Wanted: House of POC, education for boxers


THE Olympics yielded the best out of the nation’s athletes and at the same time reared a bucket list of what needs to be addressed following the successful 1-2-1 gold-silver-bronze medal haul in Tokyo.

Tops on the list are academic scholarships the medal-winning boxers in Tokyo clamored for and a permanent home for the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), which, according to its chief, has been an “informal settler” since its establishment in 1911.

“We hope that schools will now recognize our effort as boxers and that as athletes, we also want to complete a college education,” men’s middleweight bronze medalist Eumir Felix Marcial told Tuesday’s online Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum.

“If I had my way, I could have attended college, but because no school or college, and no collegiate league holds boxing competitions, I had no choice but to focus on my sport,” Marcial added.

Men’s flyweight silver medalist Carlo Paalam, also a dropout having been a scavenger in his young days in Bukidnon and Cagayan de Oro, had the same sentiment.

“Hopefully, upcoming boxers get that chance to train and practice boxing while also getting a college education at the same time,” Paalam said.

The country’s top collegiate leagues—University Athletic Association of the Philippines and National Collegiate Athletic Association—maintains combat sports like taekwondo and judo in their programs. But never boxing.

Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, meanwhile, wanted the POC to have a permanent home, now that sports has proven its worth after the Tokyo Olympics success.

“After 97 years, we have already delivered the first [Olympic] gold [and multi-medal]. But after 97 years, I am still sad that the POC remains without its own building, it’s still an informal settler,”  Tolentino said.

He envisions the headquarters to be a three-story building with the ground floor housing a museum, the second floor the administrative offices and the third floor a multi-purpose level.

Tolentino said a most ideal location could be the Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex, which is government-owned.

“What the POC needs is just a small piece of government land,” he said. “We hope that the government could give us that land, and the POC will take care of funding the building from its friends and supporters from the private sector.”

Tolentino said it would be difficult for the athletes to inspire Filipinos if they don’t have a permanent headquarters where their medals and memorabilia would be prominently displayed.

“I have a request to our beloved President [Duterte] to allow us inside the CCP Complex to have an office, which is very wide and near, compared with Clark in Pampanga,” he added.

Tolentino couldn’t keep his frustrations when he revealed in the forum that officials of the Philippine International Convention Center turned down the POC’s request last February to set up a “staging area or war room” for the Tokyo Olympics campaign.

“It’s saddening because PICC turned down our request to have a small room in the facility,” Tolentino said. “The POC’s request was for us to rent a room, and not to get it for free.”

As a result, Tolentino said the POC, through chef de mission Mariano “Nonong” Araneta, had to hold dozens of meetings in different restaurants around Metro Manila.

“Our office at the PhilSports Complex [Pasig City] remained closed because of the pandemic,” he said. “Good thing, our sacrifices paid off with Hidilyn’s [Diaz] gold medal and the two silvers and one bronze.”

“Hopefully, they would realize that by now,” he added.

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