The feat of this 17-year-old boy is one that should make every Filipino proud. Imagine, a country like ours with no snow can produce a world-class ice skater, and despite frequent asthma attacks, is ranked 28th among the best senior-level figure skaters in the planet? Earlier this year, he competed and finished 7th at the 2013 Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany, the last qualifying event for the 2014 Winter Olympics, another first for the country.
But the young phenom knows that hurdling his next challenge will not be as smooth as gliding on ice. With only two months left to prepare, Michael admits that his training is far from complete. For one, he needs four hours of daily training with a coach, but he and his mother Teresa can only afford to pay for one hour. Imagine, billions of taxpayer money is being wasted on ghost projects while this amazingly talented boy does not even get any support from politicians and government officials? What are these sports bodies doing?
What has kept him “on ice” (no pun) for the past few years have been donations from sponsors gathered by the Philippine Skating Union. Michael’s biggest backer so far is the SM Group that owns the ice rinks in SM MOA and SM Southmall, the latter being the rink where he started skating recreationally in 2005. Thank heavens for the company that has given the young athlete P1 million earlier this year, which he used to cover expenses for training in the US and for competing in Europe.
One could only admire the tenacity of his mother Teresa who reveals that she has used up 25 years of savings in just three years for her son’s training abroad
, explaining the cost of pursuing the Olympic dream: “It will cost you half a million pesos per competition. You also pay for the air fare and hotel of the coach. His coach charges $400 a day. One of his coaches in the US charges $100 an hour. He also has an Olympic coach who charges $150 and a choreographer who charges $130. Ice time is $16 for six hours,” she discloses. Include transportation and food and she reckons a daily expense of $500 to $600.