Will there be a home landing for this great Pinoy?
Louie Sanyano, a shortish marketplace sports devotee with two front teeth missing, wanted to know when Filipino figure skating wonderboy Michael Christian Martinez would be coming home.
The wiry, overworked meat cleaver in the Mandaluyong City wet market said he would like to line up in the street, the way he had done in Manny Pacquiao’s many triumphant returns in the past.
Sanyano, a Ginebra team fanatic in the PBA, knew all too well that Martinez has neither won a championship nor landed a medal.
But the humble worker no longer had to explain how much the 17-year-old figure skater has thrilled and inspired him.
Martinez’s incredible feat in the Sochi Winter Olympics helped Sanyano to feel briefly complete, fulfilled, as though he had ingested sweet narcotic.
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Sorry brod, but there’s no welcome parade scheduled. Of course, Malacañang had announced it would be a pleasure to honor Martinez, whom the Palace had obviously heard for the first time, when he returns.
“He has won the admiration of a proud nation that will certainly give him a rousing welcome and appropriate recognition to inspire him to greater heights,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma.
It’s hard to determine when that homecoming would take place.
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Here was one aspirant, an asthmatic, who labored and agonized through grating obscurity while going for an impossible goal. Martinez, indeed, was one in a hundred million.
All for the simple fact that only someone possessed, or bitten by a crazy bug, would involve himself in a winter adventure wherein a starter from the tropics predictably suffers a hard fall in his first try on the ice surface, with harsher punishments coming.
Monster challenges were to follow that first try in a mall skating rink in Las Piñas.
It’s now widely known how the Martinez family had had to mortgage their house in order to support Michael’s impossible dream.
Maybe this was the time when Michael, as reported by roving correspondent Winchell Campos, had been quoted by Jannelle So in California that they have not gotten any support from government.
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That picture has suddenly transformed into a brighter one immediately after Michael’s Sochi showing, described as fantastic by the television commentator. A top Filipino sports official was quick to claim they had provided support for the Filipino wonderboy.
Of course, despite the claim by Philippine Sports Commission chair Richie Garcia—who said he had an understanding with Hans Sy to support the intrepid Pinoy figure skater—that they have also provided assistance, the overwhelming feeling in the national sports community was one of disbelief.
“How could private support be suddenly counted as government assistance?” rued a sharp-nosed sports scribe from a leading national newspaper.
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Last heard of, Martinez was scheduled to return to California where he has been holing up with a friend.
California may also continue to serve as Michael’s base as he trains for other competitions in Europe.
With his 19th place finish in Sochi, Michael is a shoo-in for competition proper in the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea.
Michael says he “sure will be there.” He sure will not again be treated hereabouts by his own government like someone vying to land his own rocket on the moon.
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