MANILA, Philippines – Two Filipinos are psyched up to literally carry the torch for the Philippines.
Reymund Enteria and Steven Cheung were honored at the Philippine embassy in the United Kingdom after they were chosen to be among 8,000 torchbearers for the 2012 London Olympics that starts in July.
In a statement, the Foreign Affairs department said Ambassador Enrique Manalo honored the 2 during their visit to the embassy on Monday, April 2.
The Olympic Committee chose Enteria and Cheung among tens of thousands of nominees for their inspiring stories. Both are based in the UK.
Enteria is a senior occupational therapist in Kent specializing in neurological rehabilitation and mental health. He comes from a family of overseas Filipino workers, and worked in Saudi Arabia for years before coming to the UK.
“Being chosen as a torchbearer is a true honor, and I dedicate my run to all my fellow OFWs,” he said.
Cheung is a youth and community leader in Waltham Forest in London. He has reaped various awards for advocating for the youth before the government, business and charity organizations.
Besides being a torchbearer, Cheung is also an Olympic Youth Ambassador for Waltham Forest. In 2009, he became one of the youngest candidates to run for the European Parliament at age 19.
“I hope my run does inspire Filipinos and young people everywhere to become more actively engaged in their communities,” said Cheung.
Lit in Greece, the Olympic Flame arrives in the UK on May 18, 2012. The torchbearers will carry it across more than 1,000 cities, towns, and villages in the UK for 70 days.
The torch relay serves as a prelude to the Olympic Games which runs from July 27 to August 12. The London Olympics website said the torch relay represents peace, unity and friendship while the torchbearers will be an inspiration.
“It will be their moment to shine, inspiring millions of people watching in their community, in the UK and worldwide.”
Photo from the London 2012 website
‘OFWs must be recognized’
Since the announcement of their selection in March, the UK-based Filipinos have been featured by various media outlets in Britain and the Philippines. The two are proud to share their success stories.
Photo from Enteria's Twitter account
Enteria’s father worked as a jeepney driver in the Philippines while his mother was a factory worker in Hong Kong.
He told ABS-CBN’s Europe News Bureau that he found out about the torch relay through an advertisement. He thought of joining to share his struggles and achievements as an OFW.
“Naisip ko na kailangan ang mga Filipino ma-recognize as overseas workers dahil sa dedication nila sa trabaho, sa pagiging hard-working at courage nila na umalis ng Pilipinas at iwan ang family nila.” (I thought that Filipinos should be recognized as overseas workers for their dedication, hard work, and courage to leave the Philippines and their families.)
Enteria said he still cannot believe he made it to the list of torchbearers, which he considers a privilege. He will do the run for the borough of Barking and Dagenham in London on July 22.
Once in a lifetime
Cheung shares Enteria’s enthusiasm. He will run for the borough of Waltham Forest on July 21. He is representing the youth, and Filipino and Chinese communities in Britain.
He is considered a role model in his community as a voice of the youth. He is also the co-founder of the SCF Foundation which seeks to elevate the presence of Filipinos in the UK through trade, social enterprise, volunteering and political participation.
Photo from Cheung's website
Cheung was born to a Filipino mother and Chinese father.
“I am so proud to be a Filipino and also an Olympic torchbearer and [to] represent my community in this journey. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be involved in the Olympics,” he told ABS-CBN in a mix of English and Filipino.
“As a Londoner, I am immensely proud of our heritage, roots and community, and I am also proud to be able to put Waltham Forest on the map. I am incredibly thankful to [the committee] for their recognition of my hard work and my role for the Olympics.” – Rappler.com