DAGUPAN CITY – Dagupeños warmly greeted the city’s more than 500 athletes and coaches who made history for bringing home the city’s first Region 1 Athletic Association meet championship trophy as they marched along the city’s main thoroughfares during their victory parade on February 22.

Mayor Belen T. Fernandez and Schools Division Superintendent Lorna G. Bugayong, along with the commissioners of the Dagupan City Sports Commission (DCSC) led by Finnela T. Sim and the officers of the Dagupan City Athletic Association led by its acting president Renato D. Benitez, marched along with the athletes and coaches from Perez Boulevard, Marcelo H. Del Pilar street to Angel B. Fernandez Avenue. The parade ended at the city plaza.

From the city plaza, the delegation commuted to the CSI Stadia where the victory party was held.

Sim recalled in her message how the DCSC went through the birth pains of outlining an honest to goodness sports program for the city’s athletes, which even came to a point where she was humiliated and mocked of doing an unbelievable thing in the city’s sports program.

She also recalled seeing how happy a little boy was when he was given a pair of shoes for his training with tears streaming down his face while hugging his shoes tightly on his chest. Those were his first pair of shoes.

“Aside from Mayor Belen being my inspiration, it was the look on this little boy’s face that made me realize why I was doing what I was doing.  And in that very moment I decided, that despite all odds, no matter how hurt I was and how low I was feeling, I made a promise to myself and to the city of Dagupan that I will not give up on our athletes,” said Sim.

She added that there were many instances like these and each time the city would give the children their allowance they (the children) would ask Sim how much they would have to return.

It was this that made her realize that these children were being robbed of their rights by the very people who were supposed to mentor them.

“So, the moment I became sports commissioner, I told myself that each decision I make, would affect the hopes of these innocent children. Each choice I chose, I wasn’t choosing for myself but for the fate of the athletes of Dagupan City. Even if people told us we could not make it, even if people told us that we were foolish for even trying, even if people laughed at us, I wanna say that we have defied the impossible.  We are the R1AA 2018 CHAMPIONS!” said Sim.

The city prepared 12 lechons for the athletes for their sumptuous dinner, plus overflowing ice cream.

“Today is a different story from the past. Today we did not just win. Team Balon Dagupan won big. Team Balon Dagupan won it with a heart,” said Fernandez in her message.

The following day medal haulers received their cash incentives from the city with P5,000 for every gold medal, P3,000 for every silver medal and P2,000 for every bronze medals. Coaches were also given their cash incentives ranging from P10,000 for being the overall champion in their event; P5,000 for those with athletes who won gold medals; P3,000 for those with athletes who won silver medals and P2,000 for those who won bronze medals. (Joseph C. Bacani/CIO/Feb. 23, 2018)