DAVAO CITY — It was indeed a glorious farewell appearance for coach Domingo Subo, who is touted as a 'legendary' football coach from Barotac Nuevo, after capturing his 5th championship trophy in 11 appearances in Palarong Pambansa.
For the squad, it was also a night to remember after giving all their best knowing that it was the final opportunity for many of them to earn the most coveted gold medal in the Palarong Pambansa.
Of the 11 appearances he had, I believe that Coach Subo would agree that the battle for gold medal on Friday night (May 3, 2019) was perhaps one of the most memorable moments in his three decades of coaching.
Aside from five championships, the Western Visayas Regional Athletic Association (WVRAA) secondary football squad also earned two silvers, two bronzes and two quarterfinals under Coach Subo’s watch. A very illustrious stint as coach that may take another generation to surpass.
Like a well-oiled machine, the Ilonggo squad showed a different level of football against their opponents during the Palarong Pambansa in Davao City.
When I learned that Coach Subo and his team were coming to the city for the Palarong Pambansa 2019, I set myself to follow their games.
Of the seven games they played, I only missed their game against the Caraga Region. I brought with me my four-year old daughter Jordi to cheer for the squad in their semi-finals match against Calabarzon. However, we went home after the first half because it was getting late. Later on, I learned that they won the game 1-0 to advance to the finals.
I never knew that it would be Coach Subo’s final stint until the team’s forward Lorent John Jayaon told me on Friday morning. And he also admitted that it’s their last chance to grab the gold medal because they are no longer qualified to play next year due to age limit.
On the battle for gold on Friday night, Jordi and I went back to UP Mindanao Stadium. It was a thrilling first half as the Ilonggos had some chances to score but the Cebuanos’ defense held on.
Central Visayas’ squad drew the first blood during the one-minute stoppage time of the first half following a free kick from the center circle. I really admire the fighting spirit of the squad as to how they were able to make an incredible comeback after being down 1-nil at the end of the first half.
But their relentless attacks and solid defending at the second half paid off: a goal after a header by Jaime Rosquillo on the 55th minute. Then on the 75th minute, Gerhard Jens Moreno pierced through Cebuanos’ defense for the lead.
WVRAA squad maintained a solid defense and ball pressure until the dying seconds of the game.
At the final whistle, everyone ran towards Coach Subo saying: “Para ni sa imo coach!” It was quite an emotional moment for the WVRAA squad knowing that it would be their last game together.
Imagine how sweet it is to hang up your boots as a champ? What a glorious way to end an illustrious coaching stint.
Coach Subo, who is set to retire next year as a teacher of Barotac Nuevo National High School (BNNCHS) when he turns 60, was instrumental in molding many of the football greats in the country.
Minutes after the final whistle, Coach Subo was already on air over Bombo Radyo Iloilo for a breaking news. Fellow photographer Manman Dejeto and I were amazed by the enthusiasm of the media in Panay region to break the news at 11pm.
It only goes to show that the victory was really big news in the heartland of football: Barotac Nuevo. For sure, the football-craze town erupted in jubilation on Friday night.
The town is also home to many great footballers such as Ian Araneta, Yanti Barsales, Joven Bedic, Elmer Bedia, Emelio “Chieffy” Caligdong, Ruben Doctora, Nestorio Margarse, Mark Ferrer, Ricardo Becite, Roel Gener and Joebel Bermejo.
And the list will not end there as there are a lot of upcoming stars from this WVRAA squad. Remember their faces. Someday, many of them, if not all of them, will join the list of the football greats in the country.
It was also indeed a rare opportunity and an honor for me to witness up close the final appearance of a coach, whose feat in the Palarong Pambansa is considered legendary. Everytime I post updates on my social media accounts, I refer to the squad as Kadyos boys.
Kadyos (pigeon peas) is a popular part of Ilonggo cuisine, not just in the Panay Island but in many Ilonggo-dominated communities in my home province of Cotabato as well.
The core of the WVRAA Secondary squad was composed of 12 players from BNNCHS, Negros (2), St. Pauls of Barotac (2) and one from ICS Barotac.
Coach Subo says only five of them may likely qualify to play next year as the rest could no longer make it due to the age limit.
But I believe Barotac Nuevo will never run out of quality footballers. As Coach Subo says: "Damu pa man to bilin, may mga under training pa man to." This only goes to show how Barotac Nuevo is well-prepared in producing the next generation of quality players.
Asked what's his secret to success, the seasoned coach said: "Hard training, discipline among players… focus in every game. Above all, trust in each other, trust in God.”
As a proud Full Blooded Ilonggo (FBI), it was indeed a great honor to have known one of the most influential persons in the football community of the country.
(This piece was first published on the blog of Keith Bacongco of Davao City, a staff photographer of Manila Bulletin. He traces his roots in Pototan, the neighboring town of Barotac Nuevo.)