8 Fil-Am athletes we’re thankful for
Barry Viloria on Nov 27, 2015 08:18 PM
Happy Thanksgiving to all Filipino-American sports heroes! (Photo courtesy of Mark Muñoz's Twitter)
Not a lot of Filipinos celebrate Thanksgiving, really, with it being associated with colonialism and/or Ferdinand Marcos’ era as dictator. But the Western tradition has since stuck with many of those who were born in the States. We honor here some Filipino-American sports greats, their contributions we are definitely thankful for!
His American roots: Alapag’s parents hail from Leyte, but he was born and raised in San Bernardino, California. He already showed potential as a three-pointer when he was younger, later drawing an invitation to play for the Philippine national team set to compete ate the 2002 Asian Games in South Korea. That was the onset of his PBA career.
We thank him for: Proving that height doesn’t matter in the sport of 6-footer’s! The six-time PBA champ and FIBA Asia star player and coach might have confused us about his return to the court for a while, but he still earns our salute!
His American roots: Lincecum’s mom is Filipino, who is the great-granddaughter of Filipino immigrants.
We thank him for: His being a “Freak!” Not only is he a three-time World Series champion and multiple Cy Young awardee—having thrown multiple no-hitters for the Giants, he’s the pride of many Filipinos in San Francisco, California. We’re hoping he soon recovers from his hip injury he obtained in June, though!
His American roots: The LA Lakers’ mom is a Pampangueña while his dad’s African-American.
We thank him for: His widely-announced support for the Gilas! In fact, he’s raring to play for them since he was in talks with Chot Reyes to join the national team years ago. He may have missed the 2015 FIBA Asia championship (where we lost to China in the finals). He’s hoping the team remains oiled for the 2016 Rio Olympics, though, where he is set to suit up for!
His American roots: His dear departed dad is Bobby Parks, Sr., a former PBA player who lived to be a seven-time Best Import awardee. His mom is a Filipina. Born and raised here, Ray-Ray moved to the States where he gained A1 experience. He later gained more in sponsored basketball camps held there, before moving back to the Philippines in 2011 to power the reinvigorated NU Bulldogs!
We thank him for: Bannering Filipino talent at the NBA D-League! The two-time UAAP MVP has since returned to the States for his NBA dreams, practicing with the Texas Legends.
His American roots: His parents are both Filipinos and residents of Hawaii, a state in the US that boasts of a big number of Pinoys.
We thank him for: His never-say-die attitude that handed him unified titles (WBA/WBO flyweight; WBC/IBF light flyweight)! The two-division world champ may have failed to nab the WBC and the Ring Flyweight titles last October, but he still boasts an impressive boxing record of 36-5. (Photo courtesy of Top Rank Boxing Facebook page)
His American roots: Like fellow Filipino boxing pride, quick-punching Donaire grew up in Gen. Santos City in South Cotabato. But he moved to California approaching his teenage years.
We thank him for: His champion attitude! Currently at a 35-3 record gunning for the WBO Super Bantamweight title this December, he’s a world champion in four weight divisions
Her American roots: The Hurricane’s parents are both immigrants who flew to the California from decades back.
We thank her for: Fighting for girl power! With her dad and Bruce Lee as her life pegs, Julaton started her martial arts journey through taekwondo at 10. She has since shifted to boxing (under the esteemed Freddie Roach) then mixed martial arts only recently. As a boxer, she made history by holding both the WBO Super Bantamweight and IBA Super Bantamweight world titles.
His American roots: From Japan, the sporty Muñoz—born to Filipino parents—moved to Vallejo, California. He played for the wrestling varsity team at Vallejo High School, and what followed was a high school career adorned with wins including two state championships. He prospered just as well in college at Oklahoma State University, including NCAA championships as a wrestler then coach after graduation.
We thank him for: Being his charming Pinoy self! What we many saw in him in the UFC weren’t his “wrecking” qualities, but an approachable, charismatic hero who’s always smiling. He retired last May—ending a streak of three loses prior—with a unanimous decision win!