Top hurdle longs to meet the father he never knew
Sports is a galaxy of action-packed moments and dramatic finishes. And behind the cutthroat competition are found countless untold stories of extreme sacrifices, unuttered wishes and undeclared yearnings.
Take the case of 16-year-old Sam Gilbert Rodrigo.
In every athletic meet he competes in, Rodrigo makes sure to bring out his A-game.
Because more than the shining medal waiting at the finish line, the young hurdler has another prayer. That is to finally meet the father he has never seen.
The Daanbantayan National High School student is currently in serious training for this year’s Palarong Pambansa where he will represent Region 7 in the 110-meter hurdles. He earned the Palaro spot after ruling in his favorite event in the Central Visayas Regional Athletics Association (CVIRAA) Meet last month in the City of Naga.
The youngster is also hoping that his special athletic skills will earn him a college scholarship to fulfill his dream of either becoming a seaman or policeman.
“Ganahan ko mag-polis kay mao gyod akong pangandoy sukad gamay pa ko pero gusto sad nako mag-seaman ug maayo unta makatabang ang athletics para college nako,” Rodrigo told CDN.
But his greatest dream is to finally meet his father whom he identified as Gil Abug.
“Wala gyod ko kakita sa akong papa. Ngalan lang gyod ang ako nahibaw-an. Muduwa ko dili lang para sa akong kaugalingon, ganahan pud nako nga makaila ko sa akong papa,” said an emotional Rodrigo.
He said he has lived with an uncle since he was five years old when his mom had another family. His uncle pays for his studies with earnings from his vulcanizing shop business.
Rodrigo’s romance with athletics began when he was in fifth grade. Back then, he’d cut bamboo poles as improvised hurdles to train on.
“Kawayan ang ako gamiton nga hurdles. Dili ta ni nako ipadayon pero niingon man ako Lola nga dako kaayo ni ug matabang sa akong kaugmaon. Bahalag piang ko sa una, nipadayon lang gyod ko hangtod karon,” shared Rodrigo.
“Nakatabang pud og disiplina nako ang athletics. Dili ko muinom og soft drinks, walay bisyo ug matulog ko og sayo and exercise pud,” Rodrigo said.
His hard work paid off last year in the Batang Pinoy National Championships here in Cebu where he bagged the gold medal in 110-meter hurdles.
He said that while complete facilities and equipment boost the development of an athlete, his eagerness to surmount the odds is what gives him the extra edge.
“Basta naa lang ko’y malayatan, okay na. Depende ra gyod na sa athlete basta may determinasyon lang ug pagsalig sa Ginoo, mabuhat gyod nimo ang imposible,” Rodrigo shared.
Aside from excelling in sports, Rodrigo also performs well in school.
“He is doing well in his studies. What the teacher assigns him to do, he does it without complaining,” said Ms. Mary Ann Tabay, his adviser.
After a tough day in school, Rodrigo isn’t done yet as the hurdling phenom drives a pedicab from six to eight in the evening, earning around 80 pesos. He also goes fishing during weekends and uses the extra income for his allowance and school projects.
Quite a heavy load for any 16-year-old.
“Naay times nga mawala ko’s sa discussion tungod sa kakapoy sa practice pero mubawi lang ko og tuon sa balay kay magpahulam man og notes ang ako mga classmates.”
Right now, Rodrigo is gearing up for the 2016 Palarong Pambansa set on April 10-18 at the Bicol University Sports Complex in Albay Province.
Teacher-coach John Rey Dublin said he always sets the bar higher for Rodrigo in every competition so that he can improve on his weaknesses.
This early, mentor and student are working doubly hard on a solitary goal — to break the Palaro record in the 110-meter hurdles when Daanbantayan’s prized hurdler takes Albay by storm.
And who knows, the father he never knew might be cheering him on from the packed stands.
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