An Adopted PPVC Member

I’ve always said that the guys of the Philippine Pole Vault Club (PPVC) are the closest I have to teammates. In the past months, they’ve welcomed me with open arms in the times our training sessions coincided. I’ve known Coach Emerson Obiena since I was a high school junior. The ageless pole vaulter has also been a coach for my old college team the past few years. Jerome Margallo, a former competitor from Adamson University, was there at that fateful Thursday afternoon when I broke my arm. A former college teammate, Zek Valera, and his brother E.J are also part of the tight knit training group.

At a time when I was nearing the psychological breaking point, thanks to my solo training routine, these guys have been instrumental in keeping my head from imploding.

With the Ateneo team opting to sit out the National Games, the next best option is to join the PPVC crew. Humbly, I asked Coach Emer and his wife, Coach Jeanette, of the possibility of including my name in their lineup for the PNG. They welcomed me with open arms, providing ample food and comfortable accommodations – thanks to the magnanimous Mr. Johnny Hwa Liong, fondly called “Amu” by the PPVC lads. The Bacolod Tay Tung School played gracious hosts.


With the PPVC crew (Photo from Zek Valera)

In the five nights I spent with the PPVC, I felt part of the family. Not once did I feel like an outsider. We talked endlessly about track & field. For someone who spends hours training alone and talking no one, such an atmosphere was a welcome change! Coach Emer and Coach Jeanette had loads of stories and anecdotes to share. I grew close with Tonio Chee, a thirty-something professional who still finds the time to compete. I found the masters athlete’s maturity particularly comforting. The oozing energy of Jerome was infectious, and did much in helping me get into the competition groove. Riezel Buenaventura, the Philippines’ premiere female pole vaulter, quiet in her ways yet intensely focused on the task at hand was likewise someone I looked up to. The Valera brothers, being part of the Ateneo track team, gave a touch of familiarity to my surroundings. And then there was the Obiena siblings, Ernest and Emily. I have long since admired how these youngsters conduct themselves in the sport. I’m very fortunate to be a witness to the development of the Philippines’ future giants in the sport.

When I was in the doldrums, sulking at my crappy comeback race, the guys did much in helping me get back on my feet. Contrary what I previously thought, I am not alone after all. Until the time when my dreams of a setting up an athletics club turns to reality, I’ll compete for the PPVC.

My PNG 2011 experience was similar and yet vastly different from my provincial competitions of the yester-years. Even if my friends from my old team have long since been retired, it’s good to know that I’ve found people passionate for the sport. It feels great to be part of something again.


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