I cannot make a closure on this article, as there were reactions from Loren Dale Echavez that went trending in the social media.
After many, many years, Echavez broke her silence about the stripping off of her medal during the Arafura Games after Philippine Amateur Swimming Association (PASA), now Philippine Swimming, Inc. (PSi) President Mark Powell Joseph called the attention of the organizer and said that she is not a PASA member.
Here is the statement of Echavez, which was posted on Facebook last January 31, 2017.
“Heartless. The only word I could think of after they stripped off my medal. I can still remember every detail of what happened 11 years ago. Imprinted at the deepest crevices of my brain and heart. I was 12 years old when I joined my second international competition-ARAFURA in Darwin, Australia. Hyped up for my first and favorite event, 50m Freestyle, I qualified for the finals. After the preliminaries, we went out for lunch and I saw this boutique with all my fave brands in it. So I asked my mom to buy me a roxy wallet, billabong cap, and a rip curl 2pc, etc.if ever I win a medal. Luckily, she agreed. (I made that deal because I had a strong feeling I’d win.) Finals came. Nervous. I felt the entire zoo in my stomach. While waiting for my name to be called, I sat on one corner and prayed (the secret my mom shared to me since I joined my first competition). Lo and behold, it’s my time to shine. Glanced at my fellow competitors for the last time before I stepped on the blocks (shizzzz, I was the smallest L ). Dove into the cold water and swam my heart out. I finished 2nd. Ecstatic with the results, I was smiling from ear to ear when I approached my mom. So the awarding ceremonies came, my name was called, the Philippine flag was raised behind me. I was so happy I got to stand on the podium representing my country. Who wouldn’t? What happened next totally changed my life as an athlete, as a person. After the ceremonies, the organizers stripped off my medal. I didn’t understand what was happening, with all my might I tried not to cry but I just couldn’t hold back my tears I ended up hugging my mom, crying. I guess that was my first heartbreak. What can I do? I was just 12. Everything just went down the drain. I wallowed in all the negative feelings and it just took over my system. It took me a while to process and absorb everything but it didn’t make sense at all. It was disheartening but it didn’t stop me from making waves. I swam my last events and I won. Although I was representing the country and I am proud to represent the country but I did it for myself and not for the country anymore. It’s sounds selfish but nothing is more selfish than what they did to me. Who would have thought a Filipino would do this to a fellow Filipino. Only in the Philippines!
To all swimmers who have experienced such heartbreaking event like mine, keep fighting coz people will drag and beat you to the ground until they take all the light in you, Keep the fire burning.”
There were lots of mixed emotions mostly coming from the Cebuano people.
They hate the system of Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and its National Sports Association (NSA) – PSi that they urged the government to do something about it.
It is my opinion also that the government regulatory agency, which is the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) must do something about the old system.
Under the new administration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, he wants to start with an inclusive government.
Sports have to transform in a surprising or magical manner.
In swimming under POC-NSA, the system has an exclusive membership and has ruined many swimmers’ lives.
This has been tolerated by POC and the past PSC administration despite violation and crimes committed by the NSA.
Three decades ago since 1986, PASA became exclusive when Mark Powell Joseph together with Ral Rosario, Pinky Brosas, Paulo Pabalan and Gonzales, privatized PASA and registered at Security and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Let it be known that the Philippine Swimming League (PSL) is in no way interested in becoming the NSA for swimming. It is enough that PSL is accredited by PSC.
However, the PSL will not stop fighting to democratize the sport until the system becomes “inclusive.”
Under the Constitution of the Philippines, Bill of Rights Article III Section I, it states that, “No person shall be deprived of Life, Liberty or property with due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of law.”
Also, as stated in Article 14, Section 19 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, “The State shall promote physical education and encourage sports programs, league competitions and amateur sports, including training for international competitions, to foster self-discipline, teamwork and excellence for the development of a healthy and alert citizenry.”
From above, the POC and its NSA must comply what is within the Constitution of the Philippines, otherwise they are violating the law of the land.
In closing, it is the PSL’s hope with all due respect to see under the new PSC Chairman and Commissioners the points that we request to be considered in swimming, stated as follows:
1. The biggest issue is discrimination.
2. The basic requirements of justice and fair play in choosing Philippine national team members to Southeast Asian Games, Asian Games and Olympics as the PSC role in Philippine sports is vested in public interest and involves the use of public funds.
3. Swimming and all other sports must be inclusive as mandated by law.
The PSL believes that the PSC, the government sports agency as mandated by law, will rise high to the call of fair play, justice and due process of law.
Under PSC Chairman William Ramirez, we believe he can stop political patronage and reconstitute the foundation of Philippine sports.
And we pray that in the case that Joseph will be replaced because of his inability to actively perform his duties, the PSC must secure that the sport of swimming be fully democratized and inclusive to all because NSAs are being funded by the government.
The swimming community once again is echoing the call for genuine change by President Rodrigo Duterte.