In Memoriam: Filipino Sports Figures we lost in 2017
Philip Matel on Dec 30, 2017 08:23 AM
We remember our beloved Filipino sports figures who passed away this year.
Man's stay is not permanent on this world. If there is something we can be sure in life, it is death.
We take a look back at our beloved sports figures who unfortunately left us early this 2017.
Florentino 'Kid' Santos, fondly known as 'The Godfather' of FEU volleyball, died in November from cardiac arrest, as a result of complications from his longtime battle with diabetes. He was 67.
The decorated coach led FEU volleyball for over 50 years in various capacities, including player, coach, and head of the school's famed volleyball program.
In these various roles, Santos transformed the program into a powerhouse, leading the FEU Lady Tamaraws to 19 of the team's 29 titles.
He also served for the country various times as national team head coach, with his last leading the 2005 South East Asian Games bronze medal women's volleyball team here in Manila.
Known as the original Asian sprint queen in the 1960's, Mona Sulaiman was the forerunner of track superstar Lydia de Vega. Sulaiman died last November of complications from diabetes. She was 75.
Before de Vega smashed records in the 1980's, Sulaiman was dominating the Asian track scene, winning three medals in the 1962 Asian Games in the 100m and 200m sprints and in the relay.
Sulaiman also donned the country's tricolors as a delegate to the 1960 Rome and 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics.
Her dazzling career came to a screehing halt in the 1966 Asian Games when she refused to undergo gender testing amidst allegations of being a male.
The Cotabato native's successful career was duly recognized by the Philippine Sports Hall of Fame, where she was inducted last January.
Filipino ONE Championship fighter Rocky Batolbatol unexpectedly perished last July due to a vehicular accident in his hometown of Cagayan de Oro.
The fighter, who amassed a 5-3 slate in his six year career, was walking along Gusa Highway when he and his cousin were 'accidentally bumped' by a taxi in front of a private hospital.
Unfortunately, the 32-year-old Batolbatol was instead taken to a public hospital five kilometers away, where he was declared dead on arrival.
Long-time sports writer and columnist Elizabeth Celis passed away last Oct. 12. She was 73.
Having covered the PBA since its inception in 1975, she lived and breathed basketball, writing for various publications, with her last being with the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Her daughter, Stephanie Celis-Herrera described her mother as a rare female voice in the male-dominated world of sports.
"In her stories, she could be witty but when needed she was fearless, never reluctant to point out the shortcomings of national sports programs and call the attention of responsible personalities or associations," Celis-Herrera said in a Facebook post.
Former YCO-Tanduay basketball star Elias Tolentino died last Nov. 19. He was 75.
The JRU skipper lost in the NCAA Finals in 1959 to the Letran squad of Freddie Webb before suiting up for the Crispa Redmanizers of the MICAA.
He later jumped ship to YCO and won the 1963 MICAA title with Webb, and played with the squad until 1975.
Tolentino was also a proud representative of the country, carrying the flag as a player in the 1964 and 1968 Summer Olympics, and the 1963 and 67 Asian Basketball Championships.
Tolentino later played the twilight years of his career in the PBA with Toyota and 7-Up, retiring in 1977.
He later became a barangay captain and councilor in Makati.
Former PBA player Cris Bolado died in Cambodia last September due to an accident. He was 48.
Bolado was driving a motorcycle that was struck by a pickup truck at around 9:35 am, Sunday morning at the Tbong Khmum province in Phnom Penh.
Fondly known as the "Lucky Charm", Bolado played for the National Univesity Bulldogs before getting drafted in the 1994 PBA draft, taken by Alaska in the second round.
He went on to win eleven championships, including six straight, before retiring in 2003.