By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE COUNTRY’s rich basketball history has produced many personalities that have become icons of the sport, one of whom is coach Virgilio “Baby” Dalupan.
Known as “The Maestro,” Mr. Dalupan in four decades of coaching became a larger-than-life figure in the sport, highlighted by the 52 championships he won as a bench tactician from the collegiate ranks all the way to the pros and how many of his players became successful not only on the basketball court but outside of it.
In celebration of his 92nd birthday recently, a book honoring his life and legacy, entitled The Maestro of Philippine Basketball, was launched.
Published by Media Wise Communications, Inc./Muse Books, the 250-page book, while not a “detailed biography,” offers the readers a great view of the legend of Mr. Dalupan in the realm of local basketball and key insights to his person.
Proceeds from the book sales will go to the athletic scholarships at the University of the East and Ateneo de Manila University, two institutions that Mr. Dalupan has significant ties to.
MAKING OF A LEGEND
Born Virgilio Adam Dalupan on Oct. 19, 1923 to parents Francisco T. Dalupan, Sr. and Lorenza Adam, “Baby,” a name affectionately given to him by his mother, showed at a very young age an inclination to the active lifestyle and sports, dipping his hands in basketball, volleyball, football and track and field.
Mr. Dalupan turned out to be a medaled student-athlete while at the Ateneo.
His legendary basketball coaching career began in 1955 when he took over as coach at the University of the East, the school that his father founded.
In UE, he led the Red Warriors to 18 titles, 12 of which were in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP), until he stepped down in 1971.
Also during this stretch, Mr. Dalupan served as national team coach for teams that competed abroad, including the World Championships in 1959, the 1970 Asian Games, and the 1971 Pesta Sukan Tournament where the country emerged as champion.
In the 1960s, Mr. Dalupan also began coaching the Crispa Redmanizers, first in the Manila Industrial Commercial Athletic Association (MICAA) and then at the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
He lasted two decades with Crispa, leading the textile firm team to 25 championships all in all.
After his stint in UE, Mr. Dalupan moved to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in 1972 and handled his alma mater Ateneo.
He steered the Blue Eagles to back-to-back titles in 1975 and 1976 before competing NCAA teams protested over his being a professional coach while also doing work in the collegiate ranks, leading to Coach Baby leaving Ateneo and the school moving over to the UAAP.
At the PBA, Mr. Dalupan handled the Great Taste franchise from 1983-88 and won five more titles and Purefoods from 1989-91 that produced one title.
He finished his coaching career by returning to the Ateneo for one year in 1993.
“Baby as a coach was a true gentleman in and out of the court. When you look at him he is very competitive as a coach. Totally a complete coach in every aspect. We really had a great time during our battles as coaches of Toyota and Crispa,” said Dante Silverio, coach of Crispa’s archrival Toyota, in an interview during the launch of the Dalupan book on Oct. 19.
“He is a big part of the formative years of the PBA and what it has eventually become,” he added.
The idea to come out with a book on the life of Mr. Dalupan was brought up in 2003 on the occasion of the coach’s 80th birthday, said Cecile Dalupan, daughter of Coach Baby who oversaw the book project.
“Our family and the people who knew our father felt it was about time,” she said.
“There were three goals for this book. First was to pay tribute to my dad and his legacy. Second was to contribute to the history of Philippine basketball; the literature was very important. And, third, was trying to contribute to athletic scholarship as Ateneo and UE made him in so many ways,” Ms. Dalupan added.
Doing a book on a legend like Coach Baby entailed a lot of considerations.
“As we worked on the book, we made sure to treat it with respect and be accurate as possible,” said sports journalist Rick Olivares, one of the people the Dalupan family asked to be part of the group making The Maestro.
“This guy has done a lot. We didn’t want to embellish it,” the writer added.
Since the life of Mr. Dalupan covers multiple eras, doing it was both a challenge and a privilege, according to Mr. Olivares.
“Coach Baby doesn’t like talking about himself. If you look at the quotes and his interviews in the past, he talks about his players. So it was hard to look for materials. It was a challenge, too, interviewing some of the people that knew him as their memories are already shut. But I had a good fortune of running into stuff that helped a lot,” he said.
It’s about time that a book on The Maestro came out said the people who know Mr. Dalupan on a personal level.
“It’s a fitting welcome gesture to the accomplishment of Baby. It would have been a tremendous mistake if a book about his accomplishments was not made at this time,” Mr. Silverio said.
“It’s about time that he is recognized, not only because he was my coach. But more of what he gave as a coach throughout his long career. He handled so many teams and players, many of whom became legends in Philippine basketball,” said PBA legend Philip Cezar, who played under Coach Dalupan in Crispa and Great Taste.
Another coach, Leo Austria of the PBA champion San Miguel Beermen, said: “We all know who Baby Dalupan is when it comes to basketball. He’s a legend idolized by many coaches, including me… This book is very important especially for young coaches who are starting a career.”
“He’s a true winner and a consummate leader. His life as a coach is to learn from,” said Alvin Patrimonio, who won his first PBA championship in 1990 with Purefoods.
Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone — the man who broke Coach Baby’s PBA record for most titles — paid tribute to the greatness of Mr. Dalupan.
“The great thing about the book is that it brings Baby’s name and legacy to a younger generation. And I think it is so crucial not only to the PBA but also to the whole society to honor men like him. He was tremendously gracious, well-loved by his players and practically everybody. He’s the kind of person that needs to be honored. And this is what this book does,” said Mr. Cone, who also wrote the foreword for the book.
“He is special in more ways than one. Truly remarkable,” he added.
Having gone through the process of making The Maestro, Mr. Olivares said they hope to convey the lesson they themselves learned from Mr. Dalupan’s life, which is basically “being a good person.”
“Good things happen to good people. Coach Baby played the game right. He forged ahead notwithstanding the difficulties and disappointments,” Mr. Olivares said.
The Maestro of Philippine Basketball is available at National Book Store with the hardcover book priced at P2,000 and the soft cover version at P1,500. For direct selling, the prices are P1,500 hard cover; P1,000 soft cover. For more information, e-mail CoachBabyDalupanBook@gmail.com.