Sports heroes and luminaries who have made an impact in the Cordillera were honored during the inaugural BenguetCordillera Athletic Recognition for Excellence in Sports (CARES) 2022 awards on April 22.
Team Lakay’s Joshua Felix Pacio led the 12 major awardees during the province-led awards program for defending his title three times as the ONE strawweight world champion.
Recognized as Young Sports Achie-vers of the Year are 2019 Southeast Asian Muay Thai silver medalist Islay Erika Bomogao and arnis gold medalist Crisamuel Delfin.
Southeast Asian Games marathon queen Christabel Abenoja Martes is the inaugural Lifetime Achievement awardee for her achievements as a former national team for athletics and now an international coach.
Also awarded as Sportsman of the Year is Frael Aquino, who is instrumental for the growth of football in Benguet as a long-time educator at Benguet State University.
Executive of the Year is Manuel Bitog of the Philippine Sports Commission for his assistance to the region’s sports development programs through the years.
Coach of the Year is Marquez Sangiao of Asia’s home of champions, Team Lakay, for inspiring a whole new generation of combat sports athletes.
The night was capped with the re-cognition of the legendary boxer, Rey Tam, in the Hall of Fame for paving the way for the rise of combative sports in Benguet and the Cordillera during his heydays.
Tam has a sterling record of 36 wins with 14 by way of knockout and nine losses and one draw during his colorful career from 1974 to 1982.
Four sportsmen were posthumously awarded: coach Felix Agayas for kickboxing, international referee and judge Cildo Evasco for boxing, former University of Baguio sports director Allan Elegado, and BSU educator Dominador Garin for baseball.
Citations were also given to Ceasar Lukines for bodybuilding; Mico Dumalos, Mark Gonzalo Benter, and Betty Mae Agad for dancesports; Elcanor Mang-usan Jr., Khyla Kreanzzel Guinto, Trisha Lobbonan, and the Bravehearts Martial Arts Institute for their excellence in taekwondo; Gibran and Godwyn Langbayan for Brazilian jiu jitsu; and Jerry Olsim, Gina Iniong-Araos, Karol Maguide, and Jean Claude Saclag for kickboxing.
Other awardees are Audie Menzi for football; Erlinda Lavandia for athletics; Jennilyn Olsim, Ariel Lee Lampacan, and Rusha Mae Bayacsan for Muay Thai; Jedd Andre Kim and Marian Mariano for sambo; the Ramos family composed of Jethro, Lou Ann, Josh, Dash, and Arrow for triathlon; Jason Baucas for wrestling; Daniel Parantac, Jones Inso, and Thornton Sayan for wushu; and long-time wushu supporter and consultant Tony Candelaria.
Gov. Melchor Dic-las lauded the athletes, who are mostly residing in the province, for carrying not only the Cordillera but also the country in the international stage, which is the main criteria for the award.
Diclas acknow-ledged the support of the local government unit is not enough to sustain the athletes, coaches, and sportsmen and women, but said the LGU would do its best to implement various sports development programs. – Ofelia C. Empian