• Wesley So, ‘American’ or still Filipino?

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    ROMY P. MARIÑAS

    ROMY P. MARIÑAS

    Is he or is he not?

    Wesley So, that is, is he an American or not an American now?

    This question stems from So representing the United States in the 42nd World Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan.

    If he can play for the US, he must be now an American citizen and the Philippines cannot anymore lay claim to the former Filipino chess prodigy.

    With So around, the Americans, according to a report, are probably the strongest contenders for the crown.

    Meanwhile, Philippine sports authorities are all over themselves trying to reinvent the wheel after another debacle in Rio last month (with all due respect to Hidylin Diaz).

    They are proposing this institute purportedly to produce gold-medal winners in the Olympic Games and that commission to oversee ‘grassroots” development of various disciplines.

    What these clueless bureaucrats are doing is to add layers and layers of bureaucracy to already top-heavy sports bodies teeming with bureaucrats who only “care” about the country’s athletes after every embarrassing Olympic, Asian Games or Southeast Asian Games campaign.

    Then, they enjoy their fat salaries and unearned allowances until the next predictably shameful result in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

    Why, they don’t really care about weightlifting (it does not sell tickets) because all they think of is basketball (it sells tickets and shoes and other merchandise, it enables local cage officials to have selfies with Tony Parker or Kobe Bryant).

    Wesley So had a falling out with Philippine chess honchos over rewards

    that, according to the law, should be given to him by the government but allegedly were not handed to him.

    Before this controversy erupted, the chess whiz, now 23, had won the Philippines first-ever gold medal (in chess, what else?) in the World University Games or more popularly Universiade in Kazan, Russia, in July 2013.

    Apparently, So and his parents practically having to beg for what was due the young man broke the proverbial camel’s back, and Wesley flew to America.

    So the United States Chess Federation grabbed him and he is now listed No. 7 in the world in the latest FIDE rankings.

    Irony of ironies is that So is playing Board 3 for the US chess team and Eugene Torre, the Philippines’ and Asia’s first grandmaster, is also manning Board 3 for the Filipinos.

    If by chance the United States and the Philippines met in the 11-round Baku Olympiad (Round 3 was completed last Sunday, Azerbaijan time), and board assignments were upheld, then we Filipinos would likely call it a match between two teams with Filipinos and a “Filipino” on each side.

    This corner would rather root for both the Filipino Torre and the “American” So, by way of Bacoor, Cavite (his birthplace).

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    5 Comments

    1. True, but there’s no stopping him applying for US citizenship and yet remaining ng filipino at heart like all filipinos abroad….

    2. Regardless of a person’s nationality, everyone has the right to do on what seems to be the best for their careers. Wesley just did what seems to be the best for him.

      At the end of the day, what Wesley did to his career now serves as a lesson to our national chess federation. Others might hate him because he ditched our beloved country for another one. Sad to say but this seems to be the result of what they call corruption around the federation

    3. Wesley is still a Filipino and carries a Philippine passport. He is representing the US Chess Federation because he is a member. He does nit need to be a US citizen to represent USCF — membership is sufficient.