IN the eyes of Philippine Pencak Silat Association (PISAI) president Princess Jacel Kiram, better days are ahead in sports as in life.
In fact the Filipino athletes now hope to turn their long inactivity due to the deadly coronavirus outbreak into something good, something better.
“We’re actually doing bubble training now in preparation for many events next year, including the 30th Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi in May next year,”said Kiram during the 127th edition of the “Usapang Sports on Air” by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) last Nov. 11.
“I think the Filipinos can regain their competitive spirit and excel in sports next year despite this long inactivity due to the pandemic,” added Kiram in the weekly public service program sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and Games and Amusements Board (GAB).
The Filipinos finished fourth overall with one gold two silvers and one bronze in the 2019 SEA Games held at the Subic Bay Convention Center on Dec. 2-5, 2019.
The top three countries in pencak silat are Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, which bagged two gold medals each.
Winning the country’s lone gold medal was Edmar Tacuel in the men’s singles in Seni (artistic) event.
The silver medals came from Mary Francine Padios in the women’s singles and Alfau Jan Abad and Almohaidic Alfad in the men’s doubles.
Bronze medalist is Dines Dumaan in the Class B 50-55 kg Tanding ( Match) class.
Can the Filipinos repeat in Hanoi?
We certainly hope we can deliver and contribute medals again,” said Kiram.
The Davao-based female sports leader said both Tacuel and Padios are already assured of leading the national team to Hanoi.
“Actually, we have already selected the members of the national team.Edmar and Francine have maintained their weight kaya umaasa kami na kung ano yun performance nila dati, ganun pa din next year.”
“Dines, who won a gold in the 2017 SEA Games, is also back. He is training now in Bayombong, kasama ang ibang mga national team members, Isa siya sa masasabing responsible athlete namin sa pencak silat.”
The SEA Games is only the beginning.
“But we’re not just getting ready for the SEA Games but a lot more. There’s also the World Championships, na na-postponed last year and this year but sigurado na matuloy next year,” the Davao-based Kiram told editors and reporters of TOPS.
“Nandyan din yung World Martial Arts Union which is being held in Korea every four years. Tapos Asian Games at Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, na re-scheduled to 2023 in Thailand.”
Kiram said the PISAI is pulling all stops to give their athletes the best training possible.
“Our isolation training will last four months, covering all. By February or March, we’ll train all the way to the SEA Games in May. Tapos diretso na ang training para sa iba’t ibang category na meron ang AIMAG. Magkakaiba sila, pero ang kagandahan nito, isahan lang training ng mga atleta. Kung malilit ang category ng SEA Games, malalaki naman ang sa AIMAG at World Championship. Lahat ng categories meron,” explained Kiram.
She thanked the PSC for helping a lot in their bubble training at the Triple C Farm and Private Resort in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya.
“Mabuti na lang we were granted the bubble training by the PSC. Salamat po ng madami sa suporta sa mga atleta namin,” added Kiram, saying she is confident the athetes will regain their fighting shape during the bubble training.
“I’m sure magbabalik po ang galing ng mga atleta natin kasi napatunayan na naman na nila yan. Kasi nung pandemic, madami ang umuwi at nag-relax kasama ang pamilya, kabarkada, pati mga aso nila. For the past three years, sa Rizal at sa ULTRA na sila nakatira para paghahanda sa SEA Games 2019 na tayo ang host. Ayaw natin mapahiya syempre.”
Kiram admitted the postponement of the SEA Games is favorable to the Filipio athletes, who now have more time to train.
“Kung ngayon ginawa ang SEA Games, hindi ako makapapangako ng kahit anong medalya. I’ve seen my athletes, who gained a lof of weight during the lockdown. Mostly mabibigat. Kalahati siguro sa ngayon sa pool, naglakihan. Now they’re back in training. Even yun endurance nila is being monitored now by our coaches thru the videos they submit. We really hope for the best,” explained the female sports leader from Mindanao.
Kiram claimed the country’s closest SEA Games rivals continued their training even during the pandemic.
“Yun Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and others, tuloy lang ang training.Tayo lang ang nagpauwi ng mga atleta to the provinces. We moved our athletes out of Ultra or Rizal Memorial and sent them back to the families during the pandemic. Nakapanghihinayang nga talaga. But we understand. Sabi nga, kalusugan muna before anything else because we are experiencing this emergency, we are facing a pandemic.”
Kiram also takes pride in having a strong grassroot development in pencak silat.
“Right now, we have 38 athletes, kasama na yun mga understudy natin. Natuto na tayo sa last SEA Games, na weeks before the event ay nagka-injury yung ating inaasahan na magkamedalya (Cherry May Regalado). Fortunately, maganda ang grassroots development natin at nakakuha pa din tayo ng medalya mula Batang Pinoy — Francine Padios. She was 16 years old at that time.
She’s now 18 and improving. Kaya nakapaglaro siya sa SEA Games at naka-kuha pa nga ng silver medal. With reports from Gab Ferreras