Gilbert Bulawan was never the star player that brought his team to great heights. He’s not a player a typical basketball fan would recall. In fact you have to be a hardcore basketball fan to actually know who he is. But he was the teammate you loved to have on your team, a glue guy who always gave his 100 percent, whether in practice or in games. He always did whatever his team needed him to do. He was the epitome of a hard-nosed player, willing to take on the dirty work.

Bulawan played for the San Sebastian Golden Stags during his college days and helped them to a couple of Finals appearances, including a championship in 2009. He wasn’t the most heralded player on that team, as he was playing behind guys like Calvin Abueva, Ian Sangalang, and Ronald Pascual. However, his work didn’t go unnoticed. In 2011, he was selected by the Meralco Bolts with the 17th pick in the draft. He played two seasons with the Bolts, before moving over to the expansion Blackwater Elite in 2014. In his four years in the PBA, he averaged 2.5 points and 1.9 rebounds in 11.5 minutes per game. While his stats aren’t spectacular, he brought a lot of outside the box score, with a blue collar game that gave his teams a lift.

Sadly last July 3, 2016 while his team was practicing for the upcoming Governors’ Cup, he collapsed, and was declared dead on arrival at the hospital, suffering from a “massive cardiac arrest”. While his coaches called Bulawan one of the most fit players on the team, according to reports, he suffered from an enlarged heart.

While the whole Philippine basketball community mourns his loss, we also remember how he has impacted the lives of his teammates, coaches and the whole basketball community. We remember his passion for the game, which can be just as important as height.

To Gilbert Bulawan’s his family and friends, we offer our deep condolences, and may you rest in peace Gilbert Bulawan.