Palarong Pambansa 2017 kicked off on Sunday in Antique with athletes from 18 regions on hand to compete across 21 sports. This is the 60th year of Palarong Pambansa and its mission to guide the youth towards pursuing sports, an initiative that President Duterte himself praised in his opening remarks.
Among the 12,000 athletes and 15,000 guests in attendance was Team Iloilo basketballer Ryan Calamaan, a living testament to the power of sports to change lives. Indeed, no matter what happened next, the 17-year-old prodigy was safe in the fact that his passion and dedication for basketball had already secured him a spot on the La Salle Greenhills Greenies NCAA team a few days earlier.
It was a spot well-earned and hard-won, as the 6’ 4” baller spent his formative basketball years with no formal training, teaching himself with salvaged wood and a metal ring in front of his house. It was only in grade school and, later on, in high school, that he began training in earnest, resulting in his talent being recognized by local sportsmen, who pushed him to pursue a varsity career.
Towards that goal, Calamaan has spent the last three years improving his fundamentals. Through passion and determination, the effort paid off: Last year, the Iloilo native led his team (the Sta Clarita International School in Iloilo) to the Iloilo Private Schools Athletic Association (PRISAA) title, and Silver in the 2016 Batang PBA tournament. This year, he helped bring home the Western Visayas Regional Athletic Association (WVRAA) crown.
With two straight years of championships to his name, Calamaan was invited to try out at LSGH, where his skills impressed the coaching staff enough to offer him a slot on the team.
In his Palarong Pambansa speech, the President could very well have been speaking directly to Calamaan when he said, “You now have a sense of discipline…You have to build something. It’s not all physical. It’s also mental and the desire to win.
Truly, through his remarkable successes, Calamaan has retained his humility, pouring his heart into his on-court efforts, and never losing sight of himself or his faith.
“Put your heart and give your all in every game,” Calamaan told media in a recent interview. “If you have the talent, just keep on practicing. Don’t forget to pray and be thankful that you were given that ability.”
Image source: Panay News