In memoriam: Philippine sports personalities who left us in 2019

ESPN5.com remembers the people who left Philippine sports just a little better in their wake and will always be remembered for the contributions they made during their time on this planet.

Angelo Constantino, 48 - bowling champion (January 11 - fatal shooting)

The smoke had hardly cleared from the New Year's revelry when an unknown assailant entered a restaurant and gunned down this former Asian Games silver medallist in broad daylight. Constantino was killed instantly and the motive behind his shooting is still unclear up to now. He gained acclaim in 1992 by winning the doubles event of the World Youth Championship and was a fixture on the national bowling team. After retiring, Constantino took on the managerial post of E-Lanes, a popular bowling hub.

Nes Pamilar, 52 - Volleyball Coach (January 12 - sepsis)

Having survived a heart attack prior to his bout with the blood disease, Pamilar had cemented his legacy in the volleyball realm as a member of the victorious Far Eastern University (FEU) squad that captured the school's first UAAP title in 30 years. He went on to coach the national team and was active in the club circuit before his untimely demise.

Mark Joseph, 56 - Former swimming federation president (March 7 - heart failure)

Since retiring from competitive swimming in 1986, Joseph became one of the leading figures in the country's swimming programs and often was in the center of many controversies involving the Philippine Amateur Swimming Association (PASA). One of the achievements of his term was qualifying five tankers for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, namely Ryan Arabejo, Daniel Coakley, Miguel Molina, James Walsj and Christel Simms.

Cathy Nazareno, 49 - Asian Football Confederation Commissioner (March 24 - colon cancer)

Later known as the driving force behind the Younghusband Football Academy, Nazareno was also a staunch advocate of the sport and even garnered several accolades, most notably being the only Filipino to be named Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Match Commissioner and also nurturing the youngsters in developmental programs since the late 1990s.

Guillermo "Emy" Tangkion, 48 - PBA Referee (April 10 - cardiac arrest)

As the quarterfinals of the Philippine Cup drew near, the PBA referees held their weekly workout after a PBA D-League tiff in April. Emy Tangkion was determined to finish the required number of jogging laps around the court at the JCSGO gym in Cubao when he staggered to a chair and collapsed. The seven-year PBA referee expired as he was being brought by an ESPN5 van to a nearby hospital. Tangkion was considered to be one of the more amiable officials in the league. His death ushered in a more rigid physical screening of all current and incoming PBA referees as he had no prior health issues.

Rafael Poliquit, 30 - Marathon Champion (April 11 - subdural empyema)

After complaining about nagging headaches after winning this year's staging of the Milo Marathon, Poliquit-then seen as the Philippines' standard bearer for the long distance runs in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games-was eventually diagnosed with this rare disease that is defined as a collection of pus between the dura mater and the underlying arachnoid mater. The three-time titlist of the country's premier marathon lapsed into a coma and never recovered.

Vic-Vic Villavicencio, 67 - sports patron (April 29 - accidental gunshot)

While controversy initially surrounded the mysterious death of one of the pillars of Philippine sports, Villavicencio's official police reports revealed that the restaurant magnate who had helped the propagation of golf, sailing and, of course, basketball had died due an accidental round going off while cleaning a pistol at his home. Villavicencio was the name behind the success of the Triple V chain of restaurants and was among the most supportive of sports development in the archipelago as far back as the PBA in the 1980s.

Sheryl Reyes, 39 - Basketball Player Agent (May 11 - cervical cancer)

One of the most vibrant player agents of her generation, this former actress was known for her knack of finding imports for PBA teams. Among her biggest contributions was bringing in Justin Brownlee as a replacement reinforcement for an injured Paul Harris at Barangay Ginebra in 2016. Reyes had always been at the forefront of having international campaigners make a difference in the Philippines by having legitimate NBA veterans such as Stephon Marbury, Allen Iverson and was on the brink of getting Tony Parker to visit the country at the time of her death.

Susan Papa, 64 - swimming coach/advocate (May 19 - cervical cancer)

Like Reyes, Papa also succumbed to the same illness but not before establishing herself as one of the advocates of the sport during her time as the founder and director of the Philippine Swimming League (PSL). Papa was part of the 4x100M medley relay team that won the bronze medal in the 1974 Iran Asiad and dedicated the rest of her life to develop the next generation of swimmers for international competition.

Miguel Bonalos, 20 - SSC-R basketball varsity (July 3 - cardiac arrest)

The term "gone too soon" aptly applies to this budding cager who died so suddenly due to cardiac arrest. Bonalos had previously been diagnosed with a heart ailment in 2015 but still managed to pursue his hoops dreams until his shocking demise. He becomes the second cager to die under these circumstances in recent memory after former Blackwater Elite forward Gilbert Bulawan passed away in 2016. Bonalos' death now serves as another stern warning on the safety guidelines for young athletes with heart conditions.

Claro Pellosis, 84 - Olympic runner/coach (July 21 - cardiac arrest)

Long before he coached Lydia de Vega to greatness, Pellosis served the country as a sprinter in the 1960 Rome Olympiad and was part of the gold medal-winning 4x100M relay team in the 1962 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia. After retiring, Pellosis concentrated on coaching future national team aspirants and teamed up with Tatang de Vega to develop Lydia into a two-time Asian Games gold medalist.

Bong Tan, 53 - Sports patron/former PBA Team Owner/UE Red Warriors head coach (November 11 - brain herniation)

The head coach of the University of the East (UE) basketball program met his demise during a weekend basketball game. Tan had been involved with basketball since the 1990s starting with the Stag/Tanduay quintets that dominated the Philippine Basketball League (PBL) until ascending to the PBA at the turn of the millennium. He still stayed involved in the game through the Red Warriors. The outpouring of messages from the basketball community when he passed away revealed the significance of his support for the nation's passion and his death came just two days after John Gokongwei, Jr.-the former owner of the CFC franchise in the PBA-also departed this world at the age of 93.

Three former PBA imports also died in 2019:

Lewis Lloyd, 60 - RFM 1990-91 (July 5 - complications due to drug intoxication)

Andre Emmett, 37 - Meralco 2014 (September 23 - fatal shooting)

Anthony Grundy, 40 - Petron 2011 (November 14 - fatal stabbing)

They join former professional cagers:

Florendo Ritualo, Sr., 65 - CFC 1975-1983 (January 6 - lingering illness)

Melvin Martin, 60 - YCO/Tanduay 1982 (June)

Vincent San Diego, 38 - Negros Slashers-2002 (August 19 - complications due to heart surgery)

On September 25th, eight members of the Boracay Dragonboat Team also perished after their craft capsized during a training session just off the coast of Bulabog Beach in Sitio Lingganay due to unusually huge waves. The fatalities were identified as Johann Tan, Rachel Montoya, Antonette Supranes, Maricel Tan, Comar Arcob, Mark Vincent Navarrete, John Vincent Natividad and skipper Von Navarossa.

In the international scene, former world boxing champion Pernell Whitaker, Hall-Of-Fame quarterback Bart Starr, Formula One legend Niki Lauda, and Boston Celtics icon John "Hondo" Havlicek were among the notable game-changers that left their legacy in the sporting world.

ESPN5.com condoles with the families of these individuals who made sports better during their time with us.