Cagayan de Oro rolled out the red carpet for hometown hero Carlo Paalam who won one of the Philippines’ silver medals in boxing at the recently concluded XXXII Olympic Games Tokyo 2021.
Following a VIP reception at the Laguindingan Airport last Tuesday, August 24th, where he had an emotional reunion with his parents Prio Rio and Emelyn, and girlfriend Stephanie Sepulveda, all of whom he had not seen for a very long time, the Cagayan de Oro City Government gifted the home-grown pugilist with P2 million cash in acknowledgement of his stellar performance, in addition to a commendation from the 19th City Council in a press briefing hosted by Mayor Oscar S. Moreno at City Hall later the same day.
“He (Paalam) may have lost the gold but he fought well…he opened the doors for more golds. I hope there will be more opportunities for him and others like him in the future. I also hope that Carlo Paalam’s experience will inspire Cagayan de Oro City’s boys and girls to aim high. Carlo’s future is bright and he has enough time and is young enough to fight for another Olympic gold,’ Mayor Moreno said
In overcoming the challenges he faced in his road to Olympic glory, Moreno said Paalam’s victory brought pride and honor not only to Cagayan de Oro City but to northern Mindanao and the Philippines.
Paalam and his coach Elmer Pamisa, likewise thanked Mayor Moreno and the 19th City Council headed by Vice Mayor Joaquin ‘Kikang’ Uy for their support in Paalam’s quest for an Olympic gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics.
‘Mingawan ko sa Cagayan de Oro…daghan salamat gud ko kang Mayor Moreno sa iyang suporta since gubernardor pa siya sa Misamis Oriental hangtod karon nga mayor siya sa Cagayan de Oro. (I missed Cagayan de Oro…I especially thank Mayor Moreno for his support from the time he was still governor of Misamis Oriental until today when he’s mayor of Cagayan de Oro),’ Paalam said. Pamisa added that his victory wouldn’t have been possible without City Hall’s support.
‘Unta di malimtan nga mohatag og suporta sa atong mga atleta (Hopefully we will never forget to support our athletes),’ Pamisa said.
Uy congratulated Paalam and presented him with a plaque and a City Council resolution commending Paalam’s performance in the Tokyo Olympics.
‘Paalam’s journey from garbage picker to Olympic silver medalist will inspire more young people to work hard (despite their humble beginnings). Thanks to Mayor Moreno’s sports program which bore fruit (and produced world class) athletes like Paalam,’ Uy said.
Reunion with Oro Boxers
On August 26th, the Cagayan de Oro LGU, and MVP Sports Foundation, in cooperation with the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) hosted a Reunion with Boxers event to honor Paalam at the Cagayan de Oro Boxing Gym, Upper Macasandig, Cagayan de Oro City.
The event reunited the hometown hero with his fellow boxers of the Cagayan de Oro Boxing Team whom he had not seen for a long time following his extended preparations abroad for the Tokyo Olympics.
Coach Elmer Pamisa of the PH Boxing Team who discovered Carlo 11 years ago and enrolled him in the boxing program of then Misamis Oriental Governor Oscar S. Moreno, welcomed the current team members whom he exhorted to be inspired by Paalam’s silver medal.
The participants were also treated to video messages from key luminaries of the grassroots boxing program including Atty. Oscar “Jang” Moreno, Jr., Community Sports and Youth Development Director, MVP Sports Foundation and Region 10 Director of the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP); ABAP President Atty. Ricky Vargas; ABAP Secretary-General Ed Picson; MVP Sports Foundation (MVPSF) President Mr. Al Panlilio, President, MVP Sports Foundation (MVPSF) and an inspirational message from City Mayor Oscar S. Moreno.
“Coach Elmer, I don’t think you’re getting the recognition that you deserve,” Atty. Moreno said in his message. “When he was still a young boy, you already saw his potential, and the sacrifice you made in his behalf is beyond question. The daily trainings, all the advise you imparted to him, and Carlo will not be Carlo today if not because of you. And you can see the love that Carlo shows to you speaks volumes of how you are to him as a coach and father figure to him. Congratulations!”
