"In societies where Robbing Hoods are treated like a celebrity it is but natural to expect political parties to act like a Mafia syndicate" Political Jaywalker "In a nation where corruption is endemic people tend to confuse due process with aiding and abetting criminals" Political Jaywalker "War doesn't determine who is right, war determines who is left" Bertrand Russell "You have just one flash flood of money, you keep your people poor. It's like a time bomb and it's scary" Philippine Lawmaker

Fil-Am gold medalists in the Olympics

Natalie Coughlin Olympic Gold Medalist

Currently going the rounds in Filipino chat rooms was the recent feat of Natalie Coughlin, 24, of San Francisco, Ca., who successfully defended her Olympic title by winning the Gold Medal in the 100 m backstroke event in the Beijing Olympics. She also won silver in the 400 m relay the day before. That top finish in the backstroke event reprised her performance in 2004 in the Athens Olympics.

Natalie is half Filipino (her dad is American and her mother is from the
Philippines). Her performance recalls that of another Philippine mestiza from San Francisco who also excelled in Olympic pool events during her time.

Sometime in the past I witnessed an exhibit at the Main Library of Long Beach, California, highlighting the contributions of Filipino-Americans in the development of
United States history and the future. Among the memorabilia displayed over a cabinet included a photo of circa '49 Olympic champion diver Vicki Draves. There was also a 1949 issue of Life Magazine showing Draves, which it described as"the Olympics prettiest champion."

Then there was an article in the SFO Chronicle about Vicki Manalo Draves, a Filipino American who won two gold medals in diving at the 1948 Olympic Games in
London. She was born in San Francisco. Her parents were Teofilo Manalo and an English lady named Gertrude Taylor; It was said that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution to name a new park after the Olympian.Vicki Draves

Here's a portion of that SFO Chronicle item by Kathleen Sullivan and Cicero Estrella:

Vicki Manalo and her twin sister, Consuelo, attended
Franklin Elementary School, run by principal Bessie Carmichael, and later attended Commerce High School on Van Ness Avenue.

"Back then, our only summer vacation was to take the street car out to Fleishhacker Pool, which was right by the ocean,'' Draves, 80, recalled in a recent telephone interview from her home in Palm Springs.

"We would play in the pool and go into the ocean. They also had a grassy area where people congregated and had picnic lunches. Some of the adagio dancers -- who would lift girls into the air and swing them around -- would be out there practicing.

"The men's diving team from the Olympic Club used to go out there and practice. One of the divers asked me if I might be interested in learning how to dive. I said: Oh, you bet I would.''

At 16, she began training under Phil Patterson, who ran the Fairmont Swimming and Diving Club on Nob Hill. "Instead of including me in the club, which everyone else belonged to, he formed a 'special' club just for me -- the Patterson School of Swimming and Diving," she recalled. "I think he was a prejudiced man. It wasn't special for me. It was his way of separating me from the others."

Patterson also told the teenager to use her mother's maiden name,
Taylor, in competition.

"My mother consented because she felt that was what was best for me at the time," Draves said. "But I never asked my dad about it. I think my dad must have been very hurt by that. He didn't say anything, but I could imagine that he did not feel good about it."

By the time she won her first national championship at 19, while diving for another club in
San Francisco, she had reclaimed her Filipino name.

In 1944, she began training at the Athens Athletic Club in
Oakland under Lyle Draves. They married in 1946 and settled in Southern California.

Two years later, Draves made history as the first woman to win both the springboard and platform diving titles at a single Olympics. She was 23 years old.

Some say she was destined to win, because her first name,
Victoria, means "victory'' and her Filipino surname, Manalo, means "winner'' in Tagalog.

Draves has received many honors since that momentous day in Wembley Stadium in
London. She has been feted by the Philippine government and its people, honored by Filipino American organizations, celebrated in Life magazine, interviewed by newspaper reporters and broadcasters, inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

Nearly 60 years after the Olympics, she still gets requests for autographs.

Her Filipino American fans in
San Francisco would like to see their champion honored in her hometown. Draves, who is recovering from valve-replacement surgery, said she was touched by their regard for her accomplishments.

"I'm quite honored to be considered,'' she said. "I'm glad it's happening while I'm still here.''

d. grava

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