Summary of Achievements
Rafael "Paeng" Nepomuceno (born January 30,1957) of the Philippines is a six-time world bowling champion and is acknowledged worldwide as the greatest international bowler in the history of the sport.
In recognition of his achievements, in November, 1999, at the opening ceremonies of the 1999 World Championships, Juan Antonio Samaranch who was then the president of the International Olympic Committee personally awarded Paeng with the prestigious IOC Presidents' Trophy which is the first for the sport of bowling and is the highest sports award. He is the only bowling athlete in the world who has been bestowed this award.
At the International Bowling Hall of Fame and Museum in Arlington, Texas, USA, Paeng's life size picture is prominently displayed and greets you at its entrance along with his memorabilia. He is the first to be enshrined in the Hall of fame by the World Bowling Writers, an association of more than 300 sportswriters from over 90 countries. He is the only bowling athlete to have received all awards possible in all categories by the World Bowling Writers when he received the World Bowling Writers Mort Luby Jr. Distinguished Service award in April 19, 2009. He has been named World Bowler of the Year three times .
He is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for having three unbroken records:
- For being the youngest World Bowling Champion at 19 years old
- For winning the most World Titles in three different decades
- For winning the most Worldwide titles in a career: Now 124
The World FIQ, the world governing body of the sport, named Paeng as the "International Bowling Athlete of the Millennium" in behalf of 100 million bowlers during the opening ceremonies of the World Championships in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates in 1999. During the ceremony, an FIQ official cited Paeng with these words: "No international bowling athlete is more deserving of recognition than Paeng. In addition to his long list of well known achievements as a world champion in three decades, Paeng truly has been and continues to be an extraordinary ambassador to the sport".
Paeng is the only athlete in the Philippines who has been honored by five Philippine Presidents and was given the highest award to a Filipino.
In 1984, Paeng was awarded the Presidential Medal of Merit by President Ferdinand E. Marcos, the highest award given to a Filipino at the disposition of the President of the Philippines.
In 1989, Paeng was given a Presidential citation by President Corazon Aquino in Malacanang Palace for his various international triumphs internationally and locally.
President Fidel V. Ramos honored Paeng at Malacanang Palace on three separate occassions for his two World Cup wins and for being named Athlete of the Year twice during his term as President.
He also became the first athlete to be bestowed the Philippine Legion of Honor by President Joseph E.Estrada in 1999.
In 2008, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo conferred on Paeng the Order of Lakandula with the Class of Champion for Life.
Both houses of Congress (Philippine Senate and Congress) named Paeng as the "Greatest Filipino Athlete of All-Time".
He was unanimously chosen by Philippine Major newspapers (Philippine Star, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Manila Times, Manila Standard, Today) as their choice of Athlete of the Century in their year ender report on December 1999.
In its September 2003 issue, the Prestigious Bowlers Journal International named Paeng as the Greatest International Bowler of all time. He has been featured on the cover for an unprecedented six times.
Paeng has been honored by being chosen to be Philippine Flag Bearer of the Philippine delegation in various World games, Asian Games and the South East Asian Games.
He is the youngest TOYM (Ten Outstanding Young Men) Awardee when he was given the award for sports in 1978 by the Philippine Jaycees.
In July 2009, Paeng was given the Distinguished Lasallian award by the De La Salle Alumni Association which is the highest award of the school.
Paeng is the first inductee of La Salle green Hills Sports Hall of Fame and he was also inducted in the De La Salle Sports Hall of Fame in 2003.
Paeng was also given by Adamson University the "Outstanding Alumnus Award" during its 60th Anniversary on September, 1982 and was inducted in the Adamson University Sports Hall of Fame on February 2012.
Paeng's name was also included in the elite list of Most trusted Filipinos (number 6) by the Asian Edition of the Readers Digest, March 2010 issue.
The Rogue Magazine in its April 2011 issue, named Paeng - The Coolest Filipino Athlete of All Time.
On June 25, 2011, Paeng at age 54 wins the 2011 Philippine International Open Masters for the eigth time and in the process establishes a new record for being "the oldest and youngest winner of the an International Open". He first won the Philippine Open when he was 17 years old in 1974.
