Former Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go paid tribute to the Filipino athletes, who, besides carrying the country’s colors in global sporting arenas , sacrificed their lives, too, in the field of combat.


Speaking on the eve of the country’s celebration of the Araw ng Kagitingan on Monday, the senatorial candidate Go offered good, inspiring words on the 52 fallen athletes-soldiers , who, on separate occasions, perished during the war even as he called on the present-day athletes to emulate their heroic deeds.




“Tomorrow, (Tuesday, April 9) the entire nation will be commemorating one of the most important days in our history and that is the commemoration of Bataan Day when many of our countrymen fought for freedom and democracy, and, died in the process,” Go told this writer in an interview on Monday during a quarterfinal round doubleheader of the PBA Philippine Cup at the smart Araneta Coliseum. “And among those who laid their lives were mga kababayan nating na sa kabila ng pagiging atleta ay pinili ring maging sundalo at makipaglaban sa mga mananakop para ipangtanggol ang ating bayan,” Go said.


“And I’m happy and honored to note that said heroics had been duplicated by our countrymen, not only in the field of sports, but in the battlefield as well, “ he said in reference to Filipino athletes, who not only distinguished themselves in athletic campaigns in the different sports capital of the world, but in the battle against those who tried to violate their right to live in a free society.

Go was referring to the 52 sports-military heroes, nine of whom are Olympians, including swimming double silver-medalist Teofilo Yldefonso, and another third place finisher in track and field, Miguel White.


Also in the list of Olympic veterans were Jacinto “Jumping Jack” Ciria Cruz and Amador Obordo in basketball, Lt. Nemesio de Guzman, also in track and field, Lt. Otoniel Gonzaga in shooting, Lt. Simplicio de Castro in boxing and Lt. Enrique Jurado and Abduraman Ali, both in swimming.

Yldefonso, Philippine Scout from Piddig, Ilocos Norte, who is to be remembered as the only Filipino to bring home a pair of Olympic bronze medals both in the 200-meter breaststroke, a feat he did in 1928 in Amsterdam and 1932 in Los Angeles, died in the infamous “Death March” from Mariveles in Bataan to the Capas Concentration Camp in Tarlac.

White, from Legaspi City in Bicol, was also a bronze medalist in the 400-meter hurdles during the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, the same year Ciria Cruz, along with another basketball Olympian Amador Obordo, helped the Philippine team to a fifth place finish, which up to now remains the highest by any Asian nation in the quadrennial conclave popularly known, too as “The Greatest Sports Show on Earth.”

Ciria Cruz was executed by the conquering Japanese forces while performing underground works in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya.

Go assured that when elected as member of the Upper Chamber, he will file a bill designating special day in a year in commemoration of the Filipino athlete-soldiers heroics.

“Dapat ay magkaroon na tayo ng isang araw man lamang sa isang taon para gunitain ng ating mga kabayanihan ng ating mga atletang sundalo at matularan ng ating mg kabataan,” Go said.

Of the 52 athlete, who also served as soldiers, 19, carried the country’s colors in many international competitions in track and field, 10 in swimming, nine in baseball, five in basketball, three in boxing, two in football, two tennis, one each in wrestling and shooting.

Yldefono was among the recipients of the “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Sports Communicators Organization of the Philippines (SCOOP) during the 80th Anniversary of the Philippine participation in the Olympic Games.

Majority of the honorees were either members of Philippine Scouts, the USAFFE or underground guerilla units. Three had just been honored as “Most Outstanding Filipino Athletes of Half-A-Century” – Yldefonso himself, Ciria Cruz and Virgilio Lobregat in football.

Besides White and De Guzman, other Filipino runners, throwers and jumpers who were victims of war were Miguel Sugeco, Sgt. Doming Espanol, Lt. Jose Antonio, Mayor Emilio Bucoy, Wenceslao Bansale, Eliseo Razo, Civico Granado, Maximino Pasaporte, Albino Bangayan, Delfin Danguilan, Lt. Constantino Alambra, Moises Lucas, Felizardo Casia, Francisco Danao, Bartolome Barabad, Alejo Alvarez and Simon Santos.

Swimmers Rosendo Aguinaldo, Policarpio Tolentino, Donato Cabading, Miguel Bartolaso, Ulka Mangona, Jakara Angkang, Bernardino Tugbo and Mauricio Guidote, perished too, as soldiers-athletes like Yldofonso and Ali.

Baseball players, who represented the country in many international meets, including the Far Eastern Olympic Games, were Sgt. Aquilino Jacob, Cpl. Pabalo Chu, Sgt. Gervacio Estorba, Atilano Rivera, Casimiro Francisco, Ramon Oncinian, Toribio Oncinian, Regino Bertulfo and Cipriano Platon.

Other non-Olympic athletes who died wearing military uniforms were Carlos Canillas, Albert Murrow and Robert Keesy in basketball; Francisco Zarcal and Martin Roxas in boxing, Jose Miranda in football and Concepcion Santos-Cepeda and Juan Ladaw Jr. in tennis.

A commemorative plaque, measuring 33 x 24 inches and cast in bronze containing their names was attached and unveiled on July 17, 1951, in the wall at the Basketball Coliseum facade inside the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex, by then Philippine Amateur Athletic Federation president Jorge Vargas.

Two years ago, the Philippine Sports Commission transferred the commemorative plaque outside of the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex tennis courts.




Date: April 12, 2019 | By: Eddie Alinea | Newspaper: The Manila Times | Source: