Malilong: There’s more to life than a medal

The other side

WE’RE winning in almost all fronts in the ongoing Southeast Asian Games but the greatest victory recorded by a Filipino athlete was the one that did not guarantee him a place in the podium but earned him a place in the hearts of sportsmen.

I heard the story about Filipino windsurfer Roger Casugay’s inspiring act of sportsmanship and human compassion during the Walk and Talk breakfast yesterday. Apparently, the story was not carried by the newspapers that I read, which is a pity, because it had human interest written all over it.

But I checked in the web and the report was confirmed: Casugay and his Indonesian rival Mencos Cosomen were paddling out for the semifinals at the Monaliza Point in San Juan, La Union when the latter’s leash snapped, separating him from his board. Cosomen could have been swept away by the strong current had Casugay not come to his rescue.

After he fetched Cosomen, the pair paddled back to the shore and away from the Monaliza’s monstrous waves, tandem-surfing the beach break, according to a Facebook post by the United Philippine Surfing Association. The competitions were then suspended because of the dangerous weather condition.

Oftentimes, we get caught up in our desire to triumph over the field that we forget that there are more important things in our lives than winning. I experienced this many years ago while my eldest grandson was playing grade school intramural basketball at the Sacred Heart School for Boys. His team was running a fastbreak, three on three, when one of the opposing boys tripped and fell. My grandson came back and helped the other boy up.

During the halftime break, I remonstrated with him for wasting the opportunity for a basket by coming back instead of pushing his team’s numerical advantage. “But”, he replied, “what if the other boy was really hurt?”

The answer floored me. Indeed, what if the kid was seriously hurt? My young grandson saw what I missed because I was blinded by my desire to win at all cost. I have told this story a number of times and I will continue to tell it to anyone who cares to listen as a way of soothing the embarrassment that I carry to this day.


Speaking of embarrassment, the one that MCWD suffered over their failure to keep their appointment with Talisay Mayor Samsam Gullas was not a simple case of miscommunication. Somebody slept on the job and the water district should at least censure him or her even if the mayor is not calling for it.

He is usually calm, Samsam said in a text message last Thursday. And he was calm with the MCWD manager when they met earlier that day, he added, because the manager was new to his job. But he admitted to trembling in anger towards the employee who committed to the meeting, especially after he was told that the MCWD mistakenly thought that the meeting was going to take place in their office.

That’s a lie, he fumed, and it only showed how lowly they regard him and his office. The agreement to meet was made during a Central Cebu Basin meeting presided by Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma and it was very clear then that it was going to be in his office, Samsam said.

Besides, if the MCWD did believe that they were meeting Gullas and his barangay captains, among others, in their home, why didn’t they contact him when he failed to arrive at the appointed time, he asked.

I do not believe and I think neither does Samsam that the MCWD intended to snub him. It is unfortunate and unfair to the other employees that the entire organization should suffer because one or two of its officers goofed. I think they should go back to the Talisay City mayor, sincerely apologize instead of make excuses and promise that it won’t happen again.


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