Aeta athletes can eye medals again
First, there was the happy news that a team composed of our Aeta brothers was training and competing in races of the Pilipinas Obstacle Race Federation (PORF).
A crew of self-made Aeta athletes from the Villa Maria Integrated School in Porac, Pampanga, competed in the five-kilometer PORF obstacle race, where they made a mark.
The event was supposed to be the first of four national team qualifying competitions.
Unfortunately, Obstacle Race was next scratched from this year’s Southeast Asian Games calendar, and relegated to mere demonstration sport.
It was a letdown, but the Aeta team refused to disintegrate.
In fact, Allianz Philippines, which has been supporting the endeavors of our Aeta brothers, turned obstacle race into a hunting ground; at the same time giving Aeta athletes the chance to excel in the sport and improve their skills.
The idea was to let them discover new opportunities, while supporting them until they make it to the obstacle race national pool.
The goal of aiming for medals was momentarily set aside.
Then came the great news. Obstacle Course has been restored as a regular event in this year’s 30th Southeast Asian Games.
“Six events that will be held in an obstacle course have been restored following the acceptance of Laos as a fourth country to join the competition,” reported Peter Atencio of Manila Standard.
Laos managed to field athletes in the obstacle course, thereby joining early entries from Thailand, Myanmar and host Philippines.
There naturally has been excited focus on the involvement of our Aeta brothers in the national team tryouts. There had been nothing of this sort in the past three hosting by Philippines of the SEA Games.
If at all, the Aeta involvement in the national endeavor should also help open the eyes of the government and other concerned sectors to the pitiful plight of Aeta communities down the dry and dreary Capas mountain side.
A recent special feature on PTV4 showed how these poor luckless people exist through primitive means, spending lightless nights in their bare cave-like abode.
Marlon Pia, selfless civic worker and operations director of Operation Liwanag, deserves praise and support for anchoring a TV special that bared the impossible existence of these neglected people, who have no electricity in their localities.
Here’s hoping the presence and involvement of our Aeta brothers in the SEA Games team selection would help these poor people gain invaluable support from concerned sectors.
It’s hard to imagine how these luckless souls manage, mainly in dark lonely nights when they rely on nothing but burning bamboo poles for light.
Maybe Allianz Philippines and other advocates could send a team to investigate, and possibly help out.
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