Paeng has been designated by the USBC (United States Bowling Congress) as its International Bowling Ambassador for bowling and has been tasked to promote bowling around the world. Paeng certifies coaches for the USBC and is available for clinics and appearances.
Note: Paeng is included in the Grade 2 Social Studies and/or Araling Panlipunan textbooks used nationwide under the heading "Outstanding Filipinos"
A Backgrounder and Story of 6 World Titles
The Bowling World Cup is the largest annual sporting event by number of participating countries. It is considered the most prestigious and difficult individual championship. Not being an Olympic sport, it is the highest form of individual contest for a bowler. It is therefore remarkable that Paeng has never lost a finals as top seed as he won all his four world cup titles from top seed position.
In his first attempt, Paeng won his first World Cup in Tehran, Iran, on November 19, 1976, by beating Venezuela's Carlos Lovera to become the youngest, at the age of 19, to win the World Cup. He still remains the youngest male bowler ever to win the Cup. This completed a "grand slam" of sorts inasmuch as he also won both the national and Asian FIQ championships earlier in the year.
He won his second World Cup in Jakarta, Indonesia, on November 1, 1980, to become the first ever bowler in the world to win it for a second time. Paeng posted the highest ever Grand Finals score when he beat Alfonso Rodriguez of Mexico who eventually won in 1985 at the Bowling World Cup held in Seoul, Korea.
Paeng's historic third decade World Cup win which earned him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records, came in world-famous Le Mans, France, on November 8, 1992. After an overwhelming lead of 551 pins, Paeng went to on to beat European champion Achim Grabowski of Germany in the finals held in Le Forum which introduced arena bowling for the first time.
In 1976, exactly 20 years after winning his first World Cup, Paeng outclassed the field of 90 countries with a lead of 408 pins and subsequently went on to beat Drew Hylen of the U.S.A. 243-172 in the one-sided match which was held in war-torn Belfast, Northern Ireland on November 23, 1996, to re-write the records in the Guinness Book with his fourth World Cup title.
On August 8, 1984, Paeng won the World's Invitational Tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A., which was a global competition held as a side event of the ongoing 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. He beat 1984 Bowling World Cup champion Jack Jurek of the U.S.A. (227-181) in the finals to claim the gold medal for the Philippines. In recognition of winning this global event, Paeng was named PSA Athlete of the Year and the World Bowling Writers World Bowler of the Year.
Paeng won the last tournament he joined in 1999, before undergoing complicated wrist surgery in the U.S. This was the World Tenpin Masters held in London, England, on March 4-7, 1999, where Paeng attained his sixth world title against the strongest field ever assembled which included six world champions. After his return from London, Paeng was conferred by Philippine President Joseph E. Estrada the Legion of Honor medal, the highest award for a Filipino and the first ever for any athlete.
Paeng is a legend in his own country and considered as a national sports hero. He became the first Filipino to win in a competition not using weight divisions or age groupings.
FAMILY: Paeng was born on January 30, 1957. He is a lefthander who stands at 6'2" (188 cm.) tall and weighs 200 lbs. He is simply known internationally as "Paeng" in the same way as Pele in soccer.
He is married to SAIRA R. PUYAT, better known as Pinky, Managing Director of the Puyat Sports Group. They have three children: Rafael Jose, Jr.; Saira Margarita Paz, bor and Isabel Angela.
His father ANGEL NEPOMUCENO (Deceased), is his coach and mentor and has been named as Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Coach of the Year for 1992(33) and was again awarded a PSA citation in 1996. He is a founder of Celebrity Sports Plaza and Green Valley Country Club. His mother TERESITA "BABY" VILLA-REAL, is a former Miss Philippines (1951-52) and a World Bowling Writers "Golden Quill" awardee.
His paternal grandfather is the late DON JOSE NEPOMUCENO, the pioneer of the Philippine movie industry and acknowledged as the "Father of Filipino Movies".
His maternal grandfather is the late DON MANOLO V. VILLA-REAL known as the Filipino "Dean of Newspaper Editors".
He is the second among seven children. His elder brother and younger sisters are: Angel, Jr (Deceased)., Marissa, Susie, Ditas, Mary Ann and Len-Len.