Philippine icons who owned their sports

In the Philippines, there are certain sports that once you ask who is the icon for that particular discipline, there is only one unanimous answer.

In this feature, we exclude boxing and basketball, we give you five Filipino athletes who can be considered ultimate masters of their crafts and owned their events during the highest point of their careers.

Here they are, in no particular order:

Chess: Eugenio “Eugene” Torre


The 66-year old Filipino grandmaster is arguably the best chess player this country has ever produced.

The highlight of his career was when he beat then world champion Anatoly Karpov in 1976.

With several golds won in the Asian Chess Championship, podium finishes in the chess olympiad and getting silver in the 2010 Asian games, no other Filipino comes close to his achievements in chess.

When it comes to chess in the Philippines, it’s Eugene Torre because Eugene Torre is chess!

Get it?

Track and field: Lydia de Vega

Considered as Asia’s fastest woman in the 1980’s, her gold medal in the 1982 and 1986 Asian games for the 100-meter dash has never been replicated by a Filipino athlete.

She also ruled her events in the SEA games during the 1980s.

Right now, she is currently based in Singapore where she is still very much involved in the sport through coaching.

When it comes to sprinting, no other Filipino athlete comes to mind than Lydia de Vega.

Weightlifting: Hidilyn Diaz

An Asian Championships gold medalist and a silver medal winning Olympian, Hidilyn Diaz became a sensation an an inspiration to many Filipinos.

With weightlifting still generally regarded as a niche sport in the Philippines, Hidilyn really has this sport all to her own for now.

Hopefully, her success will encourage more aspiring athletes to take weightlifting.

Bowling: Rafael “Paeng” Nepomuceno

A four-time World Cup of Bowling champ (1976, 1980, 1992 and 1996), Paeng really made a mark in the international bowling circuit.

He’s also a Guinness World Record holder in the sport one of which is the youngest world cup champion at the age of 19.

Paeng is also an Asian and SEA games gold medalist.

No other Filipino bowler has ever matched his achievements in the sport and it would take a while before we see a legitimate successor to his throne.

Paeng Nepomuceno is, hands downm the “ace of bowling”.

Billiards: Efren “Bata” Reyes

He ain’t called “The Magician” for nothing.

The Filipino legendary billiard player is a master of his craft.

Able to see the steps ahead of the current spread of the table, he is able to make impossible shots and see how the ball will move around to get the exact needed shot.

Mastery and precision: Efren “Bata” has those which made him a legend of the sport not just in the Philippines but the rest of the world.

There are many talented cue artists in the Philippines, but Efren is definitely a notch above.

So these are the Philippines’ “Fab Five” of other sports.

Question now is, who is going to be the next sporting hero, when and from which sport will he or she break through?