Hypocrisy and the lack of support to Filipino athletes

Victory has a hundred fathers but defeat is an orphan.

John F. Kennedy

Several Congressmen have filed House Resolutions that give recognition to Bince Rafael Operiano, the 9-year old Albayano chess prodigy who lorded the East Asian Chess tournament in Thailand. Bince bagged four medals and a trophy for being the champion of the tourney and is set to be conferred the title of National Chess Master when he turns 10. But, will the House Resolutions change the journey that led Bince to win in Thailand?

In a Facebook post of Albay’s Third District Congressmen Didi Cabredo, “Due to limited funds and while waiting for the plane ticket sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Bince and his father spent 3 nights at the airport with those benches as their bed. The little boy had to travel first to Thailand without his father, Mr. Ben Operiano.”

Bince lost his first game and was crying alone in a foreign country with no father nor trainer beside him — all because the Philippine Government is remiss of its obligation to at least support, if not develop, the potential of its citizens particularly the yourh and “promote and protect their physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual, and social well-being” (Article 2 Section 13, 1987 Philippine Constitution.

Picture Credit: Cong. Didi Cabredo

But of course, the Government through the PSC will always hide behind the issue of budget — an excuse that will hold no water as the Executive Department is wallowing in intelligence funds and yet has not learned that doing a disservice to the people is simply creating enemies of the State. Worse, agencies that are not part of the intelligence gathering are given intelligence funds, an effort to circumvent the spirit of the law and avoid audits. Note that intelligence funds are not being audited.

The case of Bince also highlights the hypocrisy of Philippine tourism programs. While the government is investing millions to market the Philippines as a tourist destination, the Department of Tourism has forgotten that among its major marketers and tourism ambassadors who can attract visitors to the country are the athletes. With the world learning the story of Bince and other Filipino athletes, potential tourists from other countries will ask: Why would I visit the country who can’t even support and protect its citizens? How safe will I be when I go there?

Filipinos are friendly — an asset that could be useful in attracting tourists. But if the Filipino athletes competing abroad are struggling with their finances, if they have resentments against the government, how can they invite other nationalities to visit the Philippines? The best marketing strategy still is using the word of mouth. Isn’t this the issue DDS and BBM supporters are throwing against Leni Robredo? Or simply put it, if the Filipino athletes are not properly clad and have to sleep in the benches of the airports because they have no money for at least a simple hotel, will this not speak a lot about the Philippines?

The Marcos Jr. Administration may still be new but the practice of giving our athletes lesser priority had been there for ages. The “Cayetano’s kaldero” in the last Southeast Asian Games, for instance, clearly show the hypocritical practice of prioritizing structures over human resources, of projects that can be a source of corruption over those that can bring real and long lasting honor to the nation. What will the current administration do about this?

Lastly, the Congress had been churning resolutions praising the athletes who won in international competitions. This time around, will their legislative acts institute change in the system and structures of supporting athletes in the country?

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