Fiery PNP athletes bags 18 golds in China

August 31, 2019

THEY may have lacked the support of the government in general and the Philippine National Police in particular but a 182-strong PNP delegation to the 2019 World Police and Fire Games in Chengdu, China returned home with 45 medals including 18 gold in what has been the best performance made so far by PNP sportsmen in an international competition. Those 18  gold medals mean that our Lupang Hinirang was played 18 times in China during the Games considered as the ‘Olympics’ of police and firemen across the globe.

Thus I doff my hats to the PNP athletes who showed tremendous fighting spirit while fighting their international counterparts in China. Many of these police athletes fought their much heavier and heftier rivals despite being saddled by financial problems since they went to China on their own.

I was told that the PNP had no money to send the athletes to China prompting our policemen to pull money from their own pockets and savings in order to buy their tickets and pay for their hotel accommodations and meals during the August 8 to 19 international sporting event.

One of the athletes who brought home a medal told me he spent P50,000 for the China trip. “I was just lucky that some Good Samaritans gave me something to start with,” the police strongman told me. For lack of supporters, some were also forced to borrow money from the SLAIs or the financial institutions catering to the police force, loans which will be monthly deducted from their salaries for years.

Pity our policemen-athletes who showed the whole world they are made of steel as they battled bigger and much stronger rivals from the rest of the globe, many times with hungry stomach I was told. Yes, that’s true. One of the athletes told me that although breakfast is free in their small hotels, , they have to scrounge for money to buy food for their lunch and dinner.  

Some were forced to put hard-boiled eggs on their pockets so they can have something to eat before taking a rival, another athlete told me. These were stories which literally came from the mouth of many of those who participated in the Chengdu, China Games who will be given medals soon by the PNP leadership.

Thru this column, I would like to mention the names of the PNP sportsmen who grabbed 18 gold, 21 silver and 15 bronze medals earning them commendations from PNP chief, General Oscar Albayalde.  For your information, the PNP athletes were led by PNP Deputy Chief for Operations, Lieutenant General Archie Gamboa and PNP Chief Directorial Staff, Lt. Gen. Pikoy Cascolan.

Gamboa and Cascolan, both classmates from PMA ‘Sinagtala’ Class of 1986 of Gen. Albayalde, I learned were the highest-ranked officials among the athletes who joined the China Games. Gamboa, a 3-star general and his badminton partner lost to their rivals who are both Lieutenant Colonels. Despite losing, the two got a bronze medal which is really not bad since they battled much younger opponents. Gamboa and Cascolan interestingly were only the 3-star generals in the competition, an indication that their foreign counterparts from the United States, Europe and Asia are not as athletic as them.

The gold medalists were Master Sergeant Elaine Evangelista, Corporal Jun Adel and Staff Sergeant Michael Pelaez (track and field); Senior Master Sgt. Dauphin Punzalan, Cpls. Kathleen Joy Dilay, Eva Claire Santiago and Maridel Zantua and Patrolwoman Zayra Acosta (taekwondo); Chief Master Sergeant Junel Perania, Senior MSgt.. Adora Aquino, Staff Sgt. Jan Vincent dela Peña, Cpl.  Christopher Yabut and Pat. Harold Sorsone (karatedo).  Aquino, dela Peña, Lacorte and Pelaez each won two gold medals.

The silver medalists were: Colonel Jason Ortizo, Staff Sgts. Luningning Jagmis and Jovelyn Salceda and Pat. Pia Lynne Fabros (badminton); MSgt. Elaine Evangelista (track and field);

The PNP Men’s Basketball team led by Lt. Gen. Cascolan fell short in its bid to win the gold after losing to the mighty United States Customs and Border Protection team. However, it made history after becoming the only Asian team who made it to the finals of the Games.

Apart from Cascolan, the other members of the PNP Basketball Team, many of them my playmates too, are Lieutenant Colonels Joel de Mesa, Jason Aguillon, Reynaldo Michael Agoncillo and Irene Dalogdog,  Chief Master Sgt. Ariel Saldua, Senior MSgts. Harold Decena and Zherwin Mendiola, Staff Sgts. Ronaldo Abaya, Ricardo Cabrera, Mariano Flormata, Mark Nicolas and Abdul Khair Bayabao, Corporals, Antonio Tolention, Jarold Dia, and Rollie Serrano and non-uniformed personnel Ernie Sta. Cruz.

The PNP Women’s Basketball Team headed by Major Ligay Garabiles and her teammates MSgt. Haireen David, SSgts. Marivic Arce and Kristine Franz Ramos, Patrolwomen Hannalou Aureada, Beverly Joyce Blanco, Kristine dela Cruz, Hazel Magpantay, Jhoan Mesina, Stephanie Paura,  Jenefer Senor and Ferlyn Dalida.

Chief MSgt. Rodel Valle (table tennis); Senior MSgt. Marife Baes, SSgts. Aaron Banatao, Crescencio Opriasa Jr., SSgt. Cyrus Anthony Tolosa,  Cpls. Andrew Alapad, Eva Claire Santiago, Pat. Zayra Acosta, Pat. Claudine Mae Carcilar, Chief MSgt. Junel Perania, Senior MSgt. Gierby Lacorte and Cpl. Christopher Yabut (taekwondo).  Alapad and Santiago both won two silver medals.

Also silver medalists in the track and field event were SSgts. Joselito Dugos and Michael Pelaez and Cpls. Rodel Bustamante and Melquiades Esquierdo.

Bronze medalists in the badminton games were Lt. Gen. Gamboa and  SSgts. Luningning Jagmis and Anabelle Sevilla;  Senior MSgts. Dauphin Punzalan, Marife Baes and Gierby Lacorte, SSgt. Miguel Adagio and Cpls. Kathleen Joy Dilay and Dominador Edos Jr. and Pat. Randolph Maraggun (karatedo). Cpl. Edos bagged two bronze medals in the event.

Other bronze medalists were Col. Salvador Alacyang (wrist wrestling), Senior MSgt. Jovelyn Payos (wrestling) and SSgt. Michael Pelaez (track and field).

The PNP Taekwondo Team got a total of five gold, 10 silver and four bronze medals  beating jins around the world. They are under Brigadier General Roberto Fajardo of the PNP Civil Security Group.

Dubbed as the Olympics of Law Enforcement Service, WPFG is is a biennial athletic event open to active and retired law enforcement and fire service personnel throughout the world. The next World Police and Fire Games will be in Rotterdam City in The Netherlands from July 30 to August 8, 2021.

I was told that sending the same powerhouse team in Netherlands will cost around P25 million but what the heck if it will be a real opportunity for the PNP to show that it is composed of officers and men who can excel in international sporting competitions apart from forging real camaraderie with its counterparts.