Sacrifices as water polo national players help 3 Airmen stay strong

Published August 5, 2020, 8:59 PM

by Waylon Galvez

Three more members of the Philippine water polo team are expected to join the frontline from the Philippine Air Force in the battle against COVID-19. (MB File Photo / Mark Balmores)

Instead of being reunited with their families, the three water polo national team players continue to stay at the Philippine Air Force boot camp at Fernando Air Base in Lipa City, Batangas.

However, their experiences with the national team are what keep Adan Gonzales, McGyver Reyes and Abnel Amiladjid strong, particularly in the emotional aspect of being away from their respective families.

“Sanay naman din kami na malayo sa family,” said Amiladjid, a native of Davao City, citing the trips abroad he had with the water polo national team including a one-month training camp in Spain in 2018.

“It’s part of the job din kasi,” he added.

The three finished their training with the Air Force late last month and are now Airmen Second Class.

They were supposed to report back at the Villamor Air Base but since it remains closed due the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) in Metro Manila, the fresh graduates continue to stay at the boot camp with 400-plus new military men.

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While they are used to being away with their respective families, Gonzales said missing and being worried, particularly now that the country remains in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, is just normal.

“Noong pumasok kami dito sa military training, naka-mindset na talaga kami for four months. After that, focus naman kami sa water polo. Ang problema nagkaroon ng COVID-19,” said Gonzales, who entered the boot camp with his two teammates February 23.

READ: COVID-19 pandemic wipes out international trips of PH water polo team

“Ang mahirap para sa’min kasi, mahirap na yung training dito dagdag pa yung pag-alala sa mga pamilya namin sa labas tapos ngayon extended pa kami,” Gonzales added.

From left, McGyver Reyes, Abnel Amiladjid and Adan Gonzales after their graduation following a five-month training with the Philippine Air Force at the Fernando Air Base in Lipa City, Batangas. (Photo from McGyver Reyes)

Being away this long has made them stronger.

Gonzales said that during the four-month training, cell phones were prohibited, something they value now as they video call, voice call or chat with their families and water polo teammates.

“Mas lalo kaming tumibay mentally para labanan lahat ng pagsubok, lungkot at pag-alala sa mga pamilya namin sa labas. Kasi before mahirap, wala talaga kaming communication sa kanila,” Gonzales said.

“Ang hirap labanan ng lungkot, pero ginawa namin yang inspiration. Everyday sinasabi ko sa sarili ko ‘kung ako makalabas dito babawi ako sa kanila sa mga araw na wala ako,’” added Gonzales.

The three, together with their comrades, continue to do their usual exercise everyday that keeps them busy. As part of tradition and protocol, all graduates from the boot camp need to report to the Air Force base in Taguig City.

After that, that’s the only time they’ll be able to return home, but only for a short period of time since all of them are expected to go back to the barracks and possibly get assigned at the ‘frontline’ to fight COVID-19.

“Ready naman kami kung mabibigyan kami ng duty sa mga checkpoints or ibang lugar. Pero after siguro namin makabalik sa bahay pag nakalabas na kami is balik sa kampo,” said Reyes.

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