Photos by Karl Angelo G. delos Santos
Words by Lucky Chan
Jomari brought glory to LSGH by winning the Gold in the both the 800m and the 1,500m run, setting the NCAA record in 1979. Greg won the 800m Gold in 1981 while Rene delivered the Silver in the grueling 3,000m run. All three brothers became the team captain of the legendary LSGH Track & Field Team under coach Tatang Mendoza, who established a long legacy of winning the overall Track & Field Championship for over a decade. All three brothers were awarded the MVP medal for Track upon graduating at LSGH.
Thus, the three Banzon brothers became well known for their passion and excellence in track & field.
The three boys continued their educational and athletic journey at De La Salle University. Jomari excelled the most and was awarded the MVP for Athletics for three straight years and overall sport MVP upon graduating. Rene also garnered the MVP award for two years.
The Banzon Brothers continued to deliver medals for DLSU in the NCAA and in outside athletic meets when the University opted to pull out of the collegiate league. They were even part of the collegiate team that competed in the International Sister Cities Games in Taiwan. One of the highlights of their collegiate athletic career was winning the Gold in the Philippine Amateur Track & Field Association 4 x 800 Relay National Finals. The Banzon Brothers bested the Philippine Army Team which included National Team members for the Gold.
What is remarkable is the continued participation of the brothers in running well into their 50’s. The youngest, Greg –is one of the most prominent triathletes and promoter of the sport in the Philippines.
Roots in La Salle Green Hills
The fabled La Salle Green Hills Track & Field training system under multi-champion coach Tatang Mendoza served as the foundation of athletic development for the Banzon Brothers. They joined the track team together with Jomari being signed up with the varsity team in his Junior year as a distance runner in 1978 while Rene and Greg were accepted into the aspiring ”farm team” as middle distance runners.
Jomari distinguished himself in his Senior year by winning NCAA Gold Medals in the 800m, 1,500m and 3,000m run. He set the record for the 1,500m run in the same year. Jomari also had a string of gold medals in the NCR Regional Track Meats leading to the Palarong Pambansa where he was a member of the National Capital Region Track Team. Rene’s shining moment with the LSGH Track Team was his NCAA Silver Medal performance in the 3,000m run in his Senior Year. He also garnered some gold medals in Track Meets with the International School System in 1980.Greg garnered the Gold Medal in the NCAA 800m and Silver Medal as the Anchorman for the 4 x 400m relay team in his Senior Year at LSGH. All three brothers became Captains of the Varsity Team in their respective Senior Years in High School. All three brothers were also awarded the MVP Medal in Track during their graduation at LSGH.
Collegiate Track & Field
Jomari and Rene developed into outstanding long distance and middle distance runners in their college days at DLSU. Jomari dominated the 1500m and 5,000m run in the NCAA and won Gold Medals for each despite being only a sophomore. He garnered the silver in both events the year before as a college freshman – indeed a rare feat.
Rene won several medals for DLSU in PATAFA track events and dual meets versus top schools such as Ateneo and UP.
Jomari and Rene were awarded the MVP medal for Track at DLSU.
International Sister Cities Games
The Banzon Brothers were part of the Collegiate Team representing the Philippines to compete in the International Sister Cities Games in Tainan, Taiwan in 1983.
Jomari garnered a bronze medal as a member of the 4x400m relay team as well as putting in strong performances in the 800m and 1,500m races.
The Banzon Brothers
Jose Mari H. Banzon
LSGH (1975 – 1979)
DLSU (1979 – 1983)
Jose Mari Banzon is the eldest among the Banzon Brothers track & field athletes who collectively made a mark in the sport back in the 70’s and early 80’s.
Jomari, as he is now known in the corporate world, was an exemplary student at DLSU’s Liberal Arts & Commerce program majoring in Economic and Management of Financial Institutions.
His notable achievements in athletics include gold medals in the NCAA in both the Senior and Junior Divisions and being awarded the MVP in Track for three consecutive years at DLSU (1980 to 1982) and the Overall MVP for all sports in 1983. He was the Captain of both his La Salle Greenhills High School and De La Salle University Track & Field Team.
Jomari pursued a corporate career and rose through the ranks to become one of the top Executives of the SM Group. He is the Chief Operating Officer of SMDC, the prestigious property arm of the Sy Family. However, despite his senior position, he continues to compete in running events and has done the Tokyo & New York City Marathon.
From a High School & Collegiate Track Star to an accomplished top Corporate Executive (COO of SMDC) and avid Marathoner way into his 50’s. He has done the NYC and Tokyo Marathons.
After graduating Honorable Mention from DLSU in 1983 and awarded Most Valuable Player -Athletics, Loyalty, Jomari established his career in the banking sector, starting with BCCI, Hong Kong and moving to First Pacific Bank and PNB also in Hong Kong. He came back to the Philippines to head the Commercial Banking Group of Export & Industry Bank in 1999, before joining MetroBank’s Asset Recovery Corporation. Six more years with Federal Land Inc as EVP/GM before moving to SM Development Corp. (SMDC), Phils. – SM Group as EVP and COO.
