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So-called Pinoy pride

While we honor our national athletes who excel in international stints, support should also be continuous and concrete, especially from the government.

Pinoy pride is something that we often honor when a Filipino or foreigners of Philippine descent win something big. We would constantly assert that when a Filipino wins a big competition, we should be proud of and promote our identity. This trait was seen in the wins of boxer and now-politician Manny Pacquiao, chess prodigy Wesley So, Glee guest star and Pyramid singer Jake Zyrus, Jessica Sanchez, Pia Wurtzbach, and Catriona Gray.

Recently, Pinoy pride has been connected to the Filipino athletes that represented us in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. Most notably, gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz, silver medalists Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam, bronze medalist Eumir Marcial, and athletes like Margielyn Didal, Carlos Yulo, Bianca Pagdanganan, Irish Magno, and EJ Obiena. 

These athletes poured their hearts and souls into the Olympic Games, giving their all in every single competition. In return, they received the love of the Filipino people, showering them with not only gifts but joy and pride as well. 

But before these athletes are crowned with glory, they need to train. Especially before international stints, athletes ask for financial help from their countrymen as well as from the government. But it’s not always that the government, who supposedly allocates funds for these endeavors, offers anything apart from moral support. Somehow, before every major competition, the government has an excuse to not contribute any help, dragging athletes down with them. Most recently, it was Obiena.

Obiena, who placed 11th at the last Olympics in pole vaulting, is facing accusations of “falsified liquidations” from the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA). They claimed that Obiena also failed to pay the coaching fees of his coach, Vitaly Petrov, amounting to EUR85,000 or P4.8 million.

Both Obiena and Petrov have since rebuked these allegations, with the athlete affirming that he never took a single centavo from his coach—“not even the fees for transfer or exchange rates were deducted [from] his salary,” the pole vaulter said. Meanwhile, Petrov says that he never approached PATAFA regarding his pay and has never complained about late payments. Above all, the coach claimed that he has been fully paid by and has no issues with Obiena, wanting nothing to do with the “witch hunt”.

Following this controversy, James Lafferty, Obiena’s mentor, shared that the Olympian has been receiving multiple passport offers to compete under a different country’s flag. However, despite the push especially from netizens, Obiena said he is firm on still representing the Philippines in future tournaments of the national team.

But if these allegations go by, Obiena is cleared, and he wins a gold medal for us at the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics, what then?

Will the so-called Pinoy pride make a comeback? Will the government attempt to take credit for his win simply because they can, just like they did with Hidilyn Diaz? Their continuous lack of support for those who represent the country has been their trademark. The government continues to treat them badly and contributes nothing significant to our athletes. But when they win, rest assured that they’ll be the first to show public support. Even private entities will be the first to shower them with rewards, and not the government. 

It has been like this for decades, with athletes like Eumir Marcial—2020 Olympic boxer—voicing out that the allowance they receive from the government isn’t sufficient for their needs. But after securing a bronze medal at the 2020 Olympics, he was showered with rewards that one could have only dreamt of during their training days. 

While it’s true that the national team athletes compete to represent their country,  their success is theirs; in reality, it was their hard work that got them to where they are.

It’s great to be proud of our fellow countrymen, but it must be something consistent. For the government, it must be something tangible. Along with the people, the government should be supportive in all ways before, during, and after our athletes’ competitions. Support should be endless, especially if they’re giving their all to ensure that they give our country a good name.

These athletes deserve more than the baseless accusations and unnecessary controversy that will eventually sever their ties with the government. Our athletes should be given not only proper funding and recognition but trust as well. The government and our fellow countrymen should be assured that Filipino athletes are not doing this for the sake of money or the rewards that follow victories, but for their passion for and love of sport and country.

Pinoy pride can be an amazing, inspiring thing, but with how it’s being associated with our shameless schemes of credit grabbing and narcissism, athletes bringing home the gold doesn’t seem to be worth it.

By Lauren Sason

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