JESSICA ZAFRA | This week, Michael Christian Martinez is cooler and tougher than the PBA
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Remember Cool Runnings, the Hollywood movie about the Jamaican bobsled team at the Winter Olympics? That is so 20 years ago.
On Thursday, Michael Christian Martinez of the Philippines made it to the medal round in the men's short program figure skating event at the Sochi Olympics. The 17-year-old from Muntinlupa placed fifth among the finest male figure-skaters in the world today - top athletes from countries that actually have winter. Michael learned ice-skating at the mall, in the rink next to the food court.
Yes, while you were staggering about, trying not to use your face as a snow plow, Michael was practising those complicated triple-Axl Roses and triple-Kellan Lutzes or whatever they're called. No matter how awesome you think Michael Christian Martinez is, he's even more awesome that that.
Whenever a Filipino does something amazing on the international stage, we like to bring up Pinoy Pride. Of course we're proud that a countryman has shown the world that there is more to the Philippines than mega-disasters and mega-corruption (It cannot escape our attention that Michael’s performance in Sochi took place during a Senate hearing on the pork barrel scam). But we can't claim any credit in the achievement of Michael Christian Martinez. He did it himself. He put in the hours, worked his butt off, endured the pain to get to where he is today. Having Filipino DNA didn't do that (we're probably not coded for winter sports); his own will, talent and discipline did that, and his supportive parents made it possible.
I know nothing about Michael's mother, but I know that she urged her son to fulfill his dream, no matter how borderline bizarre it seemed. Parenting is tough, and parenting a genuine talent is especially hard. You have to be honest about your child's abilities, you can’t let him harbor false illusions. You have to calculate his chances of success and make the necessary sacrifice. Congratulations, Mrs. Martinez, you are the coolest kind of mom.
There's another dimension to the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Russia, as we know, is officially a homophobic state. They have laws against "the promotion of gayness". From what we've seen of the Olympics coverage, this is the gayest Winter Olympics in memory, and figure-skating is the gayest of winter sports. We're not saying the figure skaters are gay, we're saying that the sport itself is part of gay culture (like disco and Oscar viewing parties). Hello, pink spangled tights. Just having men's figure-skating competitions in Russia sticks it to Putin and his parliament. After all, mega-butch is just two sequins away from gay.
Is the Philippines destined to win the gayest event in the gayest Olympics in a homophobic country?
We're in the tropics, but winter IS coming. Go Michael! And as for you, my macho sportswriter friends, you probably thought you were on the all-PBA detail, but you're covering figure-skating this week.