It has always been my childhood dream to watch the Olympic Games. When I received the official designation of the British Council Philippines to be the group leader and head of delegation for the 11 student athletes going to the 2012 London Olympics, I did not have second thoughts.
Amid my hectic work commitments at the San Beda Graduate School of Business and my own production outfit, I packed my bags and proceeded to London last July 28 to accompany our country’s young athletes, who were set to study at a British boarding school in East Sussex and witness the splendor of the Olympic Games.
The UK Summer School Sports Scholarship Program was a first in Philippine sports, where top performers from the 2011 Batang Pinoy Philippine youth games were sent to the United Kingdom for two weeks of summer school at St. Bede’s as scholars of the British Council Philippines, the British Embassy, the Philippine Sports Commission and the MVP Sports Foundation.
Our young Filipino athletes got to experience a program that combined sports and education, and got the rare chance to be among the live witnesses at the London spectacular. The members of the delegation got to watch the archery, handball and basketball games.
From start to finish, the London Olympics experience was amazing, exciting, moving and inspirational.
To our young Filipino athletes, it was a learning experience, and a realization that they can be at par, if not better, than their foreign counterparts among the international students of St. Bede’s. The staff and faculty were pleasantly surprised that Filipinos speak very good English and were active in class participation while exhibiting a warm and caring attitude toward the service staff and their classmates.
They became good friends with the German and Italian students, whom they got to call “adopted Filipinos.” The foreign students relished the sinigang and adobo cooked by the Filipino visitors in the school.
The trip also enhanced their commitment to sports discipline and excellence in preparation for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in China, and hopefully for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Filipinos in London, led by Deputy Chief of Mission in the Philippine Embassy Ambassador Rey Catapang, Angel Arando of the San Beda Alumni Association, and Julius and Maria Hafalla of the UP Alumni Association, helped extend warm Filipino hospitality to our future sports heroes while they were in London.
As some sports enthusiasts recalled, “The whole London Olympics was a celebration of humanity in its amazing totality—body, mind, heart and soul.” Indeed, it was an experience of a lifetime for the kids—unforgettable and always worth treasuring!