Pinoy Pride: 5 Sports Where Filipinos Stand Out

By: Oriana Cuenca

It’s an old joke that there are a few select days a year when there’s no crime in the Philippines. The streets go silent; traffic gets better. The nation is at peace. These are not religious holidays or historic days of silence. The most sacred days in the Philippines are the days of Manny Pacquiao’s boxing matches.  Boxing put the Philippines on the map in the eyes of most foreigners. Travel anywhere in the world and say you’re Filipino. The jolly store owner will say “Oh! Manny Pacquiao!”

Boxing has put the Philippines on the map, and the fervor for the sport has mellowed out in recent years. What hasn’t changed is the surge of Pinoy Pride whenever a Filipino claims an international win. Boxing isn’t the only sports Filipinos can take pride in. Here are five sports that prove  Filipino talent is truly world-class.

5. Table Tennis


Table Tennis, also known as Ping Pong, is not the most popular sport in the Philippines. Interest in the game has mostly been concentrated among Filipino-Chinese communities; however, the sport was thrust into the spotlight when Ian “Yan Yan” Larbia became the first Filipino to qualify for Olympic Table Tennis. During her career, she and her partner Jamaica Sy won 1st place in the 2014 World Table Tennis Championships. Lariba also qualified for the 2013 and 2015 South East Asian Games and the 2016 summer Olympics.

Ian Lariba was also the first woman from the Philippines to qualify for summer Olympics.

Regrettably, Lariba passed away last 2018 due to Leukemia, but her legacy, and the Filipino excellence in table tennis, continues. Jann Mari Nayre, another Filipino Table Tennis player, qualified for the 2018 Youth Olympics. The Philippine Men’s and Women’s Table Tennis team is also set to compete in the 2020 World Table Tennis Championship.

Table Tennis is definitely rising in the Philippines, and the country can look forward to our player’s stellar performance.

4. Women’s Boxing


Filipinos have always taken pride in boxing, and women have contributed just as much to the country’s proud history. Recently, Nesthy Petecio bagged gold in the 2019 AIBA Women’s Boxing World Championships after being a consistent three-time Silver medalist in the South East Asian Games.

Years prior, Josei Gabuco won the country’s first gold in AIBA Women’s Boxing World Championship for Women’s Light flyweight. Alice Kate Appari and Annie Albania had also won bronze and silver respectively in different years for the same competitions. Albania had also won silver for women’s boxing during the 2010 Asian Games. Boxing is truly one of the most popular sports in the Philippines, and Filipinas will not be left behind.

3. Tennis


One of the best pound for pound tennis players in the world came from the Phillpines — Felicisimo Ampon. The brother of regional tennis champion Desideria Ampon, Felicisimo Ampon became the first and the only Filipino to ever win the Davis Cup tournament, one of the most prestigious tournaments. His long career also made him one of the oldest players in the sport.

More recently, Denise Dy, Treat Conrad Huey, Cecil Mamiit, and Riza Zalameda have won the country mixed medals at the South East Asian Games for Doubles, Mixed Double, Team, and Single events. Continuing Ampon’s legacy, Huey and Mamiit also represented the Philippines in the Davis cup where Mamiit remained undefeated until 2008.

The future for tennis in the Philippines is bright with the young tennis star Alex Eala. At 14 years old, Eala has become the only Filipino to enter the grand slam tournament since 1991, and is currently preparing for more international competitions.

2. Taekwondo


Taekwondo is a Korean Martial Art, but Filipinos are slowly making a name for themselves in international meets. Jordan Dominguez recently won bronze at the World first Taekwondo Poomsae Grand Prix, the Philippines’ first medal in the World Grand Prix.

The Philippine Team also recently bagged three gold at the Chuncheon Korean Open for the Women’s Poomsae event. In 2017, Dustin Mella and Raphael Mella won their 3rd straight gold Poomsae gold in the SEA games while Rodolfo Reyes Jr won his 2nd gold in the same event.

Poomsae is a pattern of attack and defense motions that are judged based on form.

Pauline Lopez, the Philippine bet for the SEA Games, has also had a long career with gold medals from the ASIAN Taekwondo Championship and the 2015 SEA Games. Lopez is also an advocate for women’s empowerment and believes in inspiring young girls to become athletes.

1. Billiards


There are three Bs that the Philippines is known to excel in: Boxing, Beauty Pageants, and Billiards. Billiards, like boxing, became popular in the country as a hustle for those who didn’t take more traditional career paths like going to college. Elfren Reyes, the father of Philippine billiards himself,  used to play against US servicemen to win dollars. He would later become a household name in billiards, and the countless tournaments he’s won even landed him a place as the only non-American in the prestigious Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame.

After Reyes, the golden age of Billiards in the Philippines would later add two more names in the hall of fame, Francisco Bustamante and Jose Parica, the latter winning over a hundred tournaments worldwide. Countless athletes would follow after the footsteps of these billiard giants. Dennis Orcullo and Renato Alcano have won nine gold medals at the SEA Games collectively, not to mention their several other world titles.

The billiards world of the Philippines is currently looking to Rubilen Amit, who has recently risen to become the top three in the recent World Pool Association ranking. Coached by Reyes, Amit has brought home over six gold medals in the South East Asian Games and she’s one of the country’s top gold medal bets in the 2019 SEA Games.

Recently the Philippines has been slowing down in the sports arena, but the whole country has its eyes on one event: the 2019 SEA Games. As the host country, the Philippines is hoping for a repeat of its 2005 performance which brought 113 gold medals with 291 total. With several gold medal bets and an internationally renowned line-up, Filipino pride will hopefully reign once again as out athletes prove that Philippine talent is world-class.