The life of an athlete is not an easy one to live, especially here in the Philippines. They are highly regarded by many people because of their talents in a certain sporting field, with their ability to astonish the crowd with the grace and skill that only a few people can ever reach. Many would expect these physically gifted individuals to become professional sportsmen or future Olympians. Unfortunately, society would often limit them there, believing that they are not very capable of anything other than sports.
In this article, The LaSallian ventures into the life of former Green Archer Team Captain Francis Zamora, who currently serves as San Juan City’s Vice-Mayor. He shares his insights on what life is like after his playing days and how he has adjusted to his present occupation.
Growing up, Zamora initially did not see himself getting into his current field. Standing 6’5 and playing varsity basketball for La Salle Greenhills, he had a clear goal that he wanted to achieve.
“Honestly, my original goal then really was to make it to the PBA, it’s every basketball player’s dream,” says the former Green Archer center.
After graduating from DLSU in 1999 with a degree in AB Psychology and leading La Salle to back-to-back UAAP championships, he immediately began the essential preparations for his dream.
“After my UAAP days, I played a couple of years in the PBL then was drafted in the PBA, though I was not as successful as my other batch mates who eventually had long careers in the PBA.”
It was only after his attempts of pursuing a career in professional basketball and business that he actually considered going into public service.
Moving on from basketball
With his pro ball career getting dimmer, he pursued a degree in Business Entrepreneurship in New York University, hoping to train himself for a future in the business world. He would set up numerous successful establishments in the process. And back then, politics was just an option.
He is no stranger to the political arena though, having been raised in a household that has been in the profession for decades.
“Actually, I grew up in the world of politics. My father has been a congressman of the City of San Juan for a very long time. Ever since I was born, he was already in public service,” shares the 36-year old with a chuckle while talking about his father, Congressman Ronny Zamora.
“Growing up in that kind of family atmosphere, seeing him be of help to the people of San Juan, it rubs off on you. It opens your mind and your heart to that kind of life. Serving people, being able to help them in any way you can and with the best of your abilities, seeing him do that all of my life was my biggest influence,” he answers as to what inspired him to run for office.
He began working for the government when he was elected as a city councilor of San Juan. He would climb up the ranks and eventually won the seat of the Vice-Mayor for the same city, a position which he is currently occupying. To give him a better background of what to deal with in public service, he took up and finished with a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of the Philippines-Diliman in 2006.
The life of an elected official, while having many highs and positives, also comes with a lot of challenges.
“It’s a challenge to be in public service. In the Philippines, the Filipino people have a culture of expecting our government officials to solve all the problems. Especially when you deal with people who we can say are not as lucky as others in life. You have to be able to provide for them education, health care, housing, and livelihood. All these basic needs of our constituents, we have to make sure that we will be able to deliver,” says the young official.
Zamora also cites the hectic schedule and the numerous gossips as additional problems. Although he states that the reward of helping others is enough for him to overcome these challenges.
“Seeing them appreciate what you’ve done and what you’re doing is the biggest motivation that we have,” he adds.
Francis the Green Archer
Being a former team captain of the Green Archers, Zamora already exhibited leadership qualities even before becoming a politician. He did everything to help his team, preventing them from collapsing to pressure, considering the squad’s star power during that time. He would act as the glue that binds all members of the Green Archers together, mediating misunderstandings between players, coaches, and team managers. It was in his playing days with La Salle where the former center further honed his ability to lead.
“My role was really to pull the team together, remind them that we’re all here for a common purpose, which is to win a championship. All other collateral gains are simply collateral. The end goal is to bring honor to our school,” adds the proud Green Archer, who cites fellow DLSU big man Don Allado as his favorite teammate.
The Vice-Mayor of San Juan follows the progress of the Green Archers up to the present. He attends games live whenever he can in order to show his support for his alma mater, and even befriends the current players of his old basketball team. He expresses a great admiration for the present team captain and King Archer Jeron Teng, who he believes is the undisputed leader of the Green Archers.
“Stay focused on what you have to do. It’s going to be hard to get it back [the championship], but it’s not impossible for as long as you work together, the team, the players, the coaching staff, with Boss Danding and the alumnae supporting us all the way along with the students,” advises Zamora to the present crop of players.
Tips from a veteran
A word of advice that the young public servant has for all student athletes in the Philippines is that they should balance both the physical and mental aspects of engaging in sports. They should always play with desire and heart, while not losing the discipline to practice despite their talents. He also reminded them to always remember that they are representing their school, and winning for its sake is everything. Academics should always be given attention, and being an athlete is not an excuse to skip studying.
”If I was able to do it and others were able to do it, then I’m sure that anyone else can do it. Discipline lang talagang mag-aral at mag-praktis ng mabuti,” concludes the amiable official.