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CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Pearl Carmita Mijares-Obenza, a former mentor of the late table tennis Olympian Ian Nietes Lariba, died due to leukemia. She was 58.
Mijares-Obenza, who was Lariba’s first elementary coach at Corpus Christi School in Cagayan de Oro, was laid to rest on Sunday, September 25.
Lariba, the Philippines’ first table tennis player to qualify in the Olympics, also succumbed to leukemia on September 2, 2018. She was only 23.
Mijares-Obenza is survived by her husband Aldo and sons Jay-jay and AJ.
Fondly called “Teacher Ching,” Mijares-Obenza was like a mother to a young Lariba as she served as coach and chaperone to the Mindanao sports prodigy.
Last May, Lariba’s high school mentor in Corpus Christi, sports director Eric Miguel, also died due to diabetic complications.
Aldo Mijares-Obenza said his wife and Lariba were “closely attached to each other” along with Miguel.
Their dynamic tandem in passionately coordinating the school’s sports development program also helped Corpus Christi often claim the overall title in the Mindanao Little Olympics both in the elementary and high school divisions.
Lariba’s numerous accomplishments as champion and top-notch academic performer also inspired many aspiring student-athletes in the region to enroll at Corpus Christi that offers scholarship in about a dozen sports disciplines.
“Like Sir Miguel, Teacher Ching was patient and persistent in her drive to discover and develop in-school athletes. And that was their legacy as sports coordinators that will always be remembered,” said the school’s former volleyball coach Roschelle Labitad-Ramer.