10 Most Famous Filipino Athletes

Choosing the 10 most famous Filipino athletes is a difficult task. Filipino athletes and celebrities that were once idolized may soon be forgotten and cast aside in place of  new personalities .The most famous Filipino athletes may not necessarily be the greatest. Filipinos love underdogs, so the most famous may be the second or third best. A few acclaimed Filipino athletes have never made their mark on the international stage, instead they play for the local crowd and their adoring fans. Having said that, here are the 10 most famous Filipino athletes in no particular order:

  1. Lydia De Vega. Once the fastest woman in Asia, de Vega virtually demolished the competition in the 100-meter dash in the 1982 Asian Games. She did even better in the 1986 Asian Games in Seoul where she won the gold in the 100-meter event and a silver in the 200-meter race. 
  2. Ramon Fernandez. Fernandez is considered by many as the best Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) player of all time. A four time Most Valuable Player awardee, Fernandez also won a record 19 PBA championships during his stellar career. He also holds the current records for the total number of rebounds and blocked shots in the league.
  3. Robert Jaworski. Jaworski is arguably the Philippines' most popular basketball player of all time. The Most Valuable Player in 1978, Jaworski is also credited with being the oldest player ever to play the game. He was so popular and charismatic that in 1998, he ran in the local elections as a senatorial candidate which he won.  
  4. James Yap. The current PBA Most Valuable Player, Yap rose to popularity not just as an athlete, but also as a celebrity who married a prominent local actress. Her mother was a former Philippine president and her brother recently won the local presidential elections.
  5. Ronnie Alcano. Billiards is one of the most popular sports in the Philippines. In 2006 Alcano established himself as an elite player by becoming only the third Filipino ever to win the World 9 Ball Championships. The following year, he won the World 8 Ball Championships and became the only man to hold the 9 ball and 8 ball championships at the same time.
  6. Francisco Bustamante. Billiards aficionados have always believed that Bustamante is one of the greatest athletes ever to hold a cue stick. The Filipino legend is the current world 9 ball champion. Along with Efren Reyes, Bustamante has influenced a whole generation of pool players with his steady and creative approach to the game.
  7. Efren Reyes. Nicknamed "The Magician", fellow billards players have openly admitted to actually paying their way just to watch Reyes play. At times, he comes up with shots that no one else manages to see and makes them with uncanny consistency. Reyes has won 82 international tournaments and 13 world titles.
  8. Rafael Nepomuceno. Nepomuceno is widely regarded as the greatest bowler in the history of the sport. As well as being a six-time World Bowling Champion, he is the only athlete ever to win a championship in three consecutive decades. He was the first international male bowler ever to be inducted to the prestigious International Bowling Hall of Fame and Museum.
  9. Mansueto Velasco. The Philippines has never had any significant Olympic success. Although there were gold medal harvests in tae kwon do, wushu and bowling, these were designated as exhibition events at the time so the medals earned did not count in the overall tally. Velasco earned a silver for boxing during the 1996 Olympics where he lost a controversial bout in the finals. Since then, Velasco has been a regular fixture in Philippine television and movies as a local comedian.
  10. Manny Pacquiao. The world famous pugilist is also a recording artist, an actor, a businessman and a congressman in his native country. Winning seven world championships in seven weight divisions while beating the likes of Eric Morales, Miguel Cotto and Oscar de la Hoya propelled Pacquiao to greatness. Some say a match against the unbeaten Floyd Mayweather would cement his legacy while others say he has done more than enough to prove he is one of boxing's all time greats.
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