PINAY POWER: 5 Filipina athletes who made history

Barry Viloria on Mar 09, 2016 12:56 AM
PINAY POWER: 5 Filipina athletes who made history
For International Women's Day, we honor some of the best lady athletes who have made it in our books. (Photo by Ken Natividad)

Good thing that by now, amidst a seemingly patriarchal setup like the Philippine society or at least to some who still do call for help over it, women athletes are not a rare sight. Evidently, it’s women’s volleyball that has given the strongest boost in terms of handing these then-overshadowed lady athletes their share of the limelight. And, for all acceptable reasons, the country’s loving it.

Is it because of their talent? A resounding yes.

Is it also because of their looks? For some, maybe—purely because their social media following or the hordes of autograph-hungry fans waiting for them every game from outside the dugout wouldn’t lie.

Another maybe is that it’s a coincidence that some of our best players readily boast of the typical “good looks” and “nice body.” Is it a bad thing? If you tend to over-sensationalize it, yes, but aren’t all these part of what defines them not just as athletes, but also as modern young women? Why would we limit ourselves to just looking at their talent when they have and are clearly more than that—strong and sexy physique that tells a big story about their training and hard work, “charming” demeanor that shows their personality off the court, stylish getups and other vanities that capture their success, peculiarities, and whole character as individuals? Aren’t these what make them such beautiful sports stars to look up to? Humans to relate to?

That’s making history right there: Seeing the birth of new, confident women who just play, and don’t give a damn at all.

With or without the overused “hotness” tag that has lured counter-progressive feminist clichés reminiscent of the 60s, fans have obviously grown smart enough to recognize who has talent and who doesn’t. On the 105th anniversary of International Women’s Day, here are some of these iconic Pinay athletes who are just too damn good in what they do to even care. Salute!


Elma Muros

What she’s achieved: 15 golds in 6 different events spanning a 20-year-long SEA Games career; a bronze in each Asian Games tournament she’s joined ever, making her the last Filipino to have bagged a medal in athletics from the gigantic multi-sports event; stint in the Olympics and other international competitions; two PSA Sportsman of the Year accolades

Why we loved her: The long jump queen started at a humble note, being raised by farmer parents back in her native Romblon. She then chose to separate ways for school just to help out in the family. Her career beginnings saw her as a pride of FEU the UAAP—ruling 100m, 200m, 400m, the long jump, heptathlon, and two relay events in athletics.

Why we still love her: Now married to Coach George Posadas, Muros remains grateful of her student-athlete roots and has since aimed to pass on her knowledge also through coaching. She has trained the likes of Rosito Andaya, Lerma Balauitan, Rosy Villarito, Analiza Cruz, and Asian Championships 2009 winner and Beijing Olympics veteran Marestella Torres!

Lydia de Vega

What she’s achieved: Various golds at the SEA Games and Asian Track & Field Championships; being the first woman to win back–to-back golds in the century dash at the Asian Games; stint in the Olympics; eight PSA awards including three Athlete of the Year and one Athlete of the Century honors.

Why we loved her: Only a few years ahead of fellow FEU gem Elma Muros-Posadas, the former Asia’s Sprint Queen and fastest woman from the 80s to the 90s obviously lived a colorful career. That is, even if she eventually hit a major pitfall in her life: the death of his then-four year-old son in 2001. De Vega also held a councilor post in her native Meycauyan, Bulacan, served as national sprints coach, and then took on the job of Consultant for Athletes Affairs at the PSC for seven years.

Why we still love her: Her daughter Stephanie Mercado reports that her mom has been a Singapore resident for 10 years, still visiting her family here once in a while. She has since taken on a higher calling—as the athletics coach at the Singapore Disability Sports Council.


Arianne Cerdeña

What she’s achieved: A gold in the 1988 Olympics women’s division bowling, making her the only Filipina to have nabbed the award; several medals at world bowling events including the World Championships, World Games, and Asian Games.

Why we loved her: Her being the first to snatch an Olympic medal obviously did her well, even if it was an unrecognized demo sport and that it was against bowling-inclined Korea.

Why we still love her: From Los Angeles, Cerdeña recently came back to the country for “Pagpupugay: A Tribute to 100 years of Philippine Sports,” an exhibit that honored sports luminaries a century after its advent here.


Jennifer Rosales

What she’s achieved: Five championship titles at the Philippine Ladies Amateur Open; 2 career titles in the Ladies Professional Golf Association/LPGA(2004 Chick-fil-A Charity Championship, 2005 SBS Open at Turtle Bay); a second place finish at the Women's World Cup of Golf, an unofficial LPGA event, with Dorothy Delasin

Why we loved her: Luck worked on this Manila-hailing Filipina, when she tested a dash of it herself in the States. At 19, she attended the University of Southern California (USC) and went on to win the 1998 NCAA Championship that time. Her traditional and religious roots ran apparent in that pivotal tournament—she was reportedly rubbing on a Virgin Mary statuette in her pocket and was calling her folks back home out of nervousness. She’s the only full Filipina in the LGPA.

Why we still love her: At 37, she still plays professionally. In 2014, she was inducted into USC Athletic Hall of Fame. She currently holds the No. 57 rank in the International Golf Federation Olympic rankings (women’s division), so we’ve got hopes of her taking on the big tournament this year.

Alyssa Valdez

What she’s achieved: Back-to-back champ, UAAP Seniors, Seasons 76-77, and three-time champ, UAAP Juniors, Seasons 70-72; various special awards including the Athlete of the Year and MVP honors in the UAAP; a bronze in the 2014 ASEAN University Games; various medals in Shakey’s V-League; PSA Miss Volleyball 2015

Why we loved her: Still a resident student playing her last year in the collegiate ranks, Valdez has grown to be a favorite. She boasts of champion game play with a signature whacking spike and magnetic, irresistible personality, both of which shaped her to be a go-to, on-court heroine. No surprise when she was chosen to carry the Philippine flag at the SEA Games opening ceremony last year!

Why we still love her: Given her numerous accolades, endorsements, magazine covers, and her brief stint in acting via And I Love You So, you might have thought that Batangas-hailing Valdez has become overrated. But many have still stuck with her because she’s a no-nonsense athlete who's just crazy talented. Not your quintessential bombshell-type, whatsoever, but we look at her as The Bomb anyway. Do her skills make her—pardon the term, pseudo-feminists—“hot?” Of course. It’s a part of what makes her her, and she doesn’t have to feel sorry for it.


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