Davao City pride Paolo Miguel Labanon clinched the most valuable player (MVP) trophy, bagging six gold medals and one silver in the boys 16 and 17 division of the recently concluded 2023 Batang Pinoy national swimming championships held at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Malate, Manila.
Expressing his gratitude, the 17-year-old senior high school student at Mapua Malayan Colleges Mindanao (MCM) shared in a Facebook chat interview over the weekend, "Feeling blessed, this being my last year playing for Batang Pinoy, making a mark and earning the MVP achievement is truly special. It's a culmination of hard work, dedication, and the support of those around me.
He contributed to the boys' 16-17 400m medley relay team's gold medal alongside fellow accomplished swimmer Ivo Nikolai Enot, Juan Allesandro Suarez, and Pietro Dominic Requiza.
He also clinched a silver in the 100m butterfly on the final day of the competition on December 22, 2023.
Earlier, Labanon dominated the 200m, 400m, and 1,500m freestyle, and the 200m butterfly events, adding a team gold in the 4X50 medley relay.
He attributed his victory to God, who according to him, guided him throughout the competition.
"Huge shoutout to Coach Jun Rodriguez, my unwavering coach, and my amazing teammates from Rasa. Grateful for the constant support from my family, especially my Angkong, Ama, Mom, and Dad, who have been by my side since the beginning," he said. "Special thanks to my Achi for being there every step of the way in my swimming journey. To everyone who's been part of this rover with me, a heartfelt thank you – your presence has played a crucial role in my success!"
Davao City coach Vasit Venturillo, in his Facebook post, said the city's Batang Pinoy swimming team harvested 12 golds, 11 silvers, and six bronzes.
Aside from Labanon, Enot also contributed to the city's medal collection. He accounted for five golds and two silvers. He dominated the boys 16-17 50m, 100m, and 200m backstroke events aside from the two relay golds (4X50 medley relay, 400m medley relay), on top of winning the 100m and 200m freestyle silvers.
In the girls' category, the Amoguis sisters, Lora Micah, and Liaa Margarette teamed up with Stacey Bernice Requizza, and Rissa Sahagun to annex the gold in the girls' 13-17 400m medley relay on the last day of the swimfest. The Amoguis sisters also joined forces with Sahagun and Jemeina Alexandra Pagaran to bring home the girls' 13-17 400m freestyle relay gold earlier.
Lora also bagged silvers in girls 16-17 200m individual medley (IM) and 200m backstroke, and a bronze in 100m backstroke.
Liaa, for her part, salvaged a bronze in girls 16-17 400m IM.
Davao City also claimed the silver in girls 12U 200m medley relay, courtesy of Paulette Xavier Apilado, Jordin Shyloh Gonzalez, Isabella Asara Baron, and Zoe Alexandra Raut.
Apilado added another silver in girls nine to 12 400m IM. MLSA