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Filipino sporting legends may soon be given lifetime health benefits

Erik Spoelstra likely has fond memories of 2012.

Prior to devoting much of their earnings to their families through an international transfer, there was a time in many Filipinos’ lives when they spent a lot of their money attending sporting events and purchasing gear representing their favorite teams. In a way, this was to give thanks to the professional athletes who performed at their peak and provided millions of Filipinos with entertainment and fun.

Today, the Filipino government is providing past sports heroes with their fellow countrymen’s appreciation in a more direct way.

According to the Philippines Inquirer, the senate has passed a piece of legislation - Senate Bill 3322 – that would provide government-sponsored health insurance benefits to professional Filipino athletes who have retired.

Aquilino Pimentel III, one of the main senators who supported the bill, indicated that many of today’s sports legends are facing serious health issues because of the sacrifices they made, stretching their physical exertion abilities to the limit.

“Many professional athletes have risked their health and sometimes their very lives for the nation,” said Pimentel III. “Their achievements have put the Philippines in the map. But our memories are short.”

He added that while these men and women were idolized when they were playing professionally, many have been forgotten since then and have few they can turn to for help when they need it most.

“This bill seeks to provide more than lip service to professional athletes who have dedicated their careers to the nation and who have brought prestige to our country,” he stated, according to the Inquirer.

Should SB 3322 gather enough votes to be signed into law, all Filipino professional athletes older than 50 years of age would be given a lifelong stipend that could be put toward healthcare services. Much of what they earn will depend on their level of achievement. For example, the paper notes that each member of a team that wins a championship after defeating another Filipino athletic team will get 10,000 pesos while championship team members will be awarded 15,000 pesos for winning an international crown.

2012 notable performances
Many of today’s Filipino coaches and athletes know what it’s like to be a champion. The Philippine Star recently put together a list of the world’s most-successful athletes, originating from the Philippines, who will long remember 2012.

Perhaps no athlete is better known among Filipinos – or more revered – than boxing champ Manny Pacquiao. The Fighting Congressman has experienced few losses and setbacks over his professional boxing career, but 2012 was not a year that will likely go down as one of his best. In June, Pacquiao lost in a split decision to Timothy Bradley, though many ringside experts as well as viewers watching from home thought Pac-Man had the better performance.

Six months later, Pacquiao return to the ring, only this time facing Juan Manuel Marquez. In a stunning upset, the 34-year-old was knocked out in the sixth round, giving Marquez the match and sending Pacquiao to his fifth defeat.

Faring better performance wise was Erik Spoelstra, head coach for the NBA Champion Miami Heat. Spoelstra led the Heat to their first NBA title since 2005 after defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games in a best-of-seven series.

Another headliner cited by The Philippine Star was the entire Philippine Volcanoes Rugby Team. Their respective performances in the Philippine Rugby Football Union were so impressive, they earned the attention of some of the game’s most respected experts. Many say the Volcanoes are among the best in all of Asia.

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