess tournament in Toronto, Canada in 1957 and became the first Asian chess champion at the age of 25.
In his participation in world chess tournaments, Cardoso has defeated the likes of David Bronstein and Bobby Fischer and has drawn with former world number 1 Michael Tahl.
While Cardoso has gained a grandmaster norm, he failed to become a grandmaster.
Eugene Torre is considered as the first grandmaster in Asia. He accomplished the feat at the age of 22 and won a silver medal at the 21st World Chess Olympiad held in Nice, France in 1974 when the Philippines placed 11th overall. Torre has been a veteran of the World Chess Olympiad for three decades and led the Philippine team to a 7th place finish at the 1988 Greece Olympiad. He also has a collection of three Olympiad silver medals.
Aside from Eugene Torre, the country had three other grandmasters, namely: Joey Antonio, Buenaventura "Bong" Villamayor, and Rosendo Balinas.
Mark Paragua placed fifth in the World Youth Chess Championships (boys' under 18) held in Crete, Greece in November 2002. Before this, Paragua became the country's youngest international master at the age of 16 in January 2000.
Glenn Bordonada won a gold medal in the 1978 Buenos Aires Chess Olympiad.
Rico Mascarinas won a gold medal in the 1982 Lucerne Chess Olympiad.
Other Chess Champions
Other Filipino chess champions include Rogelio Barcenilla Jr., Richard Bitoon, Arianne Caoili, Kathrynn Cruz, Idelfonso Datu, Joy Lomibao, Nelson Mariano, Beverly Mendoza, Allan Petronio and Roca Sayson.
Tennis has produced three gold medals for the Philippines in the Asian Games. This sports event became famous in the country because of the exploits of Felicisimo Ampon, Eddie Cruz and Alredo Diy.
Felicisimo Ampon, who was only five feet tall, was once considered the best tennis player in the world, pound for pound. Ampon, dubbed as the "Mighty Mite" won the Davis Cup singles championship in 1937 and the singles title in the Pan-American championship in Mexico City in 1950. Because of this, the Filipino tennis ace was declared the first Athlete of the Year by the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) in the same year.
He was a gold medallist in the Far Eastern Games before the war and clinched a doubles' gold with Raymundo Deyro in the 1958 Asian Games. He nearly defeated world number 1 Frank Seigman in the quarterfinals of the French Open in May 1952.
In 1953, Ampon won the Wimbledon Plate championship, a tournament among first- and second-round losers in the Wimbledon Open.
Raymundo Deyro brought home two gold medals from the 1958 Tokyo Asiad. He first won a gold medal in the singles event and teamed with Felicisimo Ampon for the doubles gold. In the 1962 Jakarta Asiad, Johnny Jose took the singles gold.
Eddie Cruz was the First Filipino to have played in prestigious international tennis events like the US Open, the Italian Open, the French Open and the Wimbledon Open.
Alfredo Diy was considered the dean of Philippine tennis. He represented the country in the 1934 Far Eastern Games and in the 1937 International Championships.
Other Tennis Champions
Among other Filipino tennis players who have represented the country in international tournaments include Felix Barrientos, Dyan Castillejo, Miguel Dungo Jr., Maricris Fernandez, Guillermo Hernandez, Johnny Jose, Bryan Juinio and Joseph Lizardo.
Practical shooting is also a game where Filipinos excel. The Philippine shooting team, for example, won first place overall at the World Shooting Championship from 1999 to 2001. It was also the AustralAsian champion in 2001.
The names of Adolfo Feliciano, Jethro Dionisio, Jag Lejano, Athena Lee and Kay Cabalatungan are known in the shooting world as names of practical shooting champions. The Philippines has also hauled in a total of six gold medals from shooting competitions at the Asian Games since 1954.
At the 1954 Manila Asiad, Hernando Castelo Albert von Einsiedel, Chito Feliciano, Martin Gison each won a gold medal in shooting. Feliciano and Gison also won a gold medal each in the 1958 Tokyo Asiad.
