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Teofilo Yldefonso, 1st Filipino Olympic medalist, honored posthumously

Raul Yldefonso (2nd from left) is shown with Mark Zambrano and big boss Ronald Mascarinas while a mascot is shown holding the picture of Olympian and war hero Teofilo Yldefonso.

Teófilo Yldefonso, the country’s first Olympic medalist and war hero, was posthumously honored by Chooks-to-Go.

Raul Yldefonso,  Yldefonso’s great-great-grandson and the family’s designated representative, will receive 100 oven-roasted chicken every month.

Yldefonso made the country proud, when he won the bronze in the 200m breaststroke event of the 1928 Summer Games in Amsterdam.

He repeated the feat four years later in Los Angeles as he became known as the “Ilocano Shark” and “The Father of the Modern Breaststroke”.

Though the memory of Yldefonso continues to live on in history books, his legacy does not have the same recall as modern-day sports heroes.

“Teófilo is not just a sports hero but also a war hero during World War II,” said Chooks-to-Go President Ronald Mascariñas. “He was at the battlefront during World War II where he met his untimely demise.”

Teófilo served in the 57th Infantry Regiment of the Philippine Scouts of the United States Army. Though surviving the Bataan Death March, Teófilo died at the Capas Concentration Camp back on June 19, 1942 at the age of 38.

“Noong World War II, sa Capas, ‘yung dati niyang nakalaban sa 1936 Olympics na isang Japanese na si Reizo Koike, naging kaibigan niya,” recalled Raul. “Nagkita sila muli sa Capas at Bataan at pareho silang opisyal, ‘yung isa sa Japanese Army, at isa naman, sa Philippine Scouts. Nung panahon na ‘yun, ang sundalong Pilipino ay nakubkob ng mga Hapones.”

“Pinagsabihan nung opisyal na Japanese na tumakas na siya at ‘iwan mo na ang iyong mga tauhan.’ Imbes na pumayag siya, sinabi niya, ‘Huwag na lang. Mamamatay na lang kung mamamatay basta kasama ko ang aking mga tauhan.’ Hanggang sa nagdaan na araw, doon na siya pumanaw sa Concentration Camp nang Hapon.”

Raul recalled that Teófilo once had a bust sitting on top of a hill in Ilocos Norte. Ang naiwang alaala ngayon ay isang lapida na nakatayo sa plaza,” he continued. Up until this day, Raul and the Yldefonso clan are still fighting to keep the memories of their great-great-grandfather alive so that the next generations will remember his heroism.

“Bilang kaapo-apohan ni Teófilo Yldefonso, pinagsikapan ko pong ipunin lahat ng alaala, mga balita sa dyaryo, mga picture niya, at kung kinakailangan na muling i-request ang rebulto niya sa Ilocos Norte sapagkat pinagmamalaki ng aming angkan na isang Olympian tulad niya na hindi matatawaran dahil sa dalawang beses niyang tinanggap ang medalya ng Republika ng Pilipinas,” said Raul.

“Sa ngayon po, ang naitayong marker sa mismong plaza ng Piddig ay gusto kong magawan siya muli ng rebulto para sa ganun, ang kabataan ay makita at maalala nila ang mukha ni Teófilo Yldefonso.”

Raul hopes that Chooks-to-Go’s initiative to honor Teófilo will generate support for this cause.

In fact, he has decided to send a portion of what they will be receiving from Chooks-to-Go to Piddig, Ilocos Norte where the Yldefonso clan will be distributing it to the needy members of the community.

This is their way of sharing their blessings to the community that embraced Teófilo Yldefonso as their own.

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Written by Tempo Desk

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