Tokyo Olympic flyweight boxing silver medalist Carlo Paalam has not forgotten his roots that molded his exceptional talent and skills in amateur boxing.
On a drizzling afternoon last August 26, the ever humble and soft-spoken Paalam quietly slipped into the modest quarters of the Cagayan de Oro City Amateur Boxing Team at the hilly Aluba in Macasandig to reunite with his former teammates and coaches.
Wearing his shy smile, the 24 year old Upper Zayas, Carmen resident was warmly welcomed with open arms by over 50 of his comrades upon his arrival at the city-run boxing training center, his first visit since his successful Olympics stint in Tokyo, Japan.
The Cagayan de Oro City boxing pride was accompanied by his long-time coach and personal mentor, Elmer Pamisa, together with Stephen ‘Pong’ Dacoco and Jaymar Rivera of the City Sports Development Program.
In his brief reunion message, Paalam painfully shared the tough times he encountered in life, especially during his childhood days as he had to help his parents make both ends meet, working as a scavenger just to earn a little money to buy food for his family.
“Sa gamay pa ko, mamunit ko og basura sa una ug akong ibaligya para lang makapalit og pagkaon (When I was a child, I picked up trash and sold it to buy food)”, he recalled.
But for Carlo, he now views the hardships and struggles in his early life in a different perspective, as these taught him to become a stronger and determined person.
And then, the golden opportunity came when he was spotted by coach Pamisa while the latter played basketball at a court in Upper Zayas, Carmen.
Eventually, he was recruited by Pamisa to join the growing boxing stable of then Misamis Oriental Governor, and now Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar S. Moreno, at an early age of nine.
“Nakita nako sa iya (Carlo) pirmero nga isog ning bataa ug maayo modiskarte sa dula (At first, I saw his toughness. He is raw but crafty boxer)”, the RP national boxing coach said. Like the famous idiom says, the rest is history.
Now recognized as one of the country’s elite boxers, Paalam told his teammates that the keys to success in achieving life dreams and ambitions are courage, sacrifice and discipline.
For his part, coach Pamisa said the victory of Paalam is also the triumph of the Cagayan de Oro amateur boxing team as he urged his boxers that Paalam’s silver medal finish in the world’s top competition will hopefully be a source of inspiration to all.
“Ang kadaugan ni Carlo sa Olympics, kadaugan pud natong natan. Unta magsilbi kining inspirasyon kaninyong tanan (Carlo’s victory in the Olympics is also our victory. I hope this will serve as an inspiration to all of us)”, Pamisa added.
Meanwhile, coach Pamisa sincerely thanked Mayor Moreno’s strong support through his grassroots amateur boxing development program which hugely contributed to the exemplary performance of Paalam.
He also cited the generous support and benevolence of Atty. Oscar Moreno Jr., Community Sports & Youth Dev’t Director of Manny V. Pangilinan Sports Foundation (MVPSF); Mr. Ed Picson, Secretary General of the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Phils. (ABAP); Mr. Ricky Vargas, ABAP President; and Mr. Al Panlilio, MVPSF President. (Ian A. Fuentes/photos by Aicy Soriano/City Information Office.)