I was in 1st year high school then and was a new member of the Ateneo Marching Band. I was just learning how to play the alto saxophone but was already commissioned to join the other members at the bleachers to play various school songs like Blue Eagle the King and Hail Ateneo Hail.
That particular victory against La Salle in 1958 was indeed a very memorable event, never to be forgotten. It was the first time that we were to play Daddy Cool. It turned out to be our rallying piece that inspired our varsity players to victory.
Kurt Bachmann and Joe Zubiri were among the starting players of La Salle. If I remember correctly, Ador Servillano was also part of the starting quintet.
Ateneo on the other hand, fielded Ed Ocampo, Bobby Littaua, Cris Arroyo, Tony Jose, and Jimmy Pestaño.
At the referee’s whistle, Captain Jose Campana of the Philippine Army Band who was our music mentor, signalled me to stand up to play the first notes of Daddy Cool. That was it. All the other saxophone players stood up not just to play but also dance to our own music. The rest of the band followed with their trumpets, trombones, clarinets, bass tuba, snare drums, etc. Even Fr. Nic Yatco, the Band Moderator was surprised to hear us play a different tune.
It wasn’t just the cheers of Fabilioh and Halikinu that got the team back into the match. It must have been Daddy Cool, a popular rock ‘n roll tune in the mid-50s.
The Ateneo side of the bleachers featured our brass band along with someone who also played an electric guitar. I was just too busy with my sax that I failed to notice who it was. It must have been Ramon Jacinto with his group RJ & the Riots.
After a 19-year wait, Ateneo got back at De La Salle by trumping them for the 1958 NCAA crown. In a game witnessed by over 10,000 people at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum along Vito Cruz, the Blue Eagles rallied for a 105-103 overtime win versus the Green Archers.
According to stories I heard, the late TV journalist Joe Quirino visited the Ateneo campus the following day after the game. He expected a festive mood but found no such celebration. Instead, Fr. James Reuter, S.J. told him that the boys were taking their final exams. The good priest explained that the Blue Eagles were students first and that their being basketball players was only incidental. No player with failing grades were ever allowed to play, no matter how important the game. No special favors were granted just because they won a championship game.
This year, Ateneo became the UAAP Champions, after a 6-year wait since they held the crown in 2002. There was the traditional bonfire inside the university campus in Loyola Heights. Those who attended didn’t mind getting their shoes soaked in the muddy fields. They wanted to be part of the festivities. After all, they won against their arch rival Green Archers.