The heartbreaking yet inspiring story of the PBA star who became a jeepney driver

Image by GMA KMJS, Motorcycle Philippines

After five years of playing in the PBA, Noli was forced to retire from professional basketball because none of the teams wanted him anymore. Unfortunately, he was not able to save a big amount of money during his PBA career. And so he went back to Davao del Sur, sold his car and bought a jeepney.

Our fathers may still recognize the name Noli Banate who played in the PBA as a Center, especially if your father is an avid PBA fanatic.

Since childhood, Banate has been into basketball. He became a varsity player of the University of Mindanao, where he was discovered and invited for a tryout for the team Crispa.

According to the feature story by GMA’s Kapuso mo Jessica Sojoin May, 2017, it was in 1983 when he first became part of the PBA, he was one of the pioneer players of Alaska Milkmen, and became part of Great Taste Coffee Makers.

Banate even teamed up with Norman Black, who gave him a message:

“Noli, I remember you, there’s no question about that, we stood side by side for the San Miguel Beermen and we fought together on a lot of games, I hope everything’s going well for you, I hope you’re having a happy life in whatever you’re doing, and those are good memories as far as I’m concerned for the San Miguel Beermen.”

Black told GMA: “He is my teammate, he is about as tall as I am and basically, he covered my back for me, because physically, a lot of players want to stop me, Noli was one of the guys who helped me out on the middle.”

A number of professional athletes remained financially stable and ended up living happy lives, while others still struggle to make a living after their career ends. But what does a “happy life” really mean?

Noli Banate was not reported to have been involved in worldly vices or illegal drugs, and it is not his fault that his career ended. Rather it’s just the common scenario in the world of sports where no team wants you anymore, and which we may never be aware just how much it hurts an athlete.

Image via Noli Banate Sr’s Facebook account

Well, maybe there is one or two significant lesson we could learn from his story.

He was not able to save enough money so he has to work hard to provide for his family.

After he left Manila, he kept himself busy at a stall in some marketplace in Davao.

He never stopped supporting his family, but still he wasn’t making enough money, and that’s when he decided to sell his car and buy a jeepney.

Noli became a jeepney driver, traveling from the Municipality of Magsaysay to Davao City and earning about P1,000 per day on a three-working-days a week basis. He also has his jeepney rented regularly for transportation of goods where he earns P2,000 per travel.

But the challenges of life seem to never end, as sometimes what he earns is still short, especially for the high-cost maintenance of his now old jeepney.

But as what a father should be, he always has what we call ‘diskarte’ [finding ways].

Image via Noli Banate Sr’s Facebook account

The former PBA star has four children and they were able to graduate.

Nevertheless, despite not being ‘rich’ anymore, Noli still lives a happy, contented and peaceful life with his loved ones; a loving husband to his wife and a responsible father to his kids.

As seen on the video, he burst in tears as his family showed their appreciation for all his hard work:

Banate dreams of playing basketball with his former teammates one last time, even for just a reunion game. As he misses his glorious days on the PBA, he misses them too, he said.