Philippine volleyball lost one of its most important figures last January 19, as coach Nes Pamilar died of sepsis at age 52.
Surrounded by his immediate family and his volleyball family, he was laid to rest on Thursday.
But his legacy will forever live on in the annals of Philippine volleyball.
Nes Pamilar first planted his roots as a two-time UAAP champion player for the Far Eastern University in the early 1980s. That was also where he began his coaching career, learning from FEU volleyball patriarch Kid Santos.
Pamilar then began coaching several collegiate squads through the 90s to the 2000s, namely FEU’s Men’s and Women’s squads and Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights. Most of today’s most successful coaches – like Ramil De Jesus, George Pascua, and Shaq Delos Santos – have either worked or played for Pamilar.
But perhaps Pamilar’s most important contribution to volleyball was forming and coaching the Cagayan Valley Lady Rising Suns in the Shakey’s V-League. The V-League was a staunch presence through the early days of volleyball, providing an avenue for college teams to play outside their main collegiate leagues.
When the V-League started holding tournaments for club squads, Pamilar’s Cagayan Valley teams bannered top prospects from college and provided those players with a career post-college.
The Lady Rising Suns had fan favorites in Angeli Tabaquero, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Pau Soriano, and Bang Pineda. Along with Army and Roger Gorayeb’s club teams, they plugged away during the doldrums of local volleyball, eventually setting up the sport’s boom into mainstream today.
“We owe a lot to Nes. The league would not be what it is today without him,” said Ricky Palou, president of the then V-League, now the Premier Volleyball League.
Pamilar was also the last coach to bring the Lady Tamaraws to a UAAP championship in Season 70, guiding a team led by Rachel Daquis and Wendy Semana.
To his last days, Pamilar was a proud coach, still manning the sidelines for the San Beda University Red Spikers and Tacloban Fighting Warays.
All of his players attest to Pamilar’s fatherly approach.
“Ang tagal ko rin siyang naging tatay sa court sa professional league. Nabigla kami na ganoon nga ang nangyari kasi ang alam lang namin na nilalagnat si coach. Kumbaga, parang lahat po kaming naging players niya nagulat,” said Jovielyn Prado, who played for Pamilar as a Fighting Waray and a Laoag Power Smasher.
“Si Coach Nes po hindi lang siya naging coach sa amin, naging tatay din siya sa aming lahat. Nandoon yung pagtitiwala talaga. Nagbigay siya ng aral sa amin na hindi lang basta sa school lang. Kasi noong nagpunta ako dito sa UE akala ko maglalaro lang ako sa school di ko alam na may commercial league din pala. Tinulungan niya akong lumabas sa shell ko,” added Judith Abil ,who also played for Pamilar with Tacloban.
In his final few interviews with the media, Pamilar’s treatment of his players as family shone through. Like any family, Pamilar’s teams had issues. He was always willing to find ways to do right by his players.
“Lagi lang kami nag-uusap kasi hindi lang naman skills ang labanan sa volleyball. Kailangan may chemistry kami, kailangan nag-uusap kami,” said Pamilar when Tacloban were going through a rough patch in the 2018 PVL Open Conference.
Throughout his stellar coaching career, Pamilar wore many colors. The uniforms he had could literally form a rainbow. But more importantly, he was able to touch a lot of lives. Pamilar’s legacy will live on to the countless players who improved their lives through volleyball.
Truly, Pamilar lived a colorful life.
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