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Immortalizing the ‘Gentle Giant’

Despite being a “sensation” in Judo, Tablan was described by his former teachers, friends, and teammates as a “gentle giant” and someone who always kept his feet on the ground.

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Photo courtesy of the UAAP

Former Golden Judoka captain and two-time UAAP Mens’ Judo Most Valuable Player Dither Tablan passed away on Friday, Oct 29.

Tablan, 23, a graduate of Sports and Wellness Managementdied at around 10:15 PM after two cardiac arrests, his sister confirmed with TomasinoWeb.

He dominated the heavyweight division over the last four UAAP seasons while leading the Golden Judokas to four UAAP championships.

Tablan also represented the country in the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, 2019 Southeast Asian Games, and 2019 World Martial Arts Masterships.

He was also a part of the country’s team for kurash.

In an interview with UST Tiger TV last March, he said that out of his five glorious years with UST, his final year was the one he would remember the most.

“The most memorable moment sa UAAP, I would say, was the last season because first of all unang naglaro kami sa MOA Arena. Plus I left my final year as an athlete na champion pa,” Tablan said.

Despite being a “sensation” in Judo, Tablan was described by his former teachers, friends, and teammates as a “gentle giant” and someone who always kept his feet on the ground.

In an interview with TomasinoWeb, former UAAP Judo MVP Aaron Reyes described Tablan as a kind and outgoing person to his teammates and generally outgoing to everyone he meets.

“Sa experience ko mabait siya sa lahat, very outgoing, at saka ‘gentle giant’,” Reyes said.

Tablan’s passion for the sport ignited during high school in Claret School of Quezon City when he joined the Judo club.

But he did not constrain himself in martial arts back in high school, in fact, according to his former Filipino teacher Dennis Grospe, he joined the school’s choir.

He reminisced about Tablan as a person who never loses his confidence when performing in front of crowds.

“He was a ‘gentle giant’ during his time […] he was quiet […] hindi mo naman sya kakikitaan ng yabang,” Grospe said in an interview with TomasinoWeb.

His love for music was attested by his high school friend and former choirmate, former UAAP Arnis gold medalist Ding Makasilang from FEU, citing Tablan’s skill in guitar and bass.

“Definitely the friendliest and the most talented individual I [have] ever seen,” he said.

“Kahit hindi kayo nag-uusap masyado, ipaparamdam niya sayo na matagal na kayo magkaibigan,” he added.

Tristan Menor, Tablan’s close friend and teammate, said that the most remarkable thing about the two-time UAAP MVP was that he was a cheerful and caring person to his teammates.

Menor recalled that Tablan was the type of person to excel at anything he prioritizes, with his intentions to make people proud of him, especially his parents.

“Hahanapin ka sa training kapag di ka pumunta iisipin niya agad kung ano nangyari sa amin. Sobrang laking loss siya sa team.” Menor added.

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Dither’s sister, KC Tablan, also admired his brother’s “one-track mindedness”.

After Tablan’s graduation, he remained ambitious in his craft as he worked towards his ultimate dream: the Olympics.

At the same time, he was not afraid of trying out new things as he was able to establish a small cryptocurrency business.

Despite his dominance in Judo, both in collegiate and national levels, Tablan never forgot to check on his teammates’ wellbeing in terms of training, academics and their personal lives.

Estie Liwanen, Tablan’s fellow Filipino pride and judoka champion, describes him as a “good guy” who was cheerful and made everyone laugh through his jokes.

She recalls the last conversation she had with Tablan was him asking to train together.

“I also used to call him the team’s big bear because of his size […] we will be missing him.”

Her sister also attested to his thoughtfulness saying that his brother [Tablan] “can be relied on no matter the situation.”

“For me he was a perfect brother,” she said in an interview.

Aside from his judo teammates, prominent UST athletes and the Thomasian community also joined the mourning of Tablan’s passing.

“Baymax” as former UST Golden Tigress Alina Bicar described Tablan saying his “hugs will be missed” in a now-deleted post.

Another former UST volleyball player Manuel “Weiwei” Medina referred to Tablan with the same nickname, in a Facebook post sharing his shock at Tablan’s sudden passing.

Tablan’s home faculty, the UST Institute of Physical Education and Athletics, also extended condolences through their Facebook page.

Tablan’s remains will be in St. Peter’s Chapel in Quezon Avenue.

Joie Frances Timbas
Sports Writer | + posts
Ian Patrick Laqui
Reports Editor, Reports Writer | + posts

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Laure, Tapia power Golden Tigresses to extinguish Adamson hot streak

The Espana-based squad then responded with a dominant second set with a 25-19 scoreline with contributions from Regina Mangulabnan’s double-ace, Imee Hernandez, and capitalizing on the Falcons’ errors.

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Photo courtesy of the UAAP Season 84 Media Team

The UST Golden Tigresses held off a gutsy Adamson Lady Falcons squad to win its second five-setter match, 12-25, 25-19, 25-22, 18-25, 15-9, in the UAAP Season 84 Women’s Volleyball Tournament, Tuesday afternoon, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

Alike the previous sets, the decider set was sparked with a UST run led by Ypril Tapia’s back-to-back aces and an Eya Laure block to lead early in the 5th set, 7-2. However, the Lady Falcons went on a 6-2 run of their own to keep the game in the balance, 9-8.

