Atoy Co. Bogs Adornado. Philip Cezar. Abet Guidaben. Freddie Hubalde. Bernie Fabiosa. They were the superstar PBA cagers of the 70s and early 80s, and they all belonged to a team called Crispa Redmanizers. One of the founding teams of the PBA, the Redmanizers famously won 13 championships in its nine-year run, and was considered the toughest rival of team Toyota which counted basketball legends Robert Jaworski and Mon Fernandez among its roster of players.
But did you know Crispa Redmanizers was a department store chain first, as well as a textile manufacturing company that made shirts? The Redmanizer name was a nod to the process of pre-shrinking the shirt fabric to avoid any, well, shrinkage after the garment is washed. Meanwhile, Crispa is the combination of the names of wife and husband Crisanta and Pablo Floro whose family owned the noted textile company.
“Crispa reached its height during the 1970s to 1980s as the Redmanizers achieved two PBA Grand Slams in 1976 and 1983 together with 13 Championships total,” says Renzo Floro Herbosa, who belongs to the fourth generation of the Floro family. “Along with this, the quality and reliability of Crispa clothing gave the brand a nationwide-following, especially since Crispa products were made with pride in the Philippines.”
Way back when
Renzo is the grandson of the legendary sportsman and Crispa team founder Valeriano “Danny” Floro. While the famously amiable Danny—he was also called “Mr. OK”—loved basketball so much and would earn praise for his moves on the hardcourt, it was molding would-be MVPs that he was passionate about. He would end up managing basketball teams, and it was not unusual for him to pull from his own funds, says a recent Manila Standard story, “so his teams could play in provincial leagues during town fiestas.”
Danny was always on the lookout for gifted players, and this eventually led to him establishing the Crispa basketball team.
He would manage the Redmanizers and, together with Coach Virgilio “Baby” Dalupan, usher Atoy Co and company toward many victories. Coach Baby is known to have masterminded Crispa’s first grand slam win in 1976 (the team’s second grand slam was orchestrated by coach Tommy Manotoc in ‘83), as well as guided the team to an unprecedented 19-game winning streak in the All-Filipino conference in 1980. “Dalupan is strong and gutsy, even if he’s lean and skinny,” writer Beth Celis once wrote of the master coach, adding how he “once held two referees by their shoulders and banged their heads together (pinag-untog).”
This kind of rough move by Coach Baby Dalupan wasn’t exactly uncharacteristic of the era’s hardcourt competition, especially when it came to games between Crispa and the Toyota Tamaraws. A brawl between the two teams weren’t an unusual occurrence and there was even a legendary fight that ended up with the players getting arrested and brought to Fort Bonifacio by the Metrocom. This was all sparked by Toyota’s Mon Fernandez getting badly hit in the nose during a game.
The ballers were detained for around 13 hours—lumped together in one cell according to Fernandez, or in separate cells, as sportscaster Noel Zarate recalled in a One Sports story last May, with Crispa’s cell close to the comfort room and the air getting stinkier as evening turned to day. Another story goes that after Toyota management found out Crispa bosses sent food to feed its team, the former sent meals ordered especially from the Intercon.
The two teams indeed took their rivalry seriously, which made PBA games the talk of the town at that time. It wasn’t uncommon to see Manila’s streets empty whenever there’s a Crispa-Toyota bout, as everyone was either at the Araneta Coliseum watching the games live or at home catching the action on TV.
“I wasn't born yet during Crispa’s heyday, but I would hear stories about the brand and the team from family, friends and even the ever so loyal Crispanatic,” Renzo tells ANCX.
Renzo recently revived the Crispa brand, working along with his brothers Angelo, Alen, and Gino, as well as cousins Gabbi and Matt. Family friends are in on the game, too, he says.
“Growing up, I've always wanted to revive the brand,” adds Renzo. It was the family legacy that motivated him to reintroduce the brand to the market, and give a new generation a chance to experience the garments their parents and grandparents used to wear. “I felt that Crispa still has so many stories to tell, and is a brand that transcends generations,” says the young man who started pursuing his dream of reviving Crispa when he was at first year law school.
The vision is to make Crispa top-of-mind again when it comes to basic clothing. The plan is to expand the product line slowly but surely, starting with shirts, eventually leading to bottoms and undergarments. Renzo says people can expect the same quality and material from this revival. They now have a Crispa Green Limited Edition Shirt and a Crispa 1948 Black and White. “These products are all 100 percent cotton which Crispa has always been known for,” states Renzo. And yes they are still “Redmanized,” he assures. “However, our fit is new because our shirts now have a side-seamed fit instead of a tubular fit.”
How this new generation of Floros will market their apparel without a basketball team putting their brand on people’s minds remains to be seen. But come to think of it, didn’t the clothing come first before hardcourt supremacy?
[Crispa shirts are available at https://crispa.ph.]