For those of you who will hate me, after reading this whole piece or reading the title of the piece or reading the title of the website please all I ask is you hate me for the right reasons I will not spend this piece trashing on Michael Christian Martinez. Quite the opposite I will shower my admiration. What I will do is talk about pinoy culture like I always have here in Get Real Philippines.
I am going to date myself here. Then again if I don’t date myself who will? I remember watching a TV talk show on RPN 9 around July 1984. The topic : what does the Philippines have to do to get an Olympic medal? Well you know that 28 years later I came up with this. Back in 1984 I wanted to call in to the show since they were taking calls and say that it only makes sense that the more events you go in the better chance you can medal. I had followed the Olympic games that year in Sarajevo and I doubt many pinoys at the time cared. Before 1994 both Summer and Winter Olympics were held during the same year.
What a difference 28 years makes. What was once my joke is now a reality. Granted there are many things that are still a joke. What is not a joke is what Michael Christian Martinez ( and family) did to get to where he was. I had actually wanted to write about this for a month but it did not feel right at the time. One of the few things I found online for him was this.
Of course with the opening ceremonies the bandwagon went from empty to full in no time. Let”s look at some of the significant quotes on the topic and my take on them:
“Talagang kahit na wala tayong yelo, kaya natin iyan [Filipinos can do it even without snow in the country],”
Speaking of jokes, on social media I see many people harping on my all time favorite leader of men, Noynoy Aquino. How all of a sudden they are behind something that they barely supported. More on that later. In the meantime snow is mandatory for an event like cross-country skiing. Not so for any event involving skates like figure skating and hockey. My relative has been playing hockey decades in Marikina, Mega Mall and Mall of Asia. Recently there was a hockey game between the two Los Angeles teams outdoors in Los Angeles. Maybe some of the brains of Lacierda’s boss is really rubbing off on him.
“I think our innate talent, when given the chance to perform, shows that we are truly capable of excelling,”
Edwin, simple question: Who do you work for? Tell me about his innate talent and how he excelled. You work for him and you justify him, I guess that makes you the expert in talking about innate talent and excellence.
“I don’t even think anyone at the President’s office knows there’s a Filipino skating in the Olympics,”
Well ma’am, the guy after all is president. He has no idea what conflict of interest is. He does not know the Philippines does not have coroners. He does not seem to know what the Philippine flag is. He does not know how to act as a guest when invited to an anniversary celebration. So don’t worry, you are in good company. There is a lot he does not know. I am convinced that Noynoy Aquino had no idea that a sole Filipino was going to be parading during the opening ceremonies. Had he known he would force Martinez that infernal yellow ribbon to have and to hold until death do they part.
I want to make one thing very clear. Michael Christian Martinez is an amazing story. My hat is off to him. The reason why I feel that way is this nation did him no favors. Not the man on the street not the government that this nation elected. This is truly all his. He is not on a level playing field with the other athletes who were given better support by their governments. If the Winter Olympics is not a priority for our taxpayer pesos fine. I am quite happy that our taxpayer pesos goes to things like 50 million peso incentives for Senator judges to alter outcomes of impeachment trials.
If you think that the only place we let the Martinez family down is financial support then I would disagree with you. Pinoys as usual want all the glory but don’t want what goes into getting the glory. Martinez and his family had vision. His very early supporters had vision. None of the government or the country that is now cheering him had vision. In Facebook I see people posting urls where you can donate. Was there even one such post a month ago?
I always hated people who jump on the bandwagon and I always will. Whether its Journey, FIBA Basketball or Efren Penaflorida. My core belief has always been the pinoy cares more about the pansin they get than appreciating the excellence it takes to get the pansin. So none of this sudden attention to the young Mr. Martinez surprises me. He had to be literally the one guy holding the flag and the sum total of Olympic representatives in the opening ceremony for all of you to know who he was. Now you fund raise, now you chest beat. In the words of Stevie Wonder “where were you when I needed you last winter?”
