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How coach LA Mumar enables full potential in others, including his brother Mayor Vico Sotto

By JUSTINE PUNZALAN Published Mar 09, 2021 2:17 am

As the firstborn son of premier actress Coney Reyes and PBA great Larry Mumar, LA Mumar wouldn’t deny that his early life came with some perks. 

Teachers would know him from the get-go, and there was strong name recall. Inspired by his grandfather and PBA legend Lauro “The Fox” Mumar, LA consistently held a spot in Ateneo de Manila’s varsity basketball team from grade school up until college.

But as part of the league’s second team, he knew that hailing from a family of acclaimed personalities does not secure one a spot in the limelight.

“I was a benchwarmer when I was in college,” he told PhilSTAR Life. “I knew the feeling of a basketball player who was not a star player ‘cause I wasn’t.”

Conversely, the collegiate coach considers it a feat that developed his deep love for his work, bringing out the best in people. 

“I think that really helped me in my coaching career. May term sila sa sports, e, ‘yung ‘player’s coach.’ So I really encourage, inspire. Hindi ko pinu-put down ang mga players, hindi ko sila minumura. I’m more like uplifting talaga and maximizing their potential—very player’s coach ako,” he said. “So I think I understand players well.”

LA jumpstarted his coaching career in 2011 when former PBA player and coach Eric Altamirano saw his potential in directing basketball teams. "He got me as assistant coach in National University. Nakitaan naman ako ng potential and I was given the chance to be the head coach of the junior NCAA team," he recounted.

In 2014, LA went on to serve as the coach of Lyceum Junior Pirates for five years. In 2020, he was hired by Ateneo as Assistant Athletic Director for Varsity Development and eventually, as the coach of the Ateneo Lady Eagles basketball team. LA continued, "After my tenure there (Lyceum), na-move ako sa Ateneo, which is a homecoming for me. I coach the Ateneo women's basketball team, and I'm also one of the assistant athletic directors there."

Apart from loving the sport, LA has been acing the job fueled by his long-held passion for unleashing the full capabilities of others. "You really have to love people kasi it's part of coaching, especially in college. Formation kasi siya, e. I see it as teaching basketball but also teaching values in life sa players ko," he said, adding, "Remember noong highschool tayo, noong college tayo, very moldable tayo, 'di ba. Kung ano 'yung inimpart sa atin ng teachers, coaches, nadadala natin until we're old. You want to enrich them, and you want to bring value to them."

In the same year that coach Altamirano took notice of LA's potential in 2011, another mentor saw his untapped talent in motivational speaking. "Chinkee Tan, he was the one. Noong nakita niya, sabi niya, ‘LA, ang galing mo magsalita. You know, you should try this also. It's a way of inspiring people.' So he gave me an opportunity. He brought me to his talks and sometimes, I would do some parts. Like kunwari sa whole morning, he would give me like 30 minutes, and eventually I enjoyed it," he said. 

Mom  Coney Reyes with her children LA, Carla Mumar and Vico Sotto.

Tan trained LA for a year before he set forth with his own brand, Talks by LA Mumar, which provides leadership seminars, workshops, and team building programs to different corporations in the country and abroad.

Looking back, the university coach and motivational speaker says it was Altamirano and Tan's belief in him that accounts for much of his success. "Kaya 'yang dalawang tao na ‘yan, malaki ang utang na loob ko kasi they saw potential in me when I couldn’t see potential," LA said.

Shedding light on his brother, Mayor Vico Sotto

More than being a trainer off and on court, LA is a husband to his wife, Macy, and a father to his three sons, Lorenzo, Mateo, and Alejandro. He is also the brother of Carla Mumar and a half-brother to Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto. 

Even before the coach discovered his calling, his siblings would attest to his innate character of being uplifting. So much so that Vico considers him his inspiration for entering politics.

"I really saw so much potential in him. As in, ibig mag-isip,” says LA of Vico.

LA, on the other hand, told PhilSTAR L!fe that he had "very little" to do with Vico's success as a government leader because Vico himself is naturally "brilliant."

"I really saw so much potential in him. As in, ibig mag-isip. ‘Yung mga ginagawa niya ngayon, hindi ako nagugulat," LA revealed. "‘Di ba people are saying, ‘Wow!’ [but] he was like that ten years ago. Iba mag-isip ‘yan, iba. He’s not the nerdy kind, pero iba siya. He’s very innovative, very detail-oriented."

While being a potent leader seems to come naturally for the 31-year-old mayor, it was LA who ignited his fascination for politics. LA recalled, "When he was young, nakitaan ko siya ng potential. Since we'd always hang out, I’ll tell him stories—'di ba varsity ako—about sports, English, you know things I learned in school. I actually shared with him a lot of things pero kita ko talaga that his eyes sparkled when I started talking about governance."

I actually shared with him a lot of things pero kita ko talaga that his eyes sparkled when I started talking about governance.

"That’s why, if you see some of his interviews, 'di ba sabi niya I exposed him. Actually, I exposed him to a lot," he continued. "So being the kuya, I want him to be great. I exposed him to a lot—literature, sports—pero his eyes sparkled when it was governance. So doon siya nae-excite. So 'yun yung tinuro ko sa kanya kasi doon siya masaya."

"Bata palang alam na niya, innnate na sa kanya na iyon 'yung gusto niya gawin," he added.

And just when playing patintero or "pogs and text" was the common pastime of boys his age, Vico and his ten-year older brother would spend time together, make-believing he’s leading the country's government. 

LA and Vico when they were kids. 

The coach recounted, "And we would have role-playing games, magpi-pretend kaming government kami ng Philippines. We would draw it on pieces of paper. Alam mo 'yung malalaking cartolina? So we will draw the Philippines [on it] 'tapos he would be the president. Bibigyan ko siya ng mga scenario kunwari, ‘What would you do with the economy?’ I would give him problems then he would have to solve them in coupon bond and cartolina scattered all across our room."

Asked if he was surprised that Vico ran for mayor, the proud elder brother said, “Hindi, hindi talaga. People text me, ‘Wow, LA, he thought of that, grabe your brother.’ I am not surprised. I am zero surprised because bata pa lang ‘yan nakita ko na brilliance niyan.”

It is clear that humility and effective leadership skills run strong in the family, as LA added, "'Di ba, he was awarded as one of the 12 global anticorruption champions, I was not surprised. I knew this was gonna happen, as a kuya who has seen him. We grew up together in one house. I knew his skills, his character, his integrity."


Banner photos from LA Mumar