MANILA – After hearing of Michael Martinez’s plight to get to the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Bicolanos have started a fund-raiser to help the Filipino skater with his financial needs.
Albay Gov. Joey Salceda launched Piso para ki Michael (Piso para kay Michael) on Tuesday to gather funds for Martinez, who is set to compete in the men’s figure skating on Thursday at the Iceberg Skating Palce in Sochi.
The provincial government of Albay distributed can coin banks and encouraged everyone to give at least P1 to help Martinez.
“We have raised now about P100,000 since launching it yesterday,” Salceda’s chief of staff, Atty. Carol Sabio, said.
Some Bicolanos made personal sacrifices just to help the Filipino skater. Student Agatha Lagco, for instance, has decided to forego her Hong Kong trip and gave her savings to the fund-raiser.
For his part, Roderick Mendoza, Albay sports coordinator, said Martinez deserves to be supported.
Martinez mom, Teresa, claimed that her son was able to reach the Winter Olympics despite lack of government funding.
She admitted getting support from the private sector including the Philippine Olympic Committee, the Philippine Skating Union, SM and sports patron Manuel V. Pangilinan.
"Nung May (2013), nagbigay ang Shoemart ng P1 million. 'Yung Philippine Olympic Committee, P250,000, and P500,000 'yung sa [Philippine] Skating Federation," said Teresa in an interview with Dyan Castillejo.
However, Martinez’s training expenses in the US and Europe are quite steep. They also had to cover his and his coach’s expenses during international competitions.
Mrs. Martinez told the Catholic News Service that their expenses can run at least $10,000 for each competition he enters. This is aside from his training costs.
"Kasi kailangan n'yang mag-train... eh mahal kasi ang training sa US. 'Yung isang coach nya charges a $150 an hour. His other coaches charge $130 an hour, 'yung isa charges $100. The ice time is about $96 per hour. He stays on the ice six hours a day," said Mrs. Martinez.
"If he's on the ice six hours a day, that's $96 per hour, so you're talking something like $500 to $600 a day." – With reports from Dyan Castillejo and Thea Omelan, ABS-CBN