When the PBA instituted the All-Star Game to become an annual event as a treat to the fans, the league went off to a blazing start by not just making the inaugural staging more exciting, but also more significant.
There, we saw ‘The Maestro’ Baby Dalupan playing the role as the mediator for ‘The Big J’ Robert Jaworski and ‘El Presidente’ Ramon Fernandez as the two cage titans ended what was like a five-year-old cold war.
Fans, who packed the old ULTRA were thrilled each time these two players would exchange passes and there’s no better way to end the match with the two players conniving for the final play: Jaworski in-bounding the ball and spotting Fernandez, who delivered the under goal stab against Benjie Paras at the buzzer as the crowd went crazy.
In the midst of the celebration and attention, there’s one man, a nearly forgotten player, who also etched his name in history by becoming the only player to win the All-Star Game MVP coming from a losing team.
That man was Elmer “Boy” Cabahug, then a rookie player from Alaska, who played for the Rookies and Sophomores’ squad that battled the Veterans.
Quietly, Cabahug received the MVP trophy from then commissioner Rudy Salud after the game.
Throughout his playing career, that’s how Cabahug played his role in the PBA —quiet, but deadly. He was a part of two championship teams of the old Purefoods franchise, both of them were All-Filipino titles in 1991 and 1993 and silently embraced his role behind star players Alvin Patrimonio and Jerry Codiñera.
Meek as a sheep, but has the mentality of a coldblooded assassin when he shoots the basketball, Cabahug went on to play in the pro league until 1998 and quietly faded from PBA spotlight when he decided to leave the game to assume a higher calling as Councilor of Mandaue City. Nine years was indeed a short time for a player of his caliber, but he chose to fade away without making any fuzz.
When his term as Councilor ended, he embarked on a coaching career as head coach of the University of Visayas Lancers and led his squad to an unprecedented nine straight championships in the CESAFI. He didn’t only continue a winning legacy, he was able to sustain the family’s rich tradition.
Cabahug’s family traced its roots as winners in UV. His grandfather, Atty. Cesar, was a former national champion while playing for UV, then known as the Visayan Institute. His dad, Eduardo, also ended up as a champion when he led the Lancers to the inter-collegiate champion.
But it was only Boy, who ended up winning both as national champions for UV as a high school and college player and in the process, winning the MVP award in both levels.
Truly, there are players who choose to do things silently, but effectively and Boy Cabahug didn’t mind even when the spotlight wasn’t focused on him. He cares about one thing—winning—and throughout his life, he’s been a winner, be it on the basketball court, in the field of politics and the hearts of his loved ones.