Pages: It’s unfair for Sally Mae Siso-A A +A
Thursday, November 1, 2012
Em-Em Siso cried last Tuesday. We were in Puerto Princesa for the National Championships of the Palawan Pawnshop Tennis event.
Em-Em, possibly the most decorated junior netter Cebu has ever produced, was in tears.
Our group of nearly 30 players and parents trekked the Subterranean Underground River.
But, when we arrived at the PNS tennis court where Em-Em was to play the Girls 18 final, she was told the shocking news: You lost. By default.
What?! The underground river visit was an official tournament trip. Weeks earlier, when my wife Jasmin, our daughter Jana and I decided to go to Palawan and we invited Em-Em to join us, it was because of one major reason: We wanted to see one of the “7 New Wonders of Nature.”
We did. All-smiling. But when we arrived on-court, the joy turned to tears.
Maia Balce, the player Em-Em was to face in the final, would not agree to play.
For some reason--despite my being told the day earlier by the tournament referee, Bobby Mangunay, that Em-Em’s match was “between 3 and 4 p.m.” —the official print-out read “3 p.m.”
We arrived on-court at 4 p.m. We pleaded. To no avail. The Balce family wouldn’t budge. Technically, yes, they’re correct. But the truth is, it was absolutely not made clear to us that the final was “3 p.m.”
The travel time from the underground river to tennis court was nearly two hours. No way would we have agreed, in the first place, to the 3 p.m. schedule. Plus, almost 30 of us (players and parents) joined the excursion -- including the tournament organizer himself, Pet Santos.
In our entire trip, we never got a call or text message about the schedule. Plus —and this is important—in the previous five days, almost all matches got delayed anyway (there were only three courts and a record 220 entries); then surely some flexibility was allowed -- especially for the final, right?
But, no. The Balces--with her mom, Pia, and Maia’s coach, Czarina Arevalo--would not
I tried calling Maia’s dad, Boboy, in Manila. After 20 missed calls, no response. He wouldn’t answer. He didn’t want to talk to me.
Meanwhile, Em-Em was crying. Also in shock were all the spectators. The Girls 18 is the premier category. And this wasn’t the first or second round -- it was the final!
Cherry Pie Picache, the celebrity mom who joined us the whole week (including the underground river trip), was in disbelief. Why can’t they just play? (The night before, when the Iloilo contingent arrived late from the same trek -- their opponents adjusted and agreed to play.)
Everybody pleaded with the Balces, including tournament referee Bobby Mangunay. He told the dad that, in so many past occasions, they’d request for favors (scheduling, etc). Now, for the first time, he was asking for a favor: play the final.” Still, the Balces said no.
Why not? Had the opponent been easy to beat, I’m sure they would have agreed. But Em-Em? Consider this: In the Girls 16 semis, Maia lost to Alexie Santos, 6-3, 7-6. Alexie? She was beaten by Em-Em, 6-2, 6-0. Get the point?
“We want the points.” That’s what coach Czarina explained to me. You know what the difference is in Philta points? The champion receives 120 while the runner-up gets 100. A mere 20 points!
Em-Em Siso doesn’t need points. The reason why we brought Em-Em along was because this was her “swan-song” event. After a decade of holding trophies and representing PHL, this was her final tournament. By Jan. 1, Em-Em will no longer be eligible to join the juniors. She doesn’t care about the points. She just wanted to play.
Moral lesson? In life, we’re often faced with two options. One screams, “Victory-At-All-Costs.” Never mind damaging relationships or our reputation -- we just want to
win. We want that trophy! But that’s a hollow victory. It’s empty.
The other option? It’s called “Doing The Right Thing.”
Given all the circumstances last Tuesday -- us not being properly informed of the time; us going with 30 others on the trek; the schedules not being followed anyway the past five days -- was it right not to play the final?
The full telenova-like story in my blog...
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on November 01, 2012.