Cagayan de Oro’s new boxing hero Carlo Paalam on Tuesday, August 24, returned to this city, reminiscing memories of his tough childhood years that became the launching pad of his journey to Olympic success.
“Makakaon na ‘mi sa akong pamilya og lami unya makatulog na sab ko sa bugnaw nga hotel,” said the 24-year-old Olympic boxing silver medalist, a former child scavenger.
(My family and I can now eat good food and I will be able to sleep in an air-conditioned hotel, finally.)
Paalam returned to Cagayan de Oro and was greeted with a P2-million check by city hall as a reward “for his exemplary feat and for bringing honor to the City of Golden Friendship.”
Cagayan de Oro is the second home of the Talakag, Bukidnon-born Paalam, where he was discovered, and where he received his first training in boxing as a 10-year-old.
Mayor Oscar Moreno and Vice Mayor Reineir Joaquin Uy also gave Paalam a distinguished plaque of merit aside from his P2-million reward.
The city council has officially recognized Paalam’s contribution to Cagayan de Oro and Philippine boxing, and for his “indomitable fighting spirit and other fields of struggle for excellence.”
To his surprise, Paalam was also gifted with a P3.6-million townhouse at the Velmiro Uptown CDO in Barangay Canitoan by property developer Cebu Landmasters Incorporated.
After his return from Tokyo, Paalam spent two weeks in a Manila hotel as part of quarantine protocol. The isolation in an air-conditioned hotel was luxury for him.
He told an online news conference he reflected on his past struggles and his hard-earned glory while under quarantine.
He said he was wronged by one person in the local sports program when he was still a child, but he has forgiven him. Paalam neither named the person nor elaborated.
His coach Elmer Pamisa said it was one of Paalam’s mentors in Cagayan de Oro who nearly ruined the Olympian’s boxing future.
Pamisa said when he left Cagayan de Oro to help in the national team, the young Paalam was unceremoniously kicked out of city hall’s boxing program as a result of maneuverings by one of the trainers who didn’t like the young boxer.
“Iya rang napasaylo (Paalam has forgiven him),” Pamisa said.
When Pamisa returned to Cagayan de Oro, he sought Paalam, and brought him back to the local sports program and, subsequently, to the national team.
Paalam fell short of winning the Philippines’ first Olympic gold in boxing, following a split decision loss to Galal Yafai of Great Britain.
But his silver medal feat was enough to make him a millionaire just like his fellow Mindanaoans weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, who bagged the gold, and boxers Nesthy Petecio (silver) and Eumir Marcial (bronze).
Before his return to Cagayan de Oro, Paalam was promised P24.5 million in cash incentives, rewards, and gifts.
Paalam could not hide his emotions as he thanked his “Coach Pams” (Pamisa), and Mayor Moreno whose sports program made his long journey to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics possible.
“Si Mayor Moreno gyud ang dakong tabang sa ako, and, of course, Coach Pams nga mora na nako’g papa, ug sa uban nga training coaches sa Cagayan de Oro,” Paalam said.
(Mayor Moreno helped me a lot, and, of course, Coach Pams and the other training coaches in Cagayan de Oro.) – Rappler.com