ANTIQUE, Philippines – Grace and power combined into one.
Being an athlete undoubtedly requires hard work, especially when aiming to be the center of the limelight at the biggest sporting event in the country: the Palarong Pambansa 2017.
Dreaming to be a beauty queen, on the other hand, is a different story — the aspiration of excelling in both fields seems farfetched, like a perfect fairy tale happily-ever-after.
But Alexie Mae Caimoso believed in the impossible.
The 16-year-old Caimoso began writing her Cinderella story during last year’s Palaro when she became a silver medalist.
“That (last year) was my first Palarong Pambansa,” said Caimoso. “I only landed in second place. I wanted the gold so badly this year that’s why I doubled my efforts and worked really hard.”
This time around, she sealed her own version of a happy ending as Caimoso ended the games with a gold medal dangling around her neck.
“I can’t believe I won the gold,” exclaimed an ecstatic Caimoso. “I thought I’d win the silver again but everything fell into place. I’m just so happy.”
No more second best
The rivalry between Caimoso and Region 2’s Cherry Mae Banatao began when Banatao was proclaimed champion during last year’s Palarong Pambansa.
But the Iloilo-based native Caimoso didn’t settle for second place anymore as she stole the gold from Banatao with a recorded 1.63m result in the Secondary Division Girls High Jump tournament.
Banatao ended with 1.60m while Region IV-B bet Evangeline Caminong landed in third place with a 1.55m finish.
“I’ve never prepared for something like this before. There were even times when I get too exhausted and over fatigued but I didn’t quit. I still continued training and moving forward,” said Caimoso.
And that alone made all the difference.
Beauty and strength
Surprisingly, when the half-Filipino, half-Black American Caimoso isn’t training for sports, she’s busy preparing for local beauty pageants in Iloilo City.
“I started participating in pageants since I was 12 years old,” shared the incoming Grade 11 student Caimoso. “Earlier this year, I joined the Ms Teen Iloilo and was a finalist in the pageant.”
Juggling priorities between being an athlete, student, and beauty queen all at the same time, Caimoso admitted that she often thinks of giving up, “It’s hard. Managing time is not easy, but when I think about the possibilities I could achieve, I get encouraged.”
Ultimately, Caimoso wouldn’t be where she is now without the people inspiring her to achieve her goals.
“I never met my dad and my mom is staying in Manila with her new family. I don’t know how many siblings I have. Right now, I’m staying with my grandmother,” said Caimoso. “But they’re still my inspiration. Even though we’re not together, I still want to make them proud.”
One of Caimoso’s toughest struggles was getting ample financial support when she started training and joining pageants. For her to get by, she and her grandmother had to borrow money.
But now she’s already earning through her passions, Caimoso is able to pay the debts and sometimes spoil herself.
When asked how she got through all her hardships, Caimoso shared, “I just had to convince myself to be strong. Even though there were many challenges along the way, I just continued smiling and showed everyone that I get through this.”
Currently, Caimoso is being invited by schools like the University of Santo Tomas to join the varsity team and continue her schooling in Manila.
“There are schools asking (if I could join their team) but my family decided to decline for now and wait until I’m in college,” Caimoso explained.
True enough, Caimoso’s beauty and strength would all be nothing if it weren’t for her undying determination to achieve greater heights.
“For those people who haven’t achieved what they want yet, don’t give up. Last year, I doubted myself that’s why I only finished second. God always has a better plan. All you have to do is be determined and put your faith in God,” Caimoso said.
Caimoso might have already snatched the gold but her quest isn’t over, as she is on her way to making more fairy tale-like dreams come true. – Rappler.com