PBA legend, Olympian Yoyong Martires passes away

By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--The PBA community was saddened on Wednesday by the passing of Yoyong Martires, one of the league's first superstars.

While the younger generation might remember him more as a comedian and later on a public servant, Martires, who passed away on Tuesday at the age of 77 due to pneumonia complications, first carved his name as a basketball star.

A longtime member of the San Miguel franchise dating back to its MICAA days, Martires was among the players elevated by the team then known as Royal to the PBA when the league was founded in 1975.

Known as a speedy player, the five-foot-eight point guard won two PBA championships, the 1979 Open Conference and 1982 Invitational Conference titles, before calling it a basketball career right after the 1982 season.

Martires was also part of the last Philippine team that made an appearance in the Summer Olympics men's basketball event during the 1972 Munich Games.

He was with the national team when they won the 1973 FIBA Asia Cup and joined the 1974 FIBA World Cup.

Martires became more popular in the entertainment scene as one of the staples in Vic Sotto-starred movies, frequently blurting out the iconic line "Hindi, nagpapaliwanag lang."

Martires then became a councilor and later the vice mayor of Pasig before retiring from anything for good in 2022.

Martires, though, still got to work with Sotto's son Vico during his last years in public service.

"He lived a very adventurous and colorful life. A loving husband, a doting father, a caring grandpa, a self-made man, an Olympian, a prolific basketball player, a comedian, a devoted public servant, and a child of Christ. Difficult steps to follow, indeed. You served God, our country, and your fellow men," the Martires Family said in a statement.

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