ANTIQUE, Philippines – From the very first day of the Palarong Pambansa 2017, one face has been present among the crowd of bystanders at Saint Anthony’s College.
Whether on the edge of the covered court or on the outskirts of the football field, you’ll find 45-year old Jimmy Calantas – sitting on his wheelchair with a wistful expression crossing his features. (READ: Who are the unsung heroes of Palarong Pambansa 2017?)
Calantas was once an athlete.
He dedicated a big part of his youth to sports as he competed in ball games during school competitions. He eventually went on to represent Saint Anthony’s College in local tournaments. With basketball and football as his favorite sports, he had his mind set to be active in every event held on campus during his long stay with the institution, from elementary school all the way to employment.
Everything was in place until an accident in 2010 changed everything.
Calantas met an accident when the Ceres bus he was riding lost control over Ipayog Bridge in Pantongon, Antique. Sustaining complete spinal injury, the lower half of his body was paralyzed and the possibility of ever engaging in match-ups again was taken away for good.
Seven years later, Calantas remained committed to his promise of attending sports competitions as much as he can. He persisted to immerse himself in each game, not as a player but a member of the audience.
Fired up for Palaro
So when word of the Palarong Pambansa spread throughout his home province, Calantas vowed he would not miss it for the world. (READ: Palarong Pambansa 2017: Where the future begins)
“Masayang-masaya ako kasi po first time in history na dito sa Antique nilagay yung Palarong Pambansa. Diyan lang sa tapat yung bahay namin, kaya excited talaga ako noong nabalitaan ko. Kasi iba kapag nakikita mo sa TV, iba ‘pag nakikita mo live,” the sports enthusiast said.
(I am overjoyed because it is Antique’s first time to host the Palarong Pambansa. I live just across the street, so I was excited when I heard the news. It’s very different, after all – watching a game from the television and witnessing it live.)
Having raised all of his three children to be competent in football and equally active in tournaments, he emphasized how essential sports can be for an individual’s welfare.
“It is important because it does not only help in keeping you healthy but gives you an ideal environment where you will see other people and meet other players. Sports developed me into who I am,” he said in Filipino.
Before turning his attention back to the game unfolding before him, he went on to express that no challenge or amount of time can keep him from being around whatever makes him happy.
“Hindi mawawala sakin yung hilig sa sports. Kahit na ganito na yung sitwasyon ko, may magagamit pa ako na mga tinatago para sa football. Minsan may mga maliliit na bata na pumupunta dito, pinapahiraman ko ng gamit, tinuturuan ko.”
(My love for sports will never vanish. My situation might be like this, but I still have so much that I can use in football. Sometimes, little children come here and I lend them my gear, teach them what they’re supposed to do)
Palaro rekindled Calantas’ passion for sports anew. He added that he will never let the spark to stop burning, even when everything else is turned upside down. – Rappler.com