“The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny.” ALBERT ELLIS
By Alex P. Vidal
If the alleged “no government support” issue has been blown out of proportions, Teresa, the mother of Sochi Winter Olympics skater Michael Martinez, is partly to blame.
News that she mortgaged her house in Mandaluyong City for the trip of her son came out two days after the opening ceremonies in Sochi, Russia witnessed “live” by millions of TV audience all over the world last Sunday morning in Manila.
Teresa’s sob story plus the other telenovela-type articles about 17-year-old Michael’s struggle to qualify for the biennial Games spread like wild fire in mass and social media. Followed by the bashing of President Noynoy Aquino’s “corrupt” government.
While fans from other snowy countries were cheering for their athletes and monitoring the medal tally, Filipinos, “touched” by the “shabby” treatment of Michael, were up in arms against the government.
It turned out Michael was never neglected contrary to allegations. Both the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) did their parts to ensure that Michael makes it to the Sochi Games. The stipend released by the PSC for Michael was the same amount given to other national athletes who compete abroad. No special treatment. Everyone is treated equally under the policy. Even if figure skating is no grassroots event.
But Teresa apparently wanted more. She probably wanted the government to also fund her trip to Sochi thus when the PSC failed or refused to give more, she went to media. If she had mental honesty, she would have revealed to media that her son also received financial windfall from corporate sponsors led by the Sy family who owns Asia’s biggest malls in and outside the Philippines. Plus the financial bonanza Michael will get after the Olympics.
Under the law, the PSC cannot shell out millions of pesos requested by an individual athlete. The NSA or national sports association accredited by PSC is tasked to facilitate the request for funding if it is more than P50,000. It’s the job of the Philippine Skating Union as NSA to make a formal request, not the parent of an athlete.
Teresa should emulate the parents of chess grand masters Mark Paragua and Wesley So. Instead of bellyaching and slandering the government, they initiated their own initiatives and tapped corporate sponsors to build the chess career of their sons. They didn’t condemn the government. They did not go to media to cry foul and sensationalize their sons’ predicament. The parents of these chess players are aware that the rise of their sons to the pinnacle of chess will be derailed if they will rely everything to the cash-strapped government thus they paddled their own canoes and cultivated their gardens.
And these chess players are no peanuts. So is currently ranked No. 1 in the Philippines, No. 2 among juniors and No. 28 in the world. He was previously the strongest Under-16 player in the world and, in October 2008, was rated 2610. So became the youngest player ever in the history of the game to break the 2600 ELO barrier, breaking the record previously held by Magnus Carlsen.
The youngest Filipino master ever, at nine years of age, Paragua also became the youngest Filipino GM ever at 20 (until Wesley So surpassed it), beating out Eugenio Torre’s record by about two years.
Paragua qualified for the 2004 World Championship in Tripoli, Libya, where he was eliminated by Viktor Bologan of Moldova in the first round 1-3. He also qualified for World Cup Chess 2005 (qualifying tournament for world championship) and upset Armenian GM Sergei Movsesian in the first round before narrowly losing in the tie breaker against Alexey Dreev of Russia in the second round.
Paragua became the first Filipino to reach 2600 FIDE after he placed second in the Asian Zonal 3.3 Chess Championships in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Aside from Paragua and So, there were other athletes who competed in other world events like the Paralympics and World Cup who never received substantial financial support but, motivated by deep patriotism and love for sports, opted to keep quite and just show their talents on world stage. They made their countrymen proud with their performances and their parents didn’t raise any whimper to sensationalize their predicament.