The first Filipino Olympic medallist and a war hero
PIDDIG, Ilocos Norte, February 14, 2006 — The monument of Lt. Teofilo Yldefonso was formally unveiled to the public. An initiative of Piddig Mayor Augustus Salazar, Vice-mayor Modesto Clemente, and the Sangguniang Bayan, the monument pays tribute to the legendary athlete and war hero.
Teofilo Yldefonso stands out in history as the first ever Filipino Olympic medallist and the only Filipino to ever repeat the feat having won bronze medals at the 1928 and 1932 Olympic games.
Born November 4, 1903, in Sitio Bayog, Bgy.4, Bimmanga, Piddig, Yldefonso began swimming at the Guisit river as a small boy. In 1921, at age 18, he began to stand out in swimming competitions amassing a total of 144 medals in a storied 16 year career lasting through 1937.
At the onset of World War II, Yldefonso fought gallantly in Bataan. Though he survived the infamous “Death March,” he later perished at the Capas Concentration Camp. Though his remains were never found, his legacy as one of the greatest Filipino athletes ever lives on.
Fittingly, the guests of honor at the ceremony commemorating this icon of Philippine Sports were Mrs. Herminia Yldefonso Reyes (the daughter), and Provincial Board Member Michael M. Keon, who like Yldefonso has become an icon for sport, presiding over some of the most glorious moments in Philippine Sports History.
The achievements of Yldefonso, which have yet to be duplicated by any other Filipino athlete, are monuments to the inherent talent and greatness of the Filipino athlete. Piddig is proud to commemorate a native son who brought glory not only to his hometown but also to a nation and a people.
Steve T. Barreiro