PENCAK silat head Princess Jacel Kiram believes that discipline, fortitude and a great fighting attitude was what carried the day for Mary Francine Padios, who distinguished herself in becoming the first Filipino athlete to win a gold medal in the 31st Vietnam Southeast Asian Games Wednesday.
Combining the elements of grace, poise, and flair in superb measure, Padios emerged on top at the Bac Tu Liem Sporting Hall in Hanoi with a score of 9.960 points, narrowly dethroning 2019 SEA Games queen Puspa Arum Sari (9.945) in the women’s individual silat seni (artistic) tunggal event.
The pride of Barangay Old Buswang, Kalibo town, Aklan turned the tables on the Indonesian, who had won the gold, while she settled for silver in the same event three years ago at the Subic Bay Exhibition Center in Olongapo, Zambales.
“Ang sarap kanina when we saw the scores and became emotional. True enough, na-notice ’yung galing niya (Padios),” noted Kiram, who was at ringside to witness the golden accomplishment of the pretty teener.
“I was very happy about her (Padios) winning. Kailangang kasi ng pamilya niya. More than the glory, ito para sa pamilya niya,” she added of the P300,000 cash incentive the athlete will receive from the Philippine Sports Commission for her feat.
Kiram said that the bonus will likely all go the mounting hospital bills of the newly minted champion’s father, Atty. Jerome Padios, who lay in a coma back home after suffering in a car accident at the height of the Christmas season last December.
“Malaking tulong sa father niyang si Atty. Jerome, who is still in the ICU. (This incentive is a big help to his father Atty Jerome, who is still in ICU). He was in a car accident before Christmas. He was operated on but until now he is still in a coma,” she explained.
She added that the hospital tab had now reached P2 million, and was still rising.
“Parang lutang ako. Wow na wow talaga! (I am still floating. Wow, really!” exclaimed the athlete of her experience after realizing she was the first campaigner to break the ice for the country in these Games.
Before she stepped into the arena, Padios, 18, a Grade 12 student at the Starglow Center for Academic and Arts in Kalibo, said she said a prayer and felt like the spirit of her father hovering over her.
“Nananalangin ako kay God at kay Papa bago lumaban. Ang feeling ko kasama ko siya habang naglalaro (I prayed to God and Papa before competing. I fell that my dad was with me while performing),” she said.
Kiram said that Padios was amply rewarded by the hard work and dedication she showed since the national team went into bubble training in Bayombong town, Nueva Vizcaya last November.
After being informed of the mishap her father suffered, Padios was given a 10-day break to go back to Aklan to be with the rest of her kin.
“But she (Padios) came back to us on the sixth day, telling me that her father was still in a coma, (there) was not a doctor, and could not do anything about the situation,” Kiram said. “She told us that it would be better for her to practice and perform her best for the SEA Games.
“I said to myself then that this athlete would go far because your attitude determines your altitude.”
“True enough, na-notice ’yung galing niya. This was given to the most deserving athlete talaga,” she stressed, her voice filled with joy and pride for what the young athlete had accomplished.