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Pinoy Pride: The tale of three Filipinos in the First International Online Cup 2020

An old joke goes: A pedestrian sees a musician getting out of a cab and asks, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” The artist replies, “Practice, practice, practice.”

Michael Jordan did not become the acknowledged Greatest of All Time sitting down; he had thrown thousands of hoops, and has missed more than 9,000 in his career.  But it all boils down to one thing: practice.  The man – who led his team to a three-peat in convincing championship wins – was said to have been the first one in the court, and the last one to leave.

Boxing champ and senator Manny Pacquiao did not win all those belts with sporadic practice sessions either. The Pac-Man’s routine reportedly consists of hours of punishing exercises involving running (all of eight miles), shadow-boxing, jumping ropes, ab crunches, knee-ups, and other ab exercises.

With Coach Kris Joy Leeping. The multi-awarded gymnasts train for hours, with all the hard work eventually paying off. | Photos from Tommy Celis
With Coach Kris Joy Leeping. The multi-awarded gymnasts train for hours, with all the hard work eventually paying off. | Photos from Tommy Celis

Bianca Isabelle Celis, Kiana Marie Alagaban, and Matthea Given Efenio know that feeling too well, and with good results.

“Their training would sometimes last for three to five hours a day,” Tommy Celis tells DNX.

Coach Kris Joy Leeping training her wards to prepare them for the online international meet. | Photo from Tommy Celis
Coach Kris Joy Leeping training her wards to prepare them for the online international meet. | Photo from Tommy Celis

And it paid off.  The three girls – all from Bacolod – had recently bagged medals in the International Rhythmic Online Gymnastics 2020 hosted by Mexico last 11 to 17 October 2020.  Participating countries included Brazil, Chile, Panama, Ecuador, Spain, Venezuela, Argentina, Costa Rica, Philippines, Bolivia, Greece, Peru, Colombia, Russia, Cuba, Mexico, Malaysia, Guatemala, United States, Canada, Finland, Slovakia, and Azerbaijan.

Promotional material from Club Heymo Facebook page.
Promotional material from Club Heymo Facebook page.

Tommy’s daughter, Bianca Isabelle Celis, a student of Scholastica’s Academy bagged the Bronze prize for Rope Category (13 to 15 category), while Kiana Marie Alagaban, 16, of TayTung High School won the Bronze for the ball category (16 years old and above).  Matthea Given Efenio, 11 years old also of  TayTung high school bagged the Gold for the Rope for her category (10 to 12 years old). 

The girls with their Coach Kris Joy Leeping. When the city was placed under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine, the trainings were done via videos. | Photo from Tommy Celis
The girls with their Coach Kris Joy Leeping. When the city was placed under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine, the trainings were done via videos. | Photo from Tommy Celis

The three, Celis tells DNX, were supposed to represent the province of Negros Occidental to the regional meet in Aklan last April which was unfortunately cancelled no thanks to the pandemic.

Their training, he confirms, is key in the girls clinching medals during the international competition.  Trained by Kris Joy Leeping of Rhythmic Gymnastics, Celis says the girls’ training would last hours.

Training sessions with Coach Kris Joy Leeping. | Photo from Tommy Celis
Training sessions with Coach Kris Joy Leeping. | Photo from Tommy Celis

Things became challenging when the city was placed under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine because that means training had to be limited within the home through videos.

Thus, it was a proud moment for Tommy when Bianca won the bronze for her category.

“I was very proud because that was the first international appearance of my kid,” he said.

PromotionaL material from Club Heymo Facebook page
PromotionaL material from Club Heymo Facebook page

Bianca, he says, is no stranger to success, especially in gymnastics.

In the NOPSSCEA Rhythmic Gymnastics, for instance, she won on one gold, two silvers, and one bronze.

Now in first year high school, Bianca is also a consistent honors student of St. Scholastica’s Academy.

That she is able to juggle both academics, and sports shows a rare kind of dedication.

“Even before the pandemic, she was already quite dedicated [with her craft], training until 8 in the evening, and then still having time for study,” he says.

Promotional material from Club Heymo
Promotional material from Club Heymo

Hard work.  Determination. 

“This is something that her mama has instilled in her,” Tommy says.  “Mama” is the former Rodia Martir, Tommy’s high school sweetheart and now wife.

And with that kind of determination, little Bianca is surely going a long way.

Hannah A. Papasin
Hannah A. Papasinhttp://facebook.com/hannah.mariveles
Writer. Critic. Professor. She started writing since primary school and now has two published textbooks on communication. A film buff, she's a Communication, Media Literacy and Journalism Professor of the University of St. La Salle-Bacolod, and has a Master's Degree in English.

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