PLAYING FOR PAPA
Central Visayas woodpusher uses father’s passing as strength in Palarong Pambansa
Vigan City, Ilocos Sur — One of the most difficult things to accept is the loss of a loved one.
For 15-year-old Jeremy Pepito, the passing of his father the day he left for Vigan City to compete in the 61st Palarong Pambansa was devastating to say the least.
It could have been enough reason for him to back out from the competition, where he is representing Central Visayas in the chess event.
“I was devastated and was very sad when I learned that my father died,” said Pepito, who started playing chess at five years old through his father’s guidance.
His father and mentor Vicmil Pepito died due to injuries he sustained following a motorcycle accident in Malabuyoc town, southwest Cebu last April 6. He was 44.
Incidentally, Vicmil was on his way to Malabuyoc to train some chess players there.
“I badly wanted to go home [after learning about his death] but my coach (Johnny Carzano) and Aldritz (Pondoyo) convinced me to stay and continue playing for my father,” Pepito said.
And this he did. And he not only stayed and played. He actually won a gold in a time when the Central Visayas team started to feel the ghosts of their Antique stint in the previous Palaro haunting them.
Pepito and 16-year-old Cris Aldritz Pondoyo topped the blitz competition yesterday by scoring a combined 10.5 points after seven rounds.
Their teammates Jerish John Velarde and Aaron John Ledesma did the same, ruling the elementary boys blitz competition with 11 points.
The gold haul was a relief for team Central Visayas, which started to remember the dismal performance it had in the Antique Palaro last year.
Central Visayas went on a drought in the first three days of competition there and went on to finish ninth, its lowest so far in this annual multi-sporting meet.
Luckily, the woodpushers delivered as Central Visayas now has two gold medals under its belt after day one.
“I was kind of confident to win the blitz gold medal because Aldritz and I have been partners since grade six,” said Jeremy, who is now a grade 11 student.
He said he also used his father’s passing as a source of strength in this meet.
“I did not let myself be consumed with sadness because my father wanted me to be here in the first place. So instead of getting discouraged, I dedicated my game to him so that I can make him proud wherever he is right now.”
Pondoyo had a hand in helping his partner stay focused.
“As his partner I had to be his strength. Because without him, our strategy would have not worked. So I encouraged him every time he felt sad,” said the incoming 10th grader, Pondoyo.
Pepito and Pondoyo, members of the University of Cebu Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue (UCLM) varsity team, have been partners in the team event since they were sixth graders.
They already bagged gold medal in the 2014 Palarong Pambansa in Santa Cruz, Laguna.
Pepito said he will go home right away after his stint in the seven-round standard division that starts today as his father’s remains still lie in state at their home in Barangay Pasil in Cebu City.
Meanwhile, Region 7’s boys’ secondary basketball team manned by the University of the Visayas (UV) thrashed Cordillera, 90-62, in their campaign opener.
The elementary boys football team also beat Calabarzon, 7-0, to earn its third straight win in the elimination round.
Central Visayas’ secondary football team won its second straight game with a 3-1 decision against the host Region 1.
Region 7’s girls elementary volleyball team composed of volleybelles from five-time Palarong Pambansa gold medalist Catmon Integrated School also scored a lopsided win over Caraga Region, 25-5, 25-17, in their first game.
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