'Football Angel' Dr. del Fierro flies to heaven

THE death of Dr. Alfonso del Fierro last April 9, 2020 was a shock to the local sports community, particularly the football community in Cagayan de Oro City.

The 73-year-old owner of Corpus Christi School in Macasanding and Pueblo was considered as the biggest supporter of sports in the City of Golden Friendship. He turned Corpus Christi School not only into top-notched educational institution but also a powerhouse in all sports, thereby overshadowing other big schools in the city like Xavier University.

CCS has dominated local sports for a long time now and has even produced an Olympian, the late great table tennis player Ian Nietes Lariba.

The school has also been a powerhouse in local football since Dr. Del Fierro introduced the sport to the school in 2015 when he hired veteran coach Wilbert Racines.

The Corpus boys dominated the local Cagayan de Oro Athletic Association (COAA) high school contest from 2015-2019, winning four titles in five championship duels with perennial rival Rosevale School that managed just one in 2016. They also won the COAA elementary boys football crown in 2018, earning a place in the regional and eventually in the 2019 Palarong Pambansa in Davao.

Last year, the Corpus Knights earned the right to represent Region 10 in the Palaro after winning the regional meet last December 2019. Again, they defeated Rosevale School in the COAA meet to advance in the regional meet.

They could have represented Region 10 in the scheduled Palarong Pambansa this year that will be presumably cancelled, owing to the cruel Covid-19 pandemic.

The Dr. del Fierro formula of winning was very simple. Get a good coach who would later recruit the best athletes in Cagayan de Oro city and from other nearby provinces.

Then give the athletes scholarships and give them all out support. That formula is tested and not only used by CCS but also by other big schools in Manila and Cebu.

He did this not only in football but in other sports disciplines as well such as chess, table tennis, lawn tennis, volleyball, basketball, swimming, gymnastics and taekwondo -- both in high school and elementary levels.

No other private school in Cagayan de Oro is doing this.

No wonder CCS always wins. Just check the NMRAA roster which is supposed to compete in the Palaro this year and count how many of them are from Corpus Christi.

Aside from his love for sports, what really stood out for Dr. Del Fierro was his big heart. He has given free education to countless of poor athletes from all over the region.

However, a particular event out from sports touched my heart in 2016 when I was the general manager of SunStar Cagayan de Oro.

Our chief press operator during that time Miguel, has a daughter Mary Owen who was suffering from brain tumor. I organized a fundraising to collect money from our readers to help Mary Owen. We needed around P100,000 for the operation. A doctor from Digos, Davao Oriental, Dr. Daya, volunteered his services but more money were needed for transportation, medication and for her recovery.

We raised more than half of the money needed but we still needed around P30,000 to make it easier for Miguel’s family and for Mary Owen to complete her recovery. I told the family to pray hard. A week before she was scheduled for operation, I got a phone call from the secretary of Dr. del Fierro and was told to go to his office in Corpus Christi School, Barangay Macasandig.

It was the first time that I met Dr. del Fierro. We had a short talk and he then gave me P30,000 cash to complete the amount needed for the care and medications of Mary Owen. He even told me not to mention his name in the newspaper. From that time on, I realized how big his heart is. It was also during that time that I recognized him and I remembered meeting him every Sunday at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Xavier Estates. I then never failed to kiss his hand every time I met him in the Church to say hello.

I wondered why in the past months I have not seen him and his wife Cora in their usual place in the Church. His children Mark and Marla and his grandchildren were always present during Church services.

He was gravely ill with cancer and passed away on Maundy Thursday (April 9, 2020) and was buried last April 13, 2020. The Cagayan de Oro sports community lost an "Angel" with a golden heart. The Covid-19 outbreak effectively denied many athletes and people whom he helped to visit his wake. However, his legacy in Cagayan de Oro has been etched into the hearts of the people he touched like me and it is impossible to follow.



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