DAVAO City tankers Juliana Marien Villanueva and Eirron Seth Vibar are the only Mindanaoans who have qualified to the Philippines' swimming team bound for the 11th Asean Schools Games (ASG) 2019 set on July 17 to 25 in Semarang, Indonesia.
In a memorandum sent to regional directors, Department of Education (Deped) Assistant Secretary Revsee Escobedo said the student-athletes competing in the ASG were selected based on their "track records in local and international competitions apart from the Palarong Pambansa 2019."
Villanueva smashed her own Palaro 2018 record in secondary girls 800-meter freestyle in the 2019 edition of the Palaro hosted by Davao City last April 28 to May 4.
The 14-year-old Precious International School of Davao (PISD) Grade 9 student will join the girls swimming team of National Capitol Region's (NCR's) Mishka Sy, Camille Buico, Samantha Therese Coronel, Thanya Angelyn C. Dela Cruz and Micaela Jasmine Mojdeh along with Mimaropa's Mary Sophia Manantan. Marichi Gadiongko will coach the team.
"To represent my country is an honor po. Being able to be part of the delegation is an accomplishment because this came from the result of Palarong Pambansa 2019. Hard training paid off. Above all, it is God's wonderful grace po," said Villanueva, who will be joining the Philippines' ASG delegation for the second time.
She finished ninth last year in the 10th AG 2018 in Malaysia.
Villanueva, however, said, preparing for the event comes with so much sacrifice but she always trusts God for his guiding her and sustaining her.
"Expectations are hard po. ASG is not age group competition, it is highschool swimmers. But I trained with all my heart. Now, I will be humble to accept whatever God will give me po," she added.
Vibar, 16, a Malayan Colleges of Mindanao (MCM) 11th grader, will form part of the Virgilio de Luna-mentored boys team of NCR's Miguel Barreto, Steven Ho, Philip Santos, Keane Cedric Ting and Rian Marco Tirol; Calabarzon's Jordan Ken Lobos, Mervien Jules Mirandilla and John Neil Paredes; and Western Visayas' Raymond Paloma.
Vibar, who also saw action in the ASG 2018, won silvers in Palaro 2019.
"I felt quite blessed and happy that I was chosen and the fact that there were only two of us from Mindanao makes it even more overwhelming of a fact. I'm expecting the competition to be tough. It's likely that I cannot get an award but I'm expecting to break my personal records," he said.
He also said that he does not have a specific target but he will swim his best to break his time. Landing a podium finish will just be a bonus.
He and Villanueva are training daily at Green Heights Subdivision under coach Jun Rodriguez in preparation for the ASG.