Baguio Cinderellas founder passes on

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Sunday, August 10, 2014


THE Baguio Cinderellas, the gutsy, multi-titled football girls who placed and maintained Baguio in the sports map for over two decades, have just been orphaned.

The girls, some of whom are now mothers, are in mourning over the passing on of Manny Javellana, their founder and coach who, in the late '70s began training them to become one of the most successful teams in the country.

"Patay na raw po si sir Javellana, naka-post daw po sa Baguio Ladies (Football Team) Facebook, text po sa akin ni Judith," pioneer fullback Vangie Umoc-Gigan told Sun.Star Baguio at dawn last Thursday, referring to second-generation striker Judith Doctolero.

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Javellana, who lived in Baguio for years while his children were studying at the Baguio campus of the University of the Philippines, knocked on several schools here to convince their students, including siblings, to train in the world's most popular game, except in this small nation of midgets which had fallen heads-over-heels for basketball.

Among his recruits were sisters Vangie and Ana Umoc, Miriam and Luzviminda Pacubas, and Julie and Monique Jacinto, Grace Carrera, Beverly Oloan, Terry Teodoro, Daisy Naulgan, Tess Giron, Cheng Mendoza, Emma White, and Grace Sia.

Ana and Cheng said the news was posted by Javellana's daughter, Joan, on the Baguio Ladies Football Team Facebook.

"Joan, who is based in Bacolod, gave no details, only a request: 'Please pray for coach Emmanuel "Manoling" Javellana for a peaceful journey home'," Ana said.

The news of his journey home spread fast among his former wards who immediately e-mailed their thoughts to the family in Bacolod.

"He gave us everything, from shoes to playing socks, beddings and, most of all, his love for football that we will carry with us," Cheng, a forward, like Ana, said.

"He had planned to bankroll us, keep us intact instead of having some of us join the national team," Grace recalled in a call to Ana Friday morning. "He dreamt of bringing us to international tournaments as a solid Baguio team."

The campaign abroad did not prosper, as many in the original team left after schooling to find their own places in the sun. With no playing field as the Burnham Park was turned into a "tent city" for evacuees in the wake of the 1990 earthquake, Javellana left for home in Bacolod.

Those who remained in the team he developed, however, were ready. Pooling their school stipends, they entered the 1991 National Open played on weekends at the San Beda grounds and came home with their first national trophy by the end of summer.

"It was a memorable victory as we were quenching our thirst with tap water while our opponents were gulping Lipovitan at half-time," Monique, the diminutive striker, said.

For her and the rest of the pioneer squad, Javellana's contributions to the development of the sport cannot be over-emphasized. She was referring to the three national titles of the squad and numerous invitational and seven-a-side trophies the team had collected over the years.

"He loved us as a father-coach, and we owe him what we are today," Cheng, now a physical education teacher at the University of the Cordilleras, pointed out.

"We are in no position to visit him in the wake and where he will rest, but we'll remember him for what he did for us," Ana added. "He took us in as members of his family." (Ramon Dacawi)

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on August 11, 2014.

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