‘The Leader of Men’ Ruperto Evangelista -The Greatest Coach in Philippine Track and Field History

‘The Leader of Men’ Ruperto Evangelista -The Greatest Coach in Philippine Track and Field History

From Left Claro Pellosis, Ruperto Evangelista, Aparicio Mequi, Walter Brown (swimmer), Isac Gomez, and Edison Diamante at the 1958 Asian Games.

Published on January 1, 2020.


Ruperto Evangelista

Not much information is available online regarding the Great Coach of the ‘real golden era’ of Philippine Track and Field.

His wards achievements have echoed into a distant memory of the current generations.

And not even the last two generations of Filipinos remember the man who was the genius who masterminded two gold medals at the Asian Games in the 1960s.

Ruperto Cudal Evangelista was born on 3 September 1914; he was an active athlete in the Triple Jump and the best the Philippines had from 1932-1935 and 1937.

A contemporary of the Great Nino Ramirez held the Philippine Record in the Long Jump from 1936 until 2004.

In the Long Jump, Ruperto Evangelista was the #1 in the Philippines in 1932, 1933, and 1937. He won his first national title in the Triple Jump in 1932 as an 18-year-old.

He had a rivalry with Nino Ramirez. While Ramirez was the best jumper, Evangelista later proved the more successful coach. Evangelista leaped 6.98m in 1932 and 14.59min in 1934.

This paled to Ramirez’s 7.65m leap at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. However, in his own right, Ruperto Evangelista held the National Triple Jump Record of 14.59m from 1934 until 1939, when Civico Granado broke it.

During one afternoon training session, he was ready to call it a day. But his coach wanted him to take one more practice jump.

He was so peeved that he took the jump, exceeded the pit, landed on the hard ground, and broke his ankles, leading to arthritis in later years. That ended his athletic career. However, he went on to coach the UP track and field team that won several championships.


Coaching Career

Ruperto Evangelista, a teacher, coached the UP track and field team from 1949 to 1979. Winning a total of 14 Men’s UAAP Titles.

He was one coach who used his runners to experiment on new training techniques, like the length of stride, pacing, or going all out.

He coached the gold medal winners in the 4x100m relay, composed of Remigio Vista, Isaac Gomez, Pedro Subido, and Enrique Bautista in 1958, and in 1962 they defended the title with Vista, Gomez, Claro Pellosis, and Rogelio Onofre

An honest man who was much adored by his athletes.

“He was the best coach I ever had. His athletes loved him and they were willing to die for him. Don’t False Start its cheating he would tell us.” said Aparicio Mequi a Bronze medalist in the 4×400 1958 SEA Games. Mequi later became  PSC Chairman.

 

Ruperto Evangelista
Ruperto Evangelista standing on far-right

In 1958 the Philippines took 3 Golds, 4 Silvers, and 4 Bronzes in athletics, 11 medals at the Asian Games in Tokyo, Japan.

As Head coach of the Philippine Track and Field team, Ruperto directly coached Gomez, Bautista, all his athletes at UP and took individual medals at the Asian Games Level.

He also had input into Asian Games Champions Inocencia Solis and Mona Sulaiman. Evangelista served as the head coach of UP for many years. Succeeding longtime patron Regino Ylanan. Evangelista as Head Coach of UP for 20 years.

Led UP to four UAAP Track and Field Championships between 1949-1962. But it was from 1963 until 1968 he took 5 back to back titles before conceding 3 UAAP Championships to the upcoming Andaya of FEU. 

Evangelista later took on the less hands-on approach as a mentor and consultant to the program.


Winding Down

He delegated direct control of the conducting of training to his former athlete Pedro Subido. Under Subido with Evangelista as head coach, UP regained its UAAP Championship and enjoyed another streak from 1975 to 1979.

Evangelista was still coaching in the early 1980s, although he was getting on in years by then.

 

Louie Gray a jumper on his program recalls. Aka. Prof . If Prof managed to pass by when we were training, he’d take us aside & give pointers then move on. He was actually always in the move.

On of the most significant things he taught me was weight training in the off season & convert that into explosive power after. Really helped. He was a a member of the Philippine team & triple jumper.

 

Ruperto Evangelista died on 22 May 1994 at the age of 80, getting Arthritis in his legs, probably due to breaking both his ankles as a younger man many years before.


In Conclusion

Ruperto Evangelista is without a doubt the greatest Track and Field Coach in the History of the Philippines.

A true leader of men who always knew the best things to say to lift the spirit of his athletes when the pressure was on, and the performance was needed.

No other Coach that came before or after garnered as many medals as he did at the Asian Games level.


Contributors:

  • Ignacio Dee
  • Aparicio Mequi
  • Louie Grey
  • Mariano Sesdoryo

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