• Standing tall at Sochi

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    Ma. Lourdes N. Tiquia

    Ma. Lourdes N. Tiquia

    As we entered the weekend, social media was buzzing about a Filipino by the name of Michael Christian Martinez, born November 4, 1996, that makes him 17-years-old. Michael is a Filipino figure skater. By Sunday, netizens were getting mad because of the sad tale told by the mother of Michael on the lack of support by the Aquino administration for his son’s training. Truly sad!

    Good thing TV5 is covering the Winter Games and we saw the beautiful opening and the march of athletes as well as the first turn by Martinez on the ice. I held my breath like I did back years ago when I watched Kristine Tsuya “Kristi” Kamaguchi, an American figure skater. She was the 1992 Olympic Champion in ladies’ singles. Yamaguchi also won two World Figure Skating Championships in 1991 and 1992 and a US Figure Skating Championships in 1992. At that time, there was no SM ice rink. And from her I learned the different moves: axel, flip, lutz, loop, sail how, throw jumps, spiral, twizzle, spins, arabesque and my fave, the Beillman spin.

    And so it was like time travel for me but with technology, it was like you were in Sochi. Minutes after the technical glitch in the opening routine, fireworks burst and lit up the night sky outside the gleaming 40,000-capacity Fisht Stadium located on the shores of the Black Sea. With the Internet, one can watch the 7-23 February games in the comfort of one’s room and that got me to stare at the tablet screen when Philippines was called and a motley team of 5 walked gallantly with our flag waving through the cold Russian air. The old athlete spirit in me whispered good luck not knowing that the flag bearer was the lone athlete for the PH.

    Martinez was fifth at the 2013 World Junior Championships and has won two senior international medals. Michael was the flag bearer and the lone athlete from the Philippine competing in the Winter Olympics at Sochi, Russia. Yes, despite the lack of material support by the national government to our national athletes, just like before, they would often stand tall for the flag. Among athletes, that’s an honor code even if our uniforms don’t fit, our jackets can’t stand the fierce cold weather, meager allowance for food, etc. Athletes are trained for the ultimate stage: fighting for the flag and Martinez proved, at the tender age of 17, that he can hold his head up, as athletes before him did, despite the lack of support from government. Imagine how far the billions of pesos in PDAF can go or the billions of pesos lost because of rice smuggling or the juggling of funds via DAP? The Secretary of Budget should have augmented the lack of funds of Martinez since he is in the habit of augmenting non-itemized allocations.

    Fisht Stadium is a state-of-the-art arena, one of several construction projects that have swelled the budget of the Winter Games to a record $50 billion. Russians are up in arms because of this in the same way as Brazilians questioned the appropriateness of building a new stadium for the World Cup. I guess governments across the globe are having a hard time understanding the new norm. But I digress, I am writing this column in the hope that we can start a Martinez fund.

    SM should continue to support Martinez and the billionaires should start walking the talk. That’s one athlete and he is preparing for 2018. Any takers? I don’t think any of the billionaires knew a Filipino athlete was competing in the Winter Games. Now you know, what do you plan to do? Now you know that their house has been mortgaged so that Michael can represent the country in Sochi, what do you plan to do? Must we set aside the pleas of the mother of Michael?

    Mr. President, our flag is waving mightily proud in the Winter Olympics, for the very first time. We have our first serious and possible Winter Olympics medalist or a serious finisher at that as well as the first representative from Southeast Asia. Don’t miss the boat please.

    And let’s not forget President Aquino, the Olympic motto is the Latin phrase: Citius, Altius, Fortius. It also looks like a good thing for PH.

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    8 Comments

    1. This is the sad plight of Filipinos. Look at the victims of SENDONG, PABLO AND YOLANDA, the earthquake, the Zamboanga seige, the government has failed everytime. I feel bad for Michael, he definitelly needs help in a different way but with the president busy with his own personal agenda doesn’t care about anybody but his
      Liberal Party. It’s about politics. I wish and pray that some wealthy Filipinos will
      support this young fellow financially because he definitely has the talent and skills.
      This is just the sad reality of being a Filipino who’s underprivileged financially.

    2. MGA KABABAYAN PISO para kay Martinez so kong bawat pinoy mag bibigay ng piso malaki ng tulong hindi pa mabigat kahit da ordenaryong pinoy

    3. Why does he have not a facebook to “fund me”. I will be glad to chip in. This is a kid that deserves to be funded.

    4. Aasa ka pa sa tulong ng Malacanyang, e masyado silang abala sa pag gawa ng batas para sa Bangsamoro Autonomous Region at sa pag privatization ng mga ospital at iba pa. Sabi nga ng CBCP tamad ang gobbyerno sa pamamalakad ng mga ahensya para sa basic industrial utilities (like water, electricity, transportation, hospital,etc), as a consequence ang mga private sectors na mayayaman lang ang nakinabang sa 7.2 % GDP growth while the rest poor filipinos becoming more poorer except the families of OFW’s who are sustaining the malls of all taipans. Itong issue ninyo na tumulong ng mga athletes e malayo sa tingin ng gobyerno.

      • At least he wears the yellow ribbon. I dare noy2 to wear his shirt with a Philippine MAP including on it, a design with SABAH, I mean SABAH, NOT saging SABA. IS HE THE PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINE REPUBLIC or the yellow republic. Stop putting a yellow ribbon on your shirts, very devisive ! Agree ?

    5. I read about the plight of Michael Martinez on fb and I really wondered how so, despite being the lone representative of the country,

      I watched the opening game of the Golden State Warriors in the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, this season. There was a telephone number flashed, all throughout the game, in the big four-sided TV screen in the center of the arena which all of the 17,000, or so, spectators can see. In the screen was a telephone number for anyone willing to donate to victims of the Yolanda typhoon in the Philippines to text to, for an automatic contribution of $10. (I wonder if the total amount collected was accounted for?)

      For his training and next competition, a “Martinez Skating Fund” can be opened with a bank in Manila. A number for possible donors to send a text for an automatic deduction of ten pesos. Another bank (and telephone number) account should be opened for U.S. donors, preferably in California..

      But, despite the non-support of his government, I am sure every politico will be “very proud” of him if he gets a medal. What more if it’s gold. Good luck Michael. .

    6. Teodora Guina Snyder on

      I would appreciate it if I can keep getting update on this young man, to see how he’s doing.