Rene Philip H. Banzon
LSGH (1976 – 1980)
DLSU (1980 – 1985)
Rene distinguished himself both in High School and in College by winning a string of medals including a Silver in the grueling 3,000m run NCAA Juniors in 1979 and Gold Medals in the Private School Athletic Development Association Track Meets. He was awarded the MVP medal upon graduating in La Salle Green Hills.
Rene was a shoo in for the Track Team at DLSU. And despite his heavy academic load as an Engineering student, he managed to continue to compete at a top level including garnering Gold Medals in the Philippine Amateur Track & Field Association National (PATAFA) Finals in and the Philippine Inter-Collegiate & Universities Athletic Association (PICUAA) competitions. Rene set the PICUAA record in the 800m in 1985.
Rene was twice awarded MVP for Track at DLSU and was the Team Captain in the latter part of his stint in the University.
After college, Rene pursued a career in the Aviation industry and rose through the ranks at Philippine Airlines, Asiana and is now the General Manager of the joint-venture between Singapore Airlines and Cebu Pacific focused on aircraft maintenance.
Rene continues to be very active in shorter runs and events.
From High School & Collegiate Track Team Captain and MVP to a Senior Executive in the Airline Industry. Also did extensive commercial modelling. Continues to be active in run races.
Gregory Francis H. Banzon
LSGH (1977 – 1981)
DLSU (1981 – 1985)
Greg is the youngest of the Banzon Brothers track athletes. He gave La Salle a Gold Medal in the NCAA 800m and two Silver Medals 400m and 4x400m while in the Juniors. He continued his track career at DLSU and was part of the 4x800m DLSU Team that won Gold in the PATAFA finals, besting the Philippine Army Team which had National Team athletes.
Though Greg was always under the shadow of his two older brothers in High School and College, it is his achievements after DLSU that he has given pride to La Salle. Greg continues to compete in Triathlons and Marathons and Runs and has won Gold medals in his age group. Greg has also completed full IRONMAN races which is a 3.8km swim, 180km bike and 42k run all in one go.
Greg has been featured in sports magazines and was named among the Most Influential people in Philippine Triathlon. He is also credited for helping bring the full Ironman into the Philippines in 2018. He was the cover of Raceday Magazine in the 4th Quarter of 2018.
Parallel to being an age group triathlete and runner, he is a successful Corporate Executive. He was the youngest ever appointed as Managing Director at Johnson & Johnson in the 90’s and went on to win three (3) Agora Awards for Excellence in Marketing (Marketing Company of the Year 2011, Outstanding Achievement in Marketing 2014 and Export Marketing Excellence 2018). Greg also led Century Pacific to be awarded Asia Marketing Company of the Year in 2016.
Greg is currently the Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of Century Pacific Food, Inc. Prior to this, he was VP/GM of the Branded Food Group of RFM Corporation, the managing director of Johnson & Johnson and earlier stints with Bayer, Apptown Marketing and Citibank.
Greg’s best years as an athlete for De La Salle were in High School where he won the NCAA Gold in the very competitive 800m run in 1981. He was also the team captain in the same year. He continued as an athlete in DLSU and pursued a sterling corporate career thereafter. He is a multi-awarded Corporate Executive. He is COO of Century Pacific Food, Inc and a three time Agora Awardee for Marketing Excellence.
Greg continues to excel in running an triathlon well into his 50’s and is named among the most influential people in Philippine Triathlon.
Greg continued on to be an avid runner and a champion age group triathlete. Having never stopped running, he moved up to doing triathlons in 2006. He has competed in full Ironman events (3.8km swim, 180km bike and 42km run) and the shorter distances of 70.3 and 5i50 as well as Olympic standard triathlons well into his 50’s. Greg has won several gold medals including becoming the CEO age group champion in the Cobra Ironman 70.3 Cebu triathlon in 2016.
Despite being already 50, Greg has stayed extremely athletic and lives the lifestyle and equity of the Century Tuna brand owned by the company he works for. He is one of the country’s top proponents of Triathlon and Running and is a consistent strong finisher for both his age group and in overall standings in top races.
Greg worked with Industrialist and sportsman, Fred Uytengsu to bring the first full Ironman event to the Philippines in 2018.
Greg is among the handful of Filipino athletes who has completed the full IRONMAN distance (3.8km Swim, 180km Bike, 42k Run) and in doing so, has inspired other a slew of other athletes to pursue this tough challenge. He was featured in several magazines including Raceday for his accomplishments in triathlon.
This article was originally published in 2020.
Photos by Karl Angelo G. delos Santos.
Words by Lucky Chan