Daughter shares what Baby Dalupan was like as a father, grandfather
MANILA, Philippines – White-flowered wreaths lined the hallway toward the entrace of the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception inside Ateneo de Manila University. It was a rainy afternoon on Saturday, August 20, 3 days since the great Virgilio “Baby” Dalupan passed on.
The campus and the chapel itself were quiet, save for excited students having their fun, singing and cheering, in classrooms above the chapel. Visitors arrived through the afternoon, including basketball legends and personalities from the entire Barangay Ginebra team to Tim Cone and Norman Black.
Inside the building, in what seemed like a dining or common area, close friends and family shared a meal. Among them is Dalupan’s youngest daughter Cecile, who, amid her grief, still smiled and welcomed guests as cheerfully as she could.
Dalupan, the coaching great, is a huge loss to Philippine basketball. The community is mourning, but surely not as much as Cecile and the rest of the family.
On Wednesday, August 17, a legend was lost, but also a warm-hearted father, a caring grandfather, and a loving husband.
“Bilang tatay and bilang lolo (As a father and a grandfather) we were very fortunate for that long experience although it was still too short. With 7 daughters it’s a unique experience to have him as a father because we knew the influence and impact he had, maybe not so clear nung bata pa kami (when we were kids) but as we watched we knew he was larger than life,” Cecile shared.
“Always larger than life to us. Always in the newspaper. It was a unique childhood and a wonderfully privileged childhood growing up with him and our mother. He could be strict but he was always supportive. We always knew how devoted he was to us, his family, and to his larger family, his players,” she added, offering a perspective into how the multi-titled coach treated his team, and how that left a lasing mark on those around him.
“We always knew na ‘yung mga players niya anak niya rin talaga (that his players are also his children). Pero siyempre kami ‘yung una niyang anak (But we are his first children). That was affirmed again by so many of his players,” she said.
“We knew he was our father and their (players) father by extension. Our mother was always with him through all of that.”
Cecile put on a brave face that afternoon, greeting guests and showing them to the chapel where Dalupan’s remains lay. But her eyes watered and she fought back tears each time she spoke about her father’s brilliant, celebrated life.
“His motto was ‘strength lies in unity.’ Throughout his life I think that personified his philosophy. Whatever success you can have, you have because you do it together,” Cecile shared the lessons she learned from Dalupan, who achieved plenty of success in basketball with a total of 52 championships across all leagues.
“That was really a mark of a great team. Many of his players even said walang (there was no) star complex. Hindi pwedeng (It can’t be) one is better than the rest. It has to be pantay-pantay (equal). And his humility. Those were his overwhelming characteristics we experienced and many others did.”
Dalupan’s humility was most evident when his family worked with him on an autobiographical book called “The Maestro of Philippine Basketball,” which was launched in October 2015.
“When we worked with him in the book, it was a joy for us to do it. It’s a joy for him. He would say that it’s not necessary. He even said why would anybody be interested (in it),” Cecile said, noting Dalupan was never one to revel in media and fanfare even in his heyday.
“It was a joy to read him the chapters. To let him know again how much he influenced people.”
Dalupan, known for his 7-peat UAAP conquest with the University of the East from 1965 to 1972 and his 9 titles with famed PBA team Crispa Redmanizers, was happiest in his role as a teacher to his players rather than an exceptional coach. And that’s how he will be remembered by those who were fortunate enough to cross paths with him, and those who heard of him through endless tales through generations.
Though 92 years was a long time, it will always feel short for someone as kind and meek as coach Baby.
“He loved basketball. It’s not so much the sport, he loved coaching his players,” Cecile said, as the skies turned a darker shade of grey.
“We're together, which is the most important thing. We’re here united, just like everyone else, full of love and celebration for an amazing father and man.” – Rappler.com