Olympics: Why Paalam cherishes ‘recycled’ silver medal

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 07 2021 04:32 PM

Carlo Paalam of the Philippines in action against Galal Yafai of Great Britain during the men’s flyweight boxing final at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics at Kokugikan Arena Saturday. Paalam took home the silver, capping the Philippines’ most successful boxing run in Games history.
Carlo Paalam of the Philippines in action against Galal Yafai of Great Britain during the men’s flyweight boxing final at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics at Kokugikan Arena Saturday. Paalam took home the silver, capping the Philippines’ most successful boxing run in Games history. Luis Robayo, Reuters

For Filipino boxer Carlo Paalam, his Olympic silver medal is one he will truly cherish not only because it is the fruit of his hard work, but it is also a reminder of his hard-luck youth. 

Before being introduced to the sport, Paalam worked as a scavenger in Cagayan de Oro to help his family make ends meet.

This is why he could not hide his emotions while sharing the significance of his silver medal win, as all of the Olympic medals being handed out in Tokyo were produced from recycled small electronic devices like cell phones.

"Parang may simbulo ito sa buhay ko. Galing sa basura ito, sa mga sirang gadgets po, parang may connect sa buhay ko ito," Paalam told reporters after his gold medal match with Great Britain's Galal Yafai.

"Pinaghinuhugutan ko po ito. Nagpapasalamat ako sa Panginoon, nabago ko ang buhay ko po dahil sa medal na ito."

According to Insider.com, the Olympic medals in Tokyo were made out of recycled materials, as part of the Tokyo 2020 Medal Project. 

The project collected 78,985 tons of electronic devices — including 6.21 million cell phones — from across Japan to produce the 5,000 Olympic medals that were awarded in the games.

WINDFALL

Despite settling for a silver in Tokyo, the 23-year-old Paalam stands to receive millions for making it this far in the Summer Games.

Paalam is expected to be rewarded P5 million from the government as mandated by law. There were also pledges made by the private sector to anyone who scores silver in Tokyo.

The Philippine Olympic Committee, SMC CEO Ramon S. Ang and the MVP Sports Foundation each pledged to give P5 million. Even 
sports patron and congressman Mikee Romero pledged P2 million to silver-medalists.

Paalam took home silver after Yafai outpointed him, 4-1. The Brit scored a crucial knockdown in the first round, which placed him ahead in the score cards. 

Still, the Filipino tried to steal the win in the third round.

"Bumangon ako kasi gusto kong bumawi talaga e, gusto kong ipaglaban ang Pilipino e. Puso talaga po," he said. 

Despite the loss, Paalam knew he did his best in his Olympic debut.

"Hindi natin akalain nakuha ko ito sa first time kong naglaro ng Olympics. Halos lahat ng magaling nandito, two times na na Olympian dito. Ako kapapasok pa lang," he said.

Paalam added that he is setting his sights on the next Olympics.

He thanked his family and supporters for praying for his success.

"Salamat sa suporta, tiwala at dasal po. I love you sa lahat ng Pilipino at God Bless!" — With a report from Dyan Castillejo, ABS-CBN News

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