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Begeo now a virtual unknown in home city

Three time Olympian Hector Begeo is virtually unknown to many locals here that saddens artist Gladys Labsan as she puts on the finishing touches on her seven by 12 feet mural of the athlete at the Baguio athletic bowl Friday, November 20.

“Nakakalungkot, hindi man siya kilala (It is so saddening that he is not known),” said the artist after finishing the first of 11 murals of great athletes at the seven hectare sports facility. “Actually even I did not know who he was before starting the project,” added the online editor, who also juggles her time in painting and caring of her four young daughters, including a one year old.

Labsan received the comments while doing the mural of the country’s record holder in the 3,000 meters steeplechase who represented the country to the 1984, 1988 and 1992 Olympics, whose feat include a bronze medal in the 1982 Asian Games.

While raves were heaped on the mural of eight Team Lakay champions nearby, Begeo’s lone face that now adorn one of the projected 11 murals at the dugouts at the long stage of the bowl’s big grandstand receive a cold shoulder treatment.

“Sino naman yan (Who is that),” Labsan overheard some passersby, who came to the athletic bowl to get their travel permit.

The Mountain Province born Begeo is one of the most decorated Cordillera athletes the past 40 years. The Gintong Alay member also won the silver medal in the 1983 Asian Athletics Championships. In the 1988 Seoul Olympics, he advanced to the semi-finals of the 3000 meter steeplechase.

Begeo was one of the handful of Cordillera athletes drafted to the Gintong Alay program of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos. He was in the golden company of former sprint queen Lydia de Vega, Guido del Prado, Elma Muros, Eric Buhain and former Southeast Asian Games javelin queen Erlinda Lavandia, who will join him in the Heroes Legends mural.

Begeo migrated to Australia in the late 90s to better provide for his family.

He usually comes home to Baguio to spend times with fellow Gintong Alay members and University of Baguio alumni like Ed Laureano and Art Alimbuyao.

In November last year, he joined the Gintong Alay reunion with their former director and now Laoag mayor Michael Keon, de Vega, among others.

Labsan will do next the face of the late judoka Jerry Dino, a two time Olympian – 1988 in Seoul and 1992 in Barcelona, Spain.

Up next are Lavandia, boxing legend Rey Tam, three time world muay thai champion Brent Velasco and young athletes Divine Wally from wushu and Jeordan Dominguez in taekwondo poomsae.

The Heroes Legends Mural is the second mural project at the Baguio athletic bowl after the Team Lakay mural done by mixed martial artist Harold Banario, who sees action in the Brave Fighting Championship and a member of the Baguio based MMA team. Pigeon Lobien THE ARTIST AND HER WORK. Gladys Labsan takes a break after finishing her mural on three time Olympian Hector Begeo, the first of the projected 11 mural at the Baguio athletic mural works on legendary athletes. Labsan is saddened that Begeo is now an unknown in the city he played for, trained in and settled in before moving to Australia in the late 90s. Pigeon Lobien

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