4 Tokyo Olympians feted in Baguio | Inquirer News
Homecoming honors

4 Tokyo Olympians feted in Baguio

/ 04:30 AM November 23, 2021

RECOGNIZED Olympians Irish Magno, Nesthy Petecio, Eumir Marcial and Carlo Paalam receive plaques of recognition from the city government of Baguio during their homecoming on Monday after a successful stint in the recent summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. They are either alumni or undergraduates of the University of Baguio. —NEIL CLARK ONGCHANGCO

BAGUIO CITY, Benguet, Philippines — Four of the country’s Olympians, who are either alumni or undergraduates of the University of Baguio (UB), on Monday rolled through the city’s main streets in a motorcade and feted at the City Hall grounds for their homecoming after their successful campaign in Tokyo, Japan, in July and August.

It was the first visit to the summer capital for featherweight silver medalist Nesthy Petecio, flyweight silver medalist Carlo Paalam, middleweight bronze medalist Eumir Marcial and women’s boxing flyweight finalist Irish Magno since participating in the summer games from July 23 to Aug. 8.


Mayor Benjamin Magalong welcomed them at this week’s flag raising ceremony at the City Hall and handed to each of the four Olympians a city citation for the honor they brought to Baguio and their local alma mater.


All four athletes had to stop school at UB to pursue their boxing careers but Marcial, a Philippine Air Force sergeant, said they all wanted to resume their education.

Marcial completed a semester in a hotel management course before focusing on the sport in 2018. Paalam has yet to finish his senior high school while Magno could continue her third year course in informational technology after switching from her original criminology course, said Jerrick Sinner, a member of the UB athletic department.

Petecio had earned a certificate in associated culinary arts and could work as a chef, but she could complete the remaining two years of her hotel management course, Sinner said.

Magno told reporters here that they would need to work out their schedules to be able to return to college since she, Paalam and Petecio were about to start training for the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in May in Hanoi, Vietnam.


Marcial is being drafted for a commercial fight in March before he resumes training for the SEA Games and other global sports events.

But it turned out to be a bittersweet school homecoming for them after Alan Elegado, UB athletic director, passed away from liver cancer on Nov. 1, said former Baguio Mayor Peter Rey Bautista, whose family operates UB.


Petecio broke down in tears at the UB news conference, as she lamented that Elegado, who took care of all student athletes and sports scholars in UB, did not live to see her medal.

“He had wanted to see my silver medal,” said Petecio, the first Filipino female boxer to receive a medal in the Olympics.

Barely three months before he died, Elegado, in a press briefing here on Aug. 4, said he was proud of the four athletes who all had lifetime scholarships at UB should they decide to return to school.

UB president Javier Herminio Bautista gifted all four Olympians with two additional scholarships each for family members and friends who may want to enroll at UB.


Javier said UB had nurtured student athletes because the university’s late founder and his grandfather Fernando Bautista Jr. had very strong affection for the Olympic Games, which he used to attend annually when he could. Javier is Peter Rey’s cousin.

“We used to be ignored in public. Now people recognize us in the streets,” Petecio later beamed.

Marcial said he now needed to be a good role model, acknowledging that Olympians had to behave well because “everyone knows you.”

All four said they came from poor households and had to struggle with their chosen athletic professions.

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“We did not have equipment. We did not have support [when we started with the sport]. Nowadays, we can commute back to our provinces for free,” Marcial said, referring to the free rides they received from airline companies.


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