Palaro Bicolano brothers play basketball for OFW mom and diabetic dad

LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – It’s not every day that we encounter brothers playing at the Palarong Pambansa.

Rufino B. Sablaon III, 14, and his brother John Remo B. Sablaon, 12, of Polangui, Albay are both Palaro basketball players. Ball may be life on the court, but they bear a heavy burder off the court, with their mother working as an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) and having to care for their father, who is suffering from diabetes.

They represent Bicol Region in basketball boys secondary and elementary categories, respectively for the 2016 Palarong Pambansa here.

Dreams of playing on a bigger stage, like the Philippine Basketball Association, to help support their siblings and parents is the reason they play.

Their mom, Ma. Cristina B. Bola, has been working as a caregiver in Macau for 4 years now, while their dad, Rufino M. Sablaon Jr., had fallen ill with diabetes after working abroad also as an OFW for 16 years. 

Some may think this has led to a life of privilege through their parents sacrifice, but not quite. Mounting bills consumed the family's life savings, splitting the unit up once more.

Basketball to the rescue

Rufino III started playing basketball in a lower meet in 4th grade and first made it to Palaro in the 6th grade. He was offered scholarship grant as a varsity player in Jesus the Loving Shepherd Christian College in Camarines Sur. 

Seeing the opportunity to lessen the financial burden of the family, he accepted the offer even if it meant being away from his family on weekdays. He is now an incoming Grade 9 student at the same school.

John Remo, on the other hand, was encouraged to join the Polangui South Central School’s basketball team when he saw his big brother playing at Palaro. He is now an incoming Grade 7 student.

John Remo was also offered the same scholarship at his brother's school but opted to turn it down so he could help take care of his father. He plans to enroll in a public high school just a ride away from their home.

Life’s lessons

Despite the difficulties encountered, the siblings maintain a positive outlook in life. They said that their experiences and basketball have something in common — both taught them important lessons to pull from.

Sa paglalaro ko ng basketball natutuhan ko na hindi sa lahat ng pagkakataon ay dapat laging panalo. Kailangan din makaranas ng pagkatalo para matuto,” Rufino III shared.

(Basketball taught me that we won't always win. We also have to lose in order to learn.)

John Remo said that playing basketball made him humble. 

The two admitted how basketball binds them closer to each other.

Inspirasyon namin ang aming parents, gusto naming maging proud sila sa amin,” Rufino III concluded. (Our parents are our inspirations. We want them to be proud of us.) – Rappler.com

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