He strives to be the best in every game hoping to see his father someday.
Sam Gilbert Rodrigo, a 16-year old native from Daanbantayan bagged the first gold for Cebu province in the just concluded Central Visayas Regional Athletic Association (CVIRAA) Meet held at Naga City, Cebu last week.
Out of the 855 participants who represented the province, Sam clinched the first fruit of the delegation’s labor by winning the 110-meter hurdle.
Sam’s passion is athletics, and the awards and recognition in sports is his stepping-stone to a college scholarship.
His other important wish is to see his father whom he has never seen all his life.
When Sam was 5-years old, his mother had her own family. The young boy was left in the care of his grandmother.
He has not met his father and neither does he have any idea about his roots. He fears that one of these days he will bump into his father and he will not even recognize him.
“Wala gyud koy kalagot sa akong papa, gusto gyud ko makaila niya o bisan maka kitaniya. Pinangga man ko sa akong pamilya karon pero naa lang gyud kuwang sa akong pagkatawo,” Sam shared.
After graduating from elementary, his grandmother died and Sam was left in the care of his granduncle to this day.
His grand uncle supports his education through a meager income from their vulcanizing shop. This has sustained their daily needs including his studies.
This young man from Daanbantayan struggles just to finish school. Right after class, Sam drives a pedicab from six to eight in the evening, earns 70-80 pesos which he spends for school projects.
The student-athlete admits life is difficult but shared that every experience both good and bad makes him who he is. He is able to balance his studies and his passion, which is sports, and he is determined to succeed in life.
He wants to take up Marine Transportation in college and see himself as a seaman.
For now, the 16-year old would have to train harder for the Palarong Pambansa in Albay on April.
After winning gold at the provincial meet and Batang Pinoy last year, he is sought after by big schools in Cebu that have special training programs for athletes.
Sam could have grabbed the opportunity to his advantage but he chose to stay with his teammates to represent Cebu province in the Palaro.
Pool of volleyball talents from Catmon
The last team to bring in gold for the province is the elementary volleybelles from Catmon Integrated School. They won straight sets: 25-10, 25-5 against Mandaue delegation in the championship match-up.
The team is composed of grades three to six pupils under coach Vilma Veloso’s tutelage.
Twelve -year old Evangeline Alinsug, the most valuable player for elementary girls division, said they are excited to see action at the Palaro in April.
According to their coach, Alinsug started to train when she was grade three as a replacement.
Fortunately, for head coach Veloso, she found help from her son, Zack who trained the girls to play and taught them well. Zach eventually became the assistant coach.
“Ang special skills kada bata ila nang ma-discover as they train, compete, and mature pero we always remind them to be smart in the game. Utokay ang volleyball, bahalag bookish tan-awon ang dinuwaan basta maayo og placement sa bola,” Zach Veloso emphasized.
The head coach proudly shared that they have produced players now playing for big universities in Manila in the likes of Maria Lina Isabel M. Molde who is playing for UP Dilliman, and Gretchen Soltones for San Sebastian College, the NCAA most valuable player.
When asked what sets her players apart, Vilma Veloso said, “I would say, it is attitude. A player can be so exceptional in the game but if the attitude is undesirable, she has nowhere to go. I prefer attitude over skill.”
Abigail Pono, the setter of the team said that she is learning to make quick but reliable decisions from playing volleyball. As the setter or usually called in the sports world as the “brain” of the team, she decides who gets the set.
Vilma Veloso admitted that they trained all-year round and they imposed strict rules as part of discipline but assured the girls that if they continue doing what they are supposed to do, opportunities will be opened for them.
After their CVIRAA win, the girls experienced non-volleyball play like playing street games which they normally do not have time for because of their rigid training.
The coaching staff added that they do not encourage their players to play other games, especially street games, to avoid injuries.
The team includes Jessa Dorog (team captain), Maxim Czarina Estay (open spiker), KC Cepada (middle hitter), Alyssa Bernadeth Emboy (utility), Hazel Mae Basarte, IC Cepada, Casiy Monique Dongallo, Chantelle Silvestre, and Divine Isra Gomez.
Coach Vilma Veloso couldn’t help but be thankful for the help from Governor Hilario P. Davide III and the Provincial Government, which they truly felt.
“Kung mosangpit lang gyud mi, di gyud na sila magdumili. Gani, dali ang tubag sa mga requests namo. Nagpasalamat mi kay wala gyud mausab ang treatment sauna hangtud karon,” explained Veloso.
The Cebu province athletes delivered 28 golds, 36 silvers, and 41 bronze medals, which secured for them the 4th spot in the overall standing.
At present, physical and financial support are formulated by the Cebu Provincial Sports Commission (CSPC) for the local athletes to the Palarong Pambansa on April.