“The silver you won is even more inspirational that a gold medal,” Atty. Moreno said to Paalam. “When you were knocked down and got back up, you showed to the world the grit and determination of the Filipino athlete. Now everyone with whom you practiced with in that gym knows dreams do come true, now that you are an Olympic silver medalist. When you fought inside the ring, it was like we were all there with you. Every time you were tagged we felt it, and every time your punches landed, we were likewise there with you. Now you still have Paris to look forward to. And not only you but all those young boys beside you, anyone of them can be the next Carlo Paalam.”
For his part, Mr Ricky Vargas thanked Mayor Moreno for giving us Carlo Paalam and for discovering him. “He will be with us in Paris Olympics to give us the ‘Oro’ that we need. Thank you, Cagayan de Oro for making us proud, and I know there are more of you there in Cagayan de Oro, and we ask Mayor Moreno to help us find more like him.”
Meantime, MVP Sports Foundation President Al Panlilio expressed their joy and satisfaction with Paalam’s recent performance in the Tokyo Olympics.
“We are very, very proud of Carlo’s performance in the Olympics. Sayang, malapit na tayo nuon but we are looking forward to Paris and I want to say we will continue to support Cagayan de Oro, ABAP, and the boxing career of Carlo and other boxers, as we did in 2019, when we put up a ring for our boxers there, and of course, the proper experience and training. So we’re here to support till Paris, and many thanks for the opportunity to help.”
For his part, Mayor Oscar Moreno lauded the inspiration Carlo had injected into the Oro Boxing Team, which would now enable them to achieve more, and bring more recognition and honors, not just for Cagayan de Oro, but for the entire country as well.
“Carlo has been a resident of this stable for 10 years, even before we moved to where we are now. Before he became a national athlete with the ABAP, our Aluba gym was his home. So he will now have a chance to reconnect with his fellow boxers.”
“I hope this reunion; this homecoming will be meaningful for everybody. For Carlo, it reminds him of where he was, where he started. Hopefully this will give him more courage and more determination, to pursue that dream still.”
“For the residents of our stable, we hope this homecoming for Carlo will also serve as an inspiration for them. You can become another Carlo. Someday you can have the chance to win that Olympic Gold Medal, or be a success in life whatever career you choose to pursue in the future.”
“Our boxing program is not just meant to win medals in competitions, nor recognition in events. But rather, this program is part of our effort in nation building. Sports is important for nation building. We need to develop good attitudes in our youth as they pursue their respective careers.”
Not the least, ABAP Secretary-General Ed Picson noted how the Filipino boxers extended focused, concentrated training of over two months in Sta Rosa, Laguna, and over 3 months in Thailand, gave us 3 medals in the Tokyo Olympics, the best performance ever by the Philippines in the Olympics since it joined the world’s most prestigious multisport meet in 1924.
“Your 3 medals is a great source of pride not only for ABAP, your family, for Cagayan de Oro, and the entire nation. The entire nation celebrated in your victory in the Tokyo Olympics,” Mr. Picson stressed.
“Since you are still young, you can still strive to attain greater heights, your silver medal is already a great achievement in the Olympics. But there still remains the gold medal, which you still try to achieve. Not only in the Olympics, but also in the Asian Games, and in the World Championships, as well as the SEA Games Gold which you already won, but can win again.”
“There still remains a lot of opportunities for you to take, and hopefully your hunger in pursuit of the highest level in boxing still remains. Keep the faith to attain the highest level, not only in sports, but also for your family, for Cagayan de Oro, and for the Philippines.”
“Hopefully also, Coach Elmer (Pamisa) and the rest of our coaching staff, continues to discover new talents and to develop them under the tutelage and guidance of Mayor Oscar Moreno. Even while you were still a young boy, Mayor Moreno already introduced you to me, and I hope he continues the boxing program here in Cagayan de Oro. I hope and I know we can get more talents from your place. Congratulations again Carlo, Coach Elmer, Mayor Moreno, Cagayan de Oro.”
According to Stephen Dacoco, city hall special projects for sports coordinator, the luminaries had to record their messages in compliance with the city’s current MECQ status and health protocols. Attendance and the physical layout of the event which has been set up in a bubble was likewise restricted under similar health and safety protocols.