MANILA – What would you say to the only Filipino athlete who will compete in the Winter Olympics this year?
Michael Christian Martinez, the lone representative of the Philippines to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, is competing this week against 30 other athletes.
Martinez’s entry to the Olympics came in as a surprise to many because he is the first Southeast Asian to compete in the figure skating event since it was introduced in 1924.
Due to the alleged lack of support from the Philippine government, Martinez's mother said she had to mortgage their house to pay for his regular training.
On Tuesday, TV Patrol asked on its social media accounts, “Sasabak bilang kauna-unahang Winter Olympian ng bansa, simula 1992, si Michael Martinez sa Sochi. Ano ang inyong mensahe para kay Martinez bago ito lumaban sa Winter Olympics?”
Facebook users answered with messages of support and admiration for the Olympian.
Desiree Solomon said, “Michael, just do your best! We're already proud of you for representing us. Have fun and good luck.”
Jairus Alcantara said Martinez is an inspiration to Filipinos who are pursuing their dreams despite experiencing hardships in life.
“For Michael, I’m so proud of you. Inspirasyon ka ng mga taong hirap sa buhay pero lumalaban ng sabayan. Relax, enjoy and chill. Higit sa lahat, mahal ka ng bansa. Nakakaiyak [ang] laban mo; para sa bansa [ang] ginagawa mong ito.”
Maikeru San Juan, meanwhile, took the opportunity to question the government’s alleged lack of support for the athlete.
“Manlalarong itataas [ang] bandila ng Pilipinas ngunit ni singko [ay] walang tulong galing sa gobyerno ng Pilipinas. Ang magulang, nagawang isanla ang tirahan para lang may panggastos papunta sa nasabing paligsahan. Anong klaseng gobyerno meron tayo?”
Isabel Roxas agreed with San Juan: “Baka po pwede iparating sa government na dapat at kailangan nilang suportahan ang lahat ng ating mga athlete lalo [na ang] magagaling na katulad ni Michael? So shameful that he never got any support from the government.”
Bing Jabadan, on the other hand, connected Martinez’s story to other pressing issues plaguing the country.
“Ipakita mo sa buong mundo na may mga Filipino na kayang magbigay ng karangalan sa bansa na pinamumunuan ng mga elitistang magnanakaw.”
The same magnitude of support for Martinez’s Olympic bid is also felt from the majority of Twitter users.
Mamot M. Villena (@Mamot29) said, “God bless, Michael Martinez! Kahit ‘di ka manalo sa competition na ‘to, panalo ka pa rin sa puso naming.”
Zulueta Alexander (@artisticzander) told Martinez to give his best performance to reward his family members who have helped him achieve his dreams.
“Martinez, we Filipinos are proud of you. Do your best para sa aamilya mo na hindi nagpabaya para sa pangarap mo.”
JB Rufino (@jb_rufino) wanted Martinez to do well in the competition in order to put the government that did not support him to shame.
“Ang mensahe ko kay Martinez ay galingan niya para naman mahiya ang gobyernong hindi man lang siya tinulungan.”
Twitter user OnlyAisbaby (@aisbaby) also slammed the government for not supporting Martinez.
“Embarrassing that a lone passionate Pinoy would have to mortgage their home to represent our country.”
Danecca Bulingit (@airamaccenad) said, “Go, Martinez! God bless! Tiwala kami sa galing ng Pinoy. Manalo man o matalo, tatak Pinoy pa rin.”