Mary Joy, Uber and the race of our lives

By: Mike Acebedo Lopez August 22,2017 - 10:18 PM


Mary Joy Tabal, the pride of Cebu and Cebuanos, gave it her best shot, like any born champion would, bringing pride and honor to the entire country as she gave us our buena mano gold medal at the ongoing 29th Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games).

The thought that it almost never happened is both unsettling and infuriating. That Mary Joy’s proud moment was nearly snatched from her by the very people whose mandate is to support athletes like her makes one rethink and examine how our country accords and rewards talent, skill and innovation.

The discrimination experienced by the first Pinay athlete to compete in an Olympic marathon (the Rio Olympics) in the hands of no less than the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) and its president, Philip Ella Juico, brings to mind the marathons we all run each day — the race of our lives — slowed down by senseless and thoughtless government regulations by way of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board’s (LTFRB) crackdown on Uber and other transport network vehicle services (TVNS) like Grab.

Yes, like Mary Joy, we find ourselves struggling to compete throughout the daily grind that makes up the personal marathons we try to win, no thanks in large part to leaders who, instead of empowering their core constituencies, seem to be so engrossed in using their power to overwhelm and bully.

They have a most conservative (read: stupid) interpretation of our laws, of existing regulations, that penalize talent and innovation instead of nurturing them and creating an environment that fosters both innovation and talent more than it regulates these forces for good (because talent and innovation ARE forces for good).

And we still wonder why we remain so Third World, so backwards, so wanting and lacking in wisdom and foresight, a country whose global champions like Lea Salonga and Manny Pacquiao you can count with your fingers, and whose glory is always few and far between? Sheesh.

In this country where corruption and mediocrity are culture, we suffer day in and day out from regulators who cannot spot gold even when it’s shining, shimmering and completely resplendent in front of them. Sad, no?

We have archaic laws, rules and regulations that have been overtaken by the demands and sensibilities of our time, by technology.

Yet there is no effort from these regulators and implementors to reach out to our legislators so they may introduce amendments to make these laws more responsive to the needs and general welfare of our people, regulations that work for the people, not against them, so our laws don’t curtail but foster innovation and breed and extol talent.

At least as far as some of our Cebuano leaders go, we can say there is hope.

Philippine Sports Commissioner Ramon “El Presidente” Fernandez was with Mary Joy from the very beginning of her uphill climb, speaking up against ludicrous Patafa that was obviously only looking after its own interests and condemning the latter in the strongest possible terms. I don’t expect anything less of the sports legend; after all, it takes a legend to see legendary potential. But from little people and their concomitant little minds, oh never mind.

That beautifully poignant photo of Fernandez hugging a victorious Mary Joy says it all: All the challenges, all the pain and persecution, they were all well worth it.

Former Cebu governor and incumbent Deputy Speaker for the Visayas Gwendolyn F. Garcia also fought alongside Commissioner Fernandez in defense of Mary Joy through her House resolution calling for an inquiry into Mary Joy’s exclusion from the SEA Games by Patafa. I believe most other Cebuano congressmen supported her House resolution.

Patafa leaders led by Juico decided to pay Garcia a visit at her office in the House of Representatives, perhaps scared witless that a congressional probe will expose their organization for the shameful sham that they are.

The group reportedly pleaded with Garcia to either withdraw the resolution or have the hearing scheduled after the SEA Games. Instead of giving in, Garcia used it as leverage to make sure Mary Joy is reinstated.

When they insisted on the status quo (Tabal’s exclusion), Garcia proposed having the hearings before or even during the SEA Games itself. That gave them no choice but to yield and reinstate Mary Joy. The rest is history. Well played, DS Gwen.

So yeah, thanks to Cebuanos like PSC Commissioner Mon Fernandez and Deputy Speaker Gwen Garcia, and the others who rallied behind Mary Joy, right and reason prevailed.

May we continue fighting the battles that are worth fighting for together, and may we emerge as champions, champions who champion talent and innovation.

In this inspiring episode of one woman’s quest for glory and a people who fought alongside her to achieve it, we can surely say that Mary Joy’s win is a win shared by all Filipinos — yes, even those mindless people at Patafa and the backwards regulators at LTFRB because, as they say, we should be humble in victory and gracious in defeat.

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TAGS: and, Joy, lives, Mary, our, THE, Uber

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