MANILA, Philippines – Back-to-back Tour of Luzon cycling marathon champion Cornelio Agaid Padilla Jr. died of heart failure at St. Luke’s Medical Center on Sunday. He was 67.
Padilla made a name for himself in the 1960s when he won the grueling Tour of Luzon cycling championship twice in a row, in 1966 and 1967. His popularity soared during that time, and his victories were widely credited to have placed cycling in the national sports consciousness.
In 1966, Padilla topped the 15-lap Tour of Luzon, clocking in at 60.45.31 in the 1,999.82-kilometer bicycle race.
The following year, Padilla again emerged on top after eight laps of cycling. He clocked in at 70.34:57 in the 1,634-kilometer competition.
Known as “Paddy” to his friends and family, Padilla retired early from the sport in order to devote his time to his college studies. His winnings helped him finish a law degree from the Far Eastern University.
As a lawyer, Padilla became a member of the legal department of Cacho Printing Press before his stint at the National Book Store as personnel manager and house lawyer. He worked his way up the corporate ladder to become one of the top NBS executives, handling the company’s vast human resources department.
Padilla also gave his time to humanitarian services, making himself active in Rotary International activities. He was a charter member of the Rotary Club of Quirino-Quezon City, under RI Distric 3780, and served as its president from 1994 to 1995.
“He excelled in sports in the same manner he won the hearts of many Rotarians for his unstinting efforts to serve above self,” said former assistant governor Fol Rana.
Padilla remained loyal to cycling until he suffered a heart attack while negotiating the steep Antipolo mountains on his racer bicycle some 15 years ago.
He survived but decided to give up cycling as part of his exercise regimen. Padilla then turned to bowling and became one of the top-caliber bowlers of the Rotary.
Padilla is survived by his wife, labor attaché to the United States Luzviminda Gumatay-Padilla, and their children, Jennifer, May, Nathalie and Eli.
His remains lie in state at the Funeraria Paz on Araneta Avenue, Quezon City. Interment will be announced at a later date. -- By Marlon Bernardino