Agatha Wong Three-time SEA Games gold medalist Agatha Wong.

High hopes for wushu

July 17, 2021 Ed Andaya 710 views

THE Wushu Federation of the Philippines (WFP), now headed by Freddie Jalasco, is not allowing the coronavirus pandemic to affect its mindset of promoting the sport and producing more world-class athletes.

In fact, the WFP hopes to continue its success by bringing this popular Chinese martial arts sport closer to the people .by tapping the Department of Education and local government units for its grassroots development program.

“The WFP is looking at a very bright future. Madaming kailangang gawin na programa, lalo na kailangan natin ma-sustain yun mga achievements ng ating mga nakaraang officials,” said Jalasco during the 110th “Usapang Sports on Air” by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) via Zoom last Thursday.

“Personally, I have a tough act to follow (as WFP president). As we all know, mabigat yun mga past achievements ng mga wushu officials at athletes natin. Puro gold medals yun laging napa-panalunan. But I am confident we can mantain the high level of competitiveness of our athletes,” added Jalasco during the weekly public service program sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and Games and Amusements Board (GAB).

“Sa wushu, tulong-tulong kami lahat,” explained Jalasco, who served as one of the board of directors of wushu as early as 1992 before becoming president last month.

Jalasco, who also served as president of the Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP), also said the postponement of the 2021 Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam this November due to the pandemic, could also be a “blessing in disguise for the wushu athletes.”

“Sabi ko nga, magandang opportunity na din for us yung postponement ng SEA Games dahil makapaghahanda pa ng husto ang mga atleta natin. If I am not mistaken, talagang nahinto sila sa regular practices nila simula nagkaroon ng pandemic. Karamihan nag-uwian sa kani-kanilang mga probinsya. Puro individual training lang at walang group practices,” explained Jalasco, the first non Chinese-speaking president of the local wushu federation.

Asked about the possibility of wushu to become a regular sport in the Olympics, Jalasco.is keeping his fingers crossed.

“Our mantra in the WFP is to promote and develop the sport of wushu in country. The main objective, of course, is to help wushu become a regular sport in the Olympics,” said Jalasco.

“Wushu will soon have its Youth Olympic Games either in 2024 or 2026. Hopefully it will be the springboard for wushu to be finally included in the Olympics. Kaya sa WFP, we really want to maintain our competitive edge para pag nag Olympics, nandun tayo,” added Jalasco.

“Long-time wushu president and now secretary-general Julian Camacho is doing a lot and helping us get into the Olympics.”

Jalasco is confident that the Filipino athletes can do well in wushu, just like Willy Wang did when wushu was a demonstration sport during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

“In the 2018 Beijing Olympics, the Philippines is one of 13 countries which won a medal when wushu was a demnstration sport. We captured one gold, one silver and two bronzes to finish sixth overall behind China, Russia, Hong Kong, Macau and Iran,” recalled Jalasco.

Winning the gold medal for the Philippines was Wang, who topped the men’s nanquan.

“Although it was a demonstration sport, Wally brought home the gold medal. Kaya sabi namin, ang wushu ay sport na pang-Pilipino din. Malaki ang tsansa natin kapag naging regular Olympic sport na ang wushu,” said Jalasco.

Mary Jane Estimar added a silver medal in women’s 52-kg. sanshou, and Benjie Rivera contributed a bronze in men’s 56-kg sanshou, and Mariane Mariano in the women’s 60-kg sanshou.

Among the present batch of wushu stars, Jalasco has high hopes on 2015 World Championship silver medalist and three-time SEA Games champion Agathan Wong.

“Yan ang isang maganda dito sa wushu. Para kaming isang pamilya. Nakatutuwa na yun mga dating athletes namin, miyembro na ngayon ng aming executive board. Yun mother ni Agatha is one of our trustees. Maganda talaga yung involvement sa wushu family.”

Jalasco said sanda players are also doing very well in their training in Baguio City.

“Yun core ng team natin sa sanda, talagang nasa Baguio. Maganda yung training nila dun at malaking tulong si Eduard Folayang, na may experience sa mixed martial arts. In fact, madaming wushu players ang nag-graduate na din sa MMA dahil sa tulong ni Folayang.”

Jalasco also pointed to Iloilo and Davao as other wushu-friendly provinces.

“Madami ding magagaling ngayon galing Iloilo at Davao. Sila yun pinagkukunan natin ng grassroot development sa sanda. Nagkaroon lang ng problema dahil nahinto yun training dahil nga sa pandemic.”

One of the priority projects that Jalasco also wants to strengthen is the WFP’s grassoots development program.

“Yun ang isa sa mga pinag-usapan namin during our first executive board meeting last week. Gusto namin na mas lalong palakasin ang aming grassroots development program, most especially sa mga schools,” claimed Jalasco.

“If I remember it correctly, nagbigay na kami ng proposal to include wushu sa mga schools or P.E. program during the time of Secretary Raul Roco as Department of Education secretary. Sa ngayon, mostly Chinese schools pa lang talaga, like Chiang Kai Shek. Gusto namin kausapin yun mga malalaking school leagues like the UAAP and NCAA. Gusto namin maging regular events din nila ito. Hopefully, ma-implement namin lahat sa lalong madaling panahon.”

Jalasco is also excited to see wushu in the Palarong Pambansa

“Gusto ko talaga maisama ang wushu sa Palarong Pambansa. Alam nyo produkto din ako ng Palarong Pambansa at alam kong.mas maganda ang labanan dun. Talagang masasabi mo na grassroots yun. During my time as BAP president, sinasama ko lagi ang wushu every time na nagbibigay kami ng basketball clinics sa mga provinces. Hindi dati masyado kilala ang wushu sa mga probinsya,” recalled Jalasco.

“Ngayon, nagugulat sila na mas lumakas yung wushu sa probinsya, especially sa mga bata. Natutuwa sila dahil yung parang naglalaro lang sila, yung mga tumbling-tumbling ganun. Nae-enhance yung kanilang flexibility.”

Jalasco, however, admitted the WFP needs to do a lot more to help promote wushu to the Filipino people.

But Jalasco — and the WFP — are embracing the challenge.

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