“Nasan yung flag?” Those three words changed my whole definition of Pinoy/Pinay pride forever.
Earlier tonight, a Filipina warrior battled her way for gold in the World Jiu Jitsu Championships in Long Beach, CA. Dressed in her white gi with a patch of the Philippine flag, she took down her opponents on her way to being crowned the world champion in her division. I may not know a whole lot about Jiu Jitsu but I’m pretty sure being crowned world champion is a pretty big deal.
However, watching her take her opponents down and being champion is not the reason for this article. Why she fights the way she does is the reason why I felt compelled in writing this.
A couple of days before she was scheduled to fight, my wife and I had the privilege of meeting this warrior. When we asked her if there was something that she needs or if there was anything we can do to help her prepare, she just politely said no.
Jokingly, my wife told her that we have a flag of the Philippines, and we can bring it when we watch her fight. With a smile on her face, that’s when she said, “please, pakidala nung flag”.
Thinking nothing of it, we told her we will surely bring the flag and that we will see her in a couple of days and wished her luck.
Along with her team mates and family members, we watched this brave soul battle her way to the gold. After her hand was raised for the final time, she was then summoned to the podium to receive her gold medal.
As she stood with pride to receive her medal, she looked at her team and uttered the words, “nasa’n yung flag?” The flag was handed to her and with pride she then draped the flag of the Philippines around her shoulder. This is when her sister, explained to us what the flag means to her.
Her sister explained that whenever she steps on the mat, she thinks about all the oppression that Filipinos and the Philippines have endured on the hands of other countries and she uses that as her drive to make sure she does well so that she can bring honor to the country.
Her sister also stated, “feeling kasi niya, pag nananalo siya or if she does well, naigaganti niya lahat ng Pilipino na naaapi.”
After the medal ceremony, she simply changed back to her street clothes and went to a simple dinner along with her team mates. After the dinner, they went back to their hotel rooms and that’s how unceremonious this world champion ended her night.
I do understand that there are other athletes like her out there who fight for the Philippines and get absolutely no recognition. Maybe with the power of social media we can change that. Maybe it’s time for these athletes to be recognized and to be given the honor that they deserve. They fight for the Philippines and for the Filipinos, maybe it’s time for the Filipinos and for the Philippines to fight for them.