MAN OF THE GOLDEN’ HOUR
Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino shares the struggles and successes of being POC President after the Philippines nabbed four Olympic medals from the Tokyo Olympics 2020.
BY EDWIN GALVEZ
PHOTOGRAPHY BY MANUEL GENEROSO
The country’s massive celebration of Team Philippines’ four-medal finish at the 2020 Tokyo Games—topped by its first-ever gold medal win after a long 97-year drought— still lingers in the air, and Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President and Cavite Representative Abraham “Bambol” Ng Tolentino has barely taken a rest.
The 57-year-old incumbent representative of the 8th District of Cavite—which encompasses his hometown of Tagaytay City and seven other municipalities south of Manila—immediately buckled down to set the strategies for what promises to be a bigger medal haul for the Philippines in the next Summer Olympics.
“More than one gold is the target,” says Tolentino when asked about the number of golds the country can capture during the quadrennial games in Paris, France in 2024.
Before two-time Olympic medalist Hidilyn Diaz’s gold medal finish in the women’s 55 kilograms weightlifting competition at Tokyo 2020, the Philippines had only won three silver and seven bronze medals since joining in 1924 at the Paris Games.
“Noong tinanong ako d’yan for Tokyo Olympics, sinabi ko (When I was asked about that in relation to the Tokyo Olympics, I said) one is enough and more than one is a blessing,” Tolentino tells LEAGUE at his district office at Tagaytay City Hall.
“When Hidilyn said, ‘Kaya pala natin’ (We can do it, after all), this woke up many ‘sleeping’ athletes as it brought them a new wave of inspiration. With that, yes, more medals are forthcoming,” he says.
Tolentino’s optimism shines more brightly for the Paris-bound delegation as he sees sending more than 20 athletes—which may even reach up to 30—so long as those who competed in Tokyo do not decide to retire.
Called “Bambol” by friends, family and supporters, Tolentino comes off as affable, funny, and lighthearted, which easily make him a very engaging leader. But his ferocious grit and passion have also made the POC the winningest Olympic committee today in its 110-year history.