Coach Kung Fu Reyes then called a much-needed timeout that ignited yet another Tigresses 6-1 run sealed by a Laure kill.

The Golden Tigresses started off on the wrong foot as they were down by as much as 11 points after an 8-1 Falcons run capped off by three consecutive errors for UST, 12-25. 

The Espana-based squad then responded with a dominant second set with a 25-19 scoreline with contributions from Regina Mangulabnan’s double-ace, Imee Hernandez, and capitalizing on the Falcons’ errors. 

This outing was no cakewalk for the Tigresses as the women in blue kept the match in check with ignitions of runs and rallies of their own, especially in the fourth set when they needed it most, to force a decider set, 18-25.

Eya Laure and Ypril Tapia showed way for the Tigresses as the newly-formed dynamic duo of UST posted 23 and 11 points respectively. 

Adamson, on the other hand, was powered by three double-digit contributions from Trisha Genesis with 15 markers, while Rizza Cruz and Arylle Tagsip both chipped in 10 points apiece.

The Golden Tigresses (4-2) now look to end their first-round campaign on a high note as they try their hand at halting the Ateneo Blue Eagles’ (3-3) three-game winning streak on Thursday, 4 PM, at the same venue.

Ernest Martin Tuazon
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Obiena resets SEA Games record, defends pole vault title

Obiena made quick work of the competition as he flawlessly vaulted through 5.40m and 5.46m in one attempt.

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Screengrab from F Thể Thao/YouTube

Thomasian pole vault star EJ Obiena stays golden as he sets a new Southeast Asian (SEA) Games record of 5.46m at the 31st SEA Games in Hanoi, Vietnam, late Saturday afternoon.

Unlike his other opponents who began at lower heights of 4.80m and 5.00m, Obiena made quick work of the competition as he flawlessly vaulted through 5.40m and 5.46m in one attempt.

His leap of 5.46m is a new SEA Games pole vault record after he previously set the record at the 2019 SEA Games where he cleared 5.45m.

After being able to set a new tournament record, Obiena was eager to break his own Asian record of 5.93m, but failed to do so in three attempts.

Obiena notched his 2nd SEA Games gold medal and the nation’s 11th gold in the tournament as of writing. 

The Tondo native almost missed this year’s rendition of the tournament due to the rift he had with the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association. The rift was resolved on March 30, where both parties came to a settlement with the mediation of the Philippine Sports Commission.

The olympian now shifts his focus to the 2022 World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, USA, from July 15 to July 24.

Ernest Martin Tuazon
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Golden Tigresses bow down against unbeaten NU

Both teams aimed to work off their momentum as UST completed a come-from-behind win against the DLSU Lady Spikers in a rigorous five-setter match while NU swept the Lady Warriors in straight sets to remain unbeaten.

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Corinne Vizconde/TomasinoWeb

The UST Golden Tigresses ran out of fire from their previous match against DLSU as they fell to the NU Lady Bulldogs in four sets, 21-25, 21-25, 25-21, 15-25, in the first round of the UAAP Season 84 Women’s Volleyball Tournament on Saturday, May 14, at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay. 

Both teams aimed to work off their momentum as UST completed a come-from-behind win against the DLSU Lady Spikers in a rigorous five-setter match while NU swept the Lady Warriors in straight sets to remain unbeaten.

And unbeaten the women from Jhocson remained.

Team captain Eya Laure led UST’s efforts, being the lone Golden Tigress to score double digits with 18 points while the Lady Bulldogs had five players who racked up double-digit scoring outputs. 

The match started with a struggling UST as they were behind by 10 points, but rallied late to cut the deficit to four. Overpowered by attacks and service aces from the Lady Bulldogs, UST lost the opening set, 21-25.

The Golden Tigresses warmed up as the second set started heating up with an early 5-0 run, but the Lady Bulldogs didn’t let up as they tied the frame at 15-all. A crucial miscommunication error from UST led them to the same fate as the opening affair at 21-25.

UST continued to struggle against NU’s mighty blocks and services. The Tigresses failed to solidify their attacks and receives but gained from NU’s unforced errors.

UST was down but not out as the third set was at a deadlock, 16-16. The set ended at 25-21 again but, this time, UST claimed victory as NU tallied too many errors with 16 in total.

In what became the final set, the Lady Bulldogs recovered by minimizing their errors with UST trailing 9-16. UST was unable to fight back and lost the game at 15-25.

UST was unable to distribute the sets between their attackers while making it easy for NU to read them well as they carried out strong defense, which became a winning factor for them.

The two teams will meet again in the second round, and possibly in the Final Four, should they maintain their current team standings.

With two games left in the first round, the Golden Tigresses will strive to bounce back as they fall to a 3-2 standing. They face the Adamson Lady Falcons next on Tuesday, 4 PM, at the same venue.

Joie Frances Timbas
Sports Writer | + posts

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