"These Filipinos make us proud."
No, we are not talking here about the raft of declarations of candidacy of various groups and personalities gearing up for the 2022 elections.
We are not even referring to the whys and wherefores of those who engaged in tit-for-tat debates about the government’s COVID response, the drug war and the ICC, corruption in high places, in and out of government, through the years and, yes, even the regurgitation of martial law.
Rather, we are interested here in celebrating Filipinos making their mark in the world stage – from Carlo Biado who just won the latest US Open 9-ball (Pool) tournament to Miguel Tabuena who just won in the Idaho Open en route to a place in the prestigious PGA Tour, the world's premier men's golf circuit culminating in the US Open where he hopes to join another Filipino, Justin Quilban, as both of them compete in two PGA events, the Sony Tournament in Hawaii and the Korn Q-School in Dayton, Ohio.
These two golfers hope to duplicate the winning ways of our golfing ladies, Yuka Saso, who is the reigning US Open Women's champion, Bea Pagdanganan who has risen to the top ranks in women's golf and lately, Pauline del Rosario and Abby Arevalo who are making waves at the Delta Downs Invitational Tournament in Louisiana.
We also have our pole vaulter, EJ Obiena, who won gold in the Paris Championship, erasing in the process the existing Aisan GHames record, and our ever sturdy champions in the MMA circuit, Pacio and Saruta, of Team Lakay and our very own Kai Sotto who is due to join the Adelaide.
Indeed, many Filipinos have been on the march to greater heights notwithstanding the pandemic and the lingering problem of meager resources and paucity of sponsors. Although Yuka and the other golders have found a golden sponsor of sorts in ports magnate Ricky Razon and his world leading port services company ICTSI, the rest have had to make do with contributions from family and friends.
Of course, we are aware that the MVP group as well as SMC have been providing funds for various sports activities but some sectors note that these have been unduly funneled to basketball.
We are now being advised, however, that the Philippine Olympic Committee under Cavite Representative Bambol Tolentino and the government sports agency, PSC, have joined hands to get our sports associations ramp up their scouting and training efforts after getting pledges of support from various benefactors riding on the wave of public accolades with our winningest Olympic participation ever with one gold courtesy of Hidilyn Diaz, two silvers from boxers Carlo Paalam and Nedy Petacio, and a bronze from Eurmir Marcial. Then, of course, we have our E-gamers most of whom have been routing opponents in world championship bouts and are currently hailed as among the top five gamers in the world.
It is not only in sports though where we are making our mark. For some time now, Filipinos have captured the attention of the world's culturati. Our couteriers and designers have dressed many of Hollywood's actresses and models, jewellers have captured the imagination of the best shops and, of course, our artists and movie makers have been hailed for years as partners in Tinseltown.
But it is now getting even clearer that Pnoys are getting recognized in the academic world including the world of science and technology. Many of our young inventors have had their discoveries copied by unscrupulous groups to the point of copyrighting the same without as much as a royalty or acknowledgment. Our entrepreneurs are getting into the Silicon Valleys of the world albeit relatively late in the game as the Indians and Israelis have gone far, far ahead of us in this field. But no matter. We are catching up faster than we can imagine (if only we can mobilize and focus in this field which includes medical research and applications instead of spending hours trying to cut each other's throats trying to dig deep into greed motivations and hyperventilating on imagined wrongdoing).
In any event, while our leaders are doing their tearing operations, we continue to salute and encourage our very own kababayans to labor on and march to greater heights. Set aside the politics and make our country proud. On that note we offer our congratulations to Clyde Wesley Ang, a 22-year-old Pinoy prodigy who is set to graduate with highest honors at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) with double major degrees of Bachelor of Science in Data Science and Technology and and Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with Minors in Robotic and Mathematics. Ang will receive First Class Honors (equivalent to Summa Cum Laude) and the HKUST Academic Achievement Award, the highest academic honors given by the university.
I am not sure if Ang is the first Filipino to receive this award but his feat alone is already a major accomplishment given the challenges he had to face not the least being his having to face off against the best and the brightest not only in Hongkong but even those coming from inside the mainland. That he was able to stand his ground and romp off with the highest honors is truly elevating.
Ang graduated as the valedictorian of his high school class in Chiang Kai Sek College Manila. At an early age, in elementary and high school, he already showed his talents representing the country in various competitions overseas. Before going to HKUST, at the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO), he won two silver medals, one bronze medal and an honorable mention in annual competitions from 2010, 2014 and 2017.
In 2017, Ang captained HKUST's robotics team to snatch the overall championship and best engineering presentation at the MATE ROV International Competition Explorer Class held in the United States. This competition has been billed as one of the toughest if not the toughest mathematical and engineering competition in the world bringing together all the best and brightest students in science and mathematics to compete using remotely operated vehicles to "..inspire and challenge students to learn and creatively apply science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to solve real world problems and strengthen their critical thinking, collaboration, entrepreneurship and innovation.." With that landmark victory, there is no question Ang can now serve as the guide for the younger generation of Pnoys to move on, march to their own beat of achievement and success and carry our country's flag to the ends of the earth.
To them, we say Godspeed.