MANILA, Philippines – Cherry Mae Banatao is back in the Palarong Pambansa stage with two goals in mind – to win back the gold medal and to break her standing record in high jump.
Seventeen-year-old Mimi Banatao, a native of San Bonifacio, Burgos, Isabela, is on her 5th Palarong Pambansa stint this year. Since 2014, she has been competing and winning medals in several jumping events in athletics – long jump, triple jump, and high jump.
In 2016, then 15-year-old Banatao performed beyond expectations and went on to break the 4-year old Palarong Pambansa record in secondary division girls high jump event. Clearing a distance of 1.66 meters, she also tied the 1994 national juniors record. Her record-breaking jump that year was her first first Palaro gold medal for Cagayan Valley.
Seeking for redemption
In 2017, Banatao settled for silver in the Palarong Pambansa secondary girls high jump competition after losing to Iloilo’s Alexie Mae Caimoso. Caimoso and Banatao have been battling for the high jump gold since 2016. (READ: Iloilo beauty queen hailed as high jump champion in Palarong Pambansa 2017)
This year, Banatao is focused in aiming to win back the gold medal – and possibly breaking her own record – in secondary girls high jump event.
“Kakayanin kong kunin (I will do my best),” she declared, adding that she felt bad after losing the gold medal to Caimoso last year.
“Sumama po yung loob ko pero natanggap ko naman po (I felt bad but I eventually accepted it),” Banatao said.
Jumping high for family
For Banatao, playing for this year’s national competition is all for her family. More than anything, she hopes that by winning in Palarong Pambansa, she will be able to help in paying for the medical expenses of her 6-year-old brother.
“‘Yung bunso ko pong kapatid… gusto ko po s’yang mapagamot (My younger brother… I want to have him treated),” said Banatao, adding that his brother is diagnosed with a low platelet count blood disorder.
Banatao also has high hopes for the future. She is still looking for more college opportunities but she already took the De La Salle University College Admissions Test. She said that her parents wanted her to take BS Education and eventually become a teacher, just like her eldest sibling. But if she can have it her way, she dreams of becoming a cop someday.
“Gusto ko huliin ang mga masasama, yung magnanakaw, pumapatay ng kapwa tao (I want to capture the bad people, those who steal, and those who kill people),” she said.
Banatao’s Palarong Pambansa 2018 battle begins on Tuesday, April 17, with the secondary girls long jump event. On Thursday, April 19, she is scheduled to compete in the much-awaited high jump event in the athletics secondary girls division.
Banatao will go back to the Palarong Pambansa field with lessons learned from last year’s competition. As she aims for the highest spot on the Palaro podium, she only has one reminder for herself.
“Kailangan ‘wag makampante (I should not be complacent).” – Rappler.com