When Tatay Bautista heaved his bags and his small and wiry but strong 84-year-old frame into a hotel room in Barcelona, Spain, where he was attending the XXV Olympic Games, he could be setting an Olympic record of sorts. He has been to all the Olympic Games since 1960 when it was held in Rome, except the Olympics in Montreal in 1976 which he missed in order to help in the dollar-conservation drive of the Executive Secretary Jacobo Clave. Now, how many Olympics stalwarts or enthusiasts could lay claim such a record? Other than that, Tatay Bautista has been to all the Asian Games since 1954 when it was held in Manila (the first held in New Delhi in 1951), except the Asian Games in 1970 in Bangkok which he missed because of he ran for the ConCon elections.
“The durable old man of sports,” sportswriters in Manila had named him. He had also attended all the Southeast Amateur Athletic championships from 1973 to 1993.
Sports also get champion treatment in his school. From its start, Baguio Tech had had a goon crop of athletes (track and field) and basketball players. It had produced stars in the PRISAA, UAAP, SEA Games and even the Olympics, among them Lydia de Vega Mercado, Elma Muros, Hector Begeo, Arsenia Sagaray, Tony de la Serna, Rowena Monton, Jesusa Jose and Jun Cabusora.
Tatay Bautista’s involvement in sports officialdom reads as long as second president the Private Schools Athletic Association (PRISAA).In the same year he became a member of the board of Governors in the Philippines Amateur Athletic Federation (PAAF), whose president then was Jorge Vargas, the executive secretary of President Quezon. PAAF was the precursor of today’s Philippines Olympic Committee, formed by law 1964 to be the governing body of all the sports associations in the country. Tatay has remained an official in this body to this day.
HE loves to boast that he has served under all the POC presidents, from Jorge Vargas, Antonio de las Alas, Ambrosio Padilla, Felipe Monserrat, Nereo Andolong, Julian Malonzo, Mike Keon, Jose Sering, and Rene Cruz. Some of them – Vargas, de las Alas – are gone; Bautista, the oldest and smallest, has endured. He was also onetime director of the Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP) and later vice president of Luzon of the same association. He’s been an active officer as well as in the Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association; he was lone framer of the constitution and by-laws of the Asian Amateur Athletic Association (AAAA), a continental track-and-field association. He has also distinguished himself as president or member of the Jury of Appeals in regional, national, sectoral of continental athletic meets. Appeal serves as final arbiter or mediator in cases of conflicts arising from violation of rules, governing the sport or, in sensational cases, questions of sex and doping.
Once such celebrated case involved Mona Sulayman, the country’s most famous sprinter before Lydia de Vega. Mona, big and hulking, was the heroin in the 1962 Asian Games were held in Bangkok, officials wanted to confirm rumors that the heroin was in fact a hero. But Mona, enraged rather than bashful, refused to be examined.
Mona’s star dimmed after the Bangkok meet and her field began to be dominated by athletes from Mainland China, Japan and India. Philippine athletes made a surprisingly good showing in the first meet of AAAA, the country’s performance started to decline in the succeeding meets (held every two years) until finaly the stupendous sprinters, Lydia de Vega, Isidro del Prado, Hector Begeo and Elma Muros, appeared in the scene.
It was Tatay Bautista who drafted the constitution of AAAA upon the instigation of General Azih Salih, the chairman of the organizing committee of athletics in the Asian Games in 1962 in Jakarta. With the help Tatay’s good friend, Teofilo C. Gallardo, former Bureau of Private Schools Superintendent, and using as model the constitution of the International Amateur Athletic Federation, Tatay produced the draft while closeted in the home of Azih Salih in Jakarta. The constitution was approved the little substantial changes and implemented in the first 4As meet in Manila in 1973. Tatay has since been chairman or member of the Jury of Appeals in the 4As and honorary life vice president.
The exciting whirl of sports has brought Tatay Bautista to all parts of the Philippines and to many countries around the world. As many as four times a year he gets to travel, whether to PRISAA meet, an Asian or Southeast Asian game, The Olympics, or a Universiad (world competition of students in about all Olympic sports).
And after travels, he always comes back home to his aerie in Baguio much refreshed, much more robust, and richer for the new experience. And the same way that he arrives at his destinations with light heart and a light baggage, he comes back home with not much else besides the little things he picks up along the way. Commemorative coins, stamps (first-day cover), medals, souvenir, caps, pins, and t-shirts, maybe. But with a load of memories in snapshots.