Sunday, January 20, 2013

*321. ADOLFO "Chito" FELICIANO JR. : Shooting Star, Dancing Star

POINT AND HE'LL SHOOT. Adolfo "Chito" Feliciano, Olympian marksman, fencer, dancer, TV host, archer and military man, with roots in Bacolor.

No single word can best describe Kapampangan Adolfo “Chito” Feliciano—after all, he took on many roles and excelled in all—as an Olympic marksman, world-class fencer, archer, military man and TV dance host.

It is in the sports of marksmanship and in the art of dancing however, that he found national fame, two unlikely disciplines that he pursued with passion in his relatively short life.

 Nicknamed Chito, he was a great grandson and a direct descendant of Valentin Ventura of Bacolor, a Kapampangan personality closely associated with the national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal. He was raised in Manila, where he spent his elementary years at the Ateneo Grade School (Class of 1941). He continued his secondary years at the same school, until his graduation in 1949.

 He opted to enroll at the University of the Philippines for his Fine Arts course and it was here that he discovered the sports of shooting. Earlier, he had also dabbled in fencing and even became a national champion. But in his sophomore year, he was asked to try out for the U.P. six-man shooting team. When the trials were over, he was ranked no. 1 in a field of 80 students. In his first year of competition at the national open, Chito did not even place.

This setback did not faze him ; in the next 2 years, he topped the 3-position rifle event. His performance qualified him for the quadrennial Asian Games, held in Manila in 1954. Entered in the small bore rifle, 3-position, Chito had to fight for top honors to the last bullet. Way below in the morning shoots, he was able to pip his rival just by one point—who turned out to be his team mate Martin Gison.

 At the end of the Games, the Philippine team had garnered 15 golds—the most for the country since 1951—and 4 of these were courtesy of the Philippine shooting team led by the sharpshooting Chito Feliciano. In the next edition of the Asiad in Tokyo, Chito again won gold for the same event. Chito’s next stop was the 1960 Rome Olympics, which was every athlete’s dream. Pitted against the world’s best, he could only place 51st among 54 shooters in the small-bore rifle with 1,083 points in three positions.

Upon his return, Chito took a respite from his demanding sports by hosting a Sunday variety dance show on DZBB Channel 7, a station founded by American Bob Stewart. Stewart was married to Loreto Feliciano, a relative of Chito. Aside from being a sharpshooter, Chito had already established himself as a dancer of great skillin Manila’s social circle—adept at Latin style dancing. On 29 October 1961, “Dancetime with Chito” hit the Philippine airwaves for the first time. Chito and his group featured dances like chacha, tango, rhumba and ballroom dances. His pioneering dance show was an instant hit and helped Channel 7 pull in more viewers and advertising revenues.

 Chito hosted the show until 1964, when he had to leave again to represent the country at the shooting events of the Tokyo Olympics. He competed in the small-bore rifle prone in 3 positions—a demonstration sport—and came in 2nd. His winning streak continued at the World Shooting Championships in Germany in 1966, winning a Gold, 2 Silvers and a Bronze. He upped his medal harvest to 2 Golds and a Bronze at the next year’s championship in Phoenix, thus earning him the distinction as the country’s top marksman.

The Mexico Olympics in 1968 would be his last Olympiad, finishing 22nd of 30 shooters in the Free Rifle event. After his sporting days were over, he put his sharpshooting expertise to good use by joining the Philippine Navy as head of the Sniper Training Unit during the Marcos Administration.

As a marine officer, he rose to the rank of a Major, tasked with honing the skills of Philippine marine snipers. In one such military exercise in 1972-- in which he was supervising combat manuevers of Marines, Maj. Chito Feliciano’s helicopter crashed killing him instantly. He left behind his wife, Julie Murphy and daughter Joannie Feliciano, herself an accomplished actress-dancer-singer-painter-sportsman.


Ma. Virginia Arinas said...

Good day! :D where can i get in touch with the family of Mr. Chito Feliciano? I would like to request some scanned photos and memorabilias for the UP Rifle and Pistol Team Reunion next year, 2014. We are planning to have an exhibit. :D

alex r. castro said...

Hi, I am sorry but I don't know their contact numbers. But in my online research, I found a website of her daughter, Joanne Feliciano. Maybe you can search her out and her e-mail address. Thanks, Alex

Cecile said...

I am his niece from Tita Julie's side (his wife). Were you able to get in touch with Joannie for this? If not, I can possibly have you get in touch with his younger daughter Vangie who resides here it the states. PM me your contact details and I will send it to her if you like

(Thank you for honoring my Uncle - he was such a great gentleman - in so many ways - the perfect cavalier!)

tom3 said...

I saw an old newspaper clipping (dated 1949) in my house showing my father, Tommy Morato Jr., standing behind Chito Feliciano and Martin Gison, shooting their small bore .22 rifles on a prone position. I also remember that Lt. Cmdr. Adolfo "Chito" Feliciano perished, with the Phil. Marine Commandant, Cmdr. Rudiardo Brown when their PAF "Beaver" aircraft crashed in 1973 while inspecting Marine outposts.

My mother told me that my dad used to coach them. (My father was team Captain of the Letran ROTC Rifle team in 1939-1940. They participated in the Inter-ROTC rifle competitions. Pres. Marcos that time shot for U.P.)

alex r. castro said...

I bet your father was a great shooter too! Did he compete in shooting events too?

Unknown said...

Do you have any photos or documentation of the match in Arizona? I have a souvenir from my former club manager, Crecenciano C. de Castro, which shows a decal from the World Shoot in Arizona. I would be interested in any information about their participation. Pictures with them together would be useful. I am writing my memoir of my own modest shooting career. Far from Ising's and incomparable with Chito's. But would make my close relations glad for my contribution to our family history.