Q&A: Paeng Nepomuceno on sports cars, cursing and what it's like to be world champ
MANILA, Philippines – Before Manny Pacquiao, there was Paeng Nepomuceno.
Nepomuceno is a living legend: a 6-time World Ten-pin Bowling champion and has won the World Cup of Bowling 4 times. He also has 3 Guinness Book of World Records, and, in September 2003, Nepomuceno was named the Greatest International Bowler of All Time by the Bowlers Journal International.
Now Nepomuceno turns his attention to sharing his wealth of experience as head coach for the national team which will compete in Kuala Lumpur at the Southeast Asian Games next month.
Nepomuceno shared more things about him as an athlete, coach and a person in general in this conversation with Rappler.
Rappler: What’s the best prize you received as an athlete?
Nepomuceno: Probably being named Athlete of the Century (by Philippine Sportswriters Association). Of course, I’m talking about pre-Pacquiao days. In the bowling museum and Hall of Fame in Texas, I’m in the entrance. I’m lucky to be in the Hall of Fame but I’m honored to be chosen to be in the entrance.
Rappler: Do you still remember the largest sum of money that you won?
Nepomuceno: That’s a secret.
Rappler: You’ve met several Philippine presidents, right?
Rappler: Who’s your favorite president?
Nepomuceno: I like all of them. They were really nice to me.
Rappler: Is it true that former president Ferdinand Marcos gave you a sports car?
Nepomuceno: Yes. I remember he told me, “Don’t let these keys spoil you with the girls.” I was 19 back then.
Rappler: Do you curse when you play?
Nepomuceno: No, I’m even tempered. Maybe that’s my strong point. I don’t lose my temper, I don’t get mad.
Rappler: What’s your favorite bowling experience?
Nepomuceno: My favorite bowling experience was my 3rd Bowling World Cup in France because the finals was held in the Le Mans Grand Prix. They put in two lanes specifically for the finals. It was something unique – there were only two lanes and race cars going around. They are known for their 24-hour car racing.
Rappler: Did you really want to be a bowling champion ever since, or did you have other dreams?
Nepomuceno: Ever since I was a kid and started playing, I really wanted to be a champion someday.
Rappler: What’s your worst experience in bowling?
Nepomuceno: My worst heartache was the time when I had surgery in my hand back in 1999. I was unsure if I could go back to bowling because I lost 50% of my flexibility. When I came back, I still won a couple of tournaments but it wasn’t the same after that.
Rappler: Was there a time when you wanted to quit bowling?
Nepomuceno: Many times. I wasn’t always receiving good results. Sometimes, I’m up and sometimes I’m down. That’s sports. Nobody’s perfect.
Rappler: What’s your most prized possession as an athlete?
Nepomuceno: My world cups. The ones I donated in the bowling museums are my Guinness World records.
Rappler: Do you have any frustrations in life that you still want to do?
Nepomuceno: No more. I think I’ve achieved it, now I’m giving back by coaching.
Rappler: What’s the best part of being a champion?
Nepomuceno: Sometimes you get invited to tournaments, see places you’ve never been to. Bowling for charity events too.
Rappler: Could you compare bowling in the Philippines now and how it was before in your time?
Nepomuceno: It’s more popular during my time. We were world powers then but we're working really hard to bring it back to how it was before.
Rappler: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve heard?
Nepomuceno: Never give up. Be focused and determined. Aim high. Dreams can come true.
Rappler: Do you have more things in your bucket list you want to accomplish?
Nepomuceno: I hope we win in the SEA Games. Since I took the head coaching job, I hope we do well. – Rappler.com