Carlos Matute Loyzaga, or simply, “Caloy”, was known as The Big Difference in Philippine basketball in the 1950s and early 60s. As the biggest and brightest star of the sport, he played the pivot as the center of attraction in both local and international competitions. He won championships at San Beda College, suited up for the dominant Yco Painters, and represented the Philippines in two Olympics, in the 1954 FIBA World Championship, where he excelled, and in several other tournaments for flag and country. His achievements are impressive, to say the least, and remain unsurpassed.
Caloy passed away at the age of 85 in 2016, but his contributions to the growth and success of Philippine basketball are acknowledged and cherished.
With the Philippines being one of the three co-hosts for the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup from August to September 2023, and the FIBA World Congress to be held in Manila in August 2023, the national sport association for basketball in the country, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) felt that the time was right to honor Caloy, even in the simplest way.
SBP and Philippine FIBA World Cup 2023 Local Organizing Committee (LOC) Director Renauld “Sonny” Barrios, together with LOC Deputy Executive Director Erika Dy, in collaboration with the LOC FIBA World Congress group of Julie Carceller, conceptualized and collaborated to set up a mini memorabilia and memento museum to highlight the accomplishments of the man known as well as King Caloy.
Since the men’s national basketball team Gilas Pilipinas would be hosting two home games for the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, the SBP and LOC decided to implement its plan to coincide with the game set on February 24, 2023 at the Philippine Arena.
In close coordination with the Loyzaga family, particularly his daughter, Bing, the organizers gathered the material to be displayed at one of the lounges at the third floor of the Arena. Photos, medals, brochures, bits of information. With the help of the Titan group, the concept became reality. Barrios cleverly suggested the title of the showcase: the Loyzaga Lounge.
Prior to the Gilas Pilipinas game against Lebanon, guests arrived at the Loyzaga Lounge to savor the food and fellowship, but most specially to take in and witness the greatness of Caloy. Representatives of the SBP, the LOC, and FIBA, VIPs, friends, family, basketball and non-basketball personalities, and even foreign dignitaries converged to honor the man who had brought much glory to his country.
Caloy’s own countrymen were treated to additional, if not initial, knowledge of his success. Visitors from abroad, such as Japan Embassy Ambassador H.E. Koshikawa Kasuhiko and Australian Embassy Deputy Ambassador Dr Moya Collet, were pleased to meet the Loyzagas and to learn about Caloy.
Present on behalf of Caloy were his surviving spouse Vicky, and children Joey, Teresa, and Bing, and his grandson Diego, all celebrities in their own right. His other son, Chito, was not able to attend. Joey and Chito also represented the Philippines in international basketball competitions at one time.
“My thoughts are overwhelming. I did not expect this; it’s truly remarkable. Hope my dad was present to witness it. Thank you to the organizers,” said Joey, while admiring the exhibit.
Caloy’s daughter Bing, who had a direct hand in the set-up, said, “I always hoped that my father’s contributions to Philippine basketball would be recognized globally. I was witness to his undying love and passion for the game.” She knew the Loyzaga Lounge would be fantastic. “I should know. I helped organize it!”
Elder daughter Teresa, who was busy all throughout, chatting with those in attendance, saw the event as a great opportunity to display the memorabilia of her father’s great story, his history in basketball. “Though he may be gone, his achievements and contribution will remain alive forever. Proud of my dad!” She also suggested to do a Part II of the Loyzaga Lounge in the near future.
All in all, the Loyzaga Lounge was a memorable trip back in time, a treasure chest of sights from an era of greatness – the greatness of King Caloy.