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A salute to Pawie

Fornea & Duterte
Fornea with President Duterte
Fornea & Teammates
Fornea with her SEA Games teammates.

PHILIPPINE Navy Ensign Mary Pauline “Pawie” Fornea is one tough act to follow.

At age 9, she started to pursue her dream of becoming a swimmer and follow the footsteps of her idol, Akiko Thomson.

And while she did not make it to the national swimming team, she set her sights on triathlon and worked her way to earn a place in the national team when she was 15.

By 19, she entered the Philippine Military Academy in Baguio where she excelled in her studies and military training.

A year later, she was sent by the PMA to the United States Naval Academy on a full scholarship under the foreign cadet program. At USNA, she graduated Bachelor of Science majoring in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering and Robotics and Controls Engineering with flying colors.

The rest, as they say, is Pawie Fornea history.

Wala naman talagang imposible sa isang pangarap kung ito ay talagang pagsu-sumikapan natin. It is really my passion to serve the Filipino people in my own little way,” said Fornea during the ” Usapang Sports on Air” by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) recently.

Fornea, the 27-year-old pride of Davao City, said poverty and other hurdles in life should not prevent anyone, women included, from trying to pursue lifelong dreams.

The Food and Technology graduate of the University of the Philippines-Mindanao now hopes to set an example to fellow female athletes who want to achieve their dreams.

Ang mahalaga ay yung gawin nila lahat ang kanilang makakaya. Follow their dreams and do their best always,” added Fornea, who teamed up with Monica Torres, Efriam Inigo and Emmanuel Comendador in taking the bronze medal in the mixed relay event of duathlon in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.

Fornea also takes pride in being a national athlete and a frontliner in the battle against the coronavirus.

Sa ngayon, naka-focus talaga kami sa Navy sa pagbibigay ng serbisyo sa taong bayan. Bilang mga military athletes, magdu-duty kami and after that, mag-quarantine kami for several days. Tapos balik sa training. Kaya maituturing kong special yung pagiging athlete at frontliner.

Last year, she was assigned as Assistant Tactical Officer for female cadets in the PMA.

I was part of sports and physical development unit ng PMA. Before they go sa online classes nila, I make sure na nag-physical exercises sila with social distancing and other COVID-19 protocols,” added Fornea, who is now with Philippine Navy Executive Office.

Her daily riutine includes waking up early at around 3-4 a.m. for regular exercises and training, whole day office work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and back to her quarters provided by her sponsor Standard Insurance in Naic, Cavite.

She is back for training for couple of hours before returning to bed.

Kaya ko naman. It’s just a matter of time management. Laki ako sa hirap kaya sanay na ako sa pag-manage ng oras.

Fornea recalled her hard works during her training at the USNA.

Kadalasan talaga kulang na kulang yung tulog namin bawat gabi. Dalawa hanggang tatlong oras lang ang tulog ko tapos overload pa ako every semester at walang summer breaks dahil tuloy pa rin ako sa pag-aaral,” recalled Fornea.”

Sa USNA, I was treated very well. It was a great experience for me,” explained Fornea, who also recalled an incident in the past when she had to use her remaining money as registration fee to a marathon event.

Yung natitira kong pera, ipinambayad ko bilang entry fee sa isang 10k marathon. Isinugal ko talaga para sumapat iyong panggastos ko sa isang buwan. Ibinuhos ko talaga yung lakas ko para manalo kaya iyon nanalo naman,” recalled Fornea.

Asked about taking the COVID-19 vaccine, Fornea urged everybody, especially fellow athletes, to take it.

Kailangan po talaga ng vaccine para continuous ang training and at the same time, para maiwasan po namin ang sakit kasi siyempre pag magka-sakit mag-positive sa COVID, mapuputol ang training. With the help of vaccine, magiging continuous po ang training for SEA Games at sa Olympics at work ng military personnel in preparation for the daily job and being frontliners,” she claimed.

Looking back, Fornea has had a long and diffivult ride to stardom.

ButIf you ask me, it’s all worth it, lalo na nakikiita ko naman ngayon ang bunga ng pagsusumikap ko,” added Fornea. (With reports from Gab Ferreras)