Look at all the other Olympians. They all had to compete to be the best in their leagues and the best in their communities. Martinez it seems not only had no support from the government or a sports body. He succeeded without rivals to push him. Which means as a country we only have one skater that anybody really knows about who really originates from us. And this person had no significant rivals to push him. Read up on many Olympians who medal the following Olympics after being eliminated by someone who beat them in the national level. Your competition by being good in reality does you a favor. They give you a standard to shoot for. When a market is truly competitive the consumer wins. International excellence in sports is always achieved by cultures where internal rivalries are intense.
There is a first time for everything. I wll cut Noynoy Aquino some slack. I will still blame his shallow values trying to ride on the coattails of MCM like he has with Rose Fostanes. Anybody that accuses the President of trying to epal on MCM would be correct. Is the government’s lack of timely support and lack of foresight really indicative of us as a people? I believe so. Olympic medals are not born during an Olympic year but many years earlier.
It is like all these people who expect the Azkals to make a dent in the World Cup. They ignore many facts about the pinoy sports scene. #1 The Philippines is one of the few nations on Earth that has no professional soccer yet somehow pinoys expect a championship team. #2. The Azkals are mainly composed of players who learned the game in Spain, Switzerland, England and Germany. All these players I assume if given a choice would rather play for the national team of a soccer power than for the Philippines. A country that does not take soccer seriously as evidenced by the apathy in the amateur and professional game locally. Pinoys in the international sporting sense are the type to expect to be given a PHD when they are not close to even graduating from kindergarten. Instant gratification without paying your dues in a national sense.
Pinoys vote for The Noynoys, The Bams and the Nancy Binays of this great nation for one reason. They all believe that self entitlement overrules any notion of preparation or paying ones dues. They all believe a familiar name trumps having to research for reasons or qualities or qualities to vote for somebody. Michael Christian Martinez is the antithesis of the self entitled pinoy. The one who expects great things from people who have never accomplished anything in their lives. People who in lieu of accomplishments just point to dead people or try to look like dead people or dance Gangnam style. The sad part is that in the Philippines, it works in getting votes. This is the pinoy idea of being worthy of their democratic right to vote.
Victories are won with the work and dedication that is exerted when the spotlight is not on. I have no idea why some of you even think a medal is possible in a glamour sport. Where we have one entry ever in the history of the Winter Olympics. We have a far more extensive history of participating in the Summer Olympics and we have not medaled in years. Yet for some reason in the glamour sport some of you believe Gold is possible when MCM is the first entry ever? At least that what our resident genius Lacierda said. Then again he is the one that makes excuses for an unqualified leader on a nightly basis so just don’t believe him. Let’s make it interesting. If Martinez wins a Gold Medal in 2014 in the Olympics (despite the fact he is already a winner in my book) I will trek Ayala Avenue on foot devoid of pants. I will do it to raise money for his next bid. Luckless pedestrians running for their lives, I can see it now.
The easiest time to whoop up and cheer and give your support is when the spotlight is on. That is what KSPs do. That is what is happening now since we are in the middle of the Winter Olympics. A champion prepares well before the spotlight is on. This is one case where an individual got himself worthy of the Olympic stage not because he is Filipino but despite of being Filipino. There he was all alone on an island and developing himself . In the case of Michael Christian Martinez. His triumph is over a country that refused to support him whether it was financial or with providing worthy rivals. There he is carrying the Philippine flag more alone than Tom Hanks in Cast Away. Which was so fitting considering what he had to overcome.
For me it does not matter where he places. I don’t care if he does not overcome the Swedes, the Canadians or the Americans. He overcame the Filipinos. A nation that did not support him but fought him with indifference and neglect. A nation that during the duration of the Winter Olympics will suddenly (based on previous international competitions) become Figure Skating experts and may accuse the rest of the world (and the skating judges) of being racist. Face it Philippines in the words of Scott Van Pelt ” You are new to pretending you care”.
Congratulations Michael Christian Martinez and family and long time sponsors. You are representing the Philippines in the Winter Olympics precisely because you are not representative of the Philippines. I am not talking about your chosen sport but your internal fortitude. Congratulations for all your work when the bandwagon was filled only with apathy. You are finally getting a lot of applause and support from a culture that did not know you existed in 2013. A culture based on their lack of awareness and foresight does not deserve you.
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