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ANTIQUE, Philippines – (UPDATED) Parents of an athlete at the Palarong Pambansa 2017 literally went the extra mile to show support for their son who was competing at the biggest sports event in the country.
Ariel Tapang drove more than 1,000 kilometers from Kidapawan to Antique, traversing through land and crossing a couple of islands in Visayas and Mindanao.
With 3 other passengers, they endured almost two days of travel to cheer Matthew Jade Tapang on as he attempted to bag the most-coveted gold medal in the elementary category of the Boxing event for the neighboring Davao region. (READ: Who are the unsung heroes of Palarong Pambansa 2017?)
However, Matthew Jade’s Palaro journey ended abruptly after he fainted and bumped his head during the official weigh in of the sport at the Freedom Park on Wednesday, April 26.
Road to Palaro
Attending Matthew Jade’s competition at the Palarong Pambansa 2017 was almost a given for Ariel. He knew that they just had to be present for their little “Manny Pacquiao.”
Besides, they have never missed any of Matthew Jade’s boxing matches.
“Kaya na-challenge kami na mag-tricycle lang. Kung nanunuod kami, mas ganado talaga ang anak ko. Mas ma-excited yung bata pag nakita nya na sumusuporta sa kanya ang kanyang pamilya,” Ariel shared.
(We were challenged to go to Palarong Pambansa via tricycle. My son is more inspired when we watch his matches. He is more excited if he knows that we are present to support him.)
Considering the scale of Tapang’s endeavor, their long road to Palarong Pambansa 2017 – from the preparation to the trip itself – seemed like an obstacle course at best.
According to Ariel, he had to borrow P10,000 just to be present at his son’s boxing matches. He used this money to pay for the fare at the ferry and gasoline.
After hurdling their problem on finances, Ariel had to overcome the logistical problems brought by traveling on a tricycle, all-in-all with 4 passengers.
“Apat kami nakasakay sa tricycle: anak ko na babae, asawa ko, at tsaka yung kasama kong driver. Ang guide lang namin ay yung nagtatanong kami, at tsaka yung mga signboards na tinitignan ko, so yun ang sinusunod namin,” Ariel shared.
(There were 4 of us who traveled via tricycle – my daughter, my wife, and another driver. We asked for directions on the road and we used the sign boards.)
To minimize their expenses on the road, they also brought their clothes, spare tire, drinking water, and cooking pots with them. Impossible as it may seem, they managed to cram all these things into the tiny three-wheeled ride.
Unfortunately, Matthew Jade was unable to fight his second bout on Wednesday, April 26.
Despite this, Ariel still believes in his son’s potential in boxing. Matthew got what it takes to become the next boxing champ, he said, vowing to support his son wherever his dreams would take him.
“Pag mag-profesional na boxer siya, aabot siya ng ibang bansa. Susuportahan talaga namin, kahit sa ibang bansa, kahit anong layo. Pero di ko madala itong tricycle ko sa ibang bansa. Kasi ang layo na eh. hindi pa pwede isakay sa airplane,” he quipped.
(When he becomes a professional boxer, I’m sure he will reach other countries. We will support him wherever in the world he is, no matter how far. But we would not be able to bring the tricycle overseas. It’s not allowed inside the airplane.)
Matthew Jade is one of the thousands of elementary and secondary student-athletes representing 18 regions who compted for the 376 gold medals, 376 silver medals, and 487 bronze medals in the Palarong Pambansa.
Competition for most of the sporting events kicked off on Monday, April 24 and is expected to finish on Saturday, April 29. Until then, Ariel advised his son to keep his head up high so he can follow the footsteps of boxing champ Manny Pacquiao.
“Sana ay suportahan mo yung sarili mo para umangat ka pa.’Yun ang pangarap ko para sa anak ko, na maging katulad siya ni Manny Pacquiao,” he said.
(I hope he can support himself so he could succeed. That is my dream – for my son to become like Manny Pacquiao) – with reports from Jaymar Liaging, Janric Velasco, Jaecian Onoh Cesar, Harley Aglosolos, and Arvin Englisa/Rappler.com