Abby “Gabmal” Malagar writes 30
CEBU, Philippines — The Cebu sportswriting community has lost one of its pillars with the passing of veteran sportscribe Gabriel “Gabby” G. Malagar. He was 63.
Known as “Gabmal” to his close friends and associates, Malagar spent over three decades of his life chronicling Cebu sports with The FREEMAN.
He has extensively covered various sporting events, particularly boxing and basketball – his cup of tea. Aside from the countless National Inter-Collegiate Basketball Championships and PBA games, one of his most notable coverage was during the 28th Summer Universiade in Gwangju, South Korea, in July 2015.
So sharp was Gabmal’s memory that he was nicknamed by his colleagues as the “walking encyclopedia of Cebu sports.”
During the course of his colorful sportswriting career, Gabmal is best remembered for his unbridled passion both as a writer and as a fan.
“Gabby was my senior sportswriter when I joined The FREEMAN in 1989. As a sports fan, he was loyal to his teams and as a writer, he was passionate of his craft. To us who were at TF in the late 80s to the early 90s, we have many fond memories of Gabmal. Now that he has written 30, he will have a reunion with many of our colleagues from my early years as a sports journalist. Rest in peace, Bay Gabby!” said former TF sports editor Nimrod NL Quinones.
Mike Limpag, the current sports editor of Sun.Star who had a chance to work with Malagar when he was still a PBA and football writer of The FREEMAN way back in 1997, has a special recollection of Gabmal.
“I first met Gabmal when I started in The FREEMAN in 1997 and two decades later, he still had the same enthusiasm and love for sports when he retired. He was a treasure trove of knowledge, especially when it comes to Cebu basketball. His anecdotes, delivered in his trademark booming voice, always bring life to any gathering. The sportswriting community, as well as the thousands whom he touched, will miss him,” shared Limpag, the immediate past president of the Sportswriters Association of Cebu (SAC).
Of Malagar’s many characteristics, Brian Ochoa of CDN Digital is best reminded of Gabmal’s distinct, flashbulb smile.
“I only got to meet him a few times but in those rare times we met, Sir Gabby always made it a point to say hi and share that big smile of his. It’s that smile that sticks to my mind when someone mentions the name of Sir Gabby. So even when the news of his untimely death flooded my Facebook page on Sunday morning, the first thing I remembered was his big contagious smile,” said Ochoa.
“I would normally feel sad to hear such news, but somehow even to his passing, sir Gabby still made me smile. Smile, because I know he’s in a better place now with no pain, no suffering. And he must be flashing that big smile in heaven now. See you around Gab!”
For The FREEMAN sports editor Manny Villaruel, Malagar was a model writer who has touched the lives of others in his own unique way.
“During my fledging days as a sportswriter was back in 1996, he was one of my mentors. He guided me every step of the way. He may have a strong personality, but Gabmal has a soft and generous heart,” said Villaruel.
“In my 20 years of working with him, Gabmal taught me a lot of lessons not only in sportswriting but also in life, particularly about love of family, humility and treasuring friendship,” Villaruel said, “for what I am now today, Gabmal is a big part of it. You will always be remembered, Gabmal. Via Con Dios!”
Before retiring in 2016, Gabmal was senior sportswriter of The FREEMAN and assistant sports editor of Banat News where he also penned a weekly column titled SportsGab.
Gabmal is survived by his wife Guadalupe, and his two children Matt Erikson and Nicole. (FREEMAN)