PHILIPPINES -- Last year was possibly one of the most difficult times of my life. I can’t say much, but this was not your ordinary “I hate my life” situation. It was bigger than that. Suffice to say, it involved my family and a lot of rearranging of my time. My priorities had been reset. My focus shifted from my own to life to focusing on someone else’s. But I didn’t mind one bit. I had to do it.
When things like this happen, it’s hard not to feel defeated. To feel cheated and like life truly wasn’t fair. It would have been easy to give up all together. But it certainly wasn’t the case.
The same time this happened, we were called to try-out and start training with the Philippine National Women’s Team for the AFF Women’s Championship in October of 2011. How easy would it have been to use my situation as an excuse to myself, to say I wouldn’t have the time to train and push myself with everything going on in my life. Luckily, I don’t like giving up. And luckily enough, when I do feel like giving up, there are people in my life who don’t let me. And so began my year of being the underdog. The underdog who a lot of people might underestimate, but some will have tremendous hope in. The underdog who a lot of people will say failed that year, but others will say succeeded. This was my year of being a Maldita.
It was a whirlwind of activity, starting with training that only a few would show up to. Then months flew by and before you knew it we had 2 months til the competition. There I was 2 months before the competition, still doubting myself and my capabilities to perform. I lost my game and will to improve myself. There were so many moments that I thought I would give up and say I had a good run in my football career. That was enough for me. But there was a bigger voice saying there were still things to learn and things to do and achieve. With the help and guidance of a few people, who truly never stopped believing and caring for me, I worked my hardest. However, I still felt it wasn’t my hundred percent. I did it though, just enough to get me through.
Wait a minute, just enough to get me through? This was not something I was accustomed to. I used to fight hard enough to be ahead of the pack. I may sometimes have started from behind but it was in my nature to find myself somewhere in the front of the pack. Unfortunately, my realisation came a bit too late for this competition. But it is way ahead for the next. The tournament in Laos came as a humbling experience. It was my first time working so hard but knowing there were players better prepared than me.
So there it was the first tournament I didn’t play a single minute. But it hadn’t fazed me. It made me even more determined than before to earn my place on the team. Because being on the Malditas was not my God-given right. It has been a privilege. It was a privilege to be playing with teammates who have been there long before I have and learning from their wisdom. From my coaches, who have taken consideration everything I was going thru and still believed I could make it. For every person whom I spent time away from to reach my dream yet are still there at the end of the day, it is a privilege to still have you in my life. Life-changing realisations aren’t they? They come with pushing yourself to your limits mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Being a Maldita is not for the faint of heart. Make no mistake it is a grueling, tough, challenging experience. Why wouldn’t it be? After all, to make it you are stepping up to the plate of representing your entire country. This is not an easy task. But if you choose to take part of this team, it will be your most rewarding experience. It made me learn more about myself and more important it helps me take pride in being a Filipino each and every day. BF
[This article was originally published on January 5, 2012. Photo by Joan Pauline Lapid]