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Pearl of Philippine sports

IF you saw Pearl Managuelod in a room full of outstanding women leaders and were asked to guess her occupation, the last thing you’d pick would be a muaythai official.

But that’s alright, because you’d also probably never guess she is a real-life General’s Daughter and mother of two teenage boys.

Managuelod is a cut above the rest.

Fellow female sports leaders can be feisty and bombastic at times in dealing with affairs of their association. She looks as calm and composed as a diplomat on a peace mission.

Some people wanted her to rock and roll; she prefers to do a lullaby, gently and lovingly.

Others wanted her to get mad and get even. But she only wanted to get into people’s mind to understand. As a psychology graduate, she very surely knows how to find her way.

Managuelod, who was elected as one of four board members in the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) last Nov. 27, had a lot to say during the coronavirus-marred year.

We had the privilege to talk to Managuelod during the TOPS “Usapang Sports on Air” last Nov. 17.

Let’s listen to her.

Can you tell us what MAP (Muaythai Association of the Philippines) did to stay busy and relevant during the pandemic?

After the 2019 SEA Games, we were supposed to prepare for international events this year. But then the pandemic happened, so they were all cancelled. Last April, we decided to adapt to the new normal and hold everything on the virtual platform. We even had our virtual national championships.

What have our muaythai athletes accomplished since you tried this new normal in sports?

Our athletes competed in the IFMA World Virtual Muaythai Championships and i’m very happy with our results. We won 12 medals in all — 7 golds, 3 silvers and 2 bronzes. At ang maganda dyan is we were able to achieve the 50-50 agenda of the IOC when it comes to representation of athletes. Half of the medalists were women, and the other half are men. So we’re very happy about that, kasi it really speaks about the efforts of the organization to reach that agenda.

Any other accomplishment during the year?

Another accomplishment that we had was holding webinars for the coaches in regional and grassroots levels. We had the coaching series, like sports medicine edition. And we are now on our second season. Ngayon naman more on helping the coaches develop their philosophy, and even mental health development. We are tried to help our national athletes when their allowances were reduced early this year. And since majority of them went back to their home provinces during the lockdown, we decided to launch our own livelihood programs. We gave them loans na walang interest and they can pay whatever they can. Nagbigay din kami ng supplemental allowances during the pandemic. It’s time for us to reach out to our grassroots development.”

Do you have a schedule of your competitions next year and how do you prepare for these tournaments?

As I’ve said, it will be a busy year. Madami kaming naka-lineup for next year. We have the SEA Games, Asian Indoor, World Championship for both seniors and juniors. Since hindi maka-train together ang national team, kanya-kanyang muna sila ng training. Nagpapadala po ang coaches namin ng training program that they have to do and with the help ng Philippine Sports Institute of PSC, meron ding strength and conditioning program for them. We have also already crafted our training bubble protocols for approval of the IATF. Kapag pinayagan na mag-resume ng training, naka-ready na kami. We already identifed a venue for that. Hopefully, by January ma-implement na namin siya at makabalik na sa training ang mga athletes.

What’s your assessment of online muay competitions compared to regular events?

This (online) competition format proves to be inclusive. Ang mga atleta natin na galing provinces at nahihirapan dati na makapunta sa Manila because of lack of resources, madali na maka-join ngayon. Now, we have more female participants. The next step is continue to develop the program sa grassroots and hopefully, next year na makabalik tayo sa Phase 3, which is Return to the Ring for competitions. But we will continue with our virtual platform kasi okay naman ang turnout. We really just hoping to keep the momentum of whatever we’re doing right now.

What are the chances of our Filipino athletes in the coming SEA Games in Vietnam?

We don’t know yet how many events we have in Vietnam. But we are already scouting them. Vietnam had their national championships recently. Medyo alam na namin kung sino ang ilalaban nila. We competed against them before, so medyo nagha-handa na tayo.

How did you get involved in the sport?

My dad is General (Lucas) Managuelod. He is the president of MAP. I got involved with MAP though volunteer work. Patingin-tingin kung ano ang pwedeng matulong. Eventually I was appointed as secretary- general because of my background in sports. I have a Masters in Human Movement Science from UP, basically parang Sports Science. I also took up a second masters degree in Sports Psychology from the University of Ottawa.

NOTES — Happy birthday to Ayang Mallare of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), who celebrated last Saturday.

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