Jethro "the Jet" Dionisio
Jethro Dionisio, dubbed as "the Jet" because of the speed of his hands, is a six-time world champion in pistol shooting. He won his first national title in 1989 at the age of 17. He won his first international title in California the following year. From practical shooting, Dionisio has now shifted to shotgun firing.
Adolfo Feliciano won a gold medal, two silver medals and a bronze medal in the World Shooting Championships held in Germany in 1966. Two years later, he added two gold medals and a bronze medal in the same competition held in Phoenix, Arizona. Before this, he won a gold medal in the First Asian Shooting tournament held in Tokyo, Japan and a silver medal in "markmanship" (a demonstration event) at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
In November 1999, Athena Lee won the Open Ladies title at the 12th World Shoot Championship. In 2002, Lee placed second to Kaye Cabalatungan in the same event. She is from Cagayan de Oro City.
On September 21, 2002, Kaye Cabalatungan won the ladies title at the 13th World Shoot Championship held in Pietersburg, South Africa. Ironically, she beat Athena Lee, another Filipina, to win the championship. Cabalatungan, Lee, Grace Tan and Amanda Kangleon also captured the ladies team title in the event held by the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC). Cabalatungan was born in Negros Occidental province in 1981.
Other Shooting Champions
Among the Filipino shooters who have participated in various international meets include Jay Agayan, Eric Ang, Leopoldo Ang, Antonio Arguelles, Enrique Beech, Patricio Bernardo, Philip Chua, Roberto del Castillo, George Earnshaw, Ludovico Espinosa, Cesar Jayme, Jasmin Luis, Patrick Marvin, Simeon Lee, Arturo Macapagal, Jose Medina, Antonio Mendoza, Jamie Recio, Bernardo San Juan, Raymundo Quitoriano, Danny Torrevillas, Nelson Uygongco, and Jose Zalvidea.
Swimming has given the country numerous honors in the past. Filipino swimmers used to dominate the Far Eastern Games, a pre-war sports competition between the Philippines, Japan and China and the Asian Games in the 1950s. Filipino swimmers have fished two bronze medals from the Olympics and 10 gold medals from the Asian Games.
The likes of Teofilo Yldefonso and Haydee Coloso-Espino are among the many Filipino athletes who have swum to sports glory in this marvelous event.
Teofilo Yldefonso is considered as the finest Filipino swimmer ever. Known as the "Ilocano Shark", Yldefonso is best remembered for accomplishing two feats: being the first Filipino to win an Olympic medal and the only Filipino who won two Olympic medals. He won his first bronze medal at the 200-meter breaststroke event in the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics and his second bronze at the same event in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. His fastest time was 2 minutes and 48.4 seconds in the 200-meter breaststroke. Yldefonso was born in Piddig town, Ilocos Norte province.
Haydee Coloso-Espino was acknowledged as the "Asian Swim Queen" in the 1950s. With a total haul of 10 medals, she is the most bemedalled Filipino athlete who participated in the Asian Games. Her medals include three golds, five silvers and two bronzes which she won in 1954 Manila Asiad, 1958 Tokyo Asiad and 1962 Jakarta Asiad. Her gold medals came from the 100-meter freestyle and butterfly events.
Ral Rosario, a participant in the 200-meter freestyle event, won the country's only gold medal in the 1978 Asian Games. Before this, Rosario won a silver medal in the 100-meter backstroke and another silver in the 200-meter backstroke in the 1974 Tehran Asiad. He later became the secretary-general of the Philippine Amateur Swimming Association (PASA).
Other Swimming Champions
Among the Filipino swimmers who have triumphed in various international competitions include Edgardo and Rosalina Abreu, Dolores and Rudy Agustin, C. Aiville, Lourdes Alba, Sotero Alcantara, Rene Amabuyok, Betina Abdula Ampoc, Ulpiano Bacol, Raul Badulis, Condrado Benitez, Edilberto Bonus, Edrin Borja, Carlos Brosas, Walter Brown, Eric Buhain, Bertulfo Cacheco, Victoria Cagayat, Jacinto Cayco, and Robert Collins;
Angel Comenares, Lorenzo Cortes, L. Cristobal, Victoria Cullen, Imlani Dae, Nancy Deanio, J. del Pan, Freddie Elizalde, Helen Elliot, Angela Fermin, Hedy Garcia Galang, Jocelyn, Sandra, Sonia and Sylvia Von Giese, Leroy Geoff, Norma Guerrero, Grace Gustimbase, Annurhussin Hamsain, and Sampang Hassan;
Christine Jacob, Jairulla Jaitulla, Amado Jimenez, Mark Joseph, Ana Labayan, Rolando Landrito, Agapito Lozada, Gertrudes Lozada, Nulsali Maddin, Mohammad Mala, Victorino Marcelino, Sukarno Maut, Ibenoratica Muksan, Parson Nabuila, Andres Ofilada, Eugeino Palileo, Ryan Papa, Encarnacion Partilo, Nurhatab Rajab, Lolita Ramirez, Bana Sailani, Artemio Salamat, Dan Salvador, Roland Santos, Akiko Thomson, Kemalpasa Umih, Serafin Villanueva, Artemio Villavieja, Erudito Vito, William "Billy" Wilson, and Norma Yldefonso.
Martial Arts Champions
Martial arts are undoubtedly popular in the Philippines because of the country's proximity to China, Japan and Korea where most of martial arts forms originated. There is a strong possibility that a Filipino martial artist will bag the country's first Olympic gold medal in the near future. In the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Filipino taekwondo-jins Stephen Fernandez and Bea Lucero brought home two bronze medals, although they were not included in the medal tally because taekwondo was just a demonstration sports in the quadrennial event.
Filipino wushu and taekwondo artists have won gold medals in international competitions. The Philippines is also the perennial champion in the World Eskrima Arnis Championship, owing to the fact that it is the Filipinos who introduced arnis to the world.
Roberto Cruz became a world taekwondo champion in 1999 when he won a gold medal in the finweight division (56 kilograms) of the World Cup Taekwondo. Before this, he was a bronze medallist in the World Cup held in Germany in 1998. Cruz is also a five-time Southeast Asian Games champion.
Donald David Geisler
Donald Geisler won a silver medal in the 1998 World Cup Taekwondo held in Germany. He is also a Southeast Asian Games gold medallist.
Tshomlee Go won a silver medal in the flyweight division of the World Cup Taekwondo 2001 Championships held in Vietnam. Before this, God also won a silver medal in the Asian Championship and a bronze medal in the US Open.
Eva Marie Ditan
Eva Marie Ditan won a silver medal in the flyweight division of the 1998 World Cup Taekwondo held in Sindelfingen, Germany.
Other Taekwondo Jins
Among other taekwondo jins who have participated in various international competitions include Margarita Bonifacio, Francis Cabarce, Daleen Cordero, Rodolfo Demafelix Jr, Eva Marie Ditan, Veronica Domingo, Aileen Embay, Edrick Galing, Donald Geisler, Jefferthom Go, John Paul Lizardo, Alessandro Lubiano, Dax Alberto Morfe, Osmundo Quitain, Jr., Magnolia Ragas, Manuel Rivero, Jr., Manuel Rosario II, Dindo Simpao, Sally Solis, Jasmin Strachan, Joaquin Vasquez and Ma. Nelia Sy-Ycasas.
Mark Robert Rosales, a cudgel champion, won a gold medal in the 4th World Wushu Championships held in Rome, Italy in November 1997. Rosales was an expert at cudgel play, a routine exercise that falls under the category of Taulu. The other category in wushu is Sanshou, or the combat exercise. The Philippine wushu team also won a silver medal, courtesy of Rolly Chulhang and three bronze medals during the same tournament, which was participated in by contestants from 76 countries.
Other Wushu Artists
Among other Filipino wushu artists who have competed in international tournaments include Jerome Calica, Bobby Co, Rolly Chulhang, Edouard Folayang, Daniel Go, Jerome Lumabas, Rexel Nganhayna, Marques Sanguiao; Marvin Sicomen, Arvin Ting, and Willy Wang.
Other Martial Arts Champions
Among other Filipino martial arts champions include Leo Gaje, Richard Anthony Lim, Gretchen Malalad, Maty Munieza, Mary Therese Nable, Jose Ma. Pabillore, and Gaudioso Ruby in karate; John Baylon, Neonie Esguerra, Aristotle Lucero, and Abraham Pulia in judo; and Jesse Diestro in sikaran.
Weightlifting has produced a Filipino world champion and a bronze medal in the Paralympic Games. It is said that Anthony Clark, a super heavy weight lifter once dubbed as the world's strongest man, was born in Angeles City in Pampanga province.
Salvador del Rosario
Salvador del Rosario, a nephew of Olympian Rodrigo del Rosario, was declared the world's strongest man in the flyweight division when he plucked a gold medal in the World Weightlifting Championships held in Columbus, Ohio, USA in 1970. Del Rosario actually won the title by technicality because three of his top rivals were disqualified for using illegal drugs.
Angeline Dumapong gave the country its first medal in the Paralympic Games when she lifted 110 kilograms to win the bronze in the women's 82.5-kilogram division in Sydney, Australia in December 2000. Paralympics is a major sports competition participated in by differently-abled athletes from around the world and held just after the Olympics. Before this, Dumapong won gold medals at the Malaysia Paralympiad and the Asian Millennium Bench Press tournaments. She is from Ifugao province.
Rodrigo del Rosario
Rodrigo del Rosario nearly won a bronze medal when he placed fourth in weightlifting's featherweight division at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics.
Antonio Taguibao, a member of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) with the rank of lieutenant colonel, is a three-time World Masters champion in powerlifting at the 52-kilogram class. Taguibao won the title in 2000, 2001 and 2002. In the World Masters Powerlifting Championship held in Villa Maria, Argentina in October 2002, Taguibao actually won three gold medals and a silver medal by lifting a total of 963 pounds.
Other Weightlifting Champions
Among other Filipino weightlifters who have gained international exposure include Aurelio Amante, Rodolfo Caparas, Pedro Landero, Erlina Pecante, and Eddie Torres.
Softball and baseball were probably the most popular spectators' events in the Philippines before the war. There are historical claims that baseball was first played in Cavite province by American marines after they defeated the Spanish troops in 1898. Frenzy over these two games reached its peak in 1934, when Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and the rest of the American all-star team played at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila. If not only for the country's hot and wet weather, these two games would have been as popular today.
RP Blue Girls
The legendary RP-Blue Girls, led by pitcher Julita Tayo of San Miguel, Bulacan placed third in the World Softball Championship held in Tokyo, Japan in 1967. Other softball stars in the 1960s include Lourdes Balindao, Brigida Bellesta and Purita Jacinto.
San Miguel Softball Team
The Philippine team, composed of 14 girls aged between 14 and 16 years old from San Miguel, Bulacan could have won the Little League World Softball Championship held in Kalamazoo, Michigan in August 2000 if not for a controversial ruling. The other team in the final, the Santa Cruz Valley team from Arizona, had five boys in its lineup. Softball is traditionally an all-girls event.
The San Miguel team decided to forfeit its game in the final series in protest of rules employed in the traditionally all-girls world series. The girls may have not won the crown but drew the admiration and support of the American audience just the same. It even defeated the Santa Cruz team once, 3-2, prior to the championship.
Little League Champion
The all-boys team from Zamboanga City won the Little League World Baseball Championship in 1992, but was stripped of their title after American organizers of the event found out that some of the boys in the Zamboanga team were over the age limit.
Other Champion Teams
Philippine softball teams were perennial winners at the Far Eastern Games, thereby advancing to the World Series held in the United States. Among these teams were the Maynila Golden Girls and the Guagua Little League Girls' Softball team.
Racing has also produced world-class Filipino athletes, among them are Angelo Barreto, Jovy Marcelo, Jojo Silverio and Enzo Pastor. In motorsports, there are also Glenn Aguilar, Dodie Ayuyao and Kenneth San Andres.
Angelo Barreto is perhaps the most successful Filipino racer so far. He won several times at the European Endurance Touring Car Circuit in 2000 and at the Group N Touring Cars Championships also in Europe. In September 2002, Barreto was a part of a three-man team that won the championship in Le Mans Classic in France. The tournament was participated in by 600 racers with cars manufactured from 1925 to 1975. Barreto co-drove a 1966 Porsche 906 Carrera 6 with Thierry Perrier. Barreto's other teammate was Jean-Paul Richard.
The list includes more athletes who have participated and won in various international competitions. One limitation of this list is that it may have focused more on the present batch of athletes, but this is not intentional. Availability of information is also a problem encountered by legitimate sports institutions like the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) or the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC).
Mikee Cojuangco, a former actress and mother of two, clinched a gold medal in the equestrian individual show jumping event at the 14th Asian Games held in Busan, South Korea in October 2002. Mikee was 28 then. Before this, Mikee won a silver medal in the team show jumping category alongside teammates Danielle Schulze Cojuangco, Toni Leviste, and Maria Michelle Berrera. Mikee is a daughter of former Tarlac Governor Margarita Cojuangco and former Congressman Jose Cojuangco, a younger brother of former President Corazon Aquino. Her husband is Dodot Jaworski, the son of basketball legend and Senator Robert Jaworski.
Other equestrians who have gained international recognition include Fidelino Barba and Jose Montila.
Pia Adelle Reyes
Pia Adelle Reyes, a young gymnast, won three gold medals at the Jakarta Southeast Asian Games in 1997. The Philippine Sportswriters Assocation (PSA) later declared Reyes and world boxing champion Gerry Penalosa as 1997 Athletes of the Year. Gymnastics has also produced fine champions like Rolando Albuera and Bea Lucero.
Dragon Boat Champion
The Philippine team won the gold medal in Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Race 2001. The Philippine Canoe Kayak Federation-Dragon Pilipinas finished ahead of the pack composed of participants from Hong Kong, Canada, Germany, Japan, China and Malaysia.
Well-known Filipino rowers who had international exposure include Alvin Amposta, Nestor Cordova, Jose Rodriguez, and Benjie Tolentino.
The SM-Philippine ice-skating team won 12 gold medals to finish third overall in the 1999 World Recreational Team Championships held in California, USA. The team also won 44 gold medals to place 4th at the 2001 ISI World Recreational Team Championships held in Columbus, Ohio. The international competition draws participants from the United States, Japan, Mexico, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and the Philippines.
Other Filipino athletes who have gained international exposure include Ramon Aldean, Jennifer Chan, Purita Joy Marino, and Janina Bianco Ortiz in archery; Amparo Lim in badminton; Roman Cortuna Jr., Levy Macasiano and Alfredo Trazona Jr. in bodybuilding; Deogracias Asuncion, Warren Davadilla, Victor Espiritu, Diomedes Pantaleon, Edgardo Pagarigan and Placido Valdez in cycling; Deborah Civardi and Alberto Dimarucot in dancesports; Bumbi Velasco in dart; Zardo Domenios and Sheila Mae Perez in diving; Wally Mendoza in fencing; Ildefonso Tronqued Sr. in football; John Dee, Paul and Wacky del Rosario, and Carlo Garcia in jet ski; Memo Gracia and Bautista Heguy in polo; Policarpio Ortega in windsurfing; and Nicolas Arcales, Basilio Fabia and Mansueto Napilay